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New Nintendo Switch with 4K output and an OLED screen is expected in 2021

A new Nintendo Switch model with a 7-inch OLED screen and 4K output is expected to be revealed for release before Christmas 2021.

If you’ve already got your 2021 Christmas wishlist in the works, it looks like you might be able to make a highly anticipated addition. Rumours of a new Nintendo Switch model coming out in 2021 have been growing for months, and now it’s expected that the updated device will feature a larger OLED screen and 4K support.

In August 2020, Bloomberg reported that an upgraded Switch model would be coming in 2021, but there were few details offered beyond Nintendo looking into 4K graphics and greater computing power. Now they’ve clarified that Samsung will be producing a 7-inch OLED screen (longer than the current 6.2-inch standard and 5.5-inch Lite), with 720p resolution for the handheld console.

Nintendo Switch 2021 Breath of the Wild Sequel
Image: Breath of the Wild 2 trailer / Nintendo

The model will also offer 4K ultra-high definition graphics output when connected to a television, creating an even greater disparity in the quality of handheld and TV modes than the current gap. With many developers already complaining of the difference in resolutions, this debate is likely to intensify.

While representatives from Nintendo and Samsung declined to comment on Bloomberg’s claims, it is reported that Samsung Display Co. will begin mass production of the screens as early as June, to be shipped to assemblers around July. Inside sources have allegedly indicated that the premium version of the Switch should create demand for the 2021 holiday selling season, hopefully extending the life cycle of the Switch platform for years to come, so you can expect to get your hands on one in time for Christmas.

The OLED panel has advantages for all Switch users, with Yoshio Tamura, co-founder of display consultancy DSCC, outlining its ability to “consume less battery, offer higher contrast and possible faster response time when compared to the Switch’s current liquid-crystal display”.

What we don’t yet know is how users will be able to take advantage of the 4K visuals.

Bloomberg has claimed that Nintendo has asked several developers to make sure their games are 4K-ready, so what games can we expect to see in ultra-high definition? With The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s sequel still yet to receive a release date (or even so much as a second trailer), it seems that the game will hit the market after the new Switch model. Or potentially, alongside it.

While 4K support could be wasted on many of the Switch’s titles, the Zelda sequel will inevitably be a stunning game that can make the most of such high-definition visuals, so there’s a silver lining to waiting a little longer for its release. With HD remakes of previous Zelda titles expected to be announced soon as part of the franchise’s 35th anniversary celebrations, the question now arises of whether they will in fact be ultra-HD and use this 4K capability.

Another mystery remaining is whether existing titles will be able to utilise the 4K graphics – will there be upgrades or re-releases as we’re currently seeing with PS4 and Xbox One games? We may need to wait for an official announcement in coming months to find out.

As great as 4K output and a larger OLED screen might be, it’s safe to say there are other upgrades that we would love to see Nintendo make while they’re at it. Primarily Joy-Con related.

Joy-Con drift has been a longstanding issue for Switch owners, with several class action lawsuits even being filed against the company. While existing Joy-Cons will hopefully still be able to fit into the new model, some new and improved Joy-Cons that don’t cause such widespread inconvenience would be a much appreciated addition.

Other new features users might want to see include a more practical and customisable home screen, more durable kickstands, and a smoother method to remove the Joy-Cons. But this is all just wishful thinking – we’ll leave it up to Nintendo to surprise us with any extra features when we pretend to be shocked at the official premium Switch announcement.