Is it a bad time to buy a Nintendo Switch?

Reports of an upgraded Nintendo Switch might be reason to hold out this Holiday season.
Pink Nintendo Switch in a backpack

While we’re still a ways out from the holiday season, you might already be brainstorming gift ideas for your friends and family. In my family, my brother already has a gift idea in the running: a Nintendo Switch for his kids. I blame Animal Crossing, mostly.

But with recent reports of an incoming 4K upgrade for Nintendo’s handheld hybrid, it got me thinking whether it’s the best time to buy a Switch, or whether it’s worth saving your Nook Miles until next year.

Bloomberg’s report suggests that the 4K Nintendo Switch (let’s call it the Nintendo Switch Pro for now), will be released next year alongside a new lineup of first-party and third-party games, presumably optimised for the extra grunt. It’s aiming for a 2021 release, handing the 2020 Holiday season to the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.

Whether you’re interested in a 4K-capable Nintendo Switch, or simply the existing base model, there’s nothing worse than paying full price for a current-gen model when an upgrade announcement is right around the corner. There are two outcomes: you’re either stuck with a last-gen console while the conversation shifts to the shiny and new version or you’ve missed out on a significant price drop on the current model.

Details on the upgrade are lite at the moment. We don’t know what it will cost, whether it will impact the price of the existing Nintendo Switch, and what the console family will look like with a new addition.

Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite consoles

When the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro were released, Microsoft replaced the base Xbox One model with the budget Xbox One S, and Sony replaced the PlayStation 4 with a slimmer, cheaper model. Two very similar strategies. However, Nintendo is in a different position. Not only did it quietly upgrade the standard Nintendo Switch model last year, but its budget option, the Nintendo Switch Lite, is a handheld-only device and serves a separate audience.

In Australia, the Nintendo Switch still costs roughly $450 from most outlets, and the Lite costs roughly $300 to $329. Thanks to the Switch’s versatility, I’ve used it more than any other console in my house since its 2017 release. Despite the fact it still costs more than a more powerful PlayStation 4, or an Xbox One S (which features the insanely valuable Game Pass), I’ve got no qualms with the price I paid. But with the new console generation coming, and a rumoured budget Xbox Series S, the Switch’s price tag will be rightly scrutinised over the coming months.

Should you hold off on buying a Nintendo Switch?

We don’t know for sure whether a new 4K Nintendo Switch will drive the price of the Lite and standard Nintendo Switch down. It almost seems inevitable, but Nintendo works in mysterious ways. In the case that it does, you’ll be kicking yourself for paying full price come next year.

At the very least, it’s probably a bad time to buy or upgrade your Nintendo Switch if 4K graphics are a big deal for you.

For me, superior graphics aren’t and never have been an important factor in the Nintendo Switch experience but after three years of international trips and late-night Mario Kart sessions, my Switch has seen better days. I’m close to needing an upgrade, and I don’t mind forking out a little extra for the best version of the console I use the most.

Whatever the upgrade ends up being, I just hope it doesn’t inherit the Switch’s disastrous Joy-con issues.

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