It’s the plight of the early adopter. A few years from now, there will be a new version of the console — one that works out the biggest flaws of the original, most likely at a lower price point. Having used Nintendo’s latest console a fair bit since its launch three years back, I can say without hesitation that the Switch Lite is exactly the one I’d buy now.
Granted, I’m not a typical gamer by any stretch. My relationship with the industry could be described as casual at best. Oh, and I don’t have a television. Yep, I’m that guy… and have been for a while. Point being, the Lite appears very specifically tailored to my needs. Really, the bigger question at this point is which color?
The Lite is $100 cheaper than the original Switch, a feat it accomplishes by removing some of the console’s more innovative features, including the ability to dock and play it on a TV. The solid state body also removes the shakable Joy Cons from the equation.
The console is notably smaller, too, with the 6.2-inch touchscreen getting scaled down to 5.5 inches. It’s not a huge change, but it’s certainly noticeable. On the upside, the smaller footprint means a lighter (as the name implies) device, down to 0.61 pounds from 0.88 pounds. If you’ve spent any time playing the original Switch, you’ll notice the difference right away.
Like the newfound portability, I actually welcome the solid state design. I’ve basically played the Switch exclusively in handheld mode and have always found it annoying when the Joy Cons accidentally detach mid-game. As for those games that required a hearty Joy Con shake, that functionality is addressed in various ways, depending on the title. There’s an accelerometer built into the hardware here, so in many cases the player will end up shaking the whole console to accomplish this.
As FCC filings have confirmed, the battery is smaller on the Lite, but the smaller screensize negates that to some degree. A stated three to seven hours is a bit north of the original switch’s 2.5 to 6.5 hours — though still a fair bit less than the 4.5 to nine hours on the new model. Those numbers are game-dependent. Nintendo says the Lite should get about four hours playing Breath of the Wild, for example, versus the new Switch’s 5.5 hours.
That’s definitely a bummer. As someone who’s interested in the Switch primarily as a travel companion, battery life has always been my chief complaint with the original model. It would have been great if Nintendo would have made battery a bigger focus on the Lite. There are understandably some limitations due to the smaller footprint, but I suspect the company could have squeezed a bit more life out of it here.
The addition of an honest-to-goodness D-Pad on the left side is a nice touch, too — and hopefully an indication that a lot more NES/Super NES classics are about to come to the console. My aging self will be spending a lot of money on downloads if that ever happens.
The color choice is surprising, but quite nice. The yellow and turquoise pop quite nicely, while the gray is considerably more understated — insofar as a Nintendo portable console can be understated, that is. I honestly went back and forth trying to choose one, but if I had to pick tomorrow, it would probably be the turquoise.
At $200, the Lite is $100 cheaper than the standard model and a no-brainer for those who find it difficult staying in one place. It arrives September 20.