The 2018 iPad Pro makes me excited for the future of the Switch

The new iPad Pro has been rocking the tech world for the last few weeks. Apple made a big impression when it revealed the new tablet, mainly due to the immense power that it has. Powered by an A12X Bionic chip, the new iPad Pro is able to perform some seriously heavyweight tasks, including full 4K video rendering, and also some surprisingly complex gaming capabilities. To demonstrate, Apple showed a console-like version of NBA 2K running on the device and claimed that it has power similar to the likes of an Xbox One S. This puts it in a league even higher than that of the Nintendo Switch, which is supposed to be a dedicated system.

While the Switch is modeled after the design of a tablet, it’s not typically compared to the likes of other tablets such as the iPad Pro. Instead, it’s often put up against full consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One. This comparison isn’t technically wrong since the Switch does play the role of home console for many, but I’ve always had a bit of an issue looking at it strictly from this perspective. The Switch is a hybrid, formally blending the worlds of home consoles and handhelds. But it’s also powered by mobile technology. Thus, it has power similar to home consoles in the chassis of a handheld.

Tablets were designed to be hybrids of sorts, blending the worlds of laptops and smartphones. That’s exactly how Apple introduced the original iPad, and that theme has never really changed. Though, some consider tablets like the new iPad Pro to be full-on laptop replacements due to the huge bump in processing power. Similarly, I’ve been looking at the Switch as the future of consoles. After now having a system that can be both docked and undocked, I really don’t want to go back to just having a traditional TV box anymore. Going by the capabilities of the 2018 iPad Pro, it seems the likelihood of hybrid systems like the Switch sticking around is far higher than ever.

NBA 2K on the new iPad Pro looks a lot better than 2K19 on Switch.

The Switch’s capabilities are modest in comparison to the Xbox One and PS4, but it’s still a step up over that of the Wii U. As a result, some modern titles have made their way to the little system. While sacrifices are usually made to the visuals and/or presentation, it’s still great to be able to play the likes of titles like Spintires: MudRunner and Rocket League while on the go. After observing the capabilities of the 2018 iPad Pro, I’m genuinely excited to see how much further mobile technology is going to progress.

Now, developers are not all of a sudden going to start porting all of their big AAA games to the new iPad, but seeing that a device like it is already on the market today does speak well for the future. Nintendo has gone on the record before stating that it begins work on its future systems as soon as one releases. Thus, the Switch’s successor has likely been on the drawing board at least since late last year, if not early this year (and I’m not talking about the rumored 2019 revamped Switch — I mean an entirely new system). If Nintendo hopefully does intend to continue with the hybrid design, that means it already needs to be thinking about what chipset will power the next system. Nvidia already has an upgraded version of the Tegra processor that the current Switch uses, although it pales in comparison to the likes of Apple’s A12X Bionic chip in the 2018 iPad Pro. That said, I wonder if Nintendo and Nvidia should take a page from Apple here.

What I mean by that is perhaps the two companies should consider building a new chipset specifically for the upcoming system. That’s what’s benefited a lot of Apple’s devices over the years, having an exclusively in-house chipset. This has allowed developers to maximize the performance of Apple’s devices specifically, which is exactly what’s happening again with the new iPad Pro. Thus, it would be cool if Nintendo and Nvidia took a similar approach. Really, it’s not that much different than how most consoles are designed. The Switch just happened to use a preexisting chipset in the form of the Tegra X1, which was probably done for the sake of keeping costs down.

Nvidia and Nintendo should take a page from Apple and design a powerful, new chip exclusively for the Switch’s successor.

On that note, it is fair to mention that the 2018 iPad Pro is leaps and bounds more expensive than that of the Switch. The cheapest option of a 64GB model with Wi-Fi starts at $800, which is the price of nearly three Switch bundles. If Nintendo were to take a crack at releasing a more powerful Switch right now, I don’t think it would be as expensive at that, but it would certainly cost more than the $300 that the current system is going for.

Regardless, more power means a higher price tag. So, one thing I am hoping for the future is that mobile devices will get dramatically more powerful, but will gradually ease back on expenses. We’re already seeing this in the smartphone market as there are many mid-range and even some high-end phones that are only a few hundred dollars, like the OnePlus 6T. Even gaming laptops are becoming more balanced when it comes to price and power. All of this points to a bright future for a device like the Switch.

If the Switch follows the typical console life cycle of at least six years, then a new successor shouldn’t come onto the scene until 2023 or so. That’s more than enough time for major advancements to be made in the mobile tech space. Perhaps tablets really will replace laptops by then. And by extension, we could see the same happen to traditional consoles.

Could hybrids like the Switch make traditional consoles obsolete? If the iPad Pro can replace laptops, then perhaps the Switch could be the start of a takeover.
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.