(Pocket-lint) - In late 2021 Nintendo added a third console to its Switch family - the Nintendo Switch (OLED model).
However, while it brought some neat new features - not least a 7-inch OLED display - it's not the much-rumoured Switch Pro we were all expecting.
We still expect Nintendo to eventually debut a more powerful version of the console, possibly even in 2022. Here, then, is everything we know about the Nintendo Switch Pro so far.
Switch Pro release date
- Unlikely to appear before late 2022
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.
Similarly, while Bloomberg later claimed a Switch Pro would arrive in time for the "year-end shopping season" 2021, it turned out that Nintendo had other plans. It announced the non-4K Switch (OLED model) instead.
That means we're now looking to late 2022 for a genuinely upgraded version at the earliest. Jeff Grubb from Venture Beat certainly still believes it is in the pipeline and could come this year.
I still have only ever personally heard 2022 for a Switch Pro. And if that still happens, I'll continue to speculate that will have 4K output with a significantly more efficient chip with DLSS.— Jeff Grubb (@JeffGrubb) July 6, 2021
Anyone think this is the last Switch from the company that released 6 3DS models? https://t.co/TuJJGucDdc
This was further added to by Pixelpar in July 2022, who agreed that they're expecting something by the end of the year, with upgraded hardware in its corner.
Welp. Tried to keep away from these types of rumours for so long, but way too much smoke now.— Pixelpar (@pixelpar) July 6, 2022
It looks like a new model could be announced towards the end of the year.
Apparently works with current carts, improved perf, retains branding & form factor.
No more info than that.
Considering Nintendo itself tweeted a statement in mid-July 2021 saying it has "no plans for launching any other model at this time", it might not even make it onto shelves until 2023.
Switch Pro specs and design
- Based on 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 and Switch OLED both have 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 onboard storage will get a major hike to 128GB. The standard 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, while the Switch OLED upgraded this to 64GB.
But, while rumours previously suggested that the Pro 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.
Subsequently, details have surfaced suggesting it will be a customised version of the Nvidia Tegra Orin, called T239. A leak of Nvidia details in March 2022 also further implied that the manufacturer is working on new hardware for a fresh Switch model.
That was further backed up by a job listing in May 2022 which furthered the idea that it's working on a new GPU that would be perfect for an upgraded Switch.
The Switch Pro is unlikely to have a 4K display built-in, though. It is expected to have a similar 720p display resolution and could well pack the exact same upgraded OLED display that the Switch OLED debuted. A report claimed at the beginning of March 2021 said that it will sport a 7-inch OLED panel, after all. The reported hardware would potentially support a 120Hz refresh rate on that display, though, which the OLED model doesn't (it's 60Hz).
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. That resolution boost was sorely missed when Nintendo released the Switch (OLED model), so is surely a must for any subsequent Switch models.
Better battery life is also tipped, another area where the OLED model lacks.
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:
16 May 2022 - Nvidia job listing suggests new Switch GPU
Nvidia uploaded a job listing to LinkedIn which could well be for a position working on new hardware for a Switch Pro.
2 March 2022 - Nvidia leak indicates new hardware for Switch Pro
A major hack of Nvidia reveals a lot of details, including further graphics hardware being developed to bring DLSS and other features to a device that could well be the Switch Pro.
19 July 2021 - Nintendo reveals it has no current plans for a further Switch model
Nintendo took to Twitter to refute suggestions that the price of the Switch OLED is exagerated beyond new component costs. In the process, it stated it currently has no plans for a further model. That rules it out for 2021 for sure, possibly 2022 too.
13 July 2021 - Nintendo Switch Pro still planned, even after OLED model
Venture Beat journalist and industry analyst, Jeff Grubb, is adamant that the Switch Pro is still on the cards. He posted on Twitter that he has heard a 2022 release is possible.
1 July 2021 - Nintendo president admits the company is always developing new hardware
During a shareholders call, Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa refused to be drawn on plans for a Switch Pro but did admit that the company is "constantly developing hardware".
13 June 2021 - Rumoured specs suggest a processor bump
Details claim that the Switch Pro will use a custom version of the Nvidia Tegra Orin chip, called T239.
2 June 2021 - Switch Pro price revealed by French retailer
French retail Boulanger was found to have the Nintendo Switch Pro listed in its stock database. It also listed the price as €399 (around £340). This has added further weight to the theory that it could be announced prior to E3 2021, which starts on 12 June 2021.
27 May 2021 - Switch Pro could release in September, will replace existing Switch
Bloomberg claimed that the Switch Pro will enter production in July for a September/October release. That matches the similar release pattern Nintendo adopted for the Switch Lite. The news site also reported that the Switch Pro is intended to be a replacement for the existing Switch, not just an addition to the family.
12 May 2021 - Universal Display Corp mentions Switch Pro in earnings call
An OLED display manufacturer claimed that the Switch Pro will feature an OLED panel due to the tech's contrast and response time benefits: "Nintendo has selected an OLED screen for the new Switch Pro due to OLED benefits of higher contrast [and] faster response times," said company CEO, Steven V. Abrahamson.
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.