on Thursday confirmed it is launching a Switch Lite console that will coexist with (and not replace) its regular Switch system
. Following months of rumors and speculation, which had been kicking into high gear lately, we now know some key details about the upcoming console, including whether it will have a bigger
or smaller display.
and renders had pointed to both, but it will in fact be smaller. Simply put, the Switch Lite is designed to be a more portable version of the Switch, and as such, it is smaller and lighter than the regular Switch. Specifically, it measures 3.6 x 8.2 x 0.55 inches (HxLxD) and weighs 0.61 pounds, versus 4 x 9.4 x 0.55 inches and 0.88 pounds on the bigger Switch.
The touchscreen portion is slightly smaller as well—it measures 5.5 inches, compared to 6.2 inches. This lends itself to a modest bump in battery life, going from 2.5-6.5 hours on the regular Switch, to 3-7 hours on the Switch Lite, according to Nintendo. Of course, actual battery life will depend on the games you play. Nintendo points out that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will yield around 4 hours of gameplay on the Switch Lite (versus 3 hours on the Switch).
One thing the pre-launch chatter got right is the design of the integrated controls. They are part of the Switch Lite chassis and cannot be detached. There is also a proper D-Pad on the left-hand side, in place of the buttons beneath the analog stick.
Nintendo made some trade offs with the controls. On the Switch Lite, they do not include the HD rumble feature or an IR motion camera. There are some games that require the latter, such as 1-2 Switch. In order to play those on the Switch Lite, gamers would need to buy a set of Joy-Con controllers and wirelessly connect them to the console.
The Switch Lite also loses a couple of modes—TV and tabletop. It is not compatible with a dock and cannot be connected to a TV, and the love-it-or-hate-it kickstand on the back is gone. It is built for handheld mode.
"Adding Nintendo Switch Lite to the lineup gives gamers more color and price point options," said Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser. "Now consumers can choose the system that best suits how they like to play their favorite Nintendo Switch games."
It is assumed (though not confirmed) that the internal hardware is the same. On a page comparing the two consoles, Nintendo provides a link to an FAQ, but it only answers questions for the regular Switch. Same goes for Nintendo technical specifications page. In addition, the actual product pages for the yellow
, and gray
Switch Lite consoles (with Switch Lite in the URL) currently contain information about the regular Switch, so obviously Nintendo is still updating things.
This is purely speculation on my part, but I'm led to believe that Nintendo may have felt pressured into announcing the Switch Lite as rumors heated up—it is a bit unusual for Nintendo to come out of the gate without its online resources fully up to date. And just recently, Nintendo reportedly acknowledged
being aware of the reports, but said it would not comment on them because doing so "would end up stealing surprises from our customers and also be unprofitable to all of our shareholders."
The noise may have gotten too loud, however, and so here we are. Either way, the Switch Lite is priced at $199.99 and will hit retail on September 20, 2019.
Updated July 11th @ 6:03pm
NVIDIA has confirmed that it is also powering the new Nintendo Switch Lite, but it would not go into detail on the specifics of the SoC. However, it’s likely a slightly refined version of the Tegra X1 found in the current Nintendo Switch. As a refresh, NVIDIA's Tegra X1 employs an 8-core ARM64 CPU implementation along with a 256 core NVIDIA Maxwell GPU based graphics engine to power the pixels. Whether or not it's TX1 at play here with the new Switch Lite, or some new Pascal-enhanced variant, remains to be seen.