Nintendo practically wrote the rulebook on baby-step hardware upgrades and has been hammering out updated hardware with alarming regularity; over the years we’ve had the Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Advance SP, DSi, 2DS, New Nintendo 3DS and – most recently – New Nintendo 2DS XL, all of which offer minor changes to the base system and are intended to give sales a shot in the arm, as well as subtle improvements (or regressions, in the case of the 2DS line).
But what form could this new and improved Switch take? In the past, Nintendo has iterated slowly with its hardware; 1996’s Game Boy Pocket was smaller than the brick-like original, had a better screen and consumed fewer batteries, but was otherwise the same internal hardware that had launched in 1989. The Game Boy Advance SP changed the form factor of the original GBA hardware and added an illuminated screen and rechargeable battery, but took away the 3.5mm headphone socket. More recently, the New Nintendo 3DS line offered improved 3D via head-tracking and a small power boost, although very few games have been released which take advantage of this.
Looking at this handful of examples, it’s clear that Nintendo walks a very fine line when it chooses to refresh its existing – and successful – portable hardware. Huge, sweeping changes are off the table as they would not only divide the market but would drastically alter the core message of the platform. So what will this ‘new’ Switch look like? Will it offer more power? Will it sacrifice core features for portability and cost? We’ve outlined some of the potential scenarios below.
A Better Screen
‘Switch Mini’ wouldn’t be the stupidest idea in the world, if we’re honest. The Joy-Con functionality could be removed entirely in favour of traditional ‘built-in’ controls, turning it into a pure portable console, aimed at filling the void that the 3DS will leave when it finally gets put out to pasture. The machine could have a slightly smaller display to make it more pocket-friendly and could come clad in a robust shell which would make it perfect for younger players.
Despite the drastic shift in design, the core functions of the Switch could still be retained; Joy-Con could be purchased separately to use in tabletop mode, and a special cable could be manufactured which allows the unit to work on your TV in ‘docked’ mode.
On paper at least, it sounds like a good idea; Switch is too fragile and expensive for many parents to consider as a handheld for their kids, so this smaller, cheaper and sturdier variant would tick a lot of boxes. The only thing that doesn’t sit well with us is that such a device would totally change the core message Nintendo has been shouting from the rooftops with Switch; is it still ‘Switch’ if there’s no switching between TV and handheld?
A Bigger Battery
SwitchCharge, which bolts onto the console and offers more juice. We’d imagine that a larger capacity power cell is one of the many things Nintendo has on its list for the new 2019 model, but how much difference it would make is unclear; unless Nintendo wants to make the Switch thicker than it already is, there may not be a massive scope for improvement in this respect.
Battery technology is, of course, improving all of the time, but it remains a sticking point for pretty much all portable consumer devices. Each year, new smartphones from Samsung, Apple and LG hit the market, but none are capable of offering more than a day or so of usage on a single charge. Instead, companies are focusing on ‘quick charge’ and wireless charging tech to make their devices stand out from the crowd; perhaps Nintendo will do the same with the 2019 Switch?
MicroSD cards, rather than an expensive proprietary format like Sony did with the PS Vita.
Even so, it would be nice for the base console to have a little more wiggle room when it comes to this kind of thing, even if it’s just 64GB or 128GB. The price of flash memory is dropping all of the time, so we’d imagine that Nintendo will do the right thing and give its 2019 upgrade a little more memory out of the box.
512GB would be the dream, but it’s perhaps wishful thinking to expect Nintendo to go quite that high – after all, this is the company that, in Europe at least, doesn’t ship a power supply with 3DS and 2DS consoles.
A Better Price
Wii Mini. In that case, we’d simply see a reduced price point without any real benefit in terms of hardware.
Which of these points would you say is the most important to you personally? Do you want a better screen, more storage, a new design or just a lower price point to encourage more people to join the Switch revolution? Vote in the poll below and let us know your thoughts with a comment.
What do you want to see most on next year’s rumoured Switch refresh? (553 votes)
A change in form factor (EG: Switch Mini)
None of the above
Please to vote in this poll.