Rumors about an upgraded Nintendo Switch are heating up. As more credible rumors and reports about what fans have colloquially deemed the "Switch Pro" come out, its launch seems more plausible than ever. Nintendo's successful hybrid console is already proof that portability, affordability, and classic franchises can go just as far as cutting-edge graphics, but this update could bring the system up to snuff with at least the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Here’s everything we know about Nintendo's rumored Switch Pro console since multiple reports from Bloomberg in March 2021 revealed that the console is in development and coming sooner than we thought.
The Switch has sold more than 79 million units since its March 2017 release. Nintendo even released a handheld-only version of the console in 2019. Launching a new version of the system in 2021 would only keep that momentum going.
While Nintendo has yet to say a word about its plans for the gaming system, fans have been calling this rumored upgrade the “Nintendo Switch Pro” ever since initial reports about the alleged console update were first published in 2019.
Months of reporting from places like The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, as well as international trade publications like Nikkei and Digitimes, have given gamers an idea of when the Switch Pro might arrive and what improvements it’ll come with.
When is the Nintendo Switch Pro release date?
The Switch Pro hasn't even been officially announced, so there's no release date yet. A lot of rumors are pointing to a fall 2021 release, though. In a report from March 23, 2020, Bloomberg directly confirms that Nintendo is planning this new Switch model for “the year-end shopping season.”
A January 2021 data-mine from @SciresM (shared to ResetEra forums) confirmed that the latest firmware update references some new Switch hardware called "Aura." If this is the Nintendo Switch Pro, then the system itself may not be too far off.
Another Bloomberg report from March 2021 claimed that Nintendo struck a deal with Samsung to use their 7 inch 720p OLED and that production will start in July, which makes a 2021 release seem plausible. A third Bloomberg report from August 2020 also said that Nintendo will release it “along with a lineup of new games.
With titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 and Bayonetta 3 in the pipeline, it'd make a lot of sense to launch those alongside a more powerful system this fall.
When asked about the Nintendo Switch Pro's likelihood of releasing this year, analyst Candice Mudrick of Newzoo tells Inverse that "Nintendo would be able to sell the upgrade to its dedicated audience that wants to enjoy Nintendo first-party titles looking as good as they could be," if it launches this year. "It would allow Nintendo to stay in the wake of Sony and Microsoft's new generation of consoles," she said.
Nintendo released the Switch on March 3, 2017 in a bit of a scramble after the abysmal reception of its previous Wii U console. That gamble paid off when the Switch became one of the company's best-selling systems, and it has effectively given the company more freedom as to when it might release a Switch Pro.
Nintendo appears to be waiting until later in the year when new games like Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl launch to release the upgraded console. We won't know for sure until Nintendo confirms the Switch Pro.
How much will the Nintendo Switch Pro cost?
As the system has not been revealed, no price for it is known just yet. Still, some analysts theorized a price when speaking to Bloomberg for its March 23 report. “$349.99 will increase the value proposition of the device, but I still think Nintendo can drive strong demand even at $399.99,” Bloomberg Intelligence’s Matthew Kanterman guessed.
The handheld only Switch Lite is $100 cheaper than the current $299 model. It’s not clear whether Switch Pro is a replacement for the original or a premium version that will be sold alongside it.
Games journalist Jeff Grubb tweeted speculation in August 2020 that the Switch has become so popular that the company could begin incrementally upgrading it, like Apple's iPhone, instead of wiping out the console for a brand-new design like it did moving from the Wii to the Wii U.
If it replaces the 2017 Switch, this new console could adopt the $300 price tag the console carries now, also leading to a reduction in the cost of the regular Switch. But the upgraded console could be priced anywhere from $50 to $100 more to account for improved specs and features.
The lineup could end up looking something like:
- The Switch Lite: $199.99
- The First-Gen Switch: Currently priced at $299.99. This could see a discount, remain the same price, or be discontinued depending on Nintendo’s plan for the Pro.
- The Switch Pro: Premium price of $399.99, or could take the first-gen’s place at $299.99.
Once again, this is pure speculation as we won't know the pricing for sure until Nintendo decides to officially unveil the new console.
Nintendo Switch Pro expected features and specs
There have been plenty of rumors claiming to reveal what Nintendo has in store for the Switch Pro, and Mochizuki's August 24 report has shed light on the two most likely improvements: 4K-docked resolution and juiced-up computing power. Like the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X mid-generation upgrades, this upgraded system wouldn't fully replace the Nintendo Switch.
Instead, it would give players an opportunity to experience games at a higher resolution and frame rate. Bloomberg's report is backed up by the aforementioned data-mine by @SciresM that was also reported by Video Games Chronicle. They claim that the Switch Pro will use the same Mariko (Tegra X1+) SoC chip as the Switch Lite, but that it will run at a higher clock speed than it does on that system.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s March 23 report says that Nintendo will use an upgraded Nvidia chip that will have better processing, CPU, and memory. and support Deep Learning Super Sampling, or DLSS, to get games to display at 4K quality on a TV.
There are also references and Intel chip that supports 4K UHD multimedia SoC. Bloomberg's report highlights that the console will have a 4K resolution when docked to a TV, but will only display at 720p on Samsung's OLED screens when in handheld mode. This screen will have better contrast and response time and consume less battery than the current screen, according to display consultancy DSCC's Co-Founder Yoshio Tamura.
The Switch Pro will also reportedly have better battery life and cooling capabilities. Combined, these demonstrate an improvement that's more on par with the jump from PS4 to PS4 Pro, rather than PS4 to PS5.
If this information holds any weight, Nintendo could be trying to make up for the power the original Switch would lack compared to the PS5 and Xbox Series X. That means Nintendo fans might soon be playing iconic games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey at crisp 4K resolution, though Bloomberg’s report states that DLSS might only work on games specifically updated to support it.
The Nintendo Switch Pro is reportedly planned to be released in 2021.