Hot off the presses this morning is a rumour that Nintendo is planning to make upgrades to the Switch console, the company’s strongest-selling handheld and home console to date. Everyone thought that the Switch couldn’t possibly work, what with the low battery life, the plastic TN display, the removable Joy-Cons, and the odd docking mechanism. But Nintendo has proved everyone wrong with a strong lineup of games, compelling experiences on a handheld console, and an enormous aftermarket accessories selection, including custom Joy-Cons and Labo toys. The Switch is two years old this month, and it’s probably time for an update. The Wall Street Journal claims that one is already on the way.
According to the WSJ, the tip-off for the new console’s release came from the company’s supplier of displays for the Switch, Japan Display Inc. Nintendo is reportedly looking to update the hardware internally, starting with a change to the display to a more efficient panel. The Switch’s 6.2-inch panel is a LCD with TN technology, which means it’s cheap and lacks colour accuracy at extreme angles if you’re not sitting right in front of it. The WSJ says that Nintendo is planning to launch the upgraded model in the second half of 2019, which would give the company the opportunity of announcing the new console at E3 2019.
Given the rumour and the energy efficiency slant, it’s also likely that Nintendo is looking for other ways to improve the Switch’s battery life and performance. One of those would be a bigger battery, as a result of the display becoming thinner (although it won’t be an OLED display, which is a pity). If Nintendo wanted to, they could also upgrade the Switch’s hardware from the NVIDIA Tegra X1 chipset to the Tegra X2. The Tegra X2 features two NVIDIA Denver cores and four ARM Cortex-A57 cores, higher base and boost frequencies for both the CPU and GPU, and double the memory bandwidth. If Nintendo chooses to move to the Tegra X2, they could run it in a lower power mode to extend battery life, and deliver better performance when docked than the original Switch. The onboard RAM would also change from LPDDR3 to LPDDR4, which is much more efficient and is available in more quantities now.
New hardware would also make the new Switch temporarily invulnerable to hardware hacks that enabled Switch owners to run homebrew software on the device and pirate games, and that would definitely be one of the things that would spur on a new hardware revision. E3 2019 feels so far away now…