The long-rumored smaller, handheld-only Nintendo Switch is a reality called the Switch Lite, Nintendo announced this morning. The reason for the new version? Choice, says Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser. “Adding Nintendo Switch Lite to the lineup gives gamers more color and price point options,” Bowser noted in the official press release. One of these choices is between three launch colors: gray, yellow, and turquoise. The body of the Switch Lite will match the new permanently-attached Joy-Con controllers. The price is smaller, too, at $199.99 compared to the Switch’s $299.99 MSRP. You’ll be able to get your mitts on the Switch Lite on September 20, 2019.
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The Switch Lite is designed to be played in handheld mode only, meaning it has no HDMI video out or ability to dock to the existing Nintendo Switch dock. The integrated controls means a sleeker form factor, but it also means the small library of detachable Joy-Con-controlled games will need some workarounds to actually function correctly. Fortunately, you can connect existing detached Joy-Con controllers wirelessly to the Switch Lite, provided you have a way to charge the detachable Joy-Cons. You can do this with your existing Switch in docked mode or with several peripheries to charge Joy-Cons.
Off to the top of my head, this list of games includes ARMS, 1-2 Switch, and Just Dance. Also requiring some finessing are the tabletop mode games like Super Mario Party, which will also require the detached Joy-Cons to make certain minigames work.
In Nintendo’s official comparison page, other differences between the Switch and Switch Lite are clear. The integrated controls no longer support HD Rumble or the IR Motion Camera functionality, meaning you can no longer get that sweet haptic feedback in the lockpicking minigame in Skyrim, for example. The Switch Lite also has no kickstand, so even if you want to play with a detached controller you’ll need to find a 3rd party workaround to get your Switch Lite to stand up. There are many choices to correct this. One of the benefits of the Switch Lite over the Switch is the addition of a real d-pad on the left integrated control panel. Hopefully the inclusion of a d-pad for the Switch Lite is an indication of d-pad detachable Joy-Cons in the future.
Size-wise, the Switch Lite is predictably smaller than the original Switch. Compared to the Switch’s 4″ height, 9.4″ length (the width across), and .55″ depth with Joy-Cons attached, the Switch Lite comes in at 3.6″ tall and 8.2″ long while retaining the same depth. The Switch Lite is over 4 ounces lighter than the Switch, coming in at .61 lbs to the original Switch’s .88 lbs. Both models have touch screens, as expected, with the Switch Lite’s measuring 5.5″ diagonally compared to the 6.2″ of the original Switch.
In terms of battery life, everything is relative, of course. The original Switch can run, depending on what you play, anywhere from 2.5 to 6.5 hours. This expands a bit with Switch Lite to 3 to 7 hours. Nintendo was kind enough to provide a specific example of what we can expect, saying that the 3-hour life of the Switch while playing Breath of the Wild can expect to grow by an hour with the Switch Lite.
The Switch Lite seems like a natural progression for Nintendo, a company that often iterates several times with their handheld consoles. The Switch is still expected to a “pro” version in the future that will support docked mode and have more powerful hardware, but this is speculation more than reality at this point. The Switch Lite does seem to undermine some of the original selling points of the Switch, specifically with the versatility of choosing between docked and handheld modes.
However, the smaller price point of the Switch Lite in time for Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield makes a lot of sense. If you don’t like one of the launch colors, you can always grab the special edition Pokémon Sword/Shield Switch Lite, which is pretty slick and features the Pokémon Zacian and Zamaenta on the back. The body itself is a light gray and the left side controls are light blue while the right side controls are magenta. The special Pokémon Sword/Shield Switch Lite will be available on November 8, 2019, which is a week before the games launch.