Written by Cheryl Tan
After months of speculation, Nintendo has finally announced one of the rumoured new Switch models, the Nintendo Switch Lite. The Switch Lite will launch in September 2019 with three colours – turquoise, gray and yellow, with a limited edition Pokemon Sword and Shield version in gray. But with it comes division amongst fans.
Some are firmly in the “why would I even buy this?” camp, while others feel that the lower price point (US$199 vs US$299) and improved portability make it worth a buy. Let’s take a look at how different the Lite model is, and whether it’s suitable for your needs.
The biggest change would be the fact that you can no longer detach the controllers from the main body. It’s now a unibody enclosure, with an almost identical button layout with the exception of the direction buttons on the left controller swapped out for a proper d-pad.
The rear kickstand has also been removed, which somewhat makes sense considering the fact that the controllers can’t be removed, but doesn’t make as much sense anymore when you consider the fact that the Pro Controller can still be paired and used with the Lite model. This is a huge downside for me, because I love detaching the controllers and playing with my hands by my side, either on long plane flights or when I’m in bed and relaxing.
The Lite model is a little smaller than the Switch (3.6 x 8.2 x 0.55″ vs 4 x 9.4 x 0.55″), and quite a bit lighter (399g vs 276g).
Display and battery life
The touchscreen display has been reduced from 6.2″ to 5.5″, but retains the 720p resolution from the main Switch model. Nintendo has removed the adaptive brightness feature, but it can still be adjusted manually.
Battery life is said to be improved as well, with an estimated 3 – 7 hours of playtime now, that has been said is due to a more power-efficient chip layout. The Verge also reported on Nintendo submitting a request to the FCC for a tweak to the Nintendo Switch, which may see this new chip also being used in the main model.
There is no HD Rumble and IR sensor included either, and the biggest change from the Switch’s initial unique selling point? The Nintendo Switch Lite is not compatible with the dock, so there’s no way to output to a TV.
For me, that’s the dealbreaker. I might be able to live with permanently attached controllers, but I have a monitor on my bedside table that’s dedicated to my Switch. The whole ability to use the Switch outside, then go home and plonk it into the dock so I can continue on a bigger screen was the main reason why I purchased this system.
With this change and the new look of the Lite, it reminds me too much of the Wii U Gamepad that never managed to take off.
So will the Switch Lite flop?
Honestly, it’s a mixed bag. I have a colleague who’s been waiting to buy a Switch for the longest time, and when I mentioned the Lite to her, the first words she uttered were “why on earth would I buy that?”. And I agree, the features that have been cut from this model are too important to me to ever contemplate buying the Switch Lite in place of the Switch.
But I’ve seen so many comments on the Internet from people who are praising this move because they’ve been waiting for a more portable (smaller and lighter) version of the Switch, and don’t mind trading the dock and detachable controllers for that.
The lower price is also pretty enticing for people who’ve been on the fence or feel that the Switch is too expensive for them, but again, my colleagues and friends have mentioned that they’d rather cough up the difference to get a model that doesn’t feel like a stripped down version.
I’d say that this is a great deal for people who don’t have a monitor or TV to output to, can’t afford to spend that much or are just looking to get a portable console for their kids. Personally, I doubt it’ll do all that badly. There’ll always be a market for parents looking to purchase a console for their kids, or for people who don’t care to play on a TV. But I’m confident it won’t sell better than the main Switch console.
The Singapore pricing and availability of the Nintendo Switch Lite has not yet been announced. More details of the Switch Lite can be found on Nintendo’s official site.