Though rumors of new products in the Nintendo Switch line have been circulating for almost as long as the Switch has been in existence, Nintendo finally unveiled what may be the first of many iterations on the Switch hardware. Known as the Nintendo Switch Lite, this portable-only unit will be released on September 20th, 2019. Let’s talk about some of the pros and cons of this console variation!
PRO: It’s $100 less than the standard model
The Nintendo Switch Lite is coming in at $199 US vs. the regular version’s $299 price point. Personally, I think my investment in the standard Nintendo Switch has been worth every penny. However, its standard price puts it around the same level as the more-powerful PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Even taking the other consoles out of the equation, it’s a lot of money to spend on a gaming console, generally speaking.
Furthermore, for the audience that only wants to play the console portably, the dock and all of the console’s internals that allow it to play games on a TV just bloat the cost. If you truly have no intention of wanting to play the Nintendo Switch while it’s hooked up to a TV, then the savings goes a long way towards making the investment.
CON: Can’t hook it up to the TV. Ever.
Even if you have a dock, the Switch Lite doesn’t have the ability to connect to the TV. Besides losing out on being able to experience games on a big screen, there are probably streaming ramifications as well. Your standard Elgato or equivalent capture card probably won’t work with this, which is something to consider as well if you have any ambitions of capturing your gameplay footage or streaming. Once you’ve got the Switch Lite, there’s no way to retroactively get TV support back. Considering how much I leverage the versatility of playing between docked and undocked, this is a dealbreaker for me. For others, it’s a sacrifice worth making to get a cheaper Switch at a price they’re more comfortable playing.
PRO: The console is 20% smaller and 30% lighter than a standard Nintendo Switch
Going in with the understanding that this is a portable-only console make this part even more appealing. The Switch is admittedly a bit cumbersome on the go. However, having a smaller footprint and lighter console will make it easier for players to throw it in their backpack before heading out.
CON: Slightly smaller screen
As part of the downsizing, the screen on the Switch Lite shrinks a bit from 6.2 inches to 5.5. Probably not a dealbreaker for most. If anything, I wouldn’t be surprised if the smaller screen actually makes certain games look better due to the pixels being a bit more condensed.
PRO: Built-in d-pad
One aspect of the left Joy-Con design that I despise is the lack of a d-pad. Instead, we get four buttons, which allow the controller to be split for impromptu multiplayer action. Though I have used this feature more than I thought I would, the majority of my gaming time involves me playing alone in portable mode, sorely in need of a d-pad for games like Tetris 99. Since this is designed as a dedicated unit, Nintendo is able to offer up a d-pad out of the box. Thank you!
And for players who want a d-pad on their existing Switch, I highly recommend grabbing the Hori left Joy-Con!
CON: Built-in Joy-Cons
Based on anecdotal evidence, the Joy-Cons haven’t been the most reliable or durable controllers that Nintendo have released. Some have complained about the left Joy-Con de-synching, or analog sticks drifting over the course of time. Should anything happen to your controllers, you can’t simply swap the defective Joy-Con out with a new one. You’ll have to send the whole thing in for repair.
PRO: The vast majority of games should play fine
The Nintendo Switch Lite does not feature motion controls, the IR sensor under the right Joy-Con, or HD Rumble. Even so, the vast majority of the Nintendo Switch library should work without a hitch. As someone who tends to avoid motion controls, finds the HD Rumble to be kind of annoying, and hasn’t used the IR sensor since 1-2 Switch, I’m okay with losing this functionality.
CONS: No motion, IR sensor, or HD Rumble means some games will be compromised a bit
Do you love tilt controls in shooters like Splatoon 2 and Paladins? Are you obsessed with 1-2 Switch or World of Goo? In edge cases like this, the lack of certain functionality is going to hamper a few games. Splatoon 2 seems like the biggest one, as many players swear by tilt controls. You can use separate Joy-Cons with the console, but not being able to play that game in the same way when portable is a huge miss for some.
PRO: Love the colour choices
One of my favourite aspects of the regular Nintendo Switch is the ability to use Joy-Con controllers as fashion accessories. Being able to mix-and-match them to create unique combinations allows you to get different looks without buying multiple consoles. While I only have two full sets of Joy-Con controllers and one Hori left Joy-Con, I still flip between the ones I as a means of spicing things up.
You lose the versatility as part of the Switch Lite, but I think the colour schemes for these units look great. With almost pastel-like choices in gray, yellow, and turquoise, these go back to the the days when Nintendo wasn’t trying to ape the look of professional consumer electronics. It’s fine for the regular Switch to look that way, but I love the Switch Lite going back to more toy-like colour schemes. Even the Pokemon Sword & Shield version with its red and blue buttons is hot. If I were in the market for one, I’d get the turquoise, but I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these.
As someone who already has a Switch and makes extensive use of both docked and portable mode, this is not the console for me. If the rumors are true – just like they were for the Switch Lite – I will wait for the more powerful version. However, for players who just want it as a dedicated handheld, the Switch Lite seems like the way to go. Will you be adding the Switch Lite to your shopping list?
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