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New Nintendo Switch 2 release date, specs, leaks and more

Nintendo Switch 2
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Nintendo Switch 2 isn't here, technically, but Nintendo's just announced a new and upgraded version of its already amazing console. The only question out there, really, is if this a big enough upgrade to get people to upgrade.

The Nintendo Switch OLED model announced on July 6 isn't the 4K Nintendo Switch that was rumored or hoped for, but it does offer many other perks — as its OLED panel is just one of a series of upgrades. 

Nintendo announced this OLED Switch in a tweet that explained some of its new features and showed off a new black-and-white colorway. Yes, it's not exactly a Nintendo Switch 2, but we have a release date, specs and features for the OLED Switch below.

Latest Nintendo Switch 2 news (updated July 6)

New Nintendo Switch 2 release date 

The OLED Switch is coming out on October 8, 2021. Previous rumors about the 4K Nintendo Switch read as such:

Citing a Taipei-based report out of the Economic Daily News, The Edge Markets reported that a new version of Nintendo's popular hybrid console could arrive by early 2021 — which didn't happen. That was quickly followed up by a Bloomberg report that suggests that the new Switch could arrive next year complete with 4K support and an expansive new games lineup.

A subsequent Bloomberg report claimed that developers are being asked to make their Nintendo Switch games playable in 4K, adding further weight to the possibility of an upcoming hardware upgrade. No such 4K support was announced.

Economic Daily News later reported that Nintendo was still planning a 2021 launch, and has been visiting companies in Taiwan to obtain displays for the new console. And recent claims by Dr Serkan Toto of Japanese-based consultancy firm Kantan Games echo the others, claiming we'll see a 4K Switch system this year.

Here's a look at when every version of the Switch has launched so far. Looking at these days, it's possible we could see an updated Switch by 2021 to coincide with the system's four-year anniversary.

Then, a Bloomberg report claimed a 4K Nintendo Switch could be on its way this year. That resolution didn't happen, but most of the other rumored features came true. 

Nikkei Asia wrote that Nintendo plans to produce another 30 million Switches by March 2022. That could have been speaking to all models overall, but now it just seems like it could be referring to how the original Switch is staying in the lineup as the more affordable model.

  • Nintendo Switch: March 3, 2017
  • Nintendo Switch (upgraded battery): August 2019
  • Nintendo Switch Lite: September 20, 2019
  • Nintendo Switch OLED: October 8, 2021

New Nintendo Switch 2 price 

Nintendo Switch 2: Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite

(Image credit: Future)

The OLED Nintendo Switch costs $349. This fit with previous speculation.

Analyst Matthew Kanterman of Bloomberg Intelligence believed the Switch Pro will be at least $100 more expensive than the current model. "$349.99 will increase the value proposition of the device, but I still think Nintendo can drive strong demand even at $399.99."

It's not just Kanterman. In an interview with Gamesindustry.biz, Japan-based games consultant Serkan Toto guessed that the Switch Pro will cost around $399, which may be the same console as the Switch 2, and therefore the same price, or a different higher spec version, in which case the Switch 2 itself will likely cost less.

New Nintendo Switch 2 specs 

The OLED Nintendo Switch reveal fits some but not all of the leaks we've previously reported, giving more of a boosted 'Pro' version of the current Switch than a whole new Switch.

For example, one previous leak made reference to a new Switch console coming with a custom Nvidia Tegra Xavier processor, a 64GB SSD, 4K video support, and two USB-C ports. But it also points towards such a console being a TV-only machine, which seems unlikely. We don't know the chip in the new model yet, but Nintendo confirmed the 64GB storage upgrade from the previous 32GB capacity.

There are also some recent mobile GPU breakthroughs that point to a promising future for upcoming handheld consoles such as the Switch 2. Samsung and AMD are expected to be working on a new Exynos 1000 chip with AMD graphics built-in, which could give the Switch 2 a massive power boost if Nintendo decides to opt for that CPU over the aging Tegra X1 found in the current Switch.

New Nintendo Switch 2 display

The screen is one of the key parts of the Switch, so we're not surprised Nintendo is making that panel prettier with OLED. That said, it's still a 720p panel, only outputting in 1080p (at most) when docked. That matches our own reporting has confirmed that an upcoming Nintendo Switch iteration will use OLED displays provided by Samsung.

In an interview with Tom's Guide Ross Young, co-founder of Display Supply Chain Consultants, discussed the potential for the Switch Pro or Switch 2 to have an OLED display and what advantages and shortcomings such a screen would have. 

“LCDs use a maximum brightness, whether it's a white or black image. And OLEDs don't,” explained 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.”

Supporting the OLED theory was a recent mention of a new Switch console by the head of Universal Display Corporation. Steven V. Abramson, the company's president and CEO, said Nintendo was looking to move to OLED for the benefits it offered over LCD for contrast and response times. It's a good sign that even if Nintendo's staying quiet about it, there is a new Switch coming.

Whichever kind of display Nintendo chooses, there may be a resolution bump too. According to Bloomberg, a new Switch will use an advanced upscaling technique to achieve 4K resolution. Called Nvidia Deep Learning Super Sampling, or DLSS, this uses AI tech to effectively upmix graphics into high-resolution images without the performance demands of rendering then natively at, say, 4K. Bloomberg was told that a new Switch is using new chips as well, with the required hardware to pull off DLSS.

The same report said that the new Switch will be capable of a 4K output, if not native 4K rendering, and will sport a larger OLED display.  

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. for the Switch 2. 

But improved specs could just be the tip of the iceberg for the Nintendo Switch 2. A series of code found in the Switch's April 2020 firmware update reveals what could be support for a dual-screen console, suggesting that the next Nintendo Switch may be a two-display device. 

This wouldn't be a first for Nintendo given the company's popular Nintendo DS and 3DS handhelds, but we'd be curious to see how dual-screen support would play into the Switch ecosystem. Perhaps you'll be able to play in handheld mode while beaming certain content to your TV, similar to how the Wii U operated.

New Nintendo Switch 2 features

Just like the original Switch, the OLED switch allows for play in docked-TV, tabletop and handheld modes. Neat upgrades include an Ethernet port on the dock, and a new kickstand for better tabletop gaming.

That said, Nintendo recently patented a unique health-tracking device, which would be able to track your sleep, monitor your mood via microphones and sensors, and even change the odor of a room. Interestingly, the patented device has its own dock (much like the Switch), and seems designed to work with health-related games a la Ring Fit Adventure. 

That technology doesn't seem to be in this Nintendo Switch. It's too early to tell whether such a device will even come to market, but it will be interesting to see if Nintendo ups its fitness-tracking game in time for the next Switch console.

What we want from the Nintendo Switch 2

Nintendo Switch 2 concept design

(Image credit: Katarzyna Penar at Lightframes)

If the Nintendo Switch 2 does become a reality, there are a handful of features we’d love to see that could make it a compelling high-end option for Nintendo fans. 

  • 1080p handheld gameplay: The Switch’s 6.2-inch screen is limited to 720p in handheld mode, meaning you can’t experience titles like Super Mario Odyssey and Pokémon Sword and Shield in their full glory. The ability to game on the go in 1080p would be a big reason to upgrade to a new Switch — if the console can muster 60fps at 1080p, even better. 
  • 4K or 1440p support for TV mode. Considering that 4K consoles are out there and that the PS5 and Xbox Series X will support 8K content, it’d be nice to see the Switch 2 get a resolution bump, something we argued for recently. The new console would likely need a beefy new dock to support 4K or even 2560 x 1440 resolutions, but just imagine how glorious it would be to play Breath of the Wild in 4K.  
  • Better ergonomics. We recently got our hands on Alienware’s Concept UFO, which is a Switch-like portable gaming PC that features standard controller-sized buttons, triggers and grips. If Nintendo can devise new Joy-Cons that are bigger and more ergonomic without being too massive, the Switch 2 could be the most comfortable way to play on the go.  
  • True Bluetooth support. While the current Switch features Bluetooth 4.1 for connecting wirelessly to Joy-Cons and Pro Controllers, you can’t pair other Bluetooth gadgets (like headphones) to the console without an adapter. Nintendo, I just want to be able to pair my AirPods to my Switch without any extra fuss — make it happen!  

Why we want a Nintendo Switch 2

This all said, we're still hoping that Nintendo upgrades the speed and adds 4K at some point. The Nintendo Switch is an absolute joy of a system backed by some of the finest games Nintendo has ever released. But its hardware is starting to show its limitations more than three years after release, largely when it comes to ports of major third-party games.

Kotaku's Ethan Gach got his hands on the new Switch port of The Outer Worlds, which reportedly "looks so bad on Switch I'm tempted to tell even people who have no other means of playing it to stay away." Based on Gach's screenshots, the port looks incredibly blurry, and suffers from framerate drops. Gamers have had similar issues with ports such as Pillars of Eternity and Wasteland 2.

While Nintendo games such as Breath of the Wild and Animal Crossing: New Horizons are optimized to look and run great on Switch, the console seems to be running into a AAA games problem. And that could prove especially challenging for Nintendo, especially with a new crop of third-party games built for PS5 and Xbox Series X that may be more graphically demanding than ever.

Nintendo doesn't necessarily need a system as powerful as the best gaming PCs or Sony's and Microsoft's latest consoles (and the Switch did just fine against PS4 and Xbox One), but the OLED panel could make Nintendo's games look a heck of a lot better and make the company's hybrid console more appealing for fans of big third-party franchises. 

Should I wait for a Nintendo Switch 2?

If you were waiting for 4K, you may be disappointed, but if you wanted a better screen for on-the-go gaming, you're probably elated. We're pretty jazzed about the new kickstand, to be honest, though that doesn't really scream "Nintendo Switch Pro," either.

Regardless, the Nintendo Switch is still a stellar games console, what with its hybrid design and excellent games. Both the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite are at the top of our list for the best handheld gaming consoles. And as such, we expect them to continue to get supported for years to come. If you've not got onboard the Switch train, then now is as good as time as any; you can do so with confidence that it won't be replaced anytime soon.

The OLED Switch will work with the console's existing game library, as we expected. Nintendo has a history of supporting its handhelds through multiple iterations, with the Nintendo DS/Nintendo 3DS family supporting the same game library for more than a decade. Given how popular the Switch is, we expect Nintendo to take a similar approach to its current console.