SINCE ITS RELEASE in 2017, the Nintendo Switch console has become the company’s second-best-selling home console of all time, trailing only the Wii. Nintendo is known for releasing upgraded consoles every three to five years, and while speculation around a new Switch has been brewing since 2019, a March Bloomberg report sparked more intense conversation. Changes for the as yet unconfirmed “Switch Pro” include revamped hardware, a larger handheld display, Joy-Con changes, and more. While no official plans for a new console have been announced, here are some upgrades we’d love to see.
Smoother Handheld Display
One of the Switch’s biggest strengths is its ability to function as a handheld device. Reports suggest that the Switch Pro could provide a significant upgrade to the LCD displays featured on both the current Switch and Switch Lite: a 7-inch 720p OLED screen. While LCD screens rely on backlighting to illuminate pixels, OLED screens allow each pixel to produce its own light.
For the Switch Pro, this would mean more precise, higher-contrast visuals in handheld mode. The ability to seamlessly change from docked to portable gameplay is what makes the Switch innovative, but the existing handheld display can sometimes look blurry or pixelated. It would be nice if even the most demanding games still looked good on the go, and an OLED screen would help the console get there.
Better Graphics When Docked
The Switch Pro is rumored to feature a new Nvidia chip that would make it capable of 4K output when docked, something that the recently released PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X already offer. While the current Switch only supports 1080p, Nvidia’s DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) technology would enable the Switch Pro to upscale this image and aim for 4K.
DLSS utilizes artificial intelligence to upscale images in real time and enables games to run at a lower resolution without sacrificing visual quality. This technology is already used in games like Control and has become more and more common in PCs since its unveiling in 2019. With DLSS, the Switch Pro could see a more efficient console performance that looks as good as it feels, allowing it to stand alongside its main competitors.
Longer Battery Life
The current Switch has surprisingly poor battery life, especially for a console that markets portability as one its key differentiators. It’s common to see the dreaded low battery indicator after just three or four hours of play for larger games, making it difficult to rely on the Switch as entertainment on the go.
If the Switch Pro does feature a larger screen, the bigger size would make room for a more powerful battery, and the rumored OLED display would help conserve juice while playing in handheld mode. The original Nintendo DS supported up to 10 hours of gameplay, and with a more efficient display design, there’s no reason the Switch Pro couldn’t match it.
Even when handled carefully, Switch screens scratch easily. It’s not particularly burdensome to purchase a screen protector as an accessory, but if the Switch Pro is sold at a higher price point than the original, its value should be reflected in its durability. That should include improvements to its extremely flimsy kickstand, which is hard to maneuver and makes it difficult to play with the console propped up.
The Switch Pro could fix this issue by putting a kickstand on either side, or beefing up its design so it can withstand a little more turbulence. A sturdier propping device would make it easier for groups to play undocked and help the Switch realize its play-at-a-party potential.
Currently, owning a Switch typically means purchasing a separate MicroSD card so you can have all of your games loaded up and ready to go. The console only has 32 GB of memory, which isn’t enough to hold more than a handful of games and apps. Many popular titles clock in at 10 GB or more—and some, like NBA2K20, are so large they require a MicroSD card to even play.
With publishers continuing to offer digital preorder perks like early gameplay access, 128 GB of memory would be a massive quality-of-life improvement for Switch Pro owners, allowing them to easily store more than double the amount of games on the console. More memory could also open the Switch Pro to a wider array of streaming apps, as the existing model only supports Hulu, YouTube, and Funimation.
Please, Nintendo: Fix Joy-Con drift, once and for all. Most Switch owners are familiar with this analog stick input error that causes phantom in-game movement even when the joystick isn’t being physically moved. Nintendo will repair defective Joy-Cons for free, but it has ultimately failed to acknowledge the severity of the issue.
The existing Joy-Con can also be difficult to use in certain configurations, especially due to its tiny, hard-to-press shoulder buttons. The official Joy-Con Grip, as well as a number of third-party accessories like these FastSnail grips, go a long way toward improving comfort—but an upgraded option, without need of modifications, would be welcome.
Easier Switch-to-Switch Connectivity
Early Switch ads showed groups of young professionals gathering and playing together. Why, then, is it so hard to play locally? While some games do offer local cooperative play, there is no overarching capability that allows Switch owners to connect with nearby players. The Switch Pro could solve this issue by drawing inspiration from one of its handheld predecessors.
Longtime Nintendo fans likely remember StreetPass, the Nintendo 3DS functionality that allowed local connectivity and sharing between devices. An upgraded version of this feature on the Switch Pro would make it easier for players to treat the console like the play-at-a-party system it was designed to be.
Improved Online Functionality
Online multiplayer is currently available via the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service, which requires users to download a separate smartphone app to chat with other players. The service itself is clunky and only supported by specific games, but the ability to chat and text on the console itself would make it easier to play with friends.
The Switch also lacks internal streaming support, requiring players to purchase an external capture card in order to broadcast online. PlayStation and Xbox owners don’t need to invest in additional hardware to stream—that functionality is built in. It would be nice if the Switch Pro offered the same feature.
Bluetooth Headset Support
The existing Switch model is not automatically compatible with many gaming headsets due to its lack of Bluetooth support. While some headsets offer adapters as workarounds, players shouldn’t need to purchase a long list of extra gear just to utilize what other consoles offer as basic functionality. As Bluetooth headphones like Apple’s AirPods become more and more common, even casual gamers would benefit from this addition.
While Nintendo has yet to make an official announcement, speculative reports claim that the Switch Pro could be released as early as this year. It’s not outside the norm for Nintendo to release new or upgraded versions of its flagship consoles, but its mileage has varied; the Nintendo DS Lite was a success, but the Wii U didn’t sell well. If Nintendo hopes to build upon the Switch’s impressive trajectory, it’ll need to make these upgrades a priority.
More Great WIRED Stories