7/19 Update: A week after the reveal of the Switch Lite, Nintendo announced an upgraded version of the original Switch that will have extended battery life, and will launch in mid-August. Original story follows.
A few days ago, Nintendo finally revealed the latest variant of the Nintendo Switch called the Nintendo Switch Lite. As its name clearly points out, the upcoming console is a watered-down version of the original, dropping its most iconic features in favor of portability and a cheaper price tag. But who is the Nintendo Switch Lite really for?
In our in-depth comparison of the Switch vs. the Switch Lite, the biggest differences between the two devices are that the Lite is $100 cheaper, and does not include the ability to be played in docked mode. The lack of a hybrid functionality is causing quite a stir online, with people calling the Lite, "the Switch that can't Switch." But it is important to remember that Nintendo has implemented this business model before with the release of the 2DS, which is a cheaper variant of the 3DS sans the 3D functionality, catering to players who only want to play games on that console without the need for the 3D feature.
Of course, the absence of the hybrid feature on the Switch Lite may not make sense for some people, especially those who already own the Switch, but Nintendo revealed that the Lite is not meant to replace the original. The Nintendo Switch Lite is designed as a complementary device for those gamers interested in a lower price point.
Unlike the flagship Switch, whose main selling point is its seamless ability to switch from a handheld device to a standard home console, the Switch Lite's focus is on pure handheld gaming. The Lite's slimmer build and the smaller screen make it slightly more portable than its predecessor, and its extended battery life would make it a reliable companion for gaming on the go.
While the Switch Lite's name may cause confusion because of the lack of hybrid functionality, the upcoming console is technically still a Switch because it can still play the platform's growing library of games. However, it is important to remember that because the Switch Lite has built-in Joy-Cons with no rumble feature, it can only play Switch titles that support handheld mode.
This will be problematic for players who may want to play games such as Super Mario Odyssey that requires a single Joy-Con used sideways on some levels, and the rumble functionality that alerts players of nearby moons. While this may put some people off in purchasing the Lite, Nintendo revealed that Lite players can still play these types of games, provided that they purchase separate Joy-Cons and connect them to the Lite wirelessly. But still, this might not be the greatest workaround, given that a pair of Joy-Cons cost around $90 for a pair, and it is probably best to just purchase the original Switch instead.
The question remains, is the Switch Lite's cheaper price tag worth losing all of the flagship device's most iconic features? The answer to that depends on who you ask. For current Switch owners, the Switch Lite does not offer anything new (apart from three new beautiful colors) that justifies a second purchase. However, Nintendo is also positioning the Lite as a secondary device for people who already own a Switch and want a separate device for other family members or those that want the original Switch permanently docked, and use the Lite on-the-go. Nintendo confirmed that players will be able to transfer save files from the Switch to the Lite seamlessly for this very purpose.
However for those players who still haven't purchased a Switch, and are unsure whether to get the flagship or the Lite, then it all boils down to budget and gaming needs. For those who have the cash to burn and wants to play every single game in the Switch's arsenal, then it is best to buy the original Switch. On the other hand, players who are looking for a straight-up no-frills handheld experience, and does not care or the small number of games that won't support it, will find the Switch Lite as the perfect choice given its affordability, longer battery life, and increased portability.
Nintendo Switch Lite launches on September 20, 2019.