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Nintendo Announce the Switch Lite

Dermot

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There’s a new Switch on the way, and it’s a whole lot smaller. Today Nintendo revealed the Switch Lite, designed as a less expensive alternative to the original tablet / console hybrid. It comes in at $199 — $100 less than the base unit — and for that price you get a streamlined version of the Switch, but also a few caveats. The Switch Lite is designed explicitly as a handheld: you can’t connect it to your TV, and the Joy-Con controllers are built right in. “The two systems will complement each other and co-exist in the marketplace,” Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser tells The Verge.


There are a number of improvements with the Switch Lite. It’s significantly lighter, for one thing; I played with one for around 20 minutes, and the difference was noticeable, particularly when you pick up an original Switch afterwards. The Switch Lite also feels more sturdy since the Joy-Con controllers are now part of the device. The controller layout is largely identical on the Lite, though the new Switch has a proper d-pad, replacing the not-so-precise directional buttons on the original.

Nintendo says the Lite features “slightly” improved battery life — the company wouldn’t get any more specific than that — due to a more power-efficient chip layout, as well as the lack of additional batteries in the built-in controllers. The Switch Lite also does away with the device’s controversial kickstand.



It’s also just a really nice piece of hardware. The Lite comes in multiple colors at launch — yellow, grey, and turquoise — as well as a special light grey Pokémon Sword and Shield edition, and they all have a pleasant matte texture that feels great to hold. And while the screen is slightly smaller, it didn’t bother me much during intense battles in Breath of the Wild. (Despite the change in size, the resolution for the Switch Lite’s display remains the same 720p as the original Switch, though it no longer has a brightness sensor, so you can only adjust the screen brightness manually.)

The new device has a 5.5-inch touch display, compared to 6.2-inch for its predecessor. If you take a single Joy-Con off of an original Switch, you’ll have a good idea of the size of the new version. There are some other nice touches as well, like bezels and an air vent that match the color of the hardware, so they blend in better. Overall it’s a solid device, and exactly what you’d expect from this kind of refresh.

But that new design does come with some tradeoffs. The most notable is the inability to connect to a television; that flexibility has been a large part of the Switch’s appeal. Similarly, the built-in controls and their lack of detachable controllers, HD rumble, and IR sensors creates some small compatibility issues. If you want to use motion controls to catch monsters in Pokémon Let’s Go, or play a game like 1-2 Switch that requires them, you’ll need to purchase an additional pair of Joy-Con separately. Currently, all Switch game packages specify when titles are playable in portable mode, and Nintendo says similar labels will be applied to the digital eShop. If you attempt to purchase a game that’s incompatible with the Switch Lite from the eShop, the company says you’ll receive a warning.

Aside from the new design and those few changes, the Switch Lite and the original Switch are largely identical. Nintendo says there’s no performance difference between the two models, and you can still use the same accessories with the Lite, including Joy-Con controllers, the Switch Pro Controller, and the Poké Ball Plus. The Switch Lite still supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC, and has built-in gyro controls.

Since its debut in March 2017, Nintendo has sold just shy of 35 million Switch units worldwide. Bowser says the timing of the redesigned Switch Lite is meant to capitalize on that initial success, and it should be bolstered by upcoming holiday games like Pokémon Sword and Shield and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.

“We believe the timing is right when we have momentum,” Bowser explains. “This is the perfect opportunity for us to offer more choices, and to bring more consumers into Nintendo Switch in the third year. When you tie that with the software that we just announced at E3, we’ve got a perfect opportunity as we head into the holiday.”

Nintendo Switch Lite Specs


Nintendo Switch Lite console
Size
91.1mm x 208mm x 13.9mm
Please note: 28.4mm at the thickest, from the tips of the analogue sticks to the ZL/ZR Button protusions.
Weight
Approx. 275g
Screen
Capacitive touch screen / 5.5 inch LCD / 1280x720 resolution
CPU/GPU
NVIDIA customised Tegra processor
System memory
32 GB
Please note: approximately 6.2 GB of internal memory is reserved for use by the system.
Communication features
Wireless LAN (IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac compliant) / Bluetooth 4.1 / NFC (near-field communication)
Video output
-
Audio output
-
Speakers
Stereo
Control inputs
"Left Stick
Can be pressed down and used as a button."
"Right Stick
Can be pressed down and used as a button."
A/B/X/Y/L/R/ZL/ZR Buttons
+ Button / - Button
+Control Pad
POWER Button
Volume buttons
HOME Button
Capture Button
USB terminal
USB Type-C terminal
Used for charging the console.
Audio jack
Stereo output
Game card slot
Exclusively for Nintendo Switch game cards.
microSD card slot
Compatible with microSD, microSDHC and microSDXC memory cards.
Please note: an update via an internet connection is required to use microSDXC memory cards.
Sensors
Accelerometer / gyroscope
Operating environment
Temperature: 5 - 35°C / Humidity: 20 - 80%
Internal battery
Lithium ion battery / battery capacity 3570mAh
Please note: the internal battery cannot be removed. If the battery needs to be replaced, it can be replaced for a fee via Nintendo Customer Support.
Battery life
Battery life can last for more than six hours, but will vary depending on the software and usage conditions.
For example, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild can be played for roughly four hours on a single charge.
Charging time
3 hours approx.
Please note: this is the time taken to charge while the console is in sleep mode.


The Nintendo Switch Lite is launching on September 20th — the same day as Link’s Awakening — for $199.99. The Pokémon version will be out on November 8th at the same price.





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