Switch Pro Probably Won’t Have 4K, Experts Say

And that's okay

Key Takeaways

  • Rumors of a Nintendo Switch Pro have been swirling for months.
  • Experts say Nintendo most likely won’t offer 4K gaming.
  • The Switch Pro will likely focus on better performance and improving the original’s design, instead of keeping up with next-gen consoles like the PS5.
A Nintendo Switch games console is displayed during the new console's unveiling by Nintendo on January 13, 2017 in Paris, France
Chesnot / Getty Images

Rumors are just that, and the Nintendo Switch Pro probably won’t be a mind-boggling upgrade.

A recent leak points to a new Nintendo Switch that supports 1440p resolution and uses Nvidia’s DLSS 2.0 technology, which should help it render games at higher resolutions. But even if Nintendo continues with a new design touting these features, it’s unlikely it will cast aside current Switch owners by making new games exclusive to the Switch Pro.

"Based on the huge success Nintendo's achieved with the current Switch model, I'm expecting the Pro to continue the hybrid design, and focus on additional power first and foremost," John Bedford, founder of Viva Flavor and a former editor from Eurogamer, told Lifewire via email. "Whether that's achieved through an advanced dock or the handheld itself is less certain, but improved frame rate and resolution are the only improvements I want to see as a Switch owner."

Not a Next-Gen Competitor

The appeal for many with the Nintendo Switch has always been the console’s hybrid home console and portable nature. This portability allows users to pick up and play games whether they’re at home with their television or on the go. 

"I'm expecting the Pro to continue the hybrid design, and focus on additional power first and foremost."

Much like NIntendo’s previous consoles—the Wii and the Wii U—the Switch never really felt like it was going head-to-head with the other major consoles out there, even relying on a custom Tegra X1 chipset from Nvidia instead of the processors and graphics units that other consoles sported. This left some believing the Switch was intended to be more of a competitor to mobile gaming than to the mainstream consoles of the time.

"The original Switch, by most measures, runs on notably outdated hardware (and was even considered underpowered at the point of its release by many in the gaming space)," Kaelum Ross, founder of WhatInTech, told Lifewire via email.

A Nintendo Switch owner putting the console in their backpack
Nintendo

"Doug Bowser suggested only a few months ago that the Switch is around halfway through its lifespan. Given that most gaming company profits are a result of software sales, not hardware, Nintendo has a lot to gain by keeping their enormous existing Switch userbase purchasing new titles."

Creating a new Switch Pro capable of 4K gaming and forcing developers to create 4K-ready games that could perform poorly on older models isn’t a smart move at the moment, especially while the Switch is still doing so well—it outsold the PS5 and Xbox Series X during the last quarter of 2020.

Focusing on What Matters

Even if Nintendo works to bring 4K to the Nintendo Switch Pro, it’s unlikely the company will do it as a way to compete with Microsoft and Sony. Instead, it will most likely come as a way to improve the mobile and home gaming experiences provided by the Switch. 

"Nintendo has a lot to gain by keeping their enormous existing Switch userbase purchasing new titles."

"Nintendo likes to play by their own rules; they will often happily ignore what Sony and Microsoft are doing in the market and pave their own way with unique gameplay innovations over graphical capability," Ross said.

Person playing Super Mario Odyssey on their Nintendo Switch
Nintendo

According to Ross, it’s more likely a Switch Pro will have new features and better performance, but it won’t keep existing customers from playing most of the new games. This would be a similar tactic to the company’s release of the New 3DS, which brought some different features to Nintendo’s 3DS, as well as some exclusive titles, all while still letting previous 3DS owners enjoy the games available on the handheld console.

"If they wish to continue the Switch brand, the easiest way to keep a positive brand experience is to give existing users options to keep playing," Ross said.

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