It’s portable, it’s pretty, and it plays (almost) all Switch games, but does it make sense to buy the Nintendo Switch Lite in 2022?
In a world where everything seems to be getting bigger and more powerful – the PS5 remains one of the largest consoles ever released – the Nintendo Switch Lite stands out, even among portables. Nintendo, it seems, has downgraded the Switch for its portable-only version, somewhat defeating the purpose of its namesake.
While the Switch Lite offers almost everything that the regular Switch does, it seems like the console family is dated. So is it really worth buying a Switch Lite? We take you through its pros and cons.
Unsure of whether you should buy the Switch Lite? Here’s what the console has in its corner.
The Switch Lite is likely just the right size to take with you on the go. It easily fits into a backpack and the fact that it doesn’t have any removable parts adds to its portability.
At about eight and a quarter inches long, the Switch Lite is a little smaller than the regular Switch, but bigger than Sony’s PS Vita. The controls are still large enough to make it feel substantial, and the console itself is not too large to make it inconvenient to carry along on your travels.
While the other Switch models offer 1080p resolution, this is only available in docked mode. Even the Steam Deck, which can transform into a full gaming PC, has a comparable screen resolution (1280 x 800 pixels). Only the Asus ROG Phone 5 betters this, with a 2448-by-1080-pixel display.
Though it's quite a bit larger than the original Wi-Fi PS Vita, the Switch Lite is only slightly heavier: 0.61 to 0.57 pounds. Your long gaming sessions won’t feel tiring or uncomfortable.
At $200, the Switch Lite is extremely good value for money. It’s still much cheaper than other handhelds, the Steam Deck and Asus ROG Phone 5. So if you’re focused squarely on portable gaming, the console makes for an economical choice.
Nintendo reckons that gamers can get three to seven hours of gaming out of the Switch Lite, which is a little better than the PS Vita, and a lot better than the Steam Deck. (Our tests found that the console can run out of power in as little as 90 minutes, but there are ways to extend the Steam Deck's battery life.)
The Switch Lite caters to those who like to have their colorful personalities on display. There’s no denying that the Switch in yellow, blue, turquoise, or red looks great.
This is a blessing for any gamer. A D-pad allows quick and accurate directional button presses, so it’s perplexing why some manufacturers leave them out of their consoles. The Switch Lite gives you a sense of in-game security, especially when you need to use diagonals.
Not many handheld consoles can boast full home console controls. The Switch Lite’s four trigger buttons add just that little bit more versatility in-game.
For all its positives, the Switch Lite does have shortcomings. You should know about these before you decide to buy.
The repositioning of the Lite to make it more portable means you get a smaller display than the regular Switch. This can change the experience, especially if you’re familiar with playing on the original.
With the Lite, the charging port is located at the bottom. This makes it inconvenient to play while charging, which, coupled with the claimed three to seven hours of battery life means that you had better ensure your system is juiced up before jumping into a long gaming session. For this reason alone the Switch Lite gets docked some points.
This is one of those that could be seen as a pro as much as it could be a con. Pretty much everything that’s available for the Switch is technically capable of running on the portable, but there are some games you really shouldn’t be playing on the Switch Lite.
Games that require you to have a Joy-Con in your hand as you follow along to on-screen dance prompts, for instance, won’t be fun on the Lite. Likewise, other social games will be better experienced on the home console.
If you compare it with the regular Switch, you could say the Switch Lite is left wanting in terms of its controller functionality. It lacks motion controls and rumble capabilities. The gaming experience while tailored for portability, eats into immersiveness.
The Switch was intended to do two things: transform between home and portable console, and enable social play. While you can technically play games with family and friends on the Switch Lite, you’ll need to purchase extra controllers.
The console’s small screen takes most of the fun out of playing split-screen games (assuming you’ve connected external controllers). The tiny display just isn’t suited for co-op or social play.
Let’s say you’ve decided to play a co-op game on the Switch Lite, ignoring advice to the contrary. The console doesn’t feature a kickstand, so you’ll have to lay it flat or find something to prop it up against, neither of which is very convenient.
There’s really not that much going on in the handheld sphere. Yes, there is the powerful Steam Deck with its extensive games library and the somehow still-popular PS Vita, however, Nintendo has found a cozy little niche into which the Switch Lite slots almost flawlessly.
It’s not going to be your first choice if you want ultra-high-definition visuals, latest-gen power, and everything that home gaming has to offer. But if you’re looking for a purely portable gaming experience, and also happen to like Nintendo games, the Switch Lite should make a great addition to your console collection. Its price and the fact that it can play almost any game in the Nintendo range make it an attractive option.
If this is going to be your first Switch, though, you’re probably better off saving for the original or OLED model – there are still good reasons to get a Nintendo Switch. It offers the versatility of a home console muddled with a touch of portability.
The Switch Lite may be appealing not least because of its price, but that shouldn’t stop you from considering your options.
There’s really a lot you can get out of Nintendo’s Switch line, whether you play primarily at home or on the go. So compare and contrast before taking the plunge into Nintendo’s latest, if a little dated, console range.
Anindra has spent his career writing and editing for the web (tech, video games and health websites) and print (newspaper and magazine content). When not background-editing anything he can get his hands on or that falls upon his ear, he enjoys science fiction, English literature and just about anything that’s Quite Interesting.
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