After the huge success of the original Switch, Nintendo is expanding the line with the Switch Lite, a cheaper, less modular and more portable version of the handheld console. Gaming reporters just got their first hands-on time with the device. Here's what they thought.
First things first: this thing is extremely cute (but still functional):
It's hard not to be delighted by the Switch Lite at first. It's significantly lighter than its sibling, and it's permanently attached controllers also make it feel sturdier. It feels more like a cross between the Switch and a souped-up 2DS. It's the rare system that looks and feels adorable (especially in the Pikachu-yellow color). And even though the Switch Lite has a smaller 5.5-inch screen, compared to the big Switch's 6.2-inch display, it's still immersive enough for epic games like Breath of the Wild.
At USgamer, Mike Williams is really impressed by the increased portability and comfort of the compact design:
Putting that aside, the hand-feel of the Switch Lite is simply fantastic. The weight and heft of the Lite are spot on. To test, I literally laid down on a couch in the demo area, and held the Lite above my head. At home, this is how I usually play the Switch. The problem with the original Switch is that the weight tends to cause me to drop the Switch on my chest and face, and the length of the system makes it awkward when playing on my side. The Switch Lite sidesteps both problems, and felt great when I was testing it in both positions. Even better? The Switch Lite just about fit in my pockets! That only helps dudes with proper pants pockets-sorry ladies-but it's a big change for me.
I came into this demo thinking, "Man, I want a Switch Lite, but I can't afford it." I left the demo thinking, "Man, I need to figure out how to afford a Switch Lite." It's the portable revision that the Switch desperately needed in my opinion and my only drawback is the complete inability to send footage out to TV.
Gizmodo's Sam Rutherford was impressed by the improved buttons:
But more importantly, because the Switch Lite's non-detachable Joy-Con don't have to function as dual-purpose controllers, Nintendo was able to swap out the face buttons on the left for a standard d-pad, which is something I've wanted to see since the Switch's original debut in 2017. Suddenly, fighting games are back on the menu without needing to buy a Pro Controller or arcade stick.
In fact, almost all of the buttons and sticks on the Switch Lite feel better than before. The right face buttons have a deeper, more springy action, while the rear triggers feel less spongy and have a more tactile click at the bottom of a press. Even the Switch Lite's analog sticks felt tighter, though I admit, that last one could be simply because I was comparing them to the stick on my two-year-old Switch.
The Verge agrees, calling the Switch Lite "a budget handheld with a premium feel":
While the new controls are largely the same, there is one important addition: a proper D-pad for the left side of the controller instead of the full-size Switch's detached buttons, which were needed for the "removable" aspect of the Joy-Con controllers. It's a joy to use. Nintendo has always been one of the best companies around when it comes to good controller hardware — the Game Boy helped pioneer the D-pad layout in the first place — and the Switch Lite's D-pad is no exception.
Digital Trends' Felicia Miranda notes that the battery is good and will be an improvement over the old Switch — but isn't as good as the new, refreshed Switch:
Nintendo claims the new Nvidia chip contributes to the Switch Lite's 4.5 to six hours of battery life. While that's better than the original Switch, it's also less than the revised standard Switch that Nintendo recently released. The new Switch offers 4.5 to nine hours of battery life according to Nintendo — and confirmed by Digital Foundry — which is a handheld enthusiast's dream.
It would make more sense if the portable console offered the same battery life. Unfortunately, the Switch Lite's small size and more affordable price point hold back battery capacity.
And while impressed, Kotaku's Heather Alexandra can't see a reason for current Switch owners to, uh, switch:
For players who already have a Switch, and especially those that enjoy playing docked, the Switch Lite might prove unnecessary. This is the sort of thing you give to your kid instead of having to share a family Switch, or else suggest to your girlfriend or boyfriend. This is console meant for traveling, for sitting in the park or flying on a plane. It's a console you take to conventions or toss into your baggy pockets. The Switch Lite's ethos is that you pick it up and take it with you, or pass it around on a couch to your kids. To that end, I can see the Switch Lite excelling as a nifty and portable fun machine.
The TL;DR, from WIRED's Robert Carnevale:
There are a lot of amazing games for the Switch, and many reasons you might want to save 100 smackaroos and opt for a Switch Lite. It's a good handheld choice for many, and may be the only choice for some. I don't know if the Switch Lite will become my favorite handheld system ever, but it may earn that crown from a new generation of kids when it hits shelves September 20.
You can pre-order a switch here.