The Nintendo Switch Lite launched to retail a few days ago, and a subsequent teardown analysis gives hope Nintendo may have addressed a Joy-Con drift issue that can affect the original Switch and the more recently revised version. We also get to see what's involved in cracking open and performing a DIY repair on the new model.
In case you have not been following, here's the deal—Nintendo released the original Switch console in 2017 to much fanfare. It was lauded for its dual approach to gaming, as it can be slid into a dock to game on the big screen or played on the go with its integrated display. Then last month, Nintendo released a revised version with better battery life.
The Nintendo Switch Lite is a bit of a different beast. It's smaller and lighter, features integrated controllers rather than detachable Joy-Cons, lacks a kickstand, and loses the ability to be docked. It's also $100 cheaper than the regular Switch.
It's also a little trickier to open up and service. Getting inside requires the removal of tri-point screws, which necessitates using a special screwdriver (a Phillips or flat-head will not do).
Battery replacement is probably to top reason why someone might want to open up an electronic gadget like the Switch Lite. The battery is smaller inside this one compared to the regular Switch, and held in place with a bunch of adhesive.
The inside is somewhat familiar looking, though there are some interesting differences. For one, the speakers are now downward firing, and expanded into the space that was previously held down by the two Joy-Con batteries (in the regular Switch). This could potentially result in a louder, fuller audio experience.
Perhaps the most interesting change relates to the joysticks in the Switch Lite. The clasps around the edges are designed slightly different, and the case overall is easier to open. There is also a bit of new trace routing, a narrower stick click button, and slightly wider metal sliders.
"A popular guess at the cause of joystick drift is that the black contact pads under the sliders wear down over time. They appear unchanged here, but it's possible they might be made of tougher stuff this time. Unfortunately that's beyond the scope of our testing for now," iFixIt notes.
Maybe so, maybe not. There is a discussion on Reddit about the drift issue, along with a video showing it still being a problem on the Switch Lite. The assumption is that the contact strips inside each Switch model degrades rather quickly, leading to drift.
Only time will tell if the changes Nintendo made in the Switch Lite reduce the problem. As for the teardown analysis as a whole, the Switch Lite earned a 6 out of 10 Repairability score. It earned kudos for using many modular components, but got dinged for things like uncommon tri-point screws and "gruesomely thick" glue on the battery.
Images Source: iFixIt