Rumour has it that Nintendo could be working on a Nintendo Switch Pro, a console that could potentially support 4K, better visuals, a better processing chip and even the loss of the console’s ability to be a handheld device. While these rumours have no concrete credibility as of yet (a few reported leaks and an apparent notice from Nintendo to developers to starting making Nintendo Switch games 4K-ready), these rumours certainly have enough traction to turn gamers heads to the possibilities. Although, despite how attractive the possibilities seem, one must consider if a Nintendo Switch Pro is a good idea. What would need to be sacrificed to make it possible and what compromises are gamers willing to make for the beefed-up console?
Graphics and resolution have always been a huge drawback of the Switch in comparison to PlayStation and Xbox consoles. You don’t need to look much further than the port of The Witcher to the Switch in 2019 to see how much the console struggles with graphics-heavy games. While Switch exclusives usually have loveable art design to make the most of its capabilities, it’s not often that a Switch exclusive is complimented on its graphics. This is because the Switch is built with its handheld design in mind, meaning its graphic capabilities are admittedly weakened by the fact it can’t afford to be as large and bulky as other consoles otherwise it’s too hard to transport around. It simply can’t pack in the same level of tech as a stationary console.
We have many handheld devices that run at 4K, so it seems unlikely that boosting graphics to 4K would suddenly make the console bulkier or heavier. However, it’s the way in which Nintendo would implement 4K which could dramatically change the console. The Switch Pro could adopt the Switch Lite’s improved Tegra X1 chip and potentially reach 4K, but not in the native sense. Instead, the chip (which was originally used in the Lite to improve power consumption and efficiency) could help upscale graphics to 4K — but if that was the only improvement over the current Switch, that wouldn’t be enough to entice many consumers. Instead, the most likely approach to reaching 4K is by adopting a completely new chip for the Switch, though that could create compatibility issues with previous Switch games.
Another hinted approach could be my making the console lose its handheld design in favour of a stationary tabletop design like current Sony and Microsoft consoles. This way, the Switch can be comprised of better (and often bulkier) technology which could help it reach native 4K as well as deliver of other great advancements for the console. Although, part of the Switch’s appeal is its handheld design and it’s unclear whether a static console from Nintendo will deliver on the appeal that drives the Switch. It’s a valuable trade-off, but as the most family-friendly console around, it’s one that appeals to a much smaller pool of consumers.
There are workarounds. of course, but it comes at costs, and the Switch still currently sells for around the £300 mark. For what the console offers, that’s not particularly cheap. Nintendo has a loyal fanbase who eagerly anticipate how the Switch develops in the coming years, but at current, the Switch still feels great in its own right. As long as Nintendo continues to offer the strong pool of exclusives and deliver on the accessibility of their console to varying demographics of audiences, the prospect of a Switch Pro currently feels unnecessary.
The Nintendo Switch originally launched back in March 2017. You can watch a first look at the more recent Switch Lite below.