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Feature Article

Nintendo Switch Lite Is Now Available, But Where's Our Review?

We went hands-on with Nintendo's smaller, cheaper Switch.

Nintendo's Switch Lite is out now, and its priced at $200, which is far below the standard, $300 Switch. As the name implies, the Switch Lite is more portable, with a smaller body and screen, but consequently without the ability to convert from a handheld into a docked console. It's a big tradeoff, albeit at a big discount. While the new hardware feels good at first blush, it's going to take us a bit of time with our review unit before we're ready to weigh in on the big-picture questions surrounding the hardware and its unique limitations.

While we continue to test the system with various games and in different use cases, you can revisit our impressions from a recent hands-on event. While there are certain topics that couldn't be evaluated at the time, the report that follows should still give you a good idea of what you can look forward to, and likewise, what you might be missing out on if you opt for the more affordable Switch.

Original story: Last month, Nintendo pulled back the curtain on the Switch Lite--a smaller, more affordable iteration of its popular hybrid system. Unlike the standard Switch, which is able to function as either a handheld or home console, the Lite is tailored specifically for portable use. As a result, it's missing some of the system's most distinctive features: It isn't able to connect to a television, it has no built-in kickstand, so you can't set it up for tabletop play without an additional accessory, and it eschews detachable controllers in favor of a solid body design.

That Nintendo is releasing a newer version of the Switch should come as no surprise. The company has a long history of refreshing its gaming hardware every few years. However, these revised systems have generally supplanted their predecessors; the DS Lite, for instance, was an all-around upgrade over the original DS, while the New 3DS boasted slightly more powerful hardware than the standard 3DS, as well as a second analog nub--a feature 3DS owners had long been clamoring for.

The Switch Lite, by comparison, feels more akin to the toast-shaped 2DS; it utilizes the same internal components as the base Switch but in a more compact (and kid-friendly) form, and it removes extraneous elements in an effort to reduce the system's price. All of that is to say that the Switch Lite won't appeal to everyone.

Still, the system certainly has its charms. We recently had a chance to check the Switch Lite out at a demo event in New York, and now that we've gotten some hands-on time with it, we have a much better understanding of its benefits and tradeoffs. We'll post our full review of the new console closer to launch, but in the meantime, if you're on the fence about picking one up, here are some pros and cons to consider to help you decide if the Switch Lite is right for you.

It's Literally A Smaller Switch With Fewer Features

Whether this is a pro or a con will come down to personal preference, but the Switch Lite is very much the same piece of tech, just in a smaller form factor. The system interface and menus are identical to the standard Switch, and while you can't physically attach controllers to the console, pairing them works the same way--you'll need to go into the Controller menu and press the synch button on your Joy-Cons or Pro Controller.

Games also seem to run just as well on the Switch Lite as on the standard Switch. We got to play three titles on the system at the demo event--Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Super Mario Maker 2--and noticed no discernible difference in terms of performance during our hands-on time. However, there were a couple of control quirks, particularly when playing Super Mario Maker 2, that we'll elaborate on further below.

PRO: It's Lightweight And Comfortable

The Switch Lite is designed strictly for portable use, and it certainly succeeds in that respect. Thanks to its smaller size, the system is easier to tote around than a standard Switch. Because it forgoes detachable parts for a solid body, it also feels sturdier than the base model, and it's much lighter and more ergonomic, conforming to your hands better.

Nintendo Switch vs. Switch Lite

SpecsOriginal Switch (original)Original Switch (new)Switch Lite
Screen Size6.2 inches6.2 inches5.5 inches
Resolution720p (undocked)720p (undocked)720p
Dimensions (H x W x D)4" x 9.4" x 0.55"4" x 9.4" x 0.55"3.6" x 8.2" x 0.55"
Weight0.88 lbs / 399 g"0.88 lbs / 399 g"0.61 lbs / 277 g
Battery Life Range2.5 - 6.5 hours4.5 - 9 hours3 - 7 hours

The system also offers some control improvements over a regular Switch. Much has already been made about the Switch Lite's proper D-pad, which is certainly a boon when playing some games like the aforementioned Mario Maker 2, but its analog sticks also feel a little bit more flexible than those found on the Joy-Cons. As a portable device, the Switch Lite is all-around more comfortable to use than a standard Switch.

CON: You'll Need To Buy Separate Controllers If You Want To Host Multiplayer Games

Because of its emphasis on portability, the Switch Lite doesn't lend itself nearly as well to hosting local multiplayer gaming sessions. With the original Switch, you could set up an impromptu match in, say, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate effectively anywhere by flipping the system's kickstand out and passing one of its Joy-Cons to another player, but the Switch Lite lacks both of these features.

Despite these omissions, it's still technically possible to host these kinds of multiplayer sessions on the Switch Lite, but you would need to jump through a number of hoops to get there, and the experience seems like it would be less than ideal. First, you would need to prop the system up somehow, be it by purchasing a stand for it or leaning it against another object. You would also need to own separate controllers for each player to use, offsetting any of the money you would save by springing for the cheaper Switch model.

Of course, if you and your friends own a copy of the same game, you can still play with them wirelessly using the Switch Lite. However, it's clear the system is intended to be more of a personal device than a communal one like the standard Switch, so if being able to set up a multiplayer session anywhere is an appealing feature to you, then you'd likely be better served by the original model.

CON: Some Games Aren't Suited For It

Since the Switch Lite doesn't come with Joy-Cons, it lacks those controllers' unique features, namely HD rumble and the IR camera. There are also some games that won't work with the system at all, such as the Nintendo Labo line. The DIY titles require you to slot the system into the Toy-Cons you construct, but the Switch Lite's size and lack of detachable controllers means it won't fit into the cardboard peripherals.

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Another thing to note is that a few games, such as Super Mario Party and 1-2-Switch, don't support handheld mode. If you're really interested in those titles, you would need to purchase a pair of Joy-Cons and find some way to prop the system up in order to play them on a Switch Lite.

Beyond those few exceptions, most games should work just fine on the system. As previously mentioned, however, Super Mario Maker 2 has a unique control quirk: the game plays differently in handheld mode than when docked. In handheld mode, you can only use the touch screen to edit levels in the Course Maker; you can't use the system's buttons to lay down parts or select on-screen icons, so the only way to do either of those on the Switch Lite is to use your finger or pick up a stylus for the system. It's certainly not a deal-breaker, but it is something to be aware of.

PRO: It's Very Pretty

This is an entirely superficial point, but dang is the Switch Lite very pleasing to look at. The system is launching in three colors--yellow, turquoise, and gray--and all of them look lovely in-person, as you can see in our Switch Lite photo gallery from Gamescom. You may not have the freedom to mix and match Joy-Con colors as you could on a standard Switch, but the Lite's solid body contrasted with its white buttons make it much more eye-catching.

Conclusion

The Switch Lite lacks the versatility of the standard Switch, which makes its appeal much narrower, but it does have some benefits over the original model for those looking for a strictly portable experience. The system launches alongside The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening remake on September 20. In addition to the three launch colors, Nintendo is also releasing a special Pokemon edition Switch Lite on November 8, a week ahead of Pokemon Sword and Shield. For more information about the console, including where you can reserve one, be sure to check out GameSpot's Nintendo Switch Lite pre-order guide.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

kevknez

Kevin Knezevic

Associate news editor, Star Fox Adventures apologist.
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phili878

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I have the original Switch and was plagued by:
Horrible battery life, JoyCon (right) connectivity problems and an overall abysmal Wi-Fi range of the device, laughable. At 6 yeards (no blockage) to my state-of-the-art router, I already lost 2 signal-lines. All other equipment I got, full-lines even inside the garage.

The idea of the Switch is great, the games are great, but the early model of the console is complete garbage, thus I decided to not spend another cent with Nintendo, that is of course, until they bring their next new-gen console heh....

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silv3rst0rm

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@phili878: I have a Day One switch.

I did have most of the problems you mentioned but being the "DIY" kind of guy, I pretty much fixed everything myself and I'm happy with my switch now!

Battery Life : Playing mostly on evenings and single player offline games, lowering contrast by half and turning on Airplane mode allows me to play pretty much all evening long.

I did have the right Joycon connectivy / signal problem which I read online could be fixed by opening the joycon itself and soldering a wire to act as an internal antenna on a very specific solder spot of the joy-con motherboard! (Was pretty easy and ended up working awesome, I can now use my right joy-con 30' away from the docked console.)

The Wifi range of my switch was bad cause it was probably getting swallowed by all the WIFI devices I had in my living room. So to give it a chance I made it so my switch is on the top of my living room furniture.

All in all, it had its flaws, I agree but nothing that can't be fixed.

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phili878

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@silv3rst0rm: I am a DIY and Jack of all Trades guy once the warranty expires. Before that, no way. You risk losing all. I went through the video back then which prompted me to open it which goes against the warranty. I knew there were fixes at least for the connectivity (wifi and battery there were not). It should be Nintendo's job giving me a new one or fixing it, and not me wasting my time and risking my warranty. For the WiFi. I have a ton of WiFi devices, they all work great. Even my Nintendo 3DS works better. So no excuse for Nintendo.

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silv3rst0rm

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@phili878: Not meaning to sound pretentious or whatever but I noticed lately that I can often do better on my own than relying on warranty services.
I often had very bad experiences relying on warranties where the job was done lazy/sloppy or plain bad where I had to go back to warranty services again and again with subpar results.

I did ship my Joy-cons first for the bad connectivity/range and lost them for 2-3 weeks early in my switch's life and when I got them back, it wasn't any better.
So I decided to do it myself and do the "Antenna" mod and it ended up doing awesome!

Ageing, I began thinking most of the time, my time itself was worth more than a lot of the "warranty void" threats and the likes.

There's some things I wouldn't dare to disassemble (Watchs/cell phones, etc...) but for stuff as simple as controllers, there's nothing too scary about disassembly!

I did change my analog sticks twice too for drifting issues.
Nintendo offer a repair without any charges but the stick themselves are about 4-5$ on ebay/amazon etc and can be changed in less than 4-5 minutes.

I'd rather spend 5$ than lose my controllers for 2-3 weeks.

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rawkstar007

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Edited By rawkstar007

I think this is primarily meant for Japan where portable gaming is king. The rest will likely be kids receiving them from parents who a) don’t know any better or b) don’t want their kids to have the option to take over their TV.

It still just hurts my brain that they took away the Switch’s primary function that differentiated it from other consoles. They even took the meaning of the name away ffs.

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Berserk8989

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Edited By Berserk8989

@rawkstar007: They took nothing away... They just added another option for 2/3 of the price for people that are not interested in docked play and just want another portable console. People like me. You can still buy the standard Switch.

And as a portable console, the Lite is superior in every aspect compared to the original Switch in portable mode (it's smaller, lighter, sturdier, more ergonomic, cheaper and with a longer battery life (than then V1 models of the regular Switch at least).

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lostn

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I regret not buying a second old Switch before they patched its security. I should have bought a backup in case mine died. But I thought the thing was overpriced for what you were getting so I settled with one switch. But now those original units go for a lot of money on the used market.

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Terrorantula

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I was gonna get one until I saw the battery advantage of the upgrades Switch.

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DragonAtma

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The switch's biggest advantage is that it's both a home console AND a portable system. If you drop one of them, you're dropping the main reason to get a switch.

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dotWithShoes

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@DragonAtma: The main reason to buy any hardware is the games. Nintendo still delivers in this regard.

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lostn

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Edited By lostn

@DragonAtma: The other signature feature is setting the unit on a table, giving one joycon to a friend and both of you playing with a sideways joycon. Can't do that either. But if I'm being honest, I've never seen anyone do this anyway. Especially not on the rooftop of a condo that's too expensive for the millenials living in it.

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Iloveqwop

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How about a tv only version?

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lostn

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@iloveqwop: Then they wouldn't be able to call it a Switch. Wait, never mind.

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stony4cloud

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Its a fucking vita with a different skin.. **** THAT AND **** YOU.. Could have continued with the vita.

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lebanese_boy

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@stony4cloud: Yeah you're right, Nintendo could've continued with the Vita.

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nintendians

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I mostly play on the big screen, so no, it doesn't matter much to me.

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gargungulunk

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Still a little bummed it has no ability to hook up to a tv, but I play DS,3DS, or Vita at home almost daily.

I'll probably wait till mid-winter to buy anything Switch, but the library has gotten built up enough where it seems like a good window to get one. (Still waiting for SMT 5 info though)

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lostn

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@gargungulunk: It was intended for someone looking for an upgrade to their 3DS.

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silv3rst0rm

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To me, the Switch lite looks like a very "niche" product.

Perfect for people willing to upgrade their 3DS handheld solutions or a second household switch if you have kids.

To be honest though, I wouldn't really recommande the Switch Lite as the "main" Switch in any household.

Part of Nintendo fun comes from Couch-Coop/Party playing games like Mario Party, Mario Kart, etc...
Having only a Switch Lite wouldn't allow this and I feel like it would be too big of a chunk of Nintendo's fun to pass on.

So, I consider getting one myself since I already have a Switch and me and my GF combined have 4 kids, 2 of them being big video games fans.
My son is spending A LOT of time on the switch, 99% of it being in handheld mode.

It would be perfect to have a Lite as a second Switch at home!

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lostn

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@silv3rst0rm: Would you consider the DS and 3DS niche devices too? This is a successor to those handhelds.

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Bread_or_Decide

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Edited By Bread_or_Decide

@silv3rst0rm: If by niche you mean appeals to hundreds of thousands of customers and will be sold out this christmas, than sure, niche audience lol. If anything it's less niche than the switch, made to appeal to more people the same way the 2DS did.

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Berserk8989

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@silv3rst0rm: I agree.

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impact455

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Switch lite is just a more powerful gameboy advance

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silv3rst0rm

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@impact455: You mean 3DS?

Why go back as far as Gameboy Advance?!

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impact455

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@silv3rst0rm: only 1 screen. the whole point of the ds, 3ds, 2ds is dual screens. Switch only has one even tho its a touch screen, you couldnt play ds games on it. If you could id say 3ds but it doesnt

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santinegrete

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Anyone knows if I can play Astral Chain on it?

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mandzilla

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Edited By mandzilla  Moderator

@santinegrete: Yup, you sure can.

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pharoe777

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Nintendo should have added a port to insert 3DS games, would have been the ultimate handheld.

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silv3rst0rm

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@pharoe777: They don't WANT you to be able to still play past gen games.
Instead they'll re-release 3DS games on eStore sooner or later and you (we?) will buy them again!

That's called Maketting.

Ka-Ching!! $$

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dotWithShoes

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@silv3rst0rm: Or you could just buy a 3DS.

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pharoe777

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Edited By pharoe777

@silv3rst0rm: that's a sad truth.

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lonewolf1044

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Being the Nintendo 3DS is being phased out, I would assume the Switch Lite will replace the 3ds So I see no reason to compare the Lite to the other two Switch consoles as The Lite is an hand held. The only difference between the Lite and it being called an Switch is the options to hook up to an TV is not possible and also some programs are not viable. I would call it Switch the portable handheld. For myself I see no need to get the Lite as I can use my Switch console as an handheld.

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videogameninja

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Long story short: If you can go for the original Switch version.

?

-Long story short, Ninja? Are… are you feeling okay?-

-STRAIGHT TO THE POINT NINJA APPROVED-