In 2019, we’ve seen rumor after rumor after rumor after rumor that Nintendo is planning to release a new, smaller version of the Switch in the near future, possibly without the original system’s signature detachable controllers. While Nintendo hasn’t announced anything officially, some new listings from Chinese accessory manufacturer Honson have reignited the rumor mill surrounding a redesigned Switch system being potentially in the pipeline.
Honson’s Nintendo Switch Mini landing page showcases 11 different products, including a variety of bags, carrying cases, hard shells, and a screen protector. One page promises a “professional design to perfect fit Nintendo Switch mini.” Similar product images were posted to the company’s Facebook page a week ago.
All of these products are listed as “out of stock” on Honson’s own website (the company told NintenDIY that they’ll be available starting next week). But some Honson products “for Nintendo Switch mini case” are already available for bulk order through Alibaba right now, complete with customized packaging and logo options for large bulk orders.
As shown in Honson’s images, the Switch Mini seems to be contained in a single unit, with the usual Switch controls embedded in the system rather than on removable Joy-Cons. The face buttons look a bit larger than those on a standard Switch, and the front shoulder buttons seem to wrap around the corner of the system a bit farther as well.
The biggest apparent change, though, is that the Switch Mini is shown in Honson’s images with Nintendo’s traditional d-pad design, a change from the distinct buttons on the current Switch’s left Joy-con. That could make some sense if the controls on the redesigned system aren’t removable and thus don’t have to act as face buttons for games played in “single Joy-Con” mode.
Is this for real?
While Honson might not be a household name internationally, the Shenzen-based company has been around since 2004, making various console controllers and accessories for international distribution. So this isn’t some anonymous troll or a fly-by-night company that was set up just to play a practical joke on the Internet. If anyone is in a position to be briefed on Nintendo’s early Switch Mini plans, Honson is among the candidates. And this wouldn’t be the first time tech hardware info leaked out early through the Chinese supply chain.
That said, the images posted on Honson’s site don’t exactly seem totally credible. Quite a few contain obvious signs of photo manipulation, with faux screenshots and human hands inserted at noticeably different resolutions and lighting than the system itself. The black system shown in the listing for Honson’s clear protective case (which looks quite a bit like a 3D render) also shows a few marked differences from the grayish system shown in other listings. The black system includes a larger, shallower d-pad, slightly redesigned analog sticks, and the presence of a screenshot button that is missing on the gray system.
Those oddities are perhaps explained by a message Honson posted under a YouTube trailer for the accessories, which suggests the company may not be privy to insider information:
You can doubt and you can wait. But now we are doing for this, please wait and see!
This time we have tracked and analyzed all the picture information about Switch Mini in domestic and international media. And then with professional perspective and detailed product research, we have launched several accessories for the Nintendo Switch Mini like the carry bag, screen protector and crystal case.
Maybe you still have doubt for this. But leading one step ahead means seize business opportunities!
That suggests Honson may be trying to get ahead of the game by simply guessing at the likely design and size of a possible Switch Mini to come. If that’s the case, it seems a bit odd to market and sell a line of accessories that might have to change significantly if and when the system’s actual dimensions are announced. Honson’s clear protective case, in particular, includes openings for the system’s various ports, controls, and cooling vents that would seem heavily dependent on knowing the actual design and sizing of the system itself.
(Honson has yet to respond to a request for comment from Ars Technica. Nintendo of America told Ars “we have nothing to announce on this topic.”)
Yup here it is! It was definitely 3D printed but most prototypes are ? pic.twitter.com/KHc2bIummV
— Ray Strazdas (@raystrazdas) June 18, 2019
Interestingly, the Switch Mini images Honson posted strongly resemble a gray, unibody, 3D-printed Switch mockup design that was shown at the E3 booth of off-brand accessory maker iPega. Perhaps Honson was using this mock-up as one of the sources of “picture information” for its accessories. Or maybe both Chinese companies are working from the same set of educated guesses and/or insider information from Nintendo.
In any case, it seems it’s not only the tech press and Nintendo fans that are paying close attention to the frequent whispers of a Switch redesign coming from Nintendo. At least some parts of the Chinese accessory supply chain seem convinced that a miniature Switch is happening in the near future and are ready to try to cash in on the move early.