Since its initial release over two and a half years ago, the Nintendo Switch has become the hottest console on the market. Now, Nintendo ventures back into the familiar handheld market with the Switch Lite.
Upon first look, the latest revision of the Switch resembles a chunkier Vita or worse, a Fisher-Price toy. This toy-like image will likely make it more appealing to children who are used to the comparably cheap 2DS and 3DS.
However, once you pick up the console, there’s an odd feeling you get that reminds you of holding a premium piece of hardware. It’s the most affordable Switch option, but its rigidity makes it feel more expensive.
The matte finish has a much more professional feel than the Joy-Cons and doesn’t pick up fingerprints as easily. While the original Switch isn’t glossy, this new console’s less reflective surface seemingly wicks away fingerprints.
Having the controllers as an integrated part of the system helps to eliminate a point of failure. That makes this the ultimate kid-friendly Switch since you can’t snap off the rail connectors on the system or controllers.
The heat vent on the top of the system has also been beefed up a bit. The vents where the hot air escapes are a bit smaller than the original Switch, but they’re now much sturdier and more numerous.
This was a point of failure for many original Switches (mine included). Extreme temperature changes caused the plastic vents to crack over time. It’s encouraging to see that they recognized a fault and addressed it.
However, the left joystick is still a major question mark for those looking to pick up Nintendo’s latest hardware. The left Joy-Cons are notorious for drifting, and since the sticks can’t be swapped out as easily by switching the controller, this could be a huge issue. As of right now, everything is working properly on my console, but it’s at least worth keeping in mind just because of the history attached to the Switch.
Despite these fears, Nintendo has delivered an improvement in a different area on the Switch Lite that has hindered their Pro Controllers. I’m relieved that this beloved quartet of buttons is eons better on the Switch Lite.
This controller that launched with the Switch would often register an up press on the d-pad while holding left or right. Fortunately, this is no longer an issue with the arrow buttons on the Switch Lite.
It’s a welcome improvement that makes playing all the indie platformers and retro games available on the platform much more enjoyable.
Despite the improved controls, the small form factor means considerably diminished sound quality. In an unfortunate design decision, the speakers are now downward-firing as opposed to front-firing in the original Switch.
This leaves what should be a beautiful soundtrack sounding muffled and distorted. It’s a shame that they couldn’t get the speakers quite right, but it’s possible that you could get used to it over time.
Moving from the Lite to the original makes this difference abundantly clear in just about any game. Luckily, Nintendo kept the headphone jack in the Switch Lite so you can still get high-quality sound output from the console.
Most of all, the lack of the ability to change the console from handheld to docked mode is the main retraction in this iteration of the Switch.
I don’t mind being confined to the smaller screen, but the biggest disadvantage is that you can’t just drop your switch in the dock to charge and play at the same time.
Instead, you’ll be confined to one spot close to an outlet with an obtrusively large USB-C cable sticking out of the bottom of the console.
Although some major features have been cut from the Switch Lite, it also removes my least favorite feature in HD rumble. This new tech has never interested me and rumble in video games is just obnoxious in general. Completely removing the rumble motors was a smart decision.
The Switch Lite is a great addition to your Switch family if you already own the original. It’s arguably the best dedicated handheld console ever created. It’s now safe to pronounce the 3DS dead.
Its ability to last for hours-long flights, car rides, or train commutes makes it the go-to choice for those looking for something that’s a bit more portable than the original Switch.
The Switch Lite has its flaws, but it’s a well-made piece of hardware that’s worth picking up to supplement a regular Switch or to upgrade to the latest Nintendo handheld.
- Improved battery life
- Sturdy design
- Improved d-pad
- Improved portability
- No rumble
- Poor speakers
- Charging port location is unwieldy
Should You Buy a Switch Lite?
It’s a fantastic option if you’re buying for a young kid, if you prefer portable-only consoles, or if you want to have one Switch for home and one for the road.
Switch Lite Release Date
The Switch Lite is out now and released on Sept. 20, 2019.