Alex Birlo on January 12, 2021
Last week, as reported by VGC, a known dataminer by the nickname “SciresM”, managed to scoop up some hidden mentions of a new Nintendo Switch console in the latest firmware update.
The new hardware is code-named “Aula”. The dataminer also reported that this version will also use the same Marico (Tegra X1+) SoC that is used in the Nintendo Switch Light and the 2019 version, but it will be pushed to higher clock speeds.
In addition to that, the firmware also references new support for a Realtek chip that, as has been previously advertised, is a “4K UHD multimedia SoC”.
Now, we can logically tie this to last year’s reports from Bloomberg and a Taipei-based newspaper the “Economic Daily News”, all talking about Nintendo holding onto some first-party Nintendo titles for a potential improved version of the Switch.
All of these reports make mention of improved computing power and 4K resolution support. One even suggests that Nintendo requested some developers to make their games “4K-ready”, probably for that exact new Switch model!
But that is not all the new information that was mentioned in the latest firmware update. SciresM makes even more statements on the hardware side of things.
Apparently the “Pro” version of Switch – let’s call it that, since it seems the name got stuck to it very well all across online sources – will also have an updated OLED screen to go with the improved computing power.
The only thing is that, as SciresM makes a valid point, the tablet version of the new Switch itself might not have higher resolution and will not display the games in 4K.
The 4K improvement will be most probably available when the console is docked and connected to a 4K TV. As it might be that the, previously mentioned, 4K Realtek chip will be installed in the Switch’s dock, rather than in the Switch “Pro” itself.
But the firmware also kind of suggests that the tablet version of the new Switch will have much better cooling and battery life.
Though another thing to consider, is not only the rumors and leaks but also the official statements that we have on hand, regarding Nintendo’s plans for the future.
Each of the previously mentioned reports, makes a suggestion that the new version will be releasing in 2021, but an interview that Nintendo of America’s president Doug Bowser gave to Poligon just last month (December 16th 2020), does not seem to support such a drastic change so soon.
In this lengthy and quite interesting interview, Doug Bowser is asked about the Nintendo Switch “Pro” rumors and the company’s plans for future hardware updates. Since let’s be real, it is all nice and dandy, but they make a valid point that “a 720p handheld screen is getting a little bit” outdated.
But Doug answers that, by recalling the enormous growth of sales and Switch users just in the last year. And says that they are probably just at the “halfway” mark in the lifecycle of this system.
The Lite and Standard Switch consoles have such a “momentum” that indeed it would be weird for them to stutter now, by suddenly releasing an “X” or “Pro” version, and instantly outdating and devaluating all the existing sold consoles.
Nintendo is most probably already working on the next Switch, and are planning for the future. If not this year, then the next, the rumors will get hotter and the release of a new Nintendo console more probable.
But from official sources, as of now, Nintendo just got the ball rolling and will continue working with the current set of consoles, while primarily focusing on new content rather than new hardware or form factor.
VGC article on the dataminer report: https://www.videogameschronicle.com/news/switch-pro-details-oled-4k-substantially-better-battery/
Bloomberg on possible New Switch console in 2021: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-25/nintendo-plans-upgraded-switch-console-and-major-games-for-2021
Poligon interview with Doug Bowser: https://www.polygon.com/interviews/22170222/nintendo-doug-bowser-interview-switch-pro-joycon-drift-animal-crossing