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Dataminer finds firmware codename that might allude to Switch Pro

It hasn’t been officially confirmed yet, but here’s what we know about the more powerful console.

There’ve been whisperings that Nintendo has been working on a more powerful version of the Switch, dubbed by the internet as the Nintendo Switch Pro. Nintendo hasn’t confirmed the existence of such a console; however, they didn’t confirm the existence of the Nintendo Switch Lite or the new Nintendo Switch V2 model for a long time either. I know, I definitely would love to play some of the best Nintendo Switch games on a more advanced console. Fortunately, there’s plenty of information out there to make us think it is indeed coming as soon as 2021.

Nintendo Switch Pro

What’s new with the Nintendo Switch Pro?

Update January 7, 2019: Latest Switch and Switch Lite filmware alludes to hardware codename for a new console.

Console hacker and dataminer, SciresM on Twitter, says he found a hardware codename for something called “Aula” that will be clocked higher so as to offer more performance. It might be for the Switch Pro.

Update January 4, 2021: Industry Analysts still think a Switch Pro will release this fiscal year.

GamesIndustry.biz has once more released its annual predictions for the year, and experts believe that Nintendo will release a new Switch Pro model to join the existing console family.

Update October 26, 2020: Nintendo might be using Innolux Corporation’s Mini-LED displays for its next consoles.

Economic Daily News reported that Nintendo is considering upgrading the Switch display to Taiwanese panel manufacturer Innolux Corporation’s Mini-LED displays. It’s possible this could be for the fabled Switch Pro.

Update August 25, 2020: Bloomberg states Nintendo plans to release an upgraded Nintendo Switch console in 2021.

Bloomberg reported that Nintendo Co. will begin production on a new Nintendo Switch console at the end of 2020 to release them in Q1 2021.

Update January 31, 2020: Nintendo states it doesn’t have plans to launch a new console in 2020.

In a financial report that Nintendo released in late January, the gaming company stated that it has no plans to launch a new console in 2020.

Update January 6, 2020: New Nintendo Switch console might release mid-2020

According to the Taiwanese electronics newspaper, DigiTimes, an updated Nintendo Switch model will be releasing sometime in 2020. This information should definitely be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s possible this could be the fabled Nintendo Switch Pro.

What is the Switch Pro?

Way back in 2018, The Wall Street Journal released an article regarding future Nintendo Switch versions. The article stated that Nintendo was working on two new Switch devices. The internet has speculated that one of these devices could be a more powerful version of the Switch and dubbed it the “Switch Pro.” Since then, Nintendo has revealed the new Switch V2 model and the Switch Lite.

If a Switch Pro is in the making, it would likely have a more powerful screen and potentially some upgraded performance abilities from the original Switch. It could be that it will primarily be marketed towards hardcore gamers willing to spend more for an intense gaming experience. While this would provide a performance boost, we don’t expect an upcoming Switch to rival the power of the PS5 nor the Xbox Series X.

Didn’t Doug Bowser, the Nintendo of America president, say that there wouldn’t be a Switch Pro?

In 2020, Polygon interviewed Doug Bowser and specifically asked the Nintendo of America president about the existence of the Switch Pro. His response basically neither confirmed nor denied the updated Switch’s existence as he mainly explained that Nintendo is always trying to find ways to “enhance and improve the gameplay experience.” However, several media publications posted articles claiming that Bowser had slammed the existence of the Switch Pro, which just isn’t true.

Possible evidence that a Switch Pro is on the way

“Aula” hardware codename

VGC reported that Twitter user SciresM, a hacker and dataminer, discovered firmware update coding that referenced an upgraded Nintendo Switch model with a codename of “Aula”.

According to SciresM, Aula not only uses a Mariko (Tegra X1+) SoC, the same chip found in the Nintendo Switch Lite and Nintendo Switch V2, but also will push the hardware to higher clock speeds. The firmware even seems to support a 4K UHD multimedia SoC Realtek chip, which would go inline with a Switch model that could support 4K.

This could be evidence for an upcoming Switch Pro or it could just be evidence for a newer Switch model in the works. Either way, the news is exciting.

Nintendo to extend Switch’s life cycle

During Nintendo’s 80th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, president Shuntaro Furukawa explained that the gaming company intends to extend the Switch’s life cycle since the system did so well in 2020.

Our current generation system, Nintendo Switch, has entered its fourth year since launch, but its momentum is increasing. We believe there are two factors behind this. First is the existence of two hardware configurations with different characteristics, in Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite. The second factor is that Nintendo’s development resources are concentrated on developing a single platform, Nintendo Switch. We want to extend the life cycle of the Nintendo Switch while maximizing such advantages.

Given Nintendo’s past practices, we still think the gaming company is planning on creating updated Switch versions over the next few years that will continue to work with existing Switch games. This is basically what they did with the Nintendo DS, a handheld gaming system that transition into the DS Lite, then the DSi, and finally landed on the DSi XL before Nintendo decided it was time to release a new handheld called the 3DS and continued to release new versions of that system over the next several years after its release.

Release date for the Nintendo Switch Pro

In a report, Bloomberg wrote that Nintendo Co. plans to release an updated Nintendo Switch console in 2021 along with a lineup of new games. This upcoming Switch might just be the Nintendo Switch Pro.

As we’ve said before, Nintendo hasn’t officially confirmed that they even have plans for a Switch Pro model. But, if it is in the works, it would likely come out in 2021 or later. In January, DigiTimes reported that Nintendo will start producing a new Nintendo Switch unit at the beginning of 2020 and will release it mid-year. DigiTimes has been known to provide helpful information, but they have also been known to report falsehoods. You’ll want to take this information with piles of sodium.

Another thing to consider is that at the start of each year, GamesIndustry.biz has its analyst experts release their predictions for the year in gaming tech. This year, more than one analyst seems to think that a Switch Pro will release in 2021.

“I predict a beefed-up 4K device is coming during Nintendo’s next financial year. And let it be said: ‘Switch’ is just a word.” – Dr. Serkan Toto

Whether it actually turns out to be a more powerful hybrid system that can jump between handheld and TV or a larger console solely dedicated to TV gaming, it’s likely Nintendo would slap the “Switch” name on its next console to take advantage of the hybrid’s popularity.

Nintendo Switch Pro specs

In October 2020, the Economic Daily News reported that Nintendo is considering upgrading their Switch consoles with Mini-LED panels produced by the Innolux Corporation, a Taiwanese manufacturer. This new display would theoretically be swapped out for the current Sharp IGZO display panels currently being used by Nintendo. Switching to this new panel could help prolong the Switch’s battery life and improve color integrity.

However, neither Nintendo nor the Innolux Corporation specified which Switch models would be getting the Mini-LED screens. It’s possible that they could be used for the fabled Switch Pro or another Switch model altogether. With all of the reports implying that Nintendo intends to release another Switch console in 2021, it stands to reason that a Switch Pro could be on its way.

Innolux Corporation’s Mini-LED displays could prolong the Switch’s battery life and improve color integrity.

The original hybrid’s display only handles 1280 x 720p when in handheld mode and up to 1080p when docked, while Nintendo’s competitors, both PS5 and Xbox Series X, will both support 8K. It wouldn’t take too much to make a new Switch model more powerful than the original. Though, it would be a significant jump to make it match up with the competition. With Sharp’s technology, we could see the screen being able to reach a much higher resolution.

However, we likely won’t get ray tracing or 8K graphics on Nintendo Switch Pro. It really all depends on what Nintendo plans on doing.

The original Nintendo Switch uses an Nvidia Tegra X1 chip that was already outdated at the hybrid console’s release. It looks as though Nvidia is currently upgrading this processor, presumably for the Switch Pro or another Switch model. These upgrades could make the Switch last longer, run cooler, or even perform faster. There’s also the possibility that these upgrades are mostly taking place to make it harder to hack the Switch as Nintendo has done before. We’ll just have to wait and see.

That’s about all we know for Switch Pro specs at the moment. Once we come upon more concrete information, we’ll add it in.

How will the Switch Pro fair in the console wars?

Surprisingly, even though the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X have released, Nintendo Switch was still the best-selling console during the 2020 holiday season. This being the case, if the upgraded Nintendo Switch Pro does release in early to mid-2021 with a slew of anticipated games, the Japanese gaming company could end up doing really well for itself. Obviously, Microsoft and Sony’s consoles will be more powerful graphically as they can handle 4K to 8K resolution, have incredible processing power, and offer more reliable controllers.

The Switch’s portability and lower price give it an edge.

Fortunately, the Nintendo Switch hasn’t focused on graphics but rather the portable gaming experience, which is why it has done so well. This focus also helps keep the Switch the most affordable gaming system, which gives Nintendo an edge against PlayStation and Xbox. Unless Sony or Microsoft launches a super successful handheld with seriously improved graphics and frame rates over the Switch (which is highly unlikely), Nintendo should do well for itself this year.

Plus, the Switch is already the best couch co-op and multiplayer console out there, given that its exclusive games can often host up to four players and sometimes up to eight. This makes it the system of choice for game nights and family activities. Plus, the ability to easily slip from single-player to multiplayer makes it a great option for families with more than one child.

Another thing the Switch has going for it is that there are plenty of highly anticipated exclusives coming to the Nintendo Switch soon, like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2, Bayonetta 3, and Metroid Prime 4. These games are sure to keep people’s interest in the Switch for quite a while.

Pricing for the Nintendo Switch Pro

Given the current pricing of the various Nintendo Switch models, it’s safe to assume that a Pro model would be more than $300. Our educated guess puts it somewhere between $350 and $400. To be worth it, this would need to include much higher resolution and faster loading capabilities.

What we want to see in the Switch Pro

We’re huge fans of the Nintendo Switch, but even so, there are things about the console that could seriously use some improvement. Here are some of the things we’re hoping to see in a Switch Pro.

No more drift: It’s really quite ridiculous how many people have experienced joystick drift on their Switch or Switch Lite. Now that Nintendo has acknowledged the issue, they need to redesign the Joy-Cons for future consoles, so they don’t have this problem anymore.

Decent battery life: Considering that both the Switch Lite and the new Switch model have significantly improved battery life, we would expect the same from a Switch Pro. It would need to at least last around 5 hours or more on average for us to be happy.

Bluetooth capabilities: Instead of requiring people to purchase an adapter to use Bluetooth headphones like the current Switch consoles do, I’d hope that the Switch Pro would include Bluetooth and simply allow people to listen wire-free.

Faster load times: All in all, the Switch isn’t super slow with its load and download times. However, considering how fast the next generation of Xbox and Playstation consoles will be, avid gamers will want something that’s somewhat comparable.

Better resolution: Considering how other gaming consoles will feature higher resolution up to 8K, you’d hope that a more intense version of the Switch would be somewhat comparable. It would be nice if it could at least support 4K resolution. Of course, the Nintendo games themselves have been formatted for a lower resolution, which might not always yield a better visual experience.

More Joy-Con colors: The bright neon colors of the current Joy-Con offerings are fun and all, but I’d really like to see more Joy-Cons of the same color. Preferably something neutral like a navy blue or deep red. If there is a Switch Pro in the works and it is intended for more serious gamers, we’re assuming many of them would like the option of having a less kiddie-looking design.

Should I wait for the Nintendo Switch Pro?

The Switch Pro still hasn’t been confirmed by Nintendo, so we have no idea when or if it will actually be released. However, we’ve spent hundreds of hours playing the Nintendo Switch and would highly recommend it to any gamers.

If a Switch Pro does come along, you could always trade-in your base Switch and use the money you get from it towards the updated Switch Pro.

Hybrid hero

Nintendo Switch

$298 at Amazon $299 at Walmart
$300 at Best Buy

Play handheld or on TV

With this console, you can play wherever you go. There are thousands of Switch games currently available, and the ability to “switch” between playing in handheld mode or on your TV makes it so you can play whichever way is more convenient.

Updated January 7, 2021: Added info regarding “Aula” codename in latest filmware.

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