It has been rumoured for some time, but 2021 is looking more and more like the year that the Nintendo Switch receives an upgrade.
The console's latest firmware update has contained hidden details about the potential Switch Pro, and we have a dataminer to thank for unearthing the info.
Digging for gold
Dataminer SciresM claims the firmware update references new hardware named "Aula".
As stated by Video Games Chronicle, uses a Mariko (Tegra X1+) SoC, which is the same chip used in the Nintendo Switch Lite and 2019 revision.
Although this doesn't enable improved performance, SciresM suggests it will be pushed to higher clock speed and the firmware also suggests support for a Realtek chip which advertises itself as a “4K UHD multimedia SoC”.
4K support is believed to be a key component of the Switch Pro.
It's claimed that the Aula model “definitely” has an upgraded display in the form of an OLED screen in terms of physical hardware.
SciresM states the display is probably not a higher resolution on the tablet itself and claims the 4K Realtek chip might be within the new model’s dock, allowing for 4K resolution when played on a television.
The firmware is said to suggest “substantially” better cooling and battery life for Aula.
On the horizon?
It is believed the Nintendo Switch Pro will arrive this spring, with Gaming Intel pinning this down to a date of 23 April.
They also report that the upgraded console will be revealed during a Nintendo Direct stream on Monday, 11 January.
As per 4K compatibility, Bloomberg reported Nintendo has asked game developers to make their existing games 4K-ready, in preparation for the new hardware.
That said, Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser has played down the possibility of the "Pro" arriving any time soon.
He said: “Right now, with the momentum that we have, our focus will be on the existing form factors.”
“First, we’re always looking at technology,” Bowser added.
“And as we know, technology is constantly evolving and changing. And we’re always looking at what is coming to determine: How can it enhance and improve the gameplay experience? And whether that’s on a current platform, or whether that’s on a future platform, we’re always looking at that.
“However, we also see right now — and we just talked about it — that the momentum on Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite in the fourth year is strong.
"We believe we’re changing the trajectory of another typical console life cycle."
READ MORE: Stealth Optional's Nintendo Switch predictions
According to Nintendo, the Switch had sold 68 million units as of September 2020.
We believe that a "Pro", "Aula" or some form of upgraded Nintendo Switch will arrive this year, but those of Bowser likely sets back the chances of spring release.
Despite the Switch releasing in March 2017, we think that a "Pro" release in more likely to be in-line with the Lite drop, which arrived in September 2019.