A Look at the Nintendo Switch Lite

Since the very first Gameboy was released, gamers around the world dreamed of the day they could have a true home console experience on the go. Some devices like the Turbo Express or the SEGA Nomad, and later the Sony PSP and Vita attempted this with modest success, but it was not until the Nintendo Switch that this truly became a reality. Nintendo solved the problem of replicating home console gaming on the go by making the console itself portable.

Now the wildly popular device made famous by its ability to swap from home console to portable has seen its first hardware refresh in the Nintendo Switch Lite, an update which has removed the ability to use the Switch Lite as a home console. Does the Switch Lite work as a dedicated portable gaming device, and how does it compare to its bigger sibling? We answer all this and more in our look at the Nintendo Switch Lite.

The Switch That Doesn’t Switch

The Switch That Doesn’t Switch

Without a doubt, the biggest change between the original Switch and the Switch Lite is that the Switch Lite is a dedicated portable console only and does not have the ability to dock and connect to a television. While this may seem contrary to the entire point of the Switch, at its core, the Switch has always been more of a portable that can become a home console rather than vice versa, and was built on a mobile chipset, after all. In addition, although docking the original Switch did bring modest performance improvements, many games were designed with mobile in mind, and actually looked better when played on the small 720p Switch screen rather than blown up and displayed on a large home television.

With that said, if being able to play on the big screen and then seamlessly take your game with you on the go, the Switch Lite is definitely not for you.

Controller Options

Controller Options

The second biggest change with the Switch Lite comes in the form of its controllers. The original Switch featured detachable “joy-con” controllers that could be used free handed, attached to the “joy-con grip” to form a more traditional controller, or turned sideways to use as two individual controllers. With the Switch Lite, the joy-cons are gone and instead are a fully integrated part of the Switch Lite’s unibody design. Not only does this mean there can be no sharing a controller with a friend, but since the IR and HD rumble features are also gone, its means Nintendo’s foray into motion-controlled gaming may finally be coming to an end. Shoppers should also take note that any games which rely on IR motion or HD rumble, such as 1, 2, Switch, will not be playable unless using a pair of Bluetooth connected joy-cons, which are sold separately.

The good news that gamers are sure to appreciate is that the Switch Lite features an actual d-pad on the left hand side, rather than the awkward arrow buttons that were present on the regular Switch that were disliked by many, but ultimately necessary to allow the joy-con to act as a standalone controller when detached.

Design and Form Factor

Design and Form Factor

Where the Switch Lite really shines is in its compact new design. Measuring just 3.6” tall, 8.2” wide and 0.55” deep, weighing barely over half a pound at 0.61lbs, the Switch Lite takes portability to the next level, and makes the original Switch seem massive in comparison. While this smaller design means the Lite’s touch screen has been reduced in size down to 5.5” compared to the 6.2” screen found on the Switch, it’s important to note that the screen still carries the same 1280 x 720p resolution. This means the Switch Lite’s screen is more pixel dense at 267 pixels per inch vs the 236ppi on the original model, giving games a sharper, cleaner appearance even though the graphics are the same.

The kickstand found on the back of the original Switch has been removed, which stands to reason since there are no included joy-cons for tabletop gameplay. The USB-C port on the bottom can no longer be used for docking or HDMI output, but does still support data transfer, so any third-party accessories that use this port such as the very popular GENKI Bluetooth headphone adapter will still function as expected.

Aside from this, the design features include everything you’d expect, including micro SD and cartridge slots, stereo speakers, power button, headphone jack, and a volume rocker.

At launch, the Switch Lite is available in 3 colors: grey, turquoise, and yellow, but shoppers should take note that a limited edition Pokémon Sword & Shield version will be released in early November to coincide with the game’s release, and is sure to be a hot commodity this holiday.

Game Library

Game Library

The incredible thing about the Switch Lite is that despite its reduced feature set, an overwhelming majority of the Switch’s blockbuster 2000+ game catalog is ready to play on the Switch Lite right out of the box. If you’re shopping for a child, the most notable game and accessories that will not work with the Switch Lite is Nintendo’s Labo series of build kits, since they require clever joy-con and screen placement inside the assembled contraptions.

Courtesy of nintendolife.com, here is a short list of other notable titles not compatible with the Lite without a separate joy-con purchase:

Price and Final Thoughts

All these tradeoffs to scale down the Switch into the new Switch Lite were not only about making the console more portable, but more affordable as well. At only $199.99, the Switch Lite is a full $100 less than the Switch, making it a very attractive option for those who wanted the system primarily as a portable gaming machine, and makes it easier to grab the console and a few games to go with it at the time of purchase.

The big question is, what will happen on Black Friday? Traditionally, new to market consoles see almost no discounts to speak of, sometimes earning them a spot on our naughty list, but Nintendo has surprised us in the past by offering a limited pack-in game deal when a hardware refresh drops as they did with the New 3DS and 2DS. While this remains to be seen, rest assured knowing that BFAds.net will be the first to break any deals on what could prove to be the hottest console of the holiday season.

November 5, 2019
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