Earlier today, we reported on a rumour from Japanese outlet Nikkei that suggests what many of us have been expecting for quite some time now: Nintendo is working on a smaller, cheaper Switch console and it may even be coming early this year.
This isn't exactly groundbreaking news; Nintendo has a solid track record for updating and refreshing its hardware, especially its portable systems. We've had multiple Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, DS and 3DS consoles over the years, and only a fool would have bet against Nintendo performing the same trick with the Switch; hardware refreshes are a reliable way of maintaining sales momentum.
The Nikkei report hints that this new model will reduce costs by removing elements from the design, but what could that mean? Will we lose the dock – one of the big selling points of the platform – in an effort to slash the price? It might seem odd to remove this aspect of the package when Nintendo has done so much to push the 'Play anywhere with anyone' angle, but then again, this is the company that took 3D out of the 3DS, so all bets are probably off. And just because a dock isn't in the base package, that doesn't mean the hybrid nature of the console would need to be totally absent – the Switch Mini could still interface with your TV via a cable.
Another way Nintendo could reduce the complexity of the system – and thereby bring down production costs – is by making the Joy-Con controllers part of the console itself, rather than devices which slide off the sides. Again, this rather goes against the ethos of the system, but you'd still be able to use Joy-Con with the Switch Mini – you'd just have to purchase a separate pair. Another bonus with fusing the controllers to the main body is improved sturdiness; given that a Switch Mini would presumably be aimed at younger players, this would be a considerable benefit.
As you can see from the mock-ups we've created above, such changes would deliver obvious benefits. By streamlining the console and reducing those bezels, the screen size could be maintained while achieving a more compact and portable system. But perhaps we're totally off the mark, and this cheaper Switch console might maintain the dock, Joy-Con and other features, with Nintendo finding other means of bringing the cost down elsewhere.
All of this is, of course, complete speculation on our part. What do you personally want to see from a Switch Mini? Leave a comment to tell us.