After a long time of rumors spreading around the internet, Nintendo finally gave official confirmation on the existence of its newest console, the Nintendo Switch Lite.
As of the initial reveal, there has been a lot of exciting information that points to the upcoming handheld’s hardware and software capabilities. We will be pointing them out briefly one by one, to provide an initial assessment of its potential viability as a handheld.
First, of course, is the fact that it is a dedicated handheld. Buttons at the sides cannot slide out as Joy-Cons, which means playing two-player games directly on the Nintendo Switch Lite will inherently be harder to do, if not outright technically impossible.
Regarding this, much of the unique hardware installed on the Joy-Cons will also be absent for the console — meaning no IR receiver, no individual accelerometer for separate motion sensing, and no rumble motors that will provide vibration feature during play. Games that require special Joy-Con controls, such as Arms, will be nigh impossible to play with it.
On the plus side though, because the buttons are already part of the whole console, the buttons on where the left Joy-Con is supposed to be, are now replaced by a standard D-pad. This could make the Switch Lite a lot more intuitive to play, compared to when the original Switch is played on bulk handheld mode.
Additionally, the trigger buttons on the upper side are extended to (sort of) emulate the design of standard controllers. It looks rather odd at first since the extended portion might stick out and not fit snugly into your gadget bag. But it was most likely designed with ergonomics in mind. Plus it can function as a sort of stand since the Switch Lite won’t have the same kickstand as the original.
Next, is its obviously smaller form factor. While the first Switch weighs somewhere near one pound (0.45 kg) with both Joy-Cons connected, the Switch Lite is claimed to be at least 0.6 pounds (0.27 kg). That is nearly half of the original, so expect the newer console to be considerably lighter.
Along with its weight, it is presumed that the battery life of the console will be somewhat longer. Based on official estimates, the Switch Lite might last around 2~3 hours when playing graphics-intensive games like Doom (2016), or Breath of the Wild. Quite considerable if proven true, since the original Switch usually lasts only about almost two hours when playing the same types of games.
Also, because the overall size is smaller, the screen will also be smaller. It will shrink from the original 6.2-inches diagonally, to 5.5-inches. Screen resolution stays the same at 720p though, so pixel detail will somewhat look better when squeezed on a smaller screen. As a handheld, it’s actually not that bad, unless you’re laying it on a table to play with a separate Joy-Con.
That’s right, the Switch Lite can actually still be played using separate Joy-Cons. There’s a short syncing procedure required, as with the original, but they are nonetheless perfectly usable.
This helps greatly in playing multi-player games since Switch Lite’s buttons are stuck on the sides. Though, I would seriously have to question the viability of two or more players squinting at its smaller screen during intense play.
Another thing to point out is its lack of physical connectivity. Precisely because it is a dedicated handheld, the Switch Lite cannot be fitted onto the Switch’s main dock, and there’s no connectivity options whatsoever to plug it onto a monitor or TV, which is understandable as a handheld, but also a bummer. It would have been convenient if it did have that option.
As for Switch Lite’s introductory price, Nintendo announced that it will be available for $200 at launch. Not bad for a current generation handheld, especially since the Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita started at $250 before price cuts when they were first released. It will be available in three colors, yellow, grey, and turquoise. Official release date is slated on September 20th this year.