After quite a bit of speculation, Nintendo finally has revealed a handheld-only version of the Nintendo Switch called the Nintendo Switch Lite. The Nintendo Switch Lite’s primary selling point is its $199.99 price tag, which is $100 cheaper than the MSRP of the full Nintendo Switch.
The trade-off is that the Lite cannot be hooked up to a TV in any way. It also can’t be propped up and played on a table as its controllers are not detachable and it appears to lack a kickstand. In essence, that essentially just makes it Nintendo’s most powerful handheld device to date.
The Lite is also smaller than the “traditional” Nintendo Switch, but that size reduction does come at the cost of a slightly smaller screen (5.5 inches compared to the Switch’s 6.2 inch screen). Additional Lite advantages include longer battery life and a proper D-pad instead of the Switch’s directional buttons. Those buttons were probably incorporated into the Switch’s design so that each Joy-Con could more easily be used as a separate controller, so it’s nice to see the D-pad return here.
Here’s where things start to get awkward. The Nintendo Switch Lite’s lack of detachable Joy-Cons and any kind of TV support options means that it can only play Nintendo Switch handheld compatible games out of the box. While it is possible to play the Switch’s entire library on the Lite, you will need to purchase separate controllers in order to do so, which does seem to defeat the cost-benefit purposes of the device.
So who is this for? Well, the most obvious answer is “people who don’t own a Nintendo Switch due to the price and only intend to use its handheld features,” but that’s a bit of a mouthful. More likely, this is meant to appeal to younger gamers similar to how Nintendo marketed the Nintendo 2DS.
The Nintendo Switch Lite is expected to release on Sept. 20 in yellow, gray, and turquoise colors. There’s also a special Pokemon Sword and Shield version of the Nintendo Switch Lite set to release at a slightly later date that only features a special design of the device and doesn’t include copies of the upcoming Pokemon games.
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.