The Nintendo Switch has sold faster than any previous Nintendo console — it even broke the US sales record previously held by Nintendo Wii, selling 4.8 million units in 10 months to the Wii’s 4 million. Nintendo isn’t resting on its laurels, though. A new report claims the company will roll out an improved version of the Switch in 2019.
The Switch has a unique hybrid design that works in both handheld mode as well as docked to a TV. When using the Switch in handheld mode, you use the integrated 6.2-inch 720p LCD to play games. According to Nintendo’s user surveys, about 30 percent of owners use their Switch exclusively or primarily in handheld mode. Most use the console in both modes, but less than 20 percent say docked gameplay is their primary mode.
That probably explains why Nintendo is looking at a screen upgrade for the refreshed Switch. Supply chain partners tell The Wall Street Journal that the upgraded Switch display will include newer technologies. The new version will reportedly include a display that is thinner, lighter, and more energy efficient. Current Switch consoles have LCD panels manufactured by JDI, and it’s unclear if JDI will continue supplying screens for the new hardware. There may also be some other internal changes. For example, it would be trivial to increase the internal storage beyond the meager 32GB in the current console.
You probably should not count on a higher-resolution display. The Switch runs on Nvidia’s Tegra X1 ARM system-on-a-chip (SoC). The chip has previously appeared in tablets and the Nvidia Shield Android TV. It’s powerful compared with other ARM chips, but not the processors in other current-gen game consoles. The X1 can push up to 1080p when docked (though some games top out at 900p) because the X1 can run at full speed. In handheld mode, the SoC lowers CPU and GPU clocks to save battery. Even if you had a 1080p display on the console, it probably wouldn’t be worth the battery hit to render games at that resolution.
Between the launch in late 2017 and June of this year, Nintendo says it sold almost 20 million Switch consoles. Refreshing the console could keep sales high as the system becomes more mature. Some Switch fans would surely upgrade, and older stock could sell for a discounted price.
You don’t need to be hesitant to pick up a Switch this holiday season, though. The report indicates Nintendo is targeting the second half of 2019 for the new hardware.
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