The Nintendo Switch is arguably the Kyoto company’s best console yet, and is on track to become its biggest, with the potential to even overtake the Wii in lifetime sales. Still, nothing’s perfect, and there’s still plenty of room to improve on the original Switch, which is why we’re so excited by rumours that the Switch 2 – or perhaps Switch Pro – is on the way.
While we might be some time away from the announcement and subsequent release of the Nintendo Switch 2, there are already whispers online about a new console in the works, which a slightly upgraded Switch Pro model likely to arrive in 2021 ahead of a full Switch sequel a few years from now.
Here, we discuss all there is to know about the Nintendo Switch 2 including a possible release date window, the latest rumours and what we’d like to see from the next-gen console.
When will the Nintendo Switch 2 be released?
Nintendo Switch 2 rumours have been popping up persistently since the original Switch first launched, which makes it hard to put too much stock in any that tout specific dates.
The latest come from Bloomberg and Taiwan’s Economic Daily News, each of which claims that an upgraded Switch console is due in 2021. It’s worth noting though, that they’re not quite consistent – Bloomberg claims manufacturing will begin in 2021 for a launch later that year, while EDN instead suggests that Nintendo will be building stock in Q4 2020, for a launch early in 2021 – perhaps to match the original March release date of the standard Switch.
Both suggest the new console will be supported by a strong portfolio of new games, which somewhat explains the company’s light 2020 slate. Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 seems like a plausible launch, though we’ll also be keeping our fingers crossed for Metroid Prime 4.
That would still only be four years on from the Switch’s launch – not long in terms of console cycles – adding to the sense that this will more likely be an enhanced version of the Switch with the same core features, much like the Switch Lite was a budget alternative, rather than an entirely new console or product line.
What would be new in the Switch Pro?
Solid rumours on the Switch 2/Pro’s specific features are frustratingly thin on the ground. The Bloomberg report cited above claims that Nintendo “has looked into including more computing power and 4K high-definition graphics,” but stops short of suggesting that the console will definitely include either.
Similarly the EDN report suggests the new Switch will have “better picture quality” – though not necessarily 4K – and intriguingly claims it will also be “more interactive.” (Both quotes via Google Translate).
A later EDN report more concretely claims that Nintendo is looking to adopt a Mini LED panel supplied by Taiwanese manufacturer Innolux, which would help drive better image quality and improved battery life – no doubt both priorities for Nintendo’s upgraded Switch.
A more recent Bloomberg report backs up expectations of higher-res graphics, quoting several anonymous third-party game developers who claim that “Nintendo has asked them to make their games 4K-ready.”
Other rumours are older. Switchbrew hackers dug into the 5.0 firmware update that was pushed to Nintendo Switch consoles in March 2018, and found something interesting; references to technology not included in the current console.
In the 5.0 firmware, references to a new T214 chip (which, as the name suggests, is a small improvement on the current T210 chipset) were discovered alongside references to an updated PCB (Print Circuit Board) and upgraded RAM, 8GB up from the current 4GB.
Nintendo is looking at next-gen designs too. As picked up by Polygon, Nintendo filed for an interesting Joy-Con-related patent in Japan, and it looks like it’ll tackle a pressure point of the current Switch. That pressure point is comfort over long periods in handheld mode, and hardcore Switch gamers will know what we’re talking about here.
Nintendo seems to be aware of the issue, and looks to fix it with upgraded, bendy Joy-Cons. As seen in the below image from the patent, the new top third of each Joy-Con can bend, which should improve ergonomics over long periods of play. Of course, this isn’t confirmation that these updated Joy-Cons will ever hit the market, but it’s good to see Nintendo actively working on improvements.
What we want to see from the Nintendo Switch 2
There may not be much information online about the Nintendo Switch 2, but that hasn’t stopped us from thinking about what we’d want to see from the next-gen console. After a few years with the first-gen console, here are the biggest changes that we’d like to see in the Nintendo Switch 2.
Higher resolution display
One of the biggest drawbacks of the Nintendo Switch is the 720p display; sure, the console can output in full 1080p HD when connected to a TV, but in a day and age where there are 4K smartphones on the market, surely Nintendo could’ve bumped it up to at least 1080p?
We’d love for the Nintendo Switch 2 to come with a 1080p display and 4K TV output to really showcase how amazing Switch games like Zelda: BotW and Super Mario Odyssey look when playing on-the-go – one of the highlights of the portable console.
Then again, there is a balance between battery life and display quality, which leads us to our next point…
Better battery life
The battery life on the Nintendo Switch isn’t bad by any means, especially when compared to gaming laptops, but it could always be better. There’s a plethora of great Nintendo Switch power banks and handy accessories that’ll extend the battery life of the console, but these come at a cost; they’re heavy and bulky, and if they don’t attach directly to the console, it’s another accessory to carry around.
2019 brought a mildly updated version of the Switch with small improvements to battery life, but we’d like to see something more substantial in the Switch Pro. Are we being too greedy by asking for 10 hours of play on a single charge? We don’t think so.
Oh, and we’d love to see the introduction of fast-charge technology to speed up the recharge time and allow forgetful gamers to give the console a quick top-up before heading out.
Larger on-device storage
The Nintendo Switch comes with 4GB of built-in storage, expandable via microSD card. That’s enough for one, or maybe two Switch games at a push, and is far from the 500GB and 1TB capacities offered by the PS4 and Xbox One.
We’d love to see more storage available on the Switch 2 – maybe not as much as 1TB, but 128 or even 256GB isn’t unreasonable. This would allow gamers to store a large library of games without having to invest in a microSD card, which is essentially required with the first-gen Switch.
With storage prices dropping every day, we don’t see this as much of an ask, especially by the time the console appears in a few years’ time.
As well as larger storage, we’d like to see a big improvement in terms of graphical output. The main drawback of the Nintendo Switch is that it isn’t powerful enough to handle some of the biggest, best games available – and those that do make it to the console usually appear later than on other platforms. We imagine this in part due to the time it takes to properly optimise the game for the relatively low-powered console.
The Switch is powered by the 5-year-old Nvidia Tegra X1, and mobile processing has come on a long way since that chip was developed. It’s about time Nintendo packed more powerful silicon into the Switch Pro.
A bump in graphical power would bring more high-end games to the console, speed up Switch releases and generally make the games look better, making it more attractive to a larger audience. Who doesn’t want that?
Bluetooth headset support
This is just a quality of life request, but an important one: Bluetooth support. Phones rarely come with headphone jacks any more, driving more and more of us towards wireless headphones…which we can’t use with our Switch unless we buy an additional third-party adapter.
The Switch already includes Bluetooth tech for the Joy-Con, Nintendo just needs to let the console use it for audio too.