Since Nintendo launched the Switch in 2017, the console has proven itself to be a huge success. Last year, it got a handheld-only version with the Switch Lite which sacrificed some features for affordability and portability.
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The Joy-Cons in their current state are only compatible with the Nintendo Switch, and form part of the console; and they can be detached to use with a range of other peripherals.
The Joy-Con in the patent is described as a "controller for computer" and has a new design that indicates it stands alone and won't be slotting into another device.
If that's the case, it's possible that the Switch Pro will ditch the handheld mode and act as a dedicated home console, lending weight to the rumour that it'll be able support the 4K graphics we've been hearing about.
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Given that the majority of TVs out there have 4K resolution, Nintendo isn't missing out on anything by ignoring a next-gen novelty like 8K.
The company already sells Joy-Con's individually, in a range of colorways so that fans can kit out their consoles using their favorite color combo, so it's unlikely that a controller-only redesign is on the cards.
The Switch has only been on the market for three years, so a mid-gen upgrade to a home console with refreshed controllers and more powerful graphics could do as well as the Lite, and tap into a much wider audience. Nintendo has confirmed it won't be launching any new hardware this year, so we'll just have sit tight for an update.