Nintendo’s Switch Lite doesn’t

If you just can’t bring yourself to pay $300 for Nintendo’s Switch portable console, fret not. House Mario has announced that a smaller, slimmer, and most importantly cheaper version of its runaway hit will start shipping in just a couple of months. Get ready for the $200 Nintendo Switch Lite, complete with hype video featuring human beings that are totally gamers. Switch General Producer Yoshiaki Koikzumi runs down what’s different about the Switch Lite. This version is an undockable portable, so maybe we should call it the Nintendon’t Switch.

Of course, to hit this lower price point, Nintendo had to make some trade-offs. The Switch has a pair of removable JoyCon controllers for playing games in docked mode on an HDTV. The Switch Lite can’t do any of that. Not only are the JoyCons integrated into the unit, but the Switch Lite has no dock or HDMI output. The Switch Lite also eschews HD Rumble force-feedback functionality and the infrared motion-sensing camera, too. The Switch has a 6.2″ 720p integrated display, but the Switch Lite will have a smaller 5.5″ 720p panel.

Nintendo’s changes to the Switch Lite aren’t all bad, though. A standard D-pad has replaced those bizarre directional buttons on the left JoyCon. The Switch Lite lives up to its name by weighing at just 0.61 lbs., 0.27 lbs less than the original. The Switch Lite measures just 3.6 x 8.2 x 0.55 inches, compared to the 4.0 x 9.0 x 0.55 inch predecessor. Nintendo says the Lite should last longer on battery power, too—up to four hours playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, an hour longer than the original.

Nintendo’s Switch Lite in three colors: Yellow, Turquoise, and Gray

According to The Verge, Nintendo says that power efficiency boost comes from a “more power-efficient chip layout.” The Switch Lite might not be the only system with a more power-efficient chip, though. In a second report, The Verge cited an FCC filing that says the original Switch is getting an updated SoC as well. The original Tegra X1 was built on TSMC’s 20-nanometer process, so this could be just a die shrink. Such a shrink could enable the new chip to run at faster speeds, and Eurogamer says that Nintendo is experimenting with doing just that.

One other caveat with the Switch Lite is that it’ll only work with games that function in portable mode. Personally, I’ve never seen a Switch game that doesn’t run in handheld mode. Nintendo doesn’t say anything about Nintendo Labo or its recently-released VR titles, either. However, Switch staples that can support multiple players on the same console like MarioKart 8 Deluxe will be a no-go. When the Switch Lite launches in September, it’ll be available in Yellow, Turquoise, and Gray. When Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield launch on November 8, Nintendo will also release two special edition Switch Lites that feature new legendary Pokemon Zacian and Zamezenta. If you prefer your Switch to switch modes, don’t fret—the old model will stick around.

Ben Funk

Sega nerd and guitar lover

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tipoo
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tipoo

I mean, a Switch that doesn’t Switch is pretty Classic Nintendo.

“2DS! It has a 2D screen!”
“So… A screen?”

LostCat
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LostCat

This might finally get me to buy one. I don’t really need one, but I never had anything against it. But, docked? I have a hell of a lot better kit at home, so eh.

I still like the idea of the Switch. I still want one. I just don’t feel like throwing $300 at it.

chuckula
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chuckula

No HD Rumble?

HD Laserbeak is crying.

superjawes
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superjawes

I can’t fathom why this doesn’t have TV mode. Nintendo could sell the dock separately in a pack with a controller, and Switch Lite users would still basically have all the same functionality. Cutting that out seems really arbitrary.

Still, getting under $200 and embracing the handheld nature of the Switch are good moves, so at least there’s that.

SWEATSHOPKING
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SWEATSHOPKING

it’s essentially just the new more powerful 2ds replacement at this point.

Jossief
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Jossief

I’m not extremely tech-savvy (despite being on this site), but the original Switch switches over to higher resolutions and/or framerates when docked, with attendant higher power consumption. Maybe eliminating some of the internal hardware that makes all of that possible let them shave down on the size and price.
Separately, it’s worth noting that buying a joycon grip and dock separately (both of which are included in the original Switch box) costs something like $120. If the Switch Lite could dock, one could make the argument it’s actually more expensive than the original.

Spunjji
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Spunjji

Not a bad theory, but AFAIK the changes in docked mode are a simple clock-speed switch, so there shouldn’t be any additional hardware involved in that process.
My best guess: It’s possible they have been able to select the chips more aggressively for low voltages now that they don’t have to “clock up”.

AzureFrost
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AzureFrost

It needs active cooling to work in docked mode.

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