RUMOR: New Switch model with OLED screen and 4K support in the works

Nintendo Switch Pro - 4K - OLED - Upgrade - Switch Pro

Rumors surrounding a new model of the Nintendo Switch coming soon have been swirling for some time. But now, Bloomberg’s Takashi Mochizuki has released a report which strongly suggests that this alleged model is indeed coming and will begin manufacturing as early as this June. The new model is rumored to offer a similar design to the current flagship Switch but will utilize a larger, more modern 7-inch OLED panel and have thinner bezels, though will keep the same 720p resolution. It will also allegedly have some kind of spec-bump as it will be able to output a 4K signal.

Mochizuki mentions in his report that this information comes from unnamed sources, simply stating that “people familiar with the plan” have provided the details. These people also say that production of the OLED panels for the new Switch, developed by Samsung, will begin as early as June.

One official comment is from Yoshio Tamura, the co-founder of display consultancy DSCC. Tamura mentions that the OLED panel will be more power-efficient, and “offer higher contrast and possibly faster response time” over the current Switch’s LCD panel. This OLED panel is also allegedly not as robust as what’s found in high-end smartphones; the reason is for the sake of cost.

How deep does the rabbit hole go?

These new details provided by Mochizuki do build upon other reports that have been released over the past few months and years. That said, it’s still totally unclear if this is definitive proof that a new Switch is coming. Until Nintendo says so, this has to be labeled as a rumor. But, considering how many industry insiders and journalists have been talking about it, at this point, it seems almost too likely not to happen. Even so, Nintendo remains steadfast with its tight-seal when it comes to commenting on rumors. The company hasn’t budged and most likely will continue not to budge until it’s absolutely ready.

The original Switch was leaked almost entirely before launch.

If you may recall, the original Switch was heavily leaked prior to launch; basically in its entirety. It’s just that there were so many different reports that by the time the official reveal came, it really just became a matter of seeing which of those reports were the most truthful. The same situation might play out for this alleged new model of the hybrid.

Questions, questions, questions…

But, let’s assume for a second that this report is totally true. If so, this introduces a variety of questions.

First off, the larger display. OLED is great; there’s no denying that. But that size upgrade from 6.2 to 7 inches could suggest that the model itself may use a slightly larger chassis than the current flagship Switch. What does that mean for the Joy-Con, then? Will they be compatible with the new model, or will there be all-new Joy-Con? Or, could this alleged new model be a full unibody like the Switch Lite?

The next question is that of the supposed 4K capability. A portable machine outputting 4K content is not impossible in the slightest; smartphones have been doing that for some time now. But, no machine has done it the way this alleged new Switch would be trying to do it; docked to a TV. The question is, would this 4K support simply be a matter of upscaling, or what it be native? The PS5 and Xbox Series X are the only consoles that are able to run native 4K in basically every title, and there’s no way that this alleged new Switch could pull that off while still being a hybrid. Simple titles, yes. But, full-scale AAA games? Out of the question.

All of the upgrades to this alleged new Switch sound nice, but create a lot of missing links.

Finally, the last question is…what will become of the existing Switch units? As Nintendo’s now third best-selling system in history, there are millions of Switch units out there that will absolutely not just magically be traded in and upgraded to an alleged new model. A percentage, yes. But, as we saw with the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, not everyone is just going to run out and buy the upgrade “just because”.

This would especially be the case for folks who got caught in the new surge of Switch interest in 2020; those systems aren’t even a year old yet. So, a new model might swing some long-time owners to make the upgrade, but doubtful that it would end up being even 50% of the userbase. This would create a really odd situation for developers. Would they be able to get away with targetting just the new Switch for some titles? They weren’t allowed to do it for the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, so Nintendo may make the same mandate. If so, the upgraded model would be a benefit, but it wouldn’t “solve” the problem, so to speak.

All eyes on Nintendo

The one thing that Nintendo executives have been stating in regards to the future of the Switch family is that it intends to keep the platform active for many years to come. An upgraded model does seem to fit that use-case quite well, but Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser explicitly stated just months ago that the company’s focus would be on the two existing models we have right now. Did he mean that in a general or literal sense? We don’t know.

Nintendo Switch 4 years old four years old fourth birthday
Nintendo is supposedly focused on existing hardware. But, is that focus on a time limit? We don’t know.

If production really does begin in June as this report suggests, then an announcement should follow not long after. If that truly is expected to happen, we’ll finally get an answer to this longstanding mystery.

A.K Rahming
Having been introduced to video games at the age of 3 via a Nintendo 64, A.K has grown up in the culture. A fan of simulators and racers, with a soft spot for Nintendo! But, he has a great respect for the entire video game world and enjoys watching it all expand as a whole.