The original Nintendo Switch came out a couple of years ago and shook up the video game console industry. It built upon years of hard work and research that Nintendo had put into the Wii U and was the next natural step from it. While the Wii U was not exactly what you’d call successful, the Switch proved to be a game changer for Nintendo. The console brought handheld capabilities along with a fully-fledged console experience and the ease of transition between the two was just the cherry on top. Innovation was the name of the game with the Switch as it had detachable joy-cons with multiple sensors that allowed some fun, multiplayer capabilities. However, hardware alone cannot make a console great and thus Switch had arguably one of the best games of this generation at launch, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild.
Now, 2 years after the original Switch, trends have started to slow down a bit. Most other companies like Sony and Microsoft are focusing on their next generation consoles and the developers are doing the same. The whole industry is transitioning into the next generation and thus, things are not exactly moving fast right now. Nintendo’s sales, which by no means are bad, have started to suffer a bit due to this as well. However, the Switch is only 2 years old and letting its popularity wane is completely out of question. Hence, after months of rumours and leaks, Nintendo has finally announced a brand new variant for the Switch called the Nintendo Switch Lite. Coming in at $200, the Switch Lite is supposed to be the cheaper and ‘casual’ variant of the switch to attract new customers. However, the price cut comes at a cost.
The first thing that you notice about the design of the Switch Lite is that it doesn’t really ‘switch’. There is no dock for the console to be plugged into a TV. Instead, the Switch Lite is an entirely handheld console. The joy-cons are no longer detachable and instead blend into what can be described as a uni-body design. The Switch Lite is still made of plastic but feels much lighter and slimmer as compared to its older brother. Overall, the reduction in weight and bulk is great since the Lite is a completely handheld device and using the original switch in handheld mode for too long did make your hands hurt.
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The Switch Lite body also feels much more robust and secured together thanks to no moving parts like the Joy-cons. We also finally have a proper D-pad instead of four directional buttons which would certainly enhance the experience. Other than that, the Switch Lite is just smaller in size because of the smaller 5.5-inch display. Nintendo has, however, done a great job at making the Switch Lite look great while also giving three colour options that are pretty sweet. Would have been fun though if they had called it the Lite Switch. Jokes aside, the Switch Lite does everything it intends to do in the design department.
As far as specifications are concerned, the Switch Lite has pretty much the same internals as the original Switch. This means that it will also share the same video game library with its older brother. The screen size has been reduced to 5.5 inches but the resolution remains the same at 720P. So, the games would technically look better on the Lite as far as handheld gaming is concerned because of the higher pixel density. Other than that, the Switch Lite comes with the same 32GB of storage with a microSD card expansion slot, USB-C charging, headphone jack, Wi-Fi etc. However, one thing that’s missing is the ability to connect to Bluetooth headphones which is a bummer. You can still use extra controllers though.
Another missing feature from the Switch Lite is the rumble that the joy-cons had on the original Switch. This is a bummer as the rumble was one of my favourite features of the Switch and was integral to many game experiences like Mario Kart and Super Mario Odyssey. Furthermore, if you wish to play the Joycon reliant games like the 1-2 Switch, you’d have to actually buy the joy-cons separately.
One area where the Switch Lite does improve over the original Nintendo Switch, however, is the battery life. Thanks to the newer power-efficient chip, the Nintendo Switch Lite is able to last for around 20 to 30 percent longer than its older brother. The reduction in screen size also contributes to the improvement in battery life. However, I feel like Nintendo could have put a bigger battery in the Switch Lite since, being a solely handheld console, it would rely 100% on its battery and having a mediocre battery would definitely tarnish the experience.
Who is the Nintendo Switch Lite for?
One question that comes to mind is that, with all these features missing that made the Switch great in the first place, does it even make sense to buy the Switch Lite? Who is the Nintendo Switch Lite exactly for? Well, the answer depends on a lot of factors. If you already own a Nintendo Switch, you would obviously not want to get the Switch Lite. Unless, you have kids or younger siblings who also want to play the same games with you. Or, you travel a lot and the smaller form-factor is easier for you to carry around.
One thing is for sure, the Switch Lite is by no means a proper Nintendo Switch console as it doesn’t even ‘switch’. Instead, you could think of it as the replacement for 3DS but with the same gaming experience as the Nintendo Switch, which, in hindsight, sounds fantastic. However, the aptly named CEO of Nintendo, Doug Bowser was quick to dispel this fact and instead stated that the 3DS is here to stay. Things don’t really look to be heading towards that direction though and if Nintendo marketed the Switch Lite as a 3DS replacement, I feel like it could do much better. The Switch Lite is the perfect way into the Nintendo ecosystem for newcomers who are not interested in the TV capabilities of the Switch.
With an already amazing catalogue of games available at launch and more coming out soon like Pokémon Sword and Link’s Awakening, the Switch Lite could definitely turn out to be the surprise hit of the year. The Nintendo Switch Lite will be out later this year on the 20th of September, 2019 and will cost $199.99. You can preorder it right here.