After weeks of speculation, Nintendo announced today that it is releasing an updated model of its flagship Switch console. Nintendo shared the news on its Japanese language Twitter handle accompanied by a revamped product comparison page on its website.
To the dismay of Switch fans, the new model isn’t the rumored Switch ”Pro” but instead an improved version of the base model currently on the market.
The new Switch, branded with the HAC-001(-01) model number, will differentiate itself via greatly improved battery life ranging from 4.5 to nine hours as opposed to the current 2.5 to 6.5 hours.
Battery life will, of course, vary depending on the game. As an example, Nintendo used The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild which can run for up to 5.5 hours on the new model, a 2.5-hour boost on the standard Switch.
Nintendo stopped short of revealing just how it achieved the vastly improved battery life. An FCC filing request, however, for a ”Class II Permission Change” linked to the Switch and uncovered last week hints at an updated Nvidia Tegra SoC (system-on-chip), new NAND memory type, and CPU board. Combined, these boost efficiency, lessening the strain on the battery and reducing power consumption.
The new models will hit stores starting mid-August with updated packaging and the same $300 price point as the current iteration.
A mid-generation update isn’t uncommon; minor optimized rejigs and silent hardware changes a few years after launch form part of rivals Sony and Microsoft’s strategy. We only have to look at the PlayStation 4 Slim and the Xbox One S, both launched in 2016, for proof of this.
Where Nintendo strays is timing, forgoing the idea of ”console generations” perpetuated by the other two dominant console manufacturers altogether.
The Japanese gaming behemoth seems entirely unperturbed by the release of both the PlayStation 5 and the Scarlet range of next-gen Xbox consoles next year. Releasing not just the updated Switch model but also the uber-portable Switch Lite version this year may appear a costly foresight on Nintendo’s part, as it runs the risk of being eclipsed.
In reality, Nintendo is uniquely positioned to get away with these types of moves. Close to 33 million Switch units have sold since launch in early 2017, and a slew of exclusive ensures the console’s ongoing appeal to gamers.
Nintendo has carefully curated an image for the Switch as a family-friendly entertainment system alongside stressing its portability, which sets it apart from the hardcore permanence of competitors. Nintendo is convinced, rightfully, that the Switch can stand up to the ultra-powerful specs of these upcoming systems.
Today’s news is the latest instance of Nintendo not giving one iota about the generational release cycle established by Microsoft and Sony. For a fledgling company, this staunch business stance would be disastrous, but a century of success and a corresponding reputation empower Nintendo to do pretty much what it wants. And it continues to do just that.