Numerous rumors have pointed to Nintendo’s intention to launch a revamped Switch hardware variant as the console enters its crucial third year. The rumors have bounced back and forth between a more powerful Switch and a budget model. Now, a report from the Wall Street Journal claims that both devices are coming later this year.
The third year of a console’s life cycle is considered make or break for its long-term success. Most gamers have made their choices for that generation, so it gets harder to attract new customers. This is usually when new hardware variants launch, generally with smaller form factors and lower prices. However, there have also been some more expensive and powerful mid-cycle consoles like the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X.
Nintendo has reportedly been in talks with partners about the new hardware for months. Those who have used the new Switches say they include numerous feature changes. So, this isn’t just a Switch “Slim” release. One or both consoles will likely have a new LCD from Sharp instead of the current JDI screens.
According to the new report, Nintendo’s more powerful Switch won’t rival the PS4 or Xbox, but that’s not too surprising. The Switch uses an Nvidia Tegra X1 ARM-chip. In order to maintain compatibility with existing software, the revamped console would need to use the same chip design. Nvidia doesn’t have a newer ARM system-on-a-chip, but Nintendo could raise the clock speed on the existing Tegra. A high-end Switch could run at “docked” speed in handheld mode, potentially with a 1080p display and a larger battery.
A cheaper Switch could help Nintendo sell online service subscriptions.
Meanwhile, the cheaper Switch will reportedly focus on trimming features. The WSJ says the device will ditch the vibration motor. Past leaks have pointed to non-removable controllers, a smaller frame, and no dock mode for the less expensive console. Nintendo sees this as a successor to the aging 3DS for more casual gamers. Even without those features, a stripped down switch would work with almost all the games already launched.
The WSJ says the Nintendo is expected to announce the new Switch consoles at E3 in a few months. The consoles could launch as soon as this summer, but they’ll definitely be out in time for the holiday season and the release of the new Pokemon games.
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