Rumors that a Nintendo Switch Pro is on the horizon have been floating around for a while now. Leaks suggest this new Nintendo Switch could boast upgraded hardware with improved graphics and processing power, providing a premium version of the console for avid gamers.
Nintendo hasn't confirmed a Switch Pro is in the works, and the company has ruled out any hope of a new Switch console releasing in 2020. So, hungry for a morsel of information, dataminers have dug into the Nintendo Switch's new firmware, and it looks like there could in fact be more than one new Nintendo Switch console on the horizon, including one with a dual-screen.
That's right, we could see a new Nintendo Switch with a dual-screen, much like the 3DS had. And, while this hasn't been confirmed by Nintendo, a dual-screen Switch would be the logical next-step for Nintendo and a brilliant one. Allow me tell you why.
Now, lets get this out of the way first, Datamining isn't always reliable, and - in laymen terms - involves tech-savvy fans digging into software to find clues about what a company may have cooking. In this case, dataminers dug into the Nintendo Switch's firmware version 10.0.0 and posted their findings on Resetera. JershJopstin on Resetera found some titbits on a docked-only console (codenamed 'Calcio') and some sort of non-mobile device (codenamed 'Copper').
However, Twitter user @hexkyz also datamined the firmware and found that it adds preliminary support for a new hardware model called 'nx-abcd'. For reference, Nintendo allegedly gives all its consoles model names alongside codenames. So, for example, the Switch Lite was 'Hoag' or 'nx-abcc', while 'Copper' and 'Calcio' are 'nx-abcb'.
Dataminers claim they can identify the form factors these names tend to take - well they think they have. The theory is that whatever the codename begins with translates to what type of hardware the device will be, with 'I' standing for integrated (hybrid), 'C' standing for console and 'H' for handheld. So the original Switch's codename is 'Icosa' while the refreshed Switch is 'Iowa'. With 'nx-abcd' being a new form factor, without a codename, it seems like no one is quite sure what type of hardware it could be quite yet.
However the datamine did reveal that, whatever this new hardware is, it looks like it'll have a secondary display of sorts added exclusively to the model. Leading some to speculate that this new hardware may be a dual-screen Switch - and I hope that's the case.
The Nintendo Switch is great and all but, since it was released in September 2019, I've always preferred the Switch Lite. For one, I never dock a Switch and am drawn more to the Switch's portability than anything else - it's something I don't get with my PS4 or Xbox One.
So when the Switch Lite came along, I was thrilled. Finally my small hands could actually hold a Switch comfortably, without elbowing others on public transport. The compact size is a feature I've always loved about handheld consoles - and typically a given - and, as innovative as the hybrid Switch is, it just wasn't small enough.
But, the Switch Lite still only has one screen, and cramming everything onto its small screen can sometimes prove a bit of a pain. In games such as Breath of the Wild, I find myself squinting to see the map in the corner. I can't help but think it would be easier if the mini-map, menu and other cluttering features were perhaps out of the way - on another screen perhaps.
The 3DS did this brilliantly through its dual-screen (even if the 3D nature of it was a bit rubbish), allowing you to focus on the game on one screen, while your map and inventory etc were on the other screen. It also allowed for a smaller device that small-handed folk like me could easily carry it around - it even fit in a pocket.
There's speculation that this rumored dual-screen Switch model may inherit the 3DS's clam-like design, allowing you to fold up the console easily and stow it away. It would make sense, keeping with Nintendo's history of these types of handheld consoles.
And, regardless of whether the company actually made the Switch smaller, if this foldable dual-screen was implemented in the Switch Lite, it would essentially make the screen the console already has bigger - while likely only making the device slightly bulkier. However, I can't see how this would work with the original Switch.
But, before I get carried away, it is worth noting a couple of things that somewhat burst this 3D successor bubble. For one, Nintendo hasn't confirmed any new Switch consoles are in the pipeline. Secondly, there's no evidence this dual-screen hardware will exist or that it's even a handheld console.
But perhaps the biggest obstacle to a dual-screen, 3DS-like Switch is that it would be a major hardware revision. It would likely require developers to make a port for either the dual-screen version or the single-screen version, as making a game for both would probably be too labor intensive and the interface for both consoles would be very different.
If Nintendo chose to make dual-screen exclusive versions of games, it would would splitting the Switch player base. So unfortunately the only realistic way a dual-screen Switch could be introduced is if the Switch is phased out and the dual-screen version acted as the true next-next-generation Switch, beyond even a Nintendo Switch Pro.
And for that reason, unless the Switch is phased out and that's the true next-NEXT generation Switch, beyond a Pro, I can't see it happening... and it probably won't.
The fact that the console codename doesn't fall into the form factor that other Switch devices have has lead some to speculate that the rumored new hardware is neither a handheld device or a console - maybe something else entirely like VR or AR.
But I'm still holding out hope that I'll be able to comfortably fold up a new Nintendo Switch device and store it in my pocket - someday.