Rumors abound regarding the supposed Nintendo Switch Pro expected to release later this year, and discussions ramped up this week when games industry YouTuber and podcast host Spawn Wave directed their 87,000 followers to statements made during a recent Universal Display Corp Q1 investor call.
In contrast to other industry sources that only discuss the Switch Pro in the vaguest of terms, UCD went on record to say “our reports are, for the first time, Nintendo has selected an OLED screen for the new Switch Pro due to OLED benefits of higher contrast and faster response times.”
These reports could very well be based on a pair of stories published by Bloomberg in March, in which the outlet suggested a 2021 model of the Nintendo Switch would feature a seven-inch OLED screen manufactured by Samsung, as well as a new NVIDIA chipset capable of AI-assisted 4K graphics.
As these discussions continue in preparation for a presumed holiday season release, both developer and analyst alike are offering their perspectives on what these rumored hardware changes might mean for the new model. Are they a revolutionary update compared to the standard Switch offering? Could the new technology contribute to a higher base price for the console?
Based on Inverse’s discussion with two well-known industry insiders, we’ve deduced these subjects might be a matter of debate.
On the development side, we spoke to Thunderful Group CEO and Co-founder Brjann Sigurgeirsson, who previously worked as CEO and Co-owner of Image & Form International. To gamers, Image & Form is perhaps best known for its work on the Steamworld franchise. Despite being excited for what Nintendo has next, Sigurgeirsson sees the adoption of OLED as a natural evolution of how handhelds are made.
“If this is what they're doing, I think it's simply a visual fidelity versus cost of goods move,” the CEO tells Inverse. “OLEDs are more widespread and cheaper today than when the original Switch launched (when Nintendo went for LCD). I believe it's pretty common to improve the screen technology during the lifecycle of a handheld device. Nintendo has to make money on hardware, which is maybe why they went for cheaper, slightly inferior tech back then.”
In that frame of mind, Sigurgeirsson stops short of making grand claims about the new hardware, adding, “I don't think this would have any impact on game development or types of play — it's purely screen technology and visual quality on a small screen.”
Equally intrigued but more bullish on the prospect of an OLED-based Nintendo Switch is Dr. Serkan Toto, CEO of Japanese games industry consulting firm, Kantan Games. He believes an OLED display and a more powerful CPU will be the two highlight features of a hypothetical Switch Pro. “An OLED would be such a significant upgrade, as that would [be] a clear differentiator and make the games really pop in handheld mode,” Toto says.
However, he concedes that it’s the Switch Pro’s CPU that might be its single most important component. “The CPU in the current Switch is from the stone age and absolutely needs to be replaced,” he affirms. “Overall, the Switch has aged really well, but it's 2021 now, [which is] about time for Nintendo to push out a new model.” With regard to price, he suggested his “best bet” would be somewhere between $349 and $399. Given Sigurgeirsson’s statements on the general affordability of OLEDs, though, it sounds like the new screen won’t be much of a factor in bumping up the console’s price tag.
Despite the near-certainty surrounding the Switch Pro in the minds of enthusiasts, it’s worth remembering that statements like the ones above are based entirely on speculation. Speaking in a more official capacity in February of this year, Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa said “not anytime soon” when asked about the potential for a new model of the Nintendo Switch. Given the lack of concrete info, Sigurgeirsson accurately sums up a position that’s all too familiar to the Nintendo faithful:
“As usual we're eagerly inhaling this kind of information when we see it, especially when it entails Nintendo since they're so secretive!”