Nintendo has announced the Nintendo Switch Lite, a lighter, more compact version of the Switch that is dedicated to handheld gaming.
Rumors have been circling for a while now that a new Nintendo Switch was on the way, but whether this would take the form of a Switch Pro, Switch Mini or even two new Switch consoles has been unclear. We now know a handheld Nintendo Switch Lite is definitely on the way – confirming a report by the Wall Street Journal.
So is this the only new Nintendo Switch on the horizon? Well, no, we don’t think so. The same report also claimed a second premium version of the console with “enhanced features targeted at avid videogamers” is on the way. So it’s entirely possible the Switch Lite is only one of two new Nintendo Switch consoles and we’ll be seeing another in the future.
Could we be seeing another new Nintendo Switch, and what new features will it offer? While we wait for more definitive answers, we’ve run through the likely (and unlikely) possibilities below…
New Nintendo Switch release date
We expected Nintendo to announce a new Nintendo Switch console sometime soon, and we were right. The House of Mario announced its new handheld-focused Nintendo Switch Lite is due release on September 20, 2019 but we don’t think that’s the only new Nintendo Switch up its sleeve.
The Wall Street Journal report suggests another premium Nintendo Switch console is also on the way and, while we’re taking these rumors which a pinch of salt, it did correctly predict the release of a lighter, more compact Nintendo Switch. But when could we see this premium console?
Based on these industry trends, it would make sense for Nintendo to release an upgraded version of the Switch hardware (or a design) between two and three years into its lifetime, which would mean we could see another new Switch in late 2019 or 2020. While the Switch lite focuses on redesign, its possible a second new Switch would focus on hardware improvements – maybe a Switch Pro?
We’d expect Nintendo to release another new model before the Xbox Project Scarlett or PS5 hits shelves – likely in late 2019 – chiming with the report from the Wall Street Journal that predicted a new Nintendo Switch model in mid-to-late 2019. While we know the Switch lite is launching in September, 2019, it seemed possible that we would see a second new console releasing closer to the end of the year – just in time for the holidays.
However, According to CNET, who attended a press briefing for the announcement of the Switch Lite, Nintendo president Doug Bowser revealed that we won’t be seeing another new Switch model in 2019.
“[The Nintendo Switch Lite will] be the only new Nintendo Switch hardware this holiday, as Bowser says the larger Switch won’t get an upgrade right now,” CNET writes.
Bowser’s comments rule out a 2019, suggesting a 2020 release window is more likely. But if a second new Nintendo Switch ends up with a 2020 release, it’s likely that it will be in direct competition with the next Xbox and PS5 release as Sony has already confirmed we won’t see the PS5 before mid-2020 and Xbox Project Scarlett is due for release at the end of 2020.
New Nintendo Switch price
Obviously redesigns cost money, and redesigns with improved hardware doubly so. We wouldn’t be surprised if a new Switch with updated hardware costs considerably more than the current Switch’s £279/ $299/AU$469 pricing, especially considering rumors suggest the new console will be “premium”.
In addition, the Switch Lite isn’t exactly cheap. The new handheld Switch costs $199.99/£199.99/AU$329.95, which isn’t too far off the original’s price.
New Nintendo Switch news and rumors
Despite the fact that Nintendo has announced the Switch Lite, there are rumors suggesting a second new Nintendo Switch could be on the way.
Another new Switch won’t release this year, says Nintendo
At a press briefing for the announcement of the Switch Lite, Nintendo president Doug Bowser revealed that we won’t be seeing another new Switch model in 2019, according to CNET.
“[The Nintendo Switch Lite will] be the only new Nintendo Switch hardware this holiday, as Bowser says the larger Switch won’t get an upgrade right now,” CNET wrote.
Bowser’s comments suggest an upgraded Switch model is on the way, perhaps a Switch Pro?
Nintendo Switch Lite announced
The Nintendo Switch Lite is a much smaller, solely handheld version of the Nintendo Switch and comes in three different colors: yellow, gray and turquoise.
According to Nintendo, the Nintendo Switch Lite is a device “dedicated to handheld gameplay”. The device has integrated controls and, unlike its larger predecessor, will not support video output to TV.
This new Nintendo Switch will launch on September 20, 2019 and cost $199.99/£199.99/AU$329.95.
A limited edition Nintendo Switch Lite Zacian & Zamazenta Edition console will also launch on November 8 to celebrate the upcoming Pokémon Sword and Shield games – this version will feature cyan and magenta buttons, and illustrations of the two new Legendary Pokémon.
Two new Nintendo Switch devices
A Wall Street Journal report suggests that Nintendo is working on two individual Switch variants that, rather than making the current Nintendo Switch obsolete, would put it in the middle of a range growing to suit all budgets.
According the publication’s sources, the first of these new devices will be aimed at budget gamers, and will see the Switch presented in a more traditional handheld-first format. It’ll replace removable Joy-Cons with fixed ones, and ditch their HD Rumble feature in order to bring costs down. This was confirmed with the announcement of the Nintendo Switch Lite.
The second new version of the Nintendo Switch, going by the rumor, is a little harder to pin down, but would be a premium version of the console with “enhanced features targeted at avid videogamers.” That’s not to suggest it would be aiming for 4K or HDR visuals, but would more likely have features and services baked in that would accommodate the modern obsession with streaming to platforms like Twitch.
The confirmation of the Switch Lite adds some weight to this report and could mean we will see another new premium Switch console at a future date.
E3 2019 rumors – untrue
A report by Bloomberg suggested we could see the budget model launch as early as June, with E3 2019 proving a natural time to showcase the product. Nintendo squashed rumors of an E3 reveal and we ultimately got no word on Nintendo hardware during the Nintendo’s E3 2019 livestream. However the Switch Lite was announced in July, 2019.
The 5.0 firmware dig
Though the Nintendo Switch’s 5.0 firmware update wasn’t up to much on the surface, hackers on Switchbrew dug into the upgrade and found evidence which suggests a hardware refresh is in the works.
Switchbrew discovered references to a new T214 chip (which would be a small improvement on the current T210) as well as an updated printed circuit board and 8GB of RAM instead of the current 4GB.
While any kind of chip upgrade could simply be Nintendo’s response to some hardware security problems which have emerged with the current SoC – like the homebrew hackers who have started creating pirated Switch titles – the new PCB and increased RAM suggest something more than this: a more powerful device.
It’s important to note that the files uncovered by these Switchbrew members contain neither a timescale nor a definitive statement of intent from Nintendo.
The Switch is proof that state-of-the-art technology isn’t the sole key to success in a wider sense, but it’s important to remember that as far as handhelds are concerned, the Switch is at the cutting edge and Nintendo will need to keep it there. If these hardware upgrade rumors turn out to be true, Nintendo has plenty of time before it has to do any kind of hardware refresh.
AR and VR support
VR and AR support for the Switch never looked likely, with the MD of Nintendo France citing a lack of mainstream appeal for the technology back in 2018, but the Labo VR Kit shows Nintendo has changed its mind about the viability of VR.
The Switch doesn’t have the high resolution of most VR gaming rigs, so we could see an advanced model with 2K or 4K resolution to improve those close-up VR experiences. However, given the VR Kit is still focused mainly on children, we’d be surprised to see a visual overhaul simply for this one peripheral.
What about 3D?
Another Nintendo patent came to light in early 2019: this time for a 3D sensor array that sits above your television, and creates a stereoscopic image in a similar way to the 3DS, meaning you wouldn’t even need glasses.
3D visuals felt like a passing gimmick even with Nintendo’s handheld consoles – and the troubled Microsoft Kinect camera will no doubt keep it wary of unnecessary TV peripherals. But getting convincing 3D imaging on standard 2D TVs may the step needed to bring 3D gaming mainstream.
Could it support 4K?
While Sony and Microsoft push at the 4K market, there isn’t really any big reason for Nintendo, the company that staunchly sets itself apart from other hardware producers, to follow suit.
In the same interview where he dismissed VR, Nintendo France General Manager Philippe Lavoué also brushed off 4K saying that the technology has “not been adopted by the majority” and it would, therefore, be too early for Nintendo to jump in.
Nintendo didn’t enter the HD console market until 2012 when it released the Wii U. This was around four years after Sony and Microsoft and at the point when more than 75% of US households actually had HD displays in their home.
Miyamoto however has said he wished Nintendo had done the jump to HD sooner than this, saying that the display technology became popular around three years before Nintendo expected it to. It’s expected that by 2020, 50% of US households will have adopted 4K technology and it might be at this point that Nintendo decides to join the 4K fray, rather than waiting until the 75% market saturation of before.
- Looking forward to the next generation of gaming? Read more about what we want to see from the Xbox Two and PS5