After a phenomenal introduction two years ago, Nintendo is doing what Nintendo does and releasing a revised version of its Switch console in September. This one’s a budget version laser-focused on portable gaming.
The Switch Lite will be released on September 20th, with a retail price of $200 ($100 less than the full-sized Switch). Here’s how it’s different from the original.
No Switching: All Portable, All the Time
The most notable change for the Switch Lite is that it doesn’t, well, switch: the signature TV dock is gone, and you won’t be able to add one in with a separate purchase—it’s simply not compatible with the Lite. Other features designed around shared play, like the flimsy kickstand, have been removed as well.
Games will run in “portable mode” all the time on the Switch Lite, which might be a good thing for some of them. Sticking to that 720p display instead of running it through USB-C/HDMI will mean better performance on the NVIDIA Tegra-based hardware. Oddly, the USB-C charging port is still on the bottom.
Smaller Body and Screen With Control Tweaks
With that focus on portability comes a smaller body and screen. The Switch Lite is about two thirds the size of the Switch, and its controls are part of the main plastic body (no removable Joy Cons on this one). Since it’s only ever meant for a single player, Nintendo has done away with the mirrored left/right control setup and given the Switch Lite a proper Game Boy-style D-Pad on the left side.
The touchscreen is just 5.5 inches, .7 inches smaller than the original. That doesn’t sound like much, but consider that we’re in smartphone display territory here: it’s about the difference between the iPhone XS and XS Max. It’s still using a respectable 720p resolution, and presumably, will use the same unfortunately vulnerable plastic construction. The Switch’s integrated brightness sensor is gone, so you’ll have to rely on manual control.
Battery size isn’t mentioned, but Nintendo says it will last a little longer than the original. That’s probably thanks to the smaller screen and singular body—it saves internal space and doesn’t need dedicated batteries for the Joy-Cons.
IR and HD Rumble are Gone
Nearly all Switch games will be compatible with the Switch Lite, in the same way that all 3DS games can be played on the 2DS, and the Lite has access to both cartridge games and downloads from the Nintendo eShop. Storage for games can be boosted with a MicroSD card.