For years there have been whisperings that Nintendo has been working on a more powerful version of the Switch, dubbed by the internet as the Nintendo Switch Pro. Finally after rumors and years of speculation Nintendo has finally announced an upgraded Switch called the Switch OLED model. Just like the Nintendo Switch Lite and the new Nintendo Switch V2, Nintendo didn't give much warning before announcing this new Switch, which is set to release in October 2021. While it isn't a huge upgrade like many hoped, it does feature some welcome changes that Switch fans have long hoped for.
What's new with the Nintendo Switch OLED Model?
Update July 6, 2021: Nintendo announces new Nintendo Switch
Nintendo announced that the new Switch, called the OLED model, is set to release on Oct. 8, 2021 and will retail for $350. Read on for more information below.
Update May 27, 2021: Bloomberg report says Nintendo may announce new console before E3.
According to the report, console assembly could start as early as July and release in September or October.
Update March 3, 2021: Bloomberg reports a new Switch will use larger OLED Samsung panels.
Reportedly, Samsung and Nintendo are teaming up to manufacture OLED displays for a new Switch console with a larger display and firmware that supports a 4K chip.
Update February 1, 2021: Nintendo says they won't be announcing a new Switch model "any time soon".
During a Q&A session following Nintendo's latest financial report, the gaming company stated they weren't planning on making an announcement for a new Switch model any time soon.
Update January 26, 2021: Next Switch system might be called the "Super Switch"
Rumors are flying around the internet claiming that the next Switch system will be called the "Super Switch".
Update January 7, 2021: Latest Switch and Switch Lite filmware allude to hardware codename for a new console.
Console hacker and dataminer, SciresM on Twitter, says he found a hardware codename for something called "Aula" that will be clocked higher so as to offer more performance. It might be for the Switch Pro.
Update January 4, 2021: Industry Analysts still think a Switch Pro will release this fiscal year.
GamesIndustry.biz has once more released its annual predictions for the year, and experts believe that Nintendo will release a new Switch Pro model to join the existing console family.
Update October 26, 2020: Nintendo might be using Innolux Corporation's Mini-LED displays for its next consoles.
Economic Daily News reported that Nintendo is considering upgrading the Switch display to Taiwanese panel manufacturer Innolux Corporation's Mini-LED displays. It's possible this could be for the fabled Switch Pro.
Update August 25, 2020: Bloomberg states Nintendo plans to release an upgraded Nintendo Switch console in 2021.
Bloomberg reported that Nintendo Co. will begin production on a new Nintendo Switch console at the end of 2020 to release them in Q1 2021.
Update January 31, 2020: Nintendo states it doesn't have plans to launch a new console in 2020.
In a financial report that Nintendo released in late January, the gaming company stated that it has no plans to launch a new console in 2020.
Update January 6, 2020: New Nintendo Switch console might release mid-2020
According to the Taiwanese electronics newspaper, DigiTimes, an updated Nintendo Switch model will be releasing sometime in 2020. This information should definitely be taken with a grain of salt, but it's possible this could be the fabled Nintendo Switch Pro.
What is the Nintendo Switch OLED model?
The Switch OLED model is very similar with the original Switch console but with some much needed upgrades. Here are all of the important differences and similarities that we know of so far:
- 7-inch OLED screen: This screen provides more vibrant colors and crip contrast compared to the original screens. The display itself is also slightly larger without making the Switch any bigger since the OLED model has a slimmer bevel (black framing around the screen) than the original.
- 64GB of internal storage: The original Switch only had 32GB of internal storage, so this newer model effectively doubles that space.
- Updated Dock design: The new OLED model dock has an updated look with rounded edges on top rather than harsh corners.
- LAN port: The updated dock has a slightly different design included a wired LAN port, which will make it able to directly plug into your internet connection instead of always relying on Wi-Fi.
- New kickstand: Instead of the flimsy little stick kickstand that we've come to recognize from the original Switch, the OLED model has a long kickstand going along the back of the device that looks and operates similarly to the kickstand on a Surface Pro.
- Enhanced audio: It's unclear what this means exactly, but Nintendo states the "onboard speakers with enhanced audio [allow you to] enjoy your favorite games with clear sound".
- Three modes: Just like the original Switch, the OLED model can be used in handheld mode, tabletop mode, or docked mode on a TV.
- Detachable Joy-Cons: Just like the original Switch, this one can be used while docked to a TV or in handheld mode with removable controllers for multiplayer games.
- Works with Switch/Switch Lite: Compatible multiplayer games allow you to play online or locally with the original Switch as well as the Switch Lite.
- Colors: The New Switch comes with either white Joy-Cons with a white dock or neon blue and neon red Joy-Cons with a black dock. It's likely additional colors and designs will release in the future.
Switch OLED model Specs
The original hybrid's display only handles 1280 x 720p when in handheld mode and up to 1080p when docked, while Nintendo's competitors, both PS5 and Xbox Series X, will both support 8K. It wouldn't take too much to make a new Switch model more powerful than the original. Though, it seems like the only real visual update comes from the new OLED screen and not from improved resolution. Still, this new display could greatly enhance the visuals of each game.
The original Nintendo Switch uses an Nvidia Tegra X1 chip that was already outdated at the hybrid console's release. It looks as though Nvidia is currently upgrading this processor, potentially for this new Switch OLED model. These upgrades could make the Switch last longer, run cooler, or even perform faster. There's also the possibility that these upgrades are mostly taking place to make it harder to hack the Switch as Nintendo has done before. We'll just have to wait and see.
That's about all we know for Switch Pro specs at the moment. Once we come upon more concrete information, we'll add it in.
How to tell the new OLED model from the original
When you're looking to buy the new Nintendo Switch OLED model, look for a box with a vertical layout rather than a horizontal one. The large "OLED" letters depicted below the picture of the console is also a blatant give away. Additionally, if you see white Joy-Cons and a white dock with rounded edges on top, it's probably the new version as this color was not available on the original.
The new Switch OLED model will undoubtedly have a new model number on the backside as well, but we don't know what those numbers are as of yet. We'll update when we learn more.
Didn't Doug Bowser, the Nintendo of America president, say that there wouldn't be a Switch Pro?
In 2020, Polygon interviewed Doug Bowser and specifically asked the Nintendo of America president about the existence of the Switch Pro. His response basically neither confirmed nor denied the updated Switch's existence as he mainly explained that Nintendo is always trying to find ways to "enhance and improve the gameplay experience." However, several media publications posted articles claiming that Bowser had slammed the existence of the Switch Pro (or a new model), which just isn't true. They took the news out of context as we can now see.
Nintendo Switch OLED model rumor roundup
The Switch Pro had been rumored for a long time and thanks to a lot of credible sources, we had a good idea of what to expect with the now-announced OLED model. Some of the information was on the money, while others missed the mark. Here's a roundup of all the rumors.
Samsung will be producing OLED displays for new Switch
This is by far the greatest evidence we've seen. Basically, Bloomberg reported that Samsung and Nintendo are teaming up to produce OLED displays for a new Switch. Production will start in June 2021 with shipments slated for July.
According to the report, the displays will be 7 inches and still only support 720p. However, this upcoming model will support 4K graphics when docked to TVs. Whether this Switch model measures up to fans' "Super Switch" expectations is yet to be seen.
"Aula" hardware codename
According to SciresM, Aula not only uses a Mariko (Tegra X1+) SoC, the same chip found in the Nintendo Switch Lite and Nintendo Switch V2, but also will push the hardware to higher clock speeds. The firmware even seems to support a 4K UHD multimedia SoC Realtek chip, which would go inline with a Switch model that could support 4K.
This could be evidence for an upcoming Switch Pro or it could just be evidence for a newer Switch model in the works. Either way, the news is exciting.
Nintendo to extend Switch's life cycle
During Nintendo's 80th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, president Shuntaro Furukawa explained that the gaming company intends to extend the Switch's life cycle since the system did so well in 2020.
Our current generation system, Nintendo Switch, has entered its fourth year since launch, but its momentum is increasing. We believe there are two factors behind this. First is the existence of two hardware configurations with different characteristics, in Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite. The second factor is that Nintendo's development resources are concentrated on developing a single platform, Nintendo Switch. We want to extend the life cycle of the Nintendo Switch while maximizing such advantages.
Given Nintendo's past practices, we still think the gaming company is planning on creating updated Switch versions over the next few years that will continue to work with existing Switch games. This is basically what they did with the Nintendo DS, a handheld gaming system that transition into the DS Lite, then the DSi, and finally landed on the DSi XL before Nintendo decided it was time to release a new handheld called the 3DS and continued to release new versions of that system over the next several years after its release.
Release date for the Nintendo Switch OLED model
After a lot of speculating and rumors, we finally know that the Nintendo Switch OLED Model will release on Oct. 8, 2021. This is in line with a lot of what we heard considering release.
According to a Bloomberg report, it was looking very likely that we'd hear a Switch Pro announcement before E3, but that didn't turn out to be the case. However, it did also state that assembly may start as soon as July with the upgraded system releasing in September or October. This keeps in line with a previous report that Nintendo Co. plans to release an updated Nintendo Switch console in 2021 along with a lineup of new games.
How will the Nintendo Switch OLED model fair in the console wars?
Surprisingly, even though the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X have released, Nintendo Switch was still the best-selling console during the 2020 holiday season. This being the case, when the upgraded Nintendo Switch OLED model does release in October with a some anticipated games, the Japanese gaming company could end up doing really well for itself. Obviously, Microsoft and Sony's consoles will be more powerful graphically as they can handle 4K to 8K resolution, have incredible processing power, and offer more reliable controllers.
The Switch's portability and lower price give it an edge.
Fortunately, the Nintendo Switch hasn't focused on graphics but rather the portable gaming experience, which is why it has done so well. This focus also helps keep the Switch the most affordable gaming system, which gives Nintendo an edge against PlayStation and Xbox. Unless Sony or Microsoft launches a super successful handheld with seriously improved graphics and frame rates over the Switch (which is highly unlikely), Nintendo should do well for itself this year.
Plus, the Switch is already the best couch co-op and multiplayer console out there, given that its exclusive games can often host up to four players and sometimes up to eight. This makes it the system of choice for game nights and family-friendly activities. Plus, the ability to easily slip from single-player to multiplayer makes it a great option for families with more than one child.
Another thing the Switch has going for it is that there are plenty of highly anticipated exclusives coming to the Nintendo Switch soon, like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2, Metroid Dread (which releases the same day as the OLED model), Bayonetta 3, and Metroid Prime 4. These games are sure to keep people's interest in the Switch for quite a while.
Pricing for the Nintendo Switch OLED model
When we first started hearing rumors of the Switch Pro, we figured it would cost between $350 and $400 based on the previous Switch pricing. Now we know that the Switch OLED model will retail for $350, which is in line with our predictions.
As of the time we last updated this article, preorders were not available yet and it's unclear when they will be.
What we want to see in the Nintendo Switch OLED model
We're huge fans of the Nintendo Switch, but even so, there are things about the console that could seriously use some improvement. Here are some of the things we're hoping to see in a Switch OLED model.
No more drift: It's really quite ridiculous how many people have experienced joystick drift on their Switch or Switch Lite. Now that Nintendo has acknowledged the issue, they need to redesign the Joy-Cons for future consoles, so they don't have this problem anymore. Unfortunately, it looks like the OLED model's Joy-Cons are the same as before, but until we can open them up and look for ourselves, we won't know for sure.
Decent battery life: Considering that both the Switch Lite and the new Switch model have significantly improved battery life, we would expect the same from the Switch OLED model. It would need to at least last around 5 hours or more on average for us to be happy. However, Nintendo didn't mention anything about better battery life, so it's probably the same as before.
Bluetooth capabilities: Instead of requiring people to purchase an adapter to use Bluetooth headphones like the current Switch consoles do, I'd hope that the Switch OLED model would include Bluetooth and simply allow people to listen wire-free. But since Nintendo didn't mention it in the announcements, this isn't likely.
Faster load times: All in all, the Switch isn't super slow with its load and download times. However, considering how fast the next generation of Xbox and Playstation consoles will be, avid gamers will want something that's somewhat comparable. We'll have to wait and see what the Switch OLED model has in store for us.
Better resolution: Considering how other gaming consoles will feature higher resolution up to 8K, you'd hope that a more intense version of the Switch would be somewhat comparable. It would be nice if it could at least support 4K resolution. Of course, the Nintendo games themselves have been formatted for a lower resolution, which might not always yield a better visual experience.
More Joy-Con colors: The bright neon colors of the current Joy-Con offerings are fun and all, but I'd really like to see more Joy-Cons of the same color. Preferably something neutral like a navy blue or deep red. If there is a Switch Pro in the works and it is intended for more serious gamers, we're assuming many of them would like the option of having a less kiddie-looking design.
Should I wait for the Nintendo Switch OLED model?
The OLED model has proven to be a very popular item that sells out within minutes. Unless you really REALLY want the new model there's no reason to wait for it to release this October. Instead consider getting the original Switch as it's an incredibly popular device that provides solo and multiplayer fun both on your TV and on-the-go. It's the ultimate gaming device since it's great for a large age range and can be played just about anywhere.
Updated July 6, 2021: Updated for the official announcement.
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