Going Pro

Everything we know about the Nintendo Switch Pro

Could a next-gen Switch finally be on the horizon?

Nintendo

Rumors about an upgraded Nintendo Switch are heating up. As more and more rumors come out, the plausibility of the long-rumored "Switch Pro" seems more likely 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 PS4 and Xbox One.

This is everything that we know about Nintendo's rumored Switch Pro console.

The Switch has taken the world by storm, selling more than 61 million units since its March 2017 release. It has become so popular that there’s currently an ongoing Switch shortage, and Nintendo even released a handheld-only version of the console in 2019. Launching a new version of the system in 2021 would likely 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.

The Washington Post / Getty Images

Months of reporting from legacy papers, like The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, as well as international trade publications like Nikkei and Digitimes have given gamers an idea 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 2021 release though. A January 2021 data-mine from @SciresM (and 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 shouldn't be too far off.

Bloomberg's Takashi Mochizuki published a report on August 24, 2020 that shed some light on Nintendo's possible targeted release date window. According to Mochizuki's anonymous sources, Nintendo plans on releasing an upgraded Switch model "next year along with a lineup of new games."

With games 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 if they come out this year.

What could be next?Nintendo

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.

It's hard to predict when exactly the console could drop in 2021. The Switch itself released on March 3, while the Switch Lite came out on September 20. Either of those windows could work for the Switch Pro, or Nintendo could wait until November when it's biggest games of the year like Pokemon typically release. We won't know for sure until Nintendo confirms the Switch Pro.

How much will the Nintendo Switch Pro cost?

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 on August 25, 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, 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.

There are also references and Intel chip that supports 4K UHD multimedia SoC. The Switch Pro will also reportedly have a better OLED screen, 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.

The Nintendo Switch Pro is reportedly planned to be released in 2021.

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