(Pocket-lint) - Nintendo has had great success since launching the Nintendo Switch and its follow-up, the Switch Lite.
However, the series won't end with those two. We fully expect Nintendo to debut a more powerful version of the console, popularly being dubbed "Switch Pro". It could even arrive later this year.
Here then is everything we know about the Nintendo Switch Pro so far...
Switch Pro release date
- Heavily rumoured for late 2021
A Nintendo Switch 2 or Switch Pro has been rumoured since early 2019, when The Wall Street Journal spoke to "parts suppliers and software developers" in March of that year. They claimed that an enhanced version of the Switch, aimed at the more dedicated, hardcore gamer was in development and could come out late 2019/early 2020.
But, while a tweaked version of the existing Switch ended up replacing the 1st gen model, Nintendo's president Shuntaro Furukawa felt it necessary to deny that a replacement or upgraded Switch would be released at that time: "Please note that we have no plans to launch a new Nintendo Switch model during 2020," he said at the time. It turned out the be case.
That doesn't apply to 2021, however, and several industry analysts predicted in January that a Switch Pro will be part of Nintendo's plans for the year.
Dr Serkan Toto of Kantan Games led the charge when speaking with Gamesindustry.biz: "I predict a beefed-up 4K device is coming during Nintendo's next financial year," he said.
This was backed up by other analysts, including Piers Harding-Rolls of Ampere Analysis: "I currently have an updated version of the Switch in my forecasts for 2021," he added.
Bloomberg has more recently cited "people familiar with the matter" as claiming the Switch Pro could arrive in time for the "year-end shopping season".
Considering the Switch Lite was announced in July 2019 for a September release the same year, we could see the Switch Pro unveiled July/August if Nintendo follows previous trends.
Switch Pro specs and design
- Based around a new Nvidia Tegra custom chipset
- Storage and RAM set to get a boost
- 7-inch OLED display, with 4K output to TVs
While the Nintendo Switch Lite has similar internal hardware to the existing Switch, the Switch Pro will get a more thorough overhaul. Even as far back as 2019, Japanese site Gamepedia claimed it will have some impressive internal specs.
The RAM, it said, will be 8GB, double that in the current console, while the on-board storage will get a major hike to 128GB. The existing Switch only has 32GB of storage and nigh-on demands that you buy a microSD card if you want to store more than one game.
But, while rumours previously suggested that it would use an upgraded Tegra X1+ processor, as found in the Switch Lite, it is now thought a new Nvidia chipset with DLSS technology could be utilised instead. That complies with a February 2021 data mine detailed on Reddit, which revealed the Switch Pro will be able to offer native 1440p resolution and upscale to 4K through Nvidia's DLSS 2.0 technology.
The new Switch is unlikely to have a 4K display built-in. It is expected to have a similar 720p display resoltion to the existing model, although it will be improved through the use of OLED technology. A report claimed at the beginning of March 2021 said that it will sport a 7-inch OLED panel.
Some have suggested the built-in display could adopt Mini LED backlight technology instead - as championed by TV manufacturers like LG, Samsung and TCL - but OLED is the more likely option.
A 4K resolution will likely be reserved for connection to a TV - with higher resolution processing possibly performed through the dock itself. DLSS also has the benefit of higher frame rates, so that could be a bonus too.
Better battery life is also tipped.
Switch Pro game compatibility
- Full backward compatibility likely
- Will surely have Joy-cons
Backward compatibility is a shoo-in. However, a report in March 2021 claimed that while the Nintendo Switch Pro will play all existing and future Switch games, there could be some new titles that will exclusively run on the new console.
That's because the greatly improved hardware - especially graphics capability - will be used by some developers to improve their games. Nvidia's DLSS technology will specifically only appear on the Switch Pro as has to be implemented at code level. At present, only a handful of titles (at most) are being tipped for exclusivity.
To see what other games will work on Nintendo Switch Pro, you only need to look at the upcoming schedule of Switch titles.
Developers have reportedly been told by Nintendo to ensure their existing games support 4K too.
Nintendo Switch Pro: What's happened so far?
This is everything we've heard so far about the Switch Pro:
4 May 2021 - Nintendo ramps up Switch production but won't talk Switch Pro yet
Nintendo reportedly tasked suppliers to make 30 million new Switch units this fiscal year, but won't say whether the Switch Pro is included: "There is nothing we can tell you about production numbers and higher-end models," a company spokesperson told Nikkei.
7 April 2021 - Nintendo Switch firmware code hints at a 4K dock
Dataminers have reportedly found code in the latest Nintendo Switch firmware (12.0) that points to a device codenamed "Cradle Aula". This is thought to be a new dock, possibly for the Nintendo Switch Pro, that could contain the processing chip and DisplayPort connectivity for a 4K output.
23 March 2021 - New Nvidia chipset with DLSS will be used for new Switch
Bloomberg's sources claimed that the Switch Pro will adopt a new Nvidia SoC with DLSS graphics.
16 March 2021 - Supply chain "confirms" new Switch for later in 2021
Nintendo's "allies" have reportedly confirmed the plans for a new Switch console to boost sales this year.
9 March 2021 - Switch Pro could have exclusive games after all
Even though it was thought all games will work across the entire Switch family, industry insider Nate Drake posted on ResetEra that at least one developer is making a Switch Pro exclusive title.
4 March 2021 - 7-inch OLED display leaked
Bloomberg reported that Samsung Display is making the screen for the next Switch - a 7-inch 720p rigid OLED panel that is set to go into mass production in June 2021.
22 February 2021 - Data mine of Switch title hints at 4K upscaling
As detailed on both the ResetEra forum and Reddit by trusted insiders, a data mine of a Switch title suggests that the next console will be able to reach native resolutions of 1440p, which can then be upscaled to 4K with Nvidia's DLSS 2.0.
7 January 2021 - Data mine of Switch firmware reveals new "Aura" hardware and details
Games website VGC reported that data miner SciresM found several references to a new Switch - codenamed "Aura" - inside the latest firmware. This revealed a 4K chipset, OLED panel and better battery life and cooling.
5 January 2021 - Analysts claim Nintendo Switch Pro is still on for a 2021 release
Several revered games industry analysts told Gamesindustry.biz that the Switch Pro will be part of Nintendo's big push in 2021. They also predict that the Switch series will outsell Xbox Series X/S and PS5, when bolstered by the new machine.
28 October 2020 - Could the Switch Pro have a Mini LED display?
The next Nintendo Switch could adopt Mini LED display tecnhnology, according to the Economic Daily News (via Reddit). If so, this will give the built-in screen better contrast, more accurate colours and black levels, even HDR.
9 September 2020 - Nintendo preps developers to make 4K games
According to Bloomberg, Nintendo has asked games developers to build 4K versions of their Switch games in preperation for an enhanced console.
25 August 2020 - Nintendo Switch will get a big hardware upgrade in 2021
The new Switch will be with us in early 2021 according to Bloomberg. The site says Nintendo will "include more computing power and 4K high-definition graphics" and the new model will most likely feature an upgraded but custom version of the Nvidia Tegra chipset based on newer ARM technologies.
6 August 2020 - Switch and Animal Crossing selling like hotcakes
The very obvious shortage of Switch consoles at most retailers was indeed a symptom of the success Nintendo's hybrid continues to enjoy. It sold more than 5.5 million units in Q1 2020, taking the Switch up to 61.44 million lifetime sales, a rampant success when you consider how badly the Wii U misfired before it. Switch production was also given a boost as a result.
31 January 2020 - No plans for Nintendo Switch Pro in 2020
Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa stated that there are "no plans" for a replacement or upgraded Switch at the moment. "We believe that it is important to continue to communicate the appeal of both Nintendo Switch systems and expand the installed base," he said. "Please note that we have no plans to launch a new Nintendo Switch model during 2020."
20 January 2020 - Nintendo might be bringing a stylus attachment to the Switch's Joy-Cons?
Nintendo announced the launch of an official Switch Stylus, but it looks like there might be more to come, with the eagle-eyed team at LetsGoDigital having unearthed a new patent from Nintendo to add stylus features right onto users' existing Joy-Cons.
May 2019 - Supply chain rumours
The Wall Street Journal spoke to "parts suppliers and software developers" in March 2019, who claimed that an enhanced version of the Switch, aimed at the more dedicated, hardcore gamer is on its way.