When reports emerged of a lower-cost Nintendo Switch that wouldn't have detachable Joy-Con controllers and couldn't plug into a TV, my son had one question. What's the point of a Switch that doesn't Switch?
Good question. But that's exactly what Nintendo is releasing on Sept. 20. The Nintendo Switch Lite is handheld-only and costs $200.
Is it really a Switch? Does that even matter? I play my old Nintendo Switch in handheld mode most of the time. Nintendo's holiday version of the Switch is making a bet that, for many people, that will be good enough.
The Nintendo Switch Lite costs $100 less than the original Switch and also shrinks the previous model down a bit, with a 5.5-inch 720-pixel screen. But it also ditches TV connectivity via USB-C, and has no longer has detachable rumbling controllers.
To be clear, the original Nintendo Switch, which sold 34 million systems globally in the first two years, will stick around alongside the Switch Lite at the original $300 price.
"We believe the two systems will complement each other and coexist in the market," says Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser in a conversation with CNET, distinguishing the Lite as a "compact, lightweight, dedicated gaming device."
The lower-cost Switch Lite is missing some features, but also seems like Nintendo's handheld future beyond the Nintendo 3DS. But even though the Switch Lite looks like the beginning of the end of the 3DS/2DS, according to Bowser, those handhelds aren't disappearing yet either.
Lite in-hand is very nice
The Switch Lite's packaging looks brighter and so do its colors. A grey, yellow and turquoise model will arrive Sept. 20 when Nintendo's Zelda: Link's Awakening remake hits. A limited edition Pokemon-themed design with pencil-like etchings on an off-white case will be timed to launch with Pokemon Sword and Shield, but it won't come with the game.
I immediately noticed that the Lite felt more compact than the original Switch. It's about as long as a Switch minus one of its Joy-Cons. It's slimmer, and the 5.5-inch 720-pixel screen makes the game resolution look a bit sharper than the 6.2-inch 720-pixel Switch. But in some cases, it's harder to read smaller text.
The matte plastic and solid feel reminded me a lot of the recent Nintendo 2DS XL handheld. No detachable Joy-Cons means the sides of the Switch Lite don't flex or creak as much, either.
The Lite feels bigger than Sony's dearly departed gaming handheld, the PlayStation Vita, but I didn't have one nearby to directly compare the two. The Switch Lite still isn't exactly pocket-sized, but it's a lot more jacket-pocket friendly, like a gaming Kindle.
And it's rock solid, with pretty much the hardware build I expected. It feels like a cousin of the 3DS.
The Switch Lite has most of the same internal Switch features intact: 32GB of storage, a MicroSD card slot, same volume button layout, a headphone jack, USB-C for charging (it comes with the same charger that comes with the Switch.) The 720-pixel touchscreen has the same resolution, but it's smaller (again, 5.5 inches versus 6.2 inches). It still has Wi-Fi, NFC and can connect to extra controllers. And it should also have better battery life — roughly 20-30% more, depending on the game. The Switch Lite uses a more efficient processor that enables smaller heat vents on top of the system. Sadly, like the original Switch, it won't connect with Bluetooth audio headsets.
There's also a new true D-Pad on the left side, replacing a set of four buttons on the Switch's Joy-Con that offered those same functions. It looks like a better option for playing NES-type retro games, but according to Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser, don't expect a D-Pad on a future Joy-Con: "There are no plans, or nothing to announce, in terms of further variations of Joy-Con."
I got to play bits of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Super Mario Odyssey on the Switch Lite. That's a great test of the most demanding Switch games. They all looked nice and nothing seemed that cramped.
What I miss: Switching and rumbling
The Switch Lite makes compromises to hit that $200 price and some of them will hurt. First off: Its non-detachable controllers mean you won't be able to replace them if they start wearing out.
This Switch can't do any video output at all: The USB-C port won't work with the Switch dock. That means it can't double as a TV-connected console, which is half of the Switch's appeal. As a result, your only display option is the Lite's 5.5-inch screen, which also lacks an auto-brightness sensor.
Nintendo promises that all handheld-mode-capable Switch games (indicated on Switch software) will work on the Switch Lite. You could play games like 1-2 Switch or Just Dance on the Switch Lite. You'd just have to pair Joy-Con controllers to that little 5.5 inch screen. Oh, and find a way to prop up the Switch Lite, Read More – Source