Nintendo is no stranger to updating and iterating its hardware. Ever since the days of the NES, the company has seen the value in refreshing its consoles to maintain consumer interest, introduce new features and bring down the cost of manufacture, and that approach hasn’t changed in over 30 years.
Therefore, reports that Nintendo is working on two new Switch models should come as absolutely no surprise, but given that the Kyoto veteran is yet to formally announce these systems, there’s obviously a lot of speculation and rumour floating around right now – and we plan to cover all of the solid leads here.
Wishful thinking aside, hints that Nintendo was working on revised Switch hardware came as early as October 2018, with The Wall Street Journal claiming that a new Switch SKU was on the way. At the time, it was said that Nintendo was still “undecided” on how it would upgrade the new model, but the plans were clearly already in place.
Then, in January, analysts predicted that we’d see not one but two new models – a Switch Pro and a Switch Lite – would be going into production. Of course, these were just predictions made by people who closely watch the industry, but given Nintendo’s track record of updating its systems, it was a fair assessment of the situation – although Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa was quick to dismiss any rumours.
Then, a month later, Japanese business publication Nikkei added more weight to reports that a smaller, cheaper version of the Switch was in development. The aim, according to one source, is to reduce costs by removing certain functions and focus on the portability aspect of the machine – which would hint that any new ‘Lite’ model would be seen as a potential replacement for the outgoing 3DS.
In June 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported that Nintendo was moving production out of China “to limit the impact of possible U.S. tariffs on Chinese-made electronics”, according to “people who work on Nintendo’s supply chain”. As part of this report, it was revealed that three Switch models will be produced at the new site in Southeast Asia – which would suggest that the current model, a Lite version and a Pro version are all being made.
Nintendo Switch Lite
After years of rumours surrounding a new ‘Switch Mini’ console revision, the lid has finally been lifted. The Switch Lite will be launching on 20th September at a suggested retail price of $199.99 and will be available in three different colours: yellow, grey and turquoise. A carrying case and screen protector set for Nintendo Switch Lite will also be available.
The new console has integrated controls and is smaller than the standard Switch. It has no kickstand and does not support video output to a TV. Therefore, you won’t find a dock or HDMI cable included. The Switch Lite can play all games that support handheld mode, although Nintendo notes that some games “will have restrictions”. It has also been confirmed that you can wirelessly connect Joy-Con controllers to the console.
Prior to its official announcement, the then titled ‘Switch Mini’ was has perhaps gained the most traction in terms of rumours and speculation.
In June 2019, we got what appeared to be our first look at the Switch Mini thanks to a host of accessories from Chinese company HonSon. The company created its own render of the system based on “secret information”; the design backs up other reports that the machine has built-in controls and a D-Pad, and that it will be smaller than the existing Switch model. This was seemingly backed up by the fact that the Spanish arm of retailer GAME posted Switch Mini accessories a week later (these were quickly removed).
Shortly after this, Nintendo responded by saying that “answering to rumours and speculations would end up stealing surprises from our customers and also be unprofitable to all of our shareholders, so we have no answer to that. As a general theory, we are always performing development of new hardware.”
At the start of July, another accessory maker – Bigben – posted images of a “Mini Switch 2” silicone skin.
Nintendo Switch Lite: Release Date
The Switch Lite will be launching on 20th September at a suggested retail price of $199.99 and will be available in three different colours: yellow, grey and turquoise. A carrying case and screen protector set for Nintendo Switch Lite will also be available.
Nintendo Switch Pro – What We Know So Far
There’s less info floating around about the Nintendo Switch Pro, but we do know that Nvidia is working on a new version of the Tegra X1 which is found inside the Switch. This could end up in both the Pro and the Mini, according to reports.
Nvidia has already stated that it expects to have a bumper year, and some have joined the dots and connected this positivity with increased demand for components from Nintendo for Switch Mini and Switch Pro.
As for what improvements the Pro will offer over the existing machine, an improved Tegra X1 should mean better power efficiency and less energy consumption, which should mean better battery life. Those expecting a massive leap in performance between this model and the existing Switch may be disappointed; even a comparison with the 3DS / New 3DS might be off the mark, as Digital Foundry believe that the ‘Pro’ revision is more about making the chip more efficient and not about boosting power, as we’ve seen with the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro.
Nintendo Switch Pro – Release Date
Given that we’ve heard less about the Pro then the Mini, it’s tempting to speculate that it will be coming later on – perhaps even as late as next year. This is pure speculation, however; it’s entirely possible that Nintendo will announce both at the same time.