Originally filed by Nintendo Japan in May 2018 and internationally registered in April 2020, the patent includes multiple images of an updated Joy-Con design.
While existing Joy-Cons include connectors to attach the controller to the flagship Switch console, there are no connectors in what the patent describes as the “new design”.
The design shown in the patent could be a prototype and there’s no guarantee it will be released as a real product. However, a standalone Joy-Con could also be seen as an ideal supplement to last year’s Switch Lite.
Nintendo launched the portable-only Lite in late 2019, and because its controls are integrated, additional Joy-Con controllers are required for multiplayer in tabletop mode.
Lite does not include HD rumble or an IR motion camera either, so some game features aren’t available using the portable console alone.
Detachable Joy-Cons will be required to play Super Mario Galaxy’s co-operative two-player ‘Co-Star’ mode when Super Mario 3D All-Stars releases later this month.
The Switch version of Mario Galaxy will utilise Joy-Con motion controls for pointer functionality when playing in TV and tabletop modes, whereas in handheld mode, pointer functionality has been adapted to use the touchscreen.
It’s been claimed by two publications that Nintendo is planning to launch a ‘Switch Pro’ model in early 2021. Bloomberg reports that the updated console hardware is yet to have its specifications finalised, but that it could feature upgraded computing power and support for 4K resolution graphics.
According to the publication, the hardware will be coupled with a number of new first-party games, which it says could partly explain Nintendo’s relative release drought so far in 2020.
Previously Taipei-based newspaper Economic Daily News was the first to claim that a new Nintendo Switch model will release in 2021. According to the publication, the new Switch model will feature upgraded “interactivity” and improved display quality.