(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, either called the Nintendo Switch 2 or Switch Pro. And, it could arrive later this year.
Here then is everything we know about the Nintendo Switch Pro so far...
Switch Pro release date
- Tipped for 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: "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."
That doesn't apply to 2021, however, and several industry analysts predicted in January that a Switch Pro/Switch 2 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.
Switch Pro specs and design
- Based around a Tegra X1+ custom chipset
- Storage and RAM set to get a boost
- 4K output to TVs likely, but with a Full HD internal display
While the Nintendo Switch Lite has similar internal hardware to the existing Switch, the Switch Pro will get a more thorough overhaul. According to the Japanese site Gamepedia, it will have some impressive internal specs.
The RAM is said to 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.
Rumours currently suggest that it will stick with the same, upgraded Tegra X1+ processor found in the Switch Lite but with a new RealTek GPU.
This RealTek graphics processor was allegedly referred to in Switch firmware, found during a datamine. It is capable of up to a 4K UHD "multimedia" resolution.
The new Switch is unlikely to have a 4K display built-in, though. It is expected to have a 1080p display instead (an improvement over the 720p one on the current Switch). However, this claim jives slightly with a February 2021 data mine detailed on Reddit, which suggests that the Switch Pro will be able to offer native 1440p resolution and upscale to 4K through Nvidia's DLSS 2.0 technology.
Some have suggested the built-in display could adopt Mini LED backlight technology - as championed by TV manufacturers like LG, Samsung and TCL - but more recent rumours claim it will be OLED.
Better battery life is also tipped.
Switch Pro game compatibility
- Full backwards compatibility likely
- Will surely have Joy-cons
All games for the new Nintendo Switch will be playable on the existing Switch and vice versa (the Switch Lite has some restrictions as motion-controlled games won't work due to the lack of detachable Joy-Cons).
Backwards compatibility is something Nintendo has traditionally stuck to, with different generations of GameBoys and DS consoles all being backwards compatible.
So, to see what 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 games support 4K too.
Nintendo Switch Pro: What's happened so far?
This is everything we've heard so far about the Switch 2/Switch Pro:
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.