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Nintendo Switch 2: what we know about what may come in 2021




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Switch Lite came in 2019. What’s next?

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The switch has been a runaway success for Nintendo, especially after a 2020 that made us all play at home Animal transition. The question now is … what comes next? Signs refer to a new 7-inch OLED model with possible 4K games once docked, coming later this year. It may also have a brand new Nvidia processor capable of 4K Nintendo games for the first time.

Does that mean a Switch 2 will arrive later this year? It certainly seems like it. Maybe it will be called Switch 2. Or a Switch Pro. The Nintendo Switch. Super Nintendo Switch. Super Nintendo Switch XL. Call it what you will, but it’s time for new Nintendo hardware to appear. It seems increasingly likely that the aforementioned “Switch Pro” may finally happen in 2021.

The Nintendo Switch debuted four years ago; the cheaper Change Lite arrived two years ago. In the meantime, have Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 has already arrived: Sony and Microsoft are in the next generation of console countries. In the meantime a recently Nintendo overview of upcoming Switch games had no news on new Switch hardware, and they felt light on new great games.


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Nintendo, as always, is kind to details. A polygon interview with Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser in December last year suggested that the Switch was in the middle of the console cycle, and that “existing form factors” would be respected. But reports of new hardware are on the rise. A report from Bloomberg earlier last year said that Nintendo can already look at developers to upgrade their games to 4K for a possible hardware update. Recent reports go into even more detail about the Nvidia hardware that may be inside.

Nintendo Switch has already sold several systems than the Nintendo 3DS, and could eventually catch up with the Wii. A new switch can be more expensive, but can live with existing switch models. Of course, if a new switch comes along, you can expect some great games to debut next to it.

Asked about future plans, Nintendo declined to comment.

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Nintendo’s 3DS series continued to evolve, and the Switch can do the same.

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Highly likely: Larger OLED screen, enhanced video play when docked

A report from Bloomberg says that the updated switch coming this year will have a 7-inch 720p Samsung OLED. The existing Switch and Switch Lite have 720p displays, but they are 6.2- and 5.5-inch LCD panels. Reports on larger switch display go back to last year, at least, but reports then pointed to different display manufacturers.

There is not a big increase in screen size, but maybe it comes with a case design to be more compact. Then again, if a new switch changes body size, it may be a problem when connecting older switch accessories.

4K game resolution on a TV – mentioned in more detail in another Bloomberg report with emphasis on a new Nvidia chip – feels delayed, but will also mean a new wave of games that are 4K-optimized. If so, how would these games play on a 720p screen while on the go, and how would these games feel on older switches?

Previous Nintendo 3DS updates give an idea of ​​how the switch can gradually evolve

Although original Nintendo Switch arrived in 2017, there have been some evolutions since then. The more affordable, only handheld Change Lite arrived last fall and has been the switch that has been easiest to find in stock online. The dockable original switch got one significant battery life boost around that time too.

While Nintendo’s TV-connected consoles usually have not received many updates since launch, Nintendo handhelds tend to be developed every few years. The Nintendo 3DS (early 2011) was followed by the larger shielding 3DS XL (mid-2012), the Nintendo 2DS (2013), New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS XL (late 2014-early 2015), and New Nintendo 2DS XL (2017).

On that timeline, there would be a new Switch update … this year. Will it happen? Well, 2017 was a long time ago, and Switch Lite in 2019 was basically a cosmetic upgrade (and feature reduction).

More about game consoles

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Switch Lite (top) and original Switch (bottom). There is room for improvement.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Small updates can still offer a lot of upside

I could dream all day about how a brand new Switch 2 could push modular gaming into unknown territory, but Switch is in a huge success mode now, and it seems extremely unlikely that Nintendo would shake it up. Fine-tuning the hardware formula, but with some added benefits in a shiny new model, seems like a very likely move.

The Switch is a system that gets a lot of wear and tear: Joy-Cons pause, their backs crack, they take things and are thrown around by accident. Moving to a new version for a few years is not a bad idea for a serious player.

We’re also at the point where console ports at play may hit a bit of a wall with today’s Switch hardware. The PS5 and Xbox Series X run rings around the switch in terms of performance. Great deal, you might be thinking: except that the switch really should at least allow 4K gaming at this point. Or some improved graphics and performance for games that are transferred. It will help for platform games, which seem to be happening at an increasing pace.


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My wish list

An XL version with larger OLED screen (and 1080p)

I admit that I snore a lot on the Switch screen, especially the smaller Switch Lite. The 3DS went on a larger screen, and it can be a simple move to make an XL switch that reduces the large frames and expands the screen over the body. Maybe 7 inches, or 7.5. Make the screen better and brighter, and let it display the better 1080p resolution you can get on the docked Switch games.

The screen can also switch to OLED. It will definitely help with the clarity and quality of the screen. The existing switch screens are decent, but not good.

An improved processor

The older Nvidia Tegra processor on the Switch can handle games just fine, but the ventilation fan on top shows that it has to be a little tougher than I’m comfortable with. In addition to not requiring a ventilation fan (perhaps), an improved Switch processor can also aim to increase handheld performance up to what the docked switch can do. Four years later, of course, I expect a new processor.

4K when docked

If there is a new processor on board, it should help push 4K games to a TV when docked. It will help the games to look nicer, but it will also allow multiplayer with split screen to look better. I’m doing a lot of it on Switch right now, and I would like to see games use more of my TV properties.

Easier docking

If the processor on board can handle graphics better, it might also mean that the weird, bulky Switch dock can also shrink. I prefer an official Nintendo device that is very compact and easier to pack and travel with. There are already third-party options, but I hope the whole official package will be more elegant.

Bluetooth audio

I still store a pair of wired 3.5mm headphones to connect to the switch, somewhere near my bedside table. That’s absurd. Everything else works with Bluetooth headphones, but not the switch. Nintendo controllers are wireless. Come on, introduce Bluetooth audio.

Attach the outrigger

The dockable switch can also be a great little propade arcade machine for two players. I love that idea. The support stand on the switch does not make that idea work very well. I have to balance it just right, or the switch will tip (not a good idea with kids). Maybe a revised, smaller switch dock can double that support leg.

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Switch Lite colors are fine. There should be more.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Include many colors (like Switch Lite)

Just saying that colorful switches are fun, and the original switch is only available in black.

Stronger pleasure disadvantages (with D-pads and analog triggers)

Because Joy-Con goes into Lab and Ring Fit Adventure and other accessories, I’m not sure it makes sense to change the overall shape of the controllers. But really, it has to be an upgrade. My son, who has come in Fortnite on the Xbox, comments on the switch controls do not feel good enough. Nintendo has its Pro controllers, but even it lacks analog triggers.

A new version of Joy-Cons is well delayed. I would like to see a less squeaky revision that does not feel so worn out over time. I want improved vibration with more accurate haptics, and what would be really nice is a real analog set of game release buttons that can take advantage of them.

And D-pads. Switch Lite changed the buttons on the left side to introduce a real, classic Nintendo-style D-pad that helps make games like NES Classics or Tetris 99 more natural. Joy-Con controls on the original switch do not have D-pads, but it would be great if one had it.

Would it come before the holidays, or before?

Four and a half years seems like a perfect time for an upgraded switch to emerge. It does not have to be a completely new system, but it can be completely improved. With the success Nintendo has already seen from the switch, it makes a lot of sense. It may even justify a higher price (as reports have suggested).

But if previous Nintendo hardware upgrades are an indicator, the changes may not be large enough to inspire you to buy a new one. Existing Switch owners can be all right with what they already have, unless you feel like waiting for it, or treat yourself to an upgrade when the time comes. Like PlayStation and Xbox mid-lifes console upgrades (PS4 Pro or Xbox One X), they are good, but not necessary.

For the true expert opinion, however, I turned to my 8-year-old. He says: “Take two small controllers, pull them apart and pull up a small screen. There is a switch you can fit in your pocket.” I do not know if a Switch Micro will happen anytime soon, but that’s what he wants. It’s not a terrible idea.


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