In 2021, the Nintendo Switch is turning four years old, and many would argue that the hardware is starting to fall behind in terms of its capabilities, design, and more. A couple of weeks ago, I took a look at what we expect from Nintendo’s hybrid, and one of the things mentioned there is a hardware revision for the console.
The timeline makes sense and an improved model could reinvigorate consumer interest in the console, but what would it look like? We’d like to hear from you regarding what you want the most in a Switch revision, but I’ll start things off with my own wish list. There are certainly many things that can be improved with the Switch, but it’s worth keeping in mind that Nintendo would want its hardware to remain relatively affordable while also maintaining a decent profit margin, so I’ll try to stay grounded as much as possible. I’ll list the items in the order I find them to be most important, so be sure to let me know if you think I’m wrong.
1 – Faster storage
Faster speeds and heavily reduced loading times are, in my opinion, the biggest advantage of the new generation of consoles, and the thing that users will probably notice the most comparing the Switch with its rivals. The current Switch model is still using eMMC storage, and that’s just no good anymore. Some titles, like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, have incredibly long load times on the platform, so improvements are definitely in order.
Some have suggested full-blown SSDs for the system, but really, we wouldn’t need to go that far. If Nintendo wants to stick with low-power mobile technology, UFS 2.1 was introduced in 2016 and is much faster than eMMC 5.1 In fact, Huawei faced some backlash in 2017 when its P10 flagship come with different storage variants with radically different performance, so we can get a good look at how much of a speed improvement that transition could bring.
Of course, UFS 2.1 storage may be more expensive than eMMC, but being that it’s almost five years old and has already been superseded by UFS 3.0 and 3.1, I imagine it isn’t that expensive. In fact, Google had used eMMC 5.1 for storage in 2019’s Pixel 3a, but switched to UFS 2.1 in this year’s Pixel 4a, and even with a bunch of other upgrades thrown in there, the 4a was cheaper than its predecessor at launch.
2 – Improved Joy-Con
The Switch controllers, the Joy-Con, are designed to enable the Switch’s hybrid form factor, and at that, I think they do a great job. They get a lot of criticism, more than I think they deserve sometimes, but there is definitely one major problem with them, and that’s the dreaded analog stick drift problem. I have the privilege of owning two pairs of Joy-Con, so whenever one breaks, I can send it in for repair and keep playing, but that’s not the case for everyone.
It’s time for Nintendo to change the internal design of the Joy-Con to accommodate higher-quality analog sticks, so they will finally be usable without the constant fear of breaking them. While we’re at it, I hope to see other, smaller improvements, like making the controllers meatier so they fit into my palms better, similar to what the Wii U GamePad did (see below). The feel of the buttons could also be adjusted, making them a bit softer.
One of the recent rumors regarding a Switch revision mentioned “improved interactivity”, and while the term is vague, it could certainly be referring to improved controllers.
3 – Better display
The display on the Nintendo Switch is another aspect of the console that gets some criticism, and again, for the wrong reasons, in my opinion. Even though it’s a 720p LCD panel, I don’t really have a problem with its sharpness or quality overall. While the resolution or panel type could be better, my focus is on the screen's bezels. The current model has huge bezels around all areas of the display, and it would be great to see the display stretch closer to the edges of the frame for a more immersive experience. To go along with that, an upgrade to 1080p might be necessary, but I would prefer seeing a bigger panel before a resolution increase if we can only get one or the other.
Another upgrade that I think is important is to use glass, or at least some better plastic for the display cover. I absolutely hate the plastic feel of the Switch’s touch screen, and I’ve been using a glass screen protector on top since the very early days of the console. Plastic makes it feel like my finger can’t glide along as easily, and it just doesn’t feel good, so if Nintendo plans to continue using a touch screen, I do hope we get some better materials.
4 – Sturdier build quality
Almost all of the Nintendo Switch’s outer shell is made of plastic, and while I do think Nintendo does a great job of making plastic feel sturdy, I think some improvements are in order, too. I’d like the overall build to feel more resilient, maybe by using aluminum, magnesium, or other harder materials.
However, there are two aspects that I think deserve bigger focus: the kickstand and the Joy-Con. The kickstand on the current Switch model feels flimsy and it requires a flat and level surface to actually do its job. Making the hinge mechanism tighter and increasing the support area of the kickstand would go a long way, in my opinion. Some protective cases for the Switch already address this problem, so Nintendo should wise up with the next revision.
I already mentioned the Joy-Con as controllers, but in terms of build quality, I’m talking about the rails that allow the Joy-Con to attach to the console. I’ve noticed that the controllers can wiggle a bit when they’re attached, and it makes the system feel more fragile. It would be nice to have a tighter attachment mechanism that makes the console and controllers feel more like a single unit.
5 – Bluetooth audio
The lack of support for Bluetooth headphones or earbuds on the Switch has been a pain point for many people, so much so that some companies have taken it upon themselves to develop accessories that enable just that. The Nintendo Switch does feature Bluetooth, but it’s only used to connect to the controllers, which is perplexing.
Personally, I don’t often find myself wishing I could use my Bluetooth earbuds while playing, partially because I don’t play games in public that often, especially this year. However, I see the need some users have for it, and I would probably be happy to have it when I get to travel again. It would make it much easier to listen to my games on a flight, for example.
Those are the improvements I think Nintendo could deliver with a revision without increasing the price of the Switch further, or at least some of them. If a Switch revision were to feature these improvements or even just some of them, I think it would be a winner.
Of course, those are just my opinions, and I’m sure everyone has different priorities and wishes. With that, I pass the question on to you – what do you want to see in a potential Nintendo Switch Pro? Do you agree with this list or would you change the order around? Would you add something else entirely? Let us know in the comments!
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