The announcement of the Nintendo Switch Lite confirms many of the rumors that have been floating around for some time, which started as early as February 2019. Several manufacturers were quietly coming up with accessories or posting advertisements that gave us a look at this possible new console from Nintendo, and, now that we’ve seen the final version, it certainly looks like a smaller Nintendo Switch would be a very interesting thing. Surely there are people out there who are excited at the prospect of a (sort of) new Nintendo console, but it’s not so easy to be optimistic. The new design might look interesting to some of you, but there’s just mostly evidence of a console that is already falling behind in many respects.
Will the Nintendo Switch Lite be underpowered?
Confirming the reports, the Nintendo Switch Lite is a smaller version of Nintendo’s hybrid handheld console. That’s not really a surprise considering the name, but that does bring some concerns along with it.
The Nintendo Switch is already pretty underpowered as it is compared to the Xbox One and the PS4. Anecdotally, there are constant reports from gamers who talk about a multiplatform release not being up to par on the Nintendo Switch as compared to the version on the Xbox One, PS4, or PC. Most recently, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has been having problems with its Nintendo Switch port, dropping frames and even crashing after several hours of gameplay.
While computer power has been steadily increasing and shrinking in size, the O.G. Nintendo Switch is already pretty small as it is. Shrinking it to an even smaller size carries the risk of further reducing the power of a console that is already struggling to keep up with the competition.
Heat is also a concern. There have been more than a few users over the years who have reported problems with their Nintendo Switches overheating and a smaller, more compact unit is going to exacerbate the problem even further. As a general rule, computers don’t like it when you cook their insides like a fried egg. Nintendo may have used the past few years to find a way to avoid this problem, but squeezing the guts into a smaller space doesn’t inspire much hope that the issue will be completely resolved.
The lack of modular controls is a major downside
The power (or rather, the lack thereof) of the rumored Nintendo Switch Lite isn’t the only problematic part, though. There’s also another downside to this new Nintendo console: the apparent loss of modular functionality, which is of the major upsides about the Nintendo Switch. Purchasing a Nintendo Switch gets you the following:
- The Nintendo Switch console
- Two Joy-Cons
- Two Joy-Con wrist straps
- A Joy-Con grip
- A dock
- An HDMI cable
- An AC Adapter
Like those early mockups and leaks suggested, the Joy-Cons are going to be integrated into the device. Once again confirming the reporting from The Verge, there also won’t be a dock, making it a portable-exclusive device. That means that the packaging looks like this, according to Nintendo:
- The Nintendo Switch Lite
- An AC Adapter
And while it will have a better D-Pad, it also is taking out these features:
- No dock
- No included HDMI cable
- No included extra Joy-Cons
- No output to TV
- No tabletop flip stand
- No IR camera
- No HD Rumble
Ever since the Wii, Nintendo has been on point with having lots of fun ways for players to use their controllers in different fashions. Whether you’re docking them into a driving wheel, using them for motion controls, or simply sticking a couple of them together into one bigger controller, you have a lot of options available to you.
The Lite discounts a lot of that stuff. You’ll still be able to use regular Joy-Cons with the Nintendo Switch Lite, but now you aren’t going to get two of them included in the box anymore. This means you’re going to have less versatility out of the box and — perhaps more importantly — a greater need to buy accessories after the fact. Crack a Joy-Con now and you can just buy a Joy-Con. Crack a Lite and you’re looking at a bigger investment to replace what you broke.
Will a lower price be worth it?
The one major upside of the Nintendo Switch Lite is that it has a lower price than the standard Nintendo Switch, coming in at $200. But are the extracted features worth a $100 price drop? Probably not for many people outside of kids who are looking to only replace their 3DS and nothing else or people on a budget (which is respectable). But considering how the Switch is already weaker than the other systems, taking more out of it doesn’t add any appeal to it.
And after looking at what’s likely to be missing from the box, it doesn’t really sound it is going to be worth it when you’re going to have to buy separate Joy-Cons if you want a two-player experience or if you are playing a game that isn’t on the compatibility list. Those rooftop parties are going to be a little more cumbersome if people have to bring their own Joy-Cons and crowd over you while you whole it like a big Vita for everyone to see. It doesn’t have the ability to connect to a television or a stand, so it will be a painfully difficult experience for multiplayer games.
Right now, the Nintendo Switch retails for around $299.99. The price itself has rarely dipped below those levels, but Nintendo has also made the packages more tantalizing by bundling in games, coupons, or similar other deals to give you more stuff for the same price. Considering what the Nintendo Switch Lite is lacking, it would have to have a bigger drop in price for me (and many others who want more) to consider it a worthwhile purchase. The Nintendo Switch itself is badly in need of a price drop as it’s effectively cost the same since it was launched more than two years ago.
While Nintendo didn’t “spoil the surprise” before confirming the hardware, the Switch Lite might spoil those looking to actually make the Switch, well, switch modes. Or comfortably play multiplayer. Or have a console with more options. Considering the lack of Joy-Con modularity and the smaller size, Nintendo is going to be facing an uphill battle to make this console appealing unless it features a serious drop in price and $200 might be that for some, but it’s not a huge drop for how much you’re giving up, especially since you’d be forfeiting the defining feature of the console. Nintendo has made great hardware updates before and can probably do it again (especially if the Pro version comes out), but this Lite version is hobbled in enough ways to probably not be the Switch hardware many are looking for.
[Image credits: Nintendo, Honson]