Report: New Switch model launching in 2020

Photo: Nintendo

Nintendo is reportedly working on an updated Nintendo Switch model to be released sometime in 2020, according to Taiwanese electronics newspaper DigiTimes.

DigiTimes reported the new Nintendo Switch model will be released in “mid-2020,” with production beginning “at the end of first-quarter 2020” — which is sometime around March. The news lines up with a previous report from Wall Street Journal technology reporter Takashi Mochizuki. Mochizuki reported in August that “Nintendo has ideas for further updates to the Switch lineup after those two models to make the platform’s lifecycle long.”

According to the DigiTimes report, Nintendo intends to release the new Switch model with a magnesium alloy body and an update to the CPU.

Mochizuki’s August report outlined Nintendo’s intention to release two new Nintendo Switch models — the updated Nintendo Switch with a better battery, and the handheld-only Nintendo Switch Lite, which were released in August and September, respectively.

There’s no concrete information regarding the potential upcoming model, but some are predicting Nintendo’s next console as a “Switch Pro” device. Dr. Serkan Toto, CEO of game industry consultancy Kantan Games, told GamesIndustry.biz “there’s no doubt in [his] mind that Nintendo will launch a ‘Switch Pro’ in 2020” — specifically, “after the summer holidays to counter the roll-out of the PS5 and next-gen Xbox later in the year.”

Toto suggested a retail price of $399, with “4K support, bigger cartridge sizes, and of course beefed-up components.”

Others are skeptical, however. IHS Markit Technology analyst Piers Harding-Rolls told GamesIndustry.biz that the likelihood of a Switch Pro device “has significantly diminished since the launch of an improved flagship Switch and the Switch Lite.” He also believes 2020 will be Nintendo’s best year for Switch hardware sales since its launch.

A Nintendo of America spokesperson told Polygon it “has nothing to announce on this topic.”

The original Nintendo Switch was released in March 2017, but the updated version with increased battery life began rolling out in August 2019. Since release, Nintendo’s been criticized for malfunctioning Switch controllers — “Joy-Con drift,” which is associated with analog sticks registering movement without player input. In 2019, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Nintendo of America over the Joy-Con malfunctions. An update filed in September 2019 added the Nintendo Switch Lite to the lawsuit, suggesting Nintendo had not improved the malfunctioning parts. For a while, Nintendo was offering to fix or replace problematic Joy-Cons.

Update: This post has been updated with a statement from a Nintendo of America spokesperson.

Comments

Toto suggested a retail price of $399, with "4K support, bigger cartridge sizes, and of course beefed-up components."

I’d be pretty surprised if there’s a 4K Switch given the demands of 4k, especially on a little mobile chip. I could definitely see a beefier version that would allow for 1080p in handheld mode though. I don’t think it would sell well at that pricetag either.

While 4K on the dock might be appealing, in portable there’s really no advantage to 4K over 2K. I would also be very skeptical of Nintendo going the iPad route with incremental upgrades every couple years instead of releasing a "Super Switch" or whatever they intend to call a full upgrade. They did release a "New 3DS", but I was rather disappointed in the lack of real support there, and how original 3DS games were too married to the quirks of the original clock speed to allow the games to all benefit from better hardware.

There may be a single refresh, but I personally expect a fully fledged successor that allows developers to design their games fully around the new specs without worrying about their games working on the current Switch. Consoles greatly benefit from "cutoff points" like that. That said, I do hope they maintain the current system architecture in the next model to allow full backwards compatibility out of the box in the next line.

Yea I don’t think there’s any way I would buy a "Switch 2" or whatever if it wasn’t backwards compatible. Certainly not in the first year or two

There’s no way that this article is hinting at the Switch’s successor. The Switch isn’t even 3 years old, and is a massive success. They would be completely shooting themselves in the foot if they moved on already.

I think the trick is the new-year 2021 timing. I also doubt they’d launch an entirely new successor, but something like a "New Switch" could well be in the plans in order to avoid being seen as a relic of the last-gen.

Nor would I want one this soon.

Depends on how it pulls off the 4k, though.

I highly doubt they’ll make a Switch that does 4k native in handheld. As you mention, it’d be hard to do on the handheld chip and arguably useless at such a small screen size.

However, you’re discounting the potential to pair it with a Pro-level dock that houses enhanced capabilities, much like an external GPU enclosure (which are becoming more popular for PCs). It’d provide an experience that already matches the current experience, but just… beefier.

I could easily see them making a Pro that does 1080 in handheld and then you dock it and it outputs in some form of fuzzy math 4k, like the PS4 Pro.

The Pro dock was an idea that floated a lot in the days before the system released. I’ve read the the USB interface used by the system makes it unlikely that they’d be able to make an external GPU housed in a dock a viable option. Nevertheless, a dock that improves current Switch systems may be the only way to help current users update to the new "Pro" specs if indeed a more powerful system is coming out.

You seem to think I meant they’d only release a Pro dock, to be used with the current hardware. That’s not what I meant.

If they upgrade the dock, they’d likely have to change the handheld components, as well. So at that point they could fix whatever issue it is that’d holding the current hardware back from upscaling the way I describe.

So you’d still need a Pro handheld and a Pro dock to get the upgraded 4k output.

Thunderbolt 3 uses the USB-C connector. And Thunderbolt 3 is of course capable of driving external GPUs. Obviously the Switch itself would have to support Thunderbolt, and the current ones don’t, but this is technically possible.

I wouldn’t expect anything along these lines. The best I’d hope for is for the fan to move into the dock so they can have a larger one to support a higher clock speed.

Yeah, part of the issue is Thunderbolt 3 is a CPU-level technology — the port might be USB-C but it is directly tied to the CPU. This is to mitigate the latency and bandwidth issues caused by the USB overhead.

The nail in the coffin is that Thunderbolt is an Intel technology and the Switch uses ARM.

Not to say that ARM/Nintendo couldn’t develop their own version, but I just wouldn’t get your hopes up.

It seems feasible to have a newer Tegra chip in the handheld and an identical chip in a dock that’s sort of analogous to the paired up GPUs in the PS4 Pro, but I seriously doubt there’s enough demand to warrant it.

I would love 720p or 1080p with better FPS in handheld mode and 1080p with better FPS in docked mode though on a souped up Switch,.

4K seems silly to even suggest, but I’m all in on a Pro system that can run 1080p steadily. I like the skeptical comments in the article. Whatever sir, but I’ll be buying one!

Could be 4K in the same way that the XBox One S is 4K – not really, but with 4K output over the wire to avoid upscaling lag in the TV, and to enable 4K output for video apps (not that it supports much in the way of video apps at the moment).

The 4K Apple TV uses a "little mobile chip" – 2017’s Apple A10X. Even if Nintendo/NVidia just play catch up to that, and not the most recent Apple SoC (the A13 powering the iPhone 11s), a new Switch would be a much more capable device.

Per other commenters, though, I would much rather they put more power to use improving other aspects of the device – keeping the video output to 1080p (720p in handheld) but beefing up frame rates, draw distances and poly counts would have a bigger impact for more users.

Right, but the 4K Apple TV isn’t tasked with rendering graphics in real time.

I’m sure they could make a Switch that outputs in 4K, but it’s not going to have enough going on under the hood to actually render games at that resolution, so why bother?

It is though: Apple TV has games – and there is a lot of overlap with Apple TV and Nintendo’s indies. With Apple Arcade and Xbox/PS4 controller support, they’re clearly intending for that to grow.

Doesn’t seem like the framerates are great though as they are, and the Apple Arcade games are definitely more limited graphically than, say, Breath of the Wild, which needs a GTX 1060 to run well on a PC emulator. But I take your point, a brand new nVidia chip could make a pretty big difference.

You shouldn’t compare hardware requirements for software emulation to hardware that runs software coded directly for its bare metal.

The Wii U/Switch have graphics capabilities that are vastly less powerful than a GTX 1060, but the 1060 is necessary for the emulation overhead. Nvidia has a number of newer Tegra chips that would be excellent; the X1 Maxwell was already old (and had a successor) when the Switch was announced over 3 years ago.

I’m just hoping that the Switch could ditch that dynamic resolution thing and achieve fixed 1080p with solid framerates, by that meaning 30 FPS for more intensive games (like the Witcher 3, Outer Worlds, etc.) and 60 FPS for the rest.

People say things like this, but there’s no such thing as a console that runs everything at 1080p and a pre-ordained framerate. It’s going to vary depending on what software is thrown at it.

Even if the Switch became substantially more powerful with a hardware revision, that would just mean we’d start seeing more demanding games that push it right back to its limits again.

Yea Nintendo would never do this because making cheaper consoles with cheaper parts has been a must do for them since the wii, could even say the n64.
Nothing about this updated system sounds like anything Nintendo would do.
Look how longed they milked the 3DS for. If it sales, why fix it?

4k or QHD would only be done for VR purposes. There’s not other reason to do on the handheld.

4k can mean just 4k tv support which means nothing more than upscaling to 4k and supporting 4k menus. That’s nothing.

Nintendo’s own games don’t require super high resolution. They are all cartoony looking. I don’t even think BotW requires true 1080p.

I’d actually appreciate 4k menus, those usually show the lack of resolution before gameplay does (especially with Nintendo’s art styles as you mentioned).

Improved CPU and 4K (of current titles)? Both are possible, although the latter is unlikely. Bigger cartridge (data) sizes? That’s impossible as it would break compatibility with the previous Switch. Nintendo would be crazy to release a system with exclusive titles, not available to the rest of the Switch user base.

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