Gaming

Nintendo Switch Lite hands-on – it’s light but it doesn’t switch


Switch Lite – it’s exactly how you’d imagine

GameCentral gets get to play Nintendo’s new handheld-only version of the Switch and sees how it stacks up compared to the original version.

It was always obvious that the launch version of the Switch would not be the only model Nintendo produced, and most people guessed a long time ago that a handheld-only version was inevitable.

They also predicted a more powerful ‘Switch Pro’ and while there’s been no sign of that so far the Switch Lite is real, and we’ve used it.

Announced back in July, the Switch Lite will be released on 20 September for around £200, compared to the £280 that the original Switch usually goes for. The cut in price is obviously the main appeal but it does come at a cost.

What is Nintendo Switch Lite?

The Switch Lite is pretty much exactly what it appears to be: a slightly shrunken down version of the original model that works only as a handheld console.

The exact dimensions are listed below but a quick glance at the photos show that the Switch Lite is a few inches smaller than the original, including the screen size which has dropped from 6.2 inches to 5.5 inches.

There are also no Joy-Cons, so the controls are no longer detachable, but Nintendo has added a proper D-Pad where the left set of face buttons used to be.

The Switch Lite cannot use the dock of the original model and so does not connect to your TV. It doesn’t even have a kickstand, so it can’t be used in tabletop mode either.

Nintendo Switch Lite games

Internally, the Switch Lite is almost exactly the same as the original Switch. Technically it has a new processor, but it’s only a small upgrade and is designed primarily to be more efficient and not more powerful.

That means all of the existing Switch games will work on the Switch Lite and there are none that are exclusive to either model.

However, because the Switch Lite doesn’t work in tabletop or docked mode that does mean there are a few games that won’t work with the Switch Lite out of the box, because they need Joy-Cons.

The most high profile of these are 1-2-Switch and Snipperclips but the Switch Lite is compatible with all existing Switch accessories (including the Pro Controller) so you can play these game by using someone else’s Joy-Cons. Although that’s going to be pretty awkward unless you put the Switch Lite in some kind of stand first.

All of this year’s big name games work without any problem on the Switch Lite though, including the recent Astral Chain and the upcoming Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Luigi’s Mansion 3, and Pokémon Sword/Shield.

Pokémon Sword/Shield is particularly well suited to the Switch Lite, since the games have previously only appeared on portable formats, which is why there’s a special limited edition version to tie-in to the game. You can also expect plenty of hardware bundles the closer we get to Christmas.

The Pokémon edition isn’t more expensive but it won’t be around forever

What’s the Nintendo Switch Lite like to play?

At Gamescom last week we got to play with a Switch Lite (the grey one, as you can see in the photos) for about 40 minutes, on Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Super Mario Maker 2, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

Nintendo usually knows what they’re doing with portables but we were a bit worried that that the Switch Lite might be a bit too light, which would be off-putting when you’re playing it, but it actually feels pretty much perfect.

The back of the Switch Lite, with the little ridges under the ZL and ZR shoulder buttons, is just the same as on the regular model, making it very easy to hold and allowing it to sink into your hands as you hold it.

Apart from the D-pad all of the controls feel exactly the same as the original model, so don’t expect any major change there, but at least the Switch Lite shouldn’t suffer from the Joy-Con drift problem.

Given its portable origins Link’s Awakening works particularly well, while Super Mario Maker 2 gave us an excuse to use the D-pad on some pre-made platform levels from the story mode.

It’s definitely better than using the four circular buttons on the Joy-Con and essentially the same as the Pro Controller, which also has a D-pad.

The final test was on Mario Kart, with the Nintendo rep joining in a multiplayer game with us while using an original Switch – thereby proving that as far as the games are concerned they’re all the same console.

The Switch Lite does not come with a spare pair of hands

Should you get a Nintendo Switch Lite?

Once you accept what the Switch Lite is – a portable-only version of the Switch that doesn’t switch to being a home console – it looks and works exactly as you would expect.

We were able to start using it straight away, as if we’d been doing so for years, and you’ll be in the same position whether you own a Switch already or not.

The only question with the Switch Lite is whether it suits your lifestyle better than the original model. If you think you’d only ever use the Switch as a portable anyway then the Switch Lite is the obvious choice.

Although many people have thought they were going to use the original model one way and eventually found themselves making use of all three of its modes (handheld, tabletop, and docked). But with the Switch Lite there is no option, there is only handheld.

That means it’s all down to personal choice, and perhaps your bank balance, as to which you go for, but if you do want a portable-only Switch then the Switch Lite seems to do everything you’d want of it.

The screen is a bit smaller but otherwise the same

Nintendo Switch price and UK release date

Price: £199.99

Release date: 20th September 2019

Available colours: yellow, grey, and turquoise + Pokémon Zacian and Zamazenta Edition



Switch Lite tech specs

Size: 3.6 inches high, 8.2 inches long, and .55 inches deep

Weight: .61 lbs

Screen: 5.5 inch LCD/1280×720 resolution

Internal storage: 32 GB

Battery life: approx. 3 to 7 hours

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MORE: Switch Lite pre-orders live now in the UK for £199.99

MORE: Nintendo boss says Switch Pro is not coming this year – Switch Lite won’t replace 3DS

MORE: Nintendo Switch Lite portable console announced – out this September for £200





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