The Nintendo Switch Lite has been announced, but murmurs have still been circling about a second, potentially more powerful Switch console. While Nintendo shot that idea down, there seems to be an updated version of the Switch on the way—a hardware update to the base model, rather than a complete revision.
There have been reports going since March of two hardware revisions to the Switch. The Nintendo Switch Lite has been confirmed as one, but the second is more nebulous and reports have had trouble pegging down what exactly it is until recently. Let's take a look at where it started, all the way up to where we are now.
The Initial Switch Pro Reports
In March, the Wall Street Journal reported that two new Switch models were on the way. While one version was a cheaper option that WSJ's sources say Nintendo sees "as a successor to its aging hand-held 3DS device," the other would have more enhanced features targeted at "avid videogamers," though not as powerful as a PlayStation 4 Pro or Xbox One X. The report drew a distinction.
"You would be wrong to think the enhanced version is similar to what Sony did with PS4 Pro and the other is just a cheap alternative that looks very similar to some past hand-held machines, say, Sony's PlayStation Vita," a source told the Wall Street Journal at the time.
A day later, Eurogamer followed up with its own report on the two models. Confirming the WSJ's article, Eurogamer was told the cheaper version of the Switch-what we now know to be the Switch Lite-was meant to recapture the same value proposition of the 2DS. Meanwhile, they got another detail about the souped-up Switch version, reaffirming it wouldn't be a major upgrade but more comparable to the 3DS and New 3DS relaunch.
The Switch Lite is Revealed, But What About the Switch Pro?
In a CNET interview with Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser, CNET wrote that "it'll also be the only new Nintendo Switch hardware this holiday, as Bowser says the larger Switch won't get an upgrade right now." This seemed to quell speculation over the more impressive Nintendo Switch. But the upgraded Nintendo Switch might not even necessarily be a new console itself, but an update to the original model.
FCC filings located by The Verge show Nintendo submitting a Class II Permission Change, or a request to alter an existing piece of tech without recertification, to the FCC. In the filing, it lays out a number of changes, including a change of SoC-system-on-chip-and change of NAND Memory type. This isn't uncommon, as companies like Microsoft have made similar console alterations in the past.
However, Digital Foundry's recent analysis of the next Tegra X1 chip pointed towards interesting changes coming to future Nintendo Switches. A Nintendo spokesperson told The Verge today that they have "nothing to announce on this topic;" we reached out for comment, but did not receive a reply by publication.
While Switch Lite features a smaller display and non-detachable joycons, the "New" model appears to be exactly the same as the current Switch. However, the GM20B_B GPU in the "New" Switch is clocked at higher values, potentially giving a modest performance boost.— Mike Heskin (@hexkyz) July 11, 2019
While we're still mostly left with speculation, a Twitter thread from Mike Heskin corroborates the idea that there is no "Pro" version, but rather an upgrade to the already existing Nintendo Switch. This would include a model number change for the "New" Switch, the new Tegra X1 "Mariko" chip with a GPU revision, and new DRAM with lower battery draw.
It's all still up in the air, but the potential of a stealth upgrade to the Nintendo Switch allows for a number of exciting possibilities, even if it's just a modest performance boost. Considering this new chip is already reportedly in the Nintendo Switch Lite, a theoretical "New" Switch seems increasingly plausible.
Our Takeaways About the "Switch Pro"
Ultimately, dreams of an Xbox One X-style revision of the Nintendo Switch's hardware seems out of the picture. What's far more likely, and seems to be already in motion, is a milder update to boost basic performance. A tune-up, rather than a tank of NOS.
However, with more details of the Switch Lite coming out and the reported similarities between it and the "New" Switch, we might be able to suss out more details of what this updated "Mariko" might be, and what it can do for the console. We might not get two brand-new Switch consoles this holiday season, but a nice boost to the existing console certainly wouldn't hurt.