Nintendo announced the Switch Lite in July and during a recent event in New York we had the opportunity to test it out. The new console is a smaller and cheaper version of the original Switch: the price dropped to $ 199, but that is at the expense of its ability to connect a TV. Otherwise it is still a switch, which means that it is pretty good.
Despite the smaller size, the Switch Lite is still fun to use to play games. The screen is a 5.5-inch panel (versus the 6.2-inch display on the full Switch), but it still works with the same resolution of 720p, which means that things on the Switch Lite look a bit sharper than on the larger model.
The fact that the Switch Lite is smaller than the Switch does not mean that it is small. For example, compared to an iPhone X or a Game Boy Micro (the smallest console with a landscape shape from Nintendo), the Switch Lite is not exactly in the pocket. But it is significantly more compact than the full-size switch, and it should be easier to store in a bag and have less trouble with your back when you do that.
The buttons and joysticks are the same as those on the original Switch's Joy-Con controllers (a Nintendo representative confirmed that they use the same hardware), so it stays feels as if you were playing a regular Switch. There are still some motion controls – you still need removable controllers for games such as Pokémon Let's go or 1-2 switch with remote gameplay in Wii – but the Switch Lite still supports movement focused on things such as the arc The legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or paint guns in it Splatoon 2.
Although the new controls are largely the same, there is an important addition: a good D-pad for the left side of the controller instead of the loose buttons of the full switch that were needed for the "removable" aspect of the Joy-Con controllers. It is a pleasure to use. Nintendo has always been one of the best companies when it comes to good controller hardware – the Game Boy first and foremost helped pioneer the layout of the D-pad – and the D-pad of the Switch Lite is no exception .
The connected buttons make the experience of switching between them so much smoother than the individual D-pad buttons, and I honestly can't wait to use it to play pixel-perfect platform games such as Celeste or the grid heavy Super Mario Maker 2.
The battery life has also been updated: Says Nintendo that the Switch Lite should have between three and seven hours of playing time, depending on how hard you push the hardware. That is a step higher than the original Switch's estimate of two and a half to six and a half hours, but it is less than the four and a half to nine hours of the updated Switch model. However, we will need more time with the hardware to get a better idea of how that can endure in real life.
The overall hardware is excellent, which is expected from a modern Nintendo product. The three colors (yellow, gray and turquoise) are all vibrant and the plastic is a matte style like what is used on the Joy-Con controllers, making it comfortable to hold.
Taken together, the Switch Lite seems a worthy spin-off from the original Switch that feels more premium than the budget price tag suggests. It comes out on September 20 for $ 199, with one Pokémontheme model scheduled for release on November 8.
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