For the past 12 months or so rumors were flying around about a Nintendo Switch Pro, getting ever more fevered yet also seemingly realistic as time went by. Then Nintendo decided to reveal the Nintendo Switch OLED, which we have gone hands-on with.
While that console isn't out yet, arriving October 8, it's reveal seemed to be Nintendo flipping the bird at leaker and rampant speculation, revealing a console that is an upgrade on the current Switch, just not the one many may have been hoping for. If you want a powerful handheld console then take a look at the Valve Steam Deck.
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Nintendo has also come out and officially said that it has "no plans" for another Switch beyond the OLED model "at this time." But then Nintendo is famously tight-lipped on what it's doing with its hardware, and announcing no current plans is not the same as saying the device won't ever happen.
And given the vagueness of "at this time," we're not quite ready to dismiss the idea of a Switch Pro; it may just arrive in the form of the Nintendo Switch 2. And with the Steam Deck having been revealed, there's arguably an appetite for more powerful portable gaming machines.
So with that in mind, here's what we know so far and would like to see from the Nintendo Switch Pro, even if it's just wishful thinking.
Latest Nintendo Switch Pro news (updated October 15)
- Another Nintendo Switch Pro rumor has claimed that a more powerful console is coming only it'll be the Nintendo Switch 2.
- The Switch OLED's dock could support 4K output. Whether this means that the Switch OLED could eventually run 4K content, or an upcoming Switch could be backwards-compatible with current docks, or nothing at all, is anyone's guess.
- Nintendo has officially stated it has "no plans for launching any other model" of Switch console. But it also said "at this time," which arguably doesn't 100% write off the Switch Pro for a release later on down the line.
Nintendo Switch Pro release date and price speculation
Nintendo has repeatedly shot down claims of a Switch Pro, but the rumors haven't stopped surfacing. But it's now looking like they are related to a second-generation Switch.
Developer kits that have reportedly been sent to game makers sowed the idea that an upgraded Switch was coming. However, new claimed insider information has noted that these dev kits are in fact designed for different hardware and are likely for the Nintendo Switch 2, which has a tentative rumored release window of late 2022 or early 2023.
Nintendo Switch Pro rumored specs
Sources seem to offer different reports of what sort of specs we can expect to see in the Switch Pro. The majority of them appear to agree that we’re likely to see support for 4K resolutions in docked mode, as well as better battery life.
Currently, the Nintendo Switch features a custom Nvidia Tegra X1 processor, a 720p LCD display and 32GB of storage. The most recent refresh of the Nintendo Switch happened in August 2019, which bumped up the battery life, taking it from 6.5 hours to 9 hours of game time. When we tested the battery life upgrade using Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, we found that the amount of game time we were able to fit in before it needed to be recharged doubled.
According to a notable data miner, @SciresM, details found in a recent firmware update for the Nintendo Switch seems to indicate that the Pro model will feature the same processor as the 2019 Switch base model and the Lite - the Tegra X1+ chipset. The leak uncovered a project titled “Aula”, which indicates that the chipset will offer higher performances by being pushed to higher clocking speeds supported by an improved cooling system. SciresM also hinted that the console will receive a substantial visual upgrade, with an OLED display and 4K capabilities in docked mode, powered by a RealTek chip.
How legitimate the above information remains questionable, as are a lot of Nintendo Switch Pro rumors. But a report from Bloomberg, citing insider information, also has the Switch Pro tipped to offer a 4K output in some form of docked mode. Likely when docked the Switch Pro will have some form of co-processor to upmix a 1080p video feed into a 4K output.
Furthermore, a newer probe into Switch firmware has revealed the line “4kdp_preferred_over_usb30” that could indicate the potential for a 4K output over DisplayPort over USB 3.0.
Bloomberg has also reported that 11 developers are in possession of 4K toolkits supplied by Nintendo. This would strongly imply that Nintendo is at least thinking about releasing a Switch that can output in 4K. Although, Nintendo did quickly release a statement denying the accuracy of the reporting.
More recently, a prominent YouTuber discovered that the Switch OLED's dock could support 4K outputs. It's unclear whether this has any bearing on a future console's specs, however.
While Economic Daily News in Taiwan claimed that instead of an OLED display, the Nintendo Switch Pro would feature Mini-LED technology as a more affordable alternative, our sources say otherwise. Right now all intelligence is pointing to Samsung providing rigid OLED panels to Nintendo.
In an exclusive interview with Ross Young, co-founder and CEO of Display Supply Chain Consultants, discussed with us the potential for the Switch Pro to have an OLED display and what advantages and shortcomings the tech could provide.
“LCDs use a maximum brightness, whether it's a white or black image. And OLEDs don't,” said Young. “Their power consumption varies with the content. So it's going to depend on the type of content that you're playing. If it's video, OLEDs have a big advantage. But if it's a bright video game with a lot of white, then OLEDs may consume more power.”
Some rumors seem to suggest that the Switch Pro might have some more controversial features, too. In a now-deleted 4Chan post (via Inverse), user Xhyll alleged that according to a "former employee of Nintendo," the Switch Pro will feature significant hardware improvements, including a custom Nvidia Tegra Xavier processor, 64GB SSD storage and 4K support.
The obvious downside here is that the post also suggested that the new console will be a TV-only system aimed primarily at users who are in the market for a more traditional console experience. Considering that some Switch gamers spend the majority of their time in handheld mode, this seems somewhat unlikely.
What we want from the Nintendo Switch Pro
If Nintendo were to make a Switch Pro then here are the features we’d love to see make their way to the premium console.
- Improved 1080p handheld display: Considering the ongoing rumor mill, a display upgrade seems likely. At the moment, using the Switch in handheld mode restricts you to a 6.2-inch 720p display, so many users would welcome a better visual experience when gaming on the go (please, Nintendo).
- Sturdier build quality: One of the biggest reasons some Switch owners prefer the Lite to the base model is due to the sturdiness of the console in handheld mode. Since the Joy-Cons of the original Switch are detachable, playing on the go can feel somewhat flimsy, and this is something that we’d like to see improved in the Pro version. A more ergonomic Joy-Con design would go a long way too.
- 4K support in docked mode: The 4K console gaming community is growing by the day, and you can partially thank the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series for that. Unfortunately, comparisons with new-gen consoles don’t do the Switch any favors - Nintendo’s flagship console no longer provides the visuals gamers want. As we recently discussed, introducing 4K support and a more powerful dock with higher resolution capabilities would considerably improve Nintendo’s offering.
- Bluetooth support for third-party accessories: Although the Switch currently features Bluetooth 4.1, this is reserved exclusively for wirelessly connecting Joy-Cons and Pro controllers. This means that in order to connect accessories like headphones, you need an adapter, which is admittedly annoying.
Why would we want the Nintendo Switch Pro
Where to start? The Nintendo Switch has been a revelation of a console, and it’s been backed up by some of the most exciting games we’ve seen in the past four years, from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the ridiculously addictive Animal Crossing: New Horizon. However, we think any fan of the console can agree that a hardware upgrade wouldn't go amiss for the Switch.
As it stands, the main reason to purchase a Switch is to, well, play Nintendo games. As reported by multiple Reddit users, several third-party games such as Pillars of Eternity, Wasteland 2 and WWE 2K18 have had less-than-stellar Switch ports. With crashes, bugs and frame drops, at the moment the Switch’s hardware simply isn’t built to provide a good experience for third-party franchises.
The Nintendo Switch isn’t meant to compete with the PS5 and Xbox Series X in terms of power to begin with. However, with a collection of new graphically demanding games coming to PC and next-gen consoles in 2021, we’d love to see whether a more powerful version of the Switch could pique third-party franchise fans' interest.