New Nintendo Switch: Company Plans High-End Model for Launch This Summer

Switch Pro, anyone?

Nintendo plans to launch two new versions of its Switch hybrid video game console this summer, according to a Monday report. The new models, one of which is expected to target gaming fans with a series of high-end features, could be the first major update for the console since its launch in March 2017.

The Wall Street Journal report claims Nintendo will aim to continue sales momentum for the console, expected to start declining soon from 17.9 million in the last fiscal year to 17.4 million next year. The upgrades for the high-end model are unlikely to reach the same level as similar mid-generation upgrades like the PlayStation 4 Pro or Xbox One X, meaning the company is unlikely to chase super-advanced graphics and 4K resolution.

The company is also expected to release a lower-end model of the Switch, expected to act as more of a successor to the Nintendo 3DS that first launched in 2011. This chimes with a Janurary report form Nikkei, which claimed Nintendo plans to release a Switch this year that focuses on portability and cuts features to reach a lower price point. Amazon currently sells the Switch for $299, while the confusingly-named New Nintendo 2DS XL (which plays 3DS games) costs just $149.

An upgraded Switch could entice players to the platform with enhanced visuals, a notable sore point for the original console. The Switch can output up to 1080p resolution through a connected dock, but this drops to just 720p when undocked and playing on-the-go using the 6.2-inch touchscreen. Its portability is a key selling point versus the PS4 and Xbox One, but the screen’s low pixel density of 237 dots per inch pales in comparison to smartphones and tablets that can offer around double that density.

The Switch's screen leaves something to be desired.
The Switch's screen leaves something to be desired.

The report follows a previous October 2018 claim that an upgraded Switch, launching in 2019, would bring screen boosts to the console. This would include higher brightness, better energy efficiency, and a thinner design. It also noted that the console would still likely use LCD, rather than OLED technology found on devices like the iPhone XS that enables deeper blacks.

The new Switch could launch in a crowded marketplace. Google announced its Stadia streaming service last week with the prospect of running games from the company’s servers, playing through an internet-connected smartphone, computer or TV setup. This is similar to the PlayStation Now and xCloud streaming services, all of which enable users to take their games on the go in a way that could diminish one of the Switch’s selling features. With Stadia targeting graphics power of 10.7 teraflops, around 10 times more than the Switch, Google’s entry could offer much better quality while maintaining portability.

The race is on to take gaming on the go.

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