Editor's Note: Nintendo has officially announced the $199 Nintendo Switch Lite, a dedicated handheld with a smaller design, non-detachable controllers and longer battery life. The system is launching on Sept. 20.
The Nintendo Switch is the Big N's hottest console in years — selling more than 32 million units since it launched in early 2017 — but it could already be due for a refresh. Multiple rumors point to a revised version of the Switch hardware arriving in 2019, with improvements that could include a brighter display and more compact design.
Here's everything we know so far about the rumored new Nintendo Switch, from its rumored specs to possible release date.
Nintendo Switch Mini release date
Rumors of new Nintendo Switch hardware first popped up in October 2018, when The Wall Street Journal reported that Nintendo is planning a refreshed version of the Switch for 2019 that may have a"“brighter, thinner and more energy efficient" display.
Talk of new Switch hardware popped up once again in January 2019, this time via the Japanese blog Nikkei (via Newsweek). The outlet doesn't pinpoint a specific timeframe, but notes that the new console — which it reports may be a smaller version of the Switch — will arrive in 2019.
A Wall Street Journal report from March 2019 claims that two distinct versions of the Switch could arrive as soon as this summer. One model may be a higher-end version of the Switch with a better screen and improved performance, while the other may be a more basic, non-detachable model that's aimed at younger players. The latter version sure sounds like a Nintendo Switch Mini.
This rumor was corroborated by an April 2019 Bloomberg report, which claims that a cheaper Switch is coming in June, "according to two people familiar with the matter." Interestingly, this particular report notes that the current Nintendo Switch model will get a "modest upgrade" in 2019, while also claiming that Nintendo has no plans for a higher-end device.
The Wall Street Journal, reported in June 2019 that Nintendo's long-rumored two new Nintendo Switch models have entered production in Southeast Asia. According to the WSJ's sources, "Nintendo is getting ready to introduce them soon." A holiday 2019 launch would make sense given this information, especially since Nintendo would have to compete with Xbox's Project Scarlett and Sony's PS5 in late 2020.
Our latest tease of the Nintendo Switch mini comes from WinFuture, which published leaked images of what could be a Switch Mini silicone case from BigBen, an officially licensed third-party accessory maker. The case hints at a design that lines up with previous Switch rumors, including large screen real estate and what appear to be non-detachable Joy-Cons.
One of Nintendo's official licensees for accessory products has a Silicone Cover for the Nintendo "Mini Switch 2" coming. Here are some of the official pics for this #NintendoSwitch2: https://t.co/cvka1OuB7YJuly 1, 2019
What specs will the Nintendo Switch mini have?
The Wall Street Journal report from late 2018 claims that the updated Switch may have a brighter and more efficient display that could help the console deliver improved battery life. But where things really get interesting are in the details of the Nikkei report, which claims that the system will lack detachable Joy-Cons and will not include a dock.
If such a device does come out, it'll likely support the same game library and core features as the standard Switch, but without the system's signature ability to transform from a portable to stationary console on the fly. There's no word on the Switch Mini's rumored internal specs, but it seems safe to expect the console to once again pack an Nvidia Tegra X1 processor, especially if it's going to be cheaper than the current model.
Interestingly, the April Nikkei reports that despite the Switch Mini being designed for portable play, it will indeed be able to connect to a TV.
A June render from Let's Go Digital based on recent leaks gives us a sense of how the Switch Mini may stack up to the standard Switch in terms of size. In the render, the Switch Mini is shown as being about as big as the current Switch's 6.2-inch screen, which would make the new handheld much more pocket friendly than its bigger sibling.
What about that other rumored Nintendo Switch refresh?
As noted by the Wall Street Journal, the Nintendo Switch Mini could be joined by a bigger, more powerful model that has "enhanced features targeted at avid video gamers." The report doesn't go into specifics, but notes that the new model "won’t be as powerful as Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 4 Pro or Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox One X."
Based on previous rumors we've heard, this enhanced model may sport a better display resolution, and possibly an improved version of the console's Tegra X1 processor for faster load times and improved graphical performance.
What other changes are coming to Switch in 2019?
Regardless of whether or not we get new Switch hardware this year, Nintendo's console is likely to see some notable changes in 2019.
According to a Nintendo Everything translation of the same Nikkei report, Nintendo could launch a more premium version of its $20-per-year Nintendo Switch Online service that's "aimed at game enthusiasts willing to pay more." It's unclear whether this higher tier would include more classic game libraries (such as that of the SNES or N64), or other new features.
You can also expect more games to integrate the in-game voice chat that's currently exclusive to titles such as Fortnite. Gaming communication company Vivox, whose technology powers Fortnite's in-game chat on Switch, has opened up its SDK to all Switch developers.
This means that you'll likely see more third-party titles that allow you to chat with friends with a headset plugged right into your console, rather than with an external smartphone app. However, Nintendo seems keen on using its own Switch Online App for its first-party games, so don't expect that to change.
The fact that Nintendo has entered the world of virtual reality with Nintendo Labo VR could also be a hint at where the Switch is headed next. If Nintendo is looking to power immersive VR experiences, it has a pretty good reason to revamp the Switch's hardware.
Credit: Tom's Guide