Nintendo Switch Lite Review

Nintendo Switch Lite Review

The Nintendo Switch Lite is close to perfect. Yeah, it’s kind of a brilliant product, and as a package outclasses the original, more expensive Switch in a couple key ways. I got a Switch Lite so I could play my games while my wife tended to her Animal Crossing island, but the more I use it, the more I find myself gravitating to the smaller, objectively less capable, but maybe better Lite. Let me explain.

The “Switch”

One of the big draws of the Switch was that, well, switched between home console and portable completely seamlessly. You could be playing Link’s latest adventure on your big 4K TV one moment, and by simply picking up the console, the next moment that entire experience was in your hands. It was magical in 2017 when it was new, and it’s still really cool in 2020 and really doesn’t have a direct competitor with this capability.

The Switch Lite, some would say ironically, doesn’t switch.

But that doesn’t matter because the game library is so expansive and the quality is so high that there is so much fun to be had on the Switch Lite even if it can’t hook up to a TV. If you will ever want to play on a large screen, then get the standard Switch, but if you’re looking for a portable device to give you some games that are about 10x better than anything on your phone, then the Lite is going to kill it.

The Feel

What is immediately obvious when picking up the Switch Lite is how damn good it feels in the hand. It’s much lighter than the normal model, 30% lighter, to be exact, and that makes it even more comfortable to hold for all gaming sessions, especially longer ones.

The device also feels more solid than the Switch since it’s all one piece. The Joy Cons attach very well to the standard model, but there’s no replacement for one solid piece of plastic.

The buttons mostly feel similar to the bigger brother, but I think they feel a little better with a more satisfying click, and the the D-Pad is…well, it’s an actual D-pad! It’s super nice to have this in place of the 4 individual buttons on the Joy Cons. I get why they had to be that way, but it’s definitely better to play in this form factor with an actual D-pad.

And finally, Nintendo is using some sort of soft touch plastic on this thing that feels incredible! It doesn’t feel “premium” necessarily, but it feels perfect and is really comfortable.

The Screen

Since all of your gaming is going to happen on it with this model, the screen is pretty important. I’m happy to say that while the screen is still 720p, games look very good on it. I’d even say they look better than the regular Switch if only because the screen is the same resolution, but slightly smaller, so the pixels are a little smaller too. The screen is 5.5” compared to the big brother’s 6.2”, which works out to a PPI of 267 on the Lite and 236 on the regular Switch.

If we use “retina” to mean whether you can see the pixels, then the Switch Lite is “retina” if you hold it 13” or father from your face, which based on some crude measurements I just took, is closer than I tend to hold it from my face. The 6.2” regular Switch hits this retina designation at 15” so it’s not a huge difference, but it’s something I’ve noticed outside of these more clinical measures.

The screen is bright enough to be usable indoors at about 50% brightness and outdoors it is playable, but I definitely struggled to see every detail on screen under direct sunlight.

Value and Final Verdict

At $199, the Switch Lite is a great value. $199 gets you access to a huge library of amazing games, and with regular eShop sales and the robust used cartridge market, you can play most of these games on the cheap if you can wait for a sale.

If you ever want to play on your TV then you should spend the extra $100 to get a full size Switch. Multiplayer games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate work so much better on a TV, and epic games like Breath of the Wild thrive on the bigger screen, so there is definitely value in having this as an option.

But if you are never going to play on a TV, then there is absolutely no reason I can think of to spend the extra cash. Save $100 and get better controls and access to an amazing library of games.

Oh, just make sure you buy a beefy micro-SD card to stick in this thing. The 32GB of onboard storage runs out really quickly. I’m using this $13 64GB card in mine and it works totally fine.

The Nintendo Switch’s Library Keeps Growing

https://youtu.be/Kjq6ZE7rYSk

The above video isn’t really thrilling, but it walks through 10 of the most significant video game releases of July 2018. The thing that stood out to me was the representation of Switch titles on the list. 5 of the 10 games mentioned are coming to the Switch, which is awesome! I’ve been watching videos like this for years, and the Wii and Wii U never had representation like we’re seeing for the Switch every single month.

Good on you, Nintendo!

The Nintendo Switch is probably my favorite video game hardware…ever

The Nintendo Switch is my favorite game system hardware that has ever been made, and it's the most innovative hardware any game company has released in years. I'm only on my third day with the Switch, but it's made a strong impression on me already. Here are 3 reasons the Switch is blowing me away.

One: Play how you want

The Switch was marketed as a home game console first, and a portable machine second, but my early impressions are that the Switch is equally great at both. The simplicity of transitioning from docked to portable mode and back to docked is amazing. There is essentially no delay in the transition from one modo to the other. The tablet screen is on before it's even pulled fully out of the dock, and there's a few second delay when going from portable to docked, but I think that's mostly an HDMI thing rather than a Switch thing. Either way, it's really fast.

Moving beyond docked vs portable play, there are tons of options for how to control your game. If it's docked, I can us the Joy-Cons attached to the included Joy-Con grip and it feels like a traditional (if oddly sized) game controller. I can also hold the Joy-Cons completely untethered from one another and rest my hands wherever they are most comfortable. This could be especially great for people who have carpal tunnel issues and need to hold their arms at more natural angles. I don't have issues with this, thankfully, but even I enjoy being able to just have my arms where they are comfortable and play like that. I never even considered this as something I'd be interested in before I had this, but I love it.

I got quite a bit of joy (pun not intended) from being able to hand one of the Joy-Cons to my wife and we each used one to play Mario Kart 8. It's not quite as nice as playing with full controllers, but it's great to be able to have multiplayer gameplay possible right out of the box without needing to buy more hardware.

And finally, I can upgrade from the Joy-Cons to Nintendo's Pro Controller and get a controller that feels very similar to a PS4 or Xbox One controller if I'm more comfortable with that. It's absolutely not required, but it's an option for people who want it.

What's wonderful is when you undock the Switch and start to play portably, none of those above options go away. I can still us the Joy-Cons in the grip, I can use the Joy-Cons separately, I can hand one to someone else to play multiplayer games, or I can use the Pro Controller. I have one more option in this mode, and it's snapping the Joy-Cons onto either side of the Switch tablet and play like it's a big portable console. This is how I've spent most of my early time with the Switch, and it's a great way to play.

Unlike every other attempt at hybrid TV/portable gaming, you never feel like you're compromising with playing one way of the other. That's a huge accomplishment and can not be over-appreciated.

Two: Snappy user interface

Unlike every other piece of Nintendo UI since the Wii, the interface on the Switch flies. Every action feels like it happens immediately, and I never feel like I'm being slowed down by the software. The menus are crisp and clean, and look thoroughly modern.

Even features that the PS4 and Xbox One enjoy, such as instant-on games are a reality here, and it's just as amazing as it is on those more powerful consoles. I can turn my Switch "off" (sleep mode, really) and come back later and open up Breath of the Wild to the exact spot I left off. I was also able to pause Breath of the Wild, go to the eShop and buy Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, start the download, and then go back to playing Breath of the Wild without a hitch. Again, I can do this on the PS4 and Xbox One already, but being able to do it on a less powerful machine makes the Switch feel like it's playing above its weight class, and that's great.

Three: Multiple users

The Switch makes it easier to (ahem) switch between different users. I don't have a lot to say about this, but the fact that you can share a single Switch with multiple people and everyone gets their own settings and game saves is amazing. Something like this would have been great to have when I was younger and I shared my gaming systems with my bother and sister. No need to share game saves anymore 😍.


I have been bowled over by the hardware and user interface in ways I was not expecting. I knew I would enjoy my Switch, but I was not expecting to be this overwhelmed. I have not even talked about how amazing Breath of the Wild or Mario Kart 8 is on the Switch, but even without those, I'm a very happy camper. Maybe I'll come down from this high in a few weeks, but I've owned a good number of gaming devices over the years, and this is the strongest first impression I can remember having to any of them.

The Switch is still very hard to find in stores, but if you are thinking about getting one and happen to come across one, I give it my highest recommendation.

Pokémon Sun and Moon are the Fastest Selling Games in the Series' History

Nintendo reports Pokémon Sun and Moon are the fastest selling Pokémon games yet.

In less than two weeks, Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems sold a combined total of 3.7 million units. That’s an 85 percent increase over Pokémon X and Pokémon Y – the previous record holders for Nintendo’s fastest-selling games – during the same period when those games launched in 2013.

Who says Pokémon Go didn't have any lasting impact? Way to go, Nintendo!

What if it's Not the Wii U's Fault it Failed?

I wonder if the Wii U was doomed from the start. The common wisdom is that the Wii U has failed for many reasons:

  1. The name was confusing (is it just a Wii add-on?)
  2. The tablet controller wasn't compelling
  3. It was underpowered compared to the competition
  4. There weren't enough games

But what if none of those were the reasons? None of them helped that's for sure, but I think we're forgetting about the elephant in the room.

Yup, that 101 million-selling, Wii Sports-playing behemoth probably doomed the Wii U before it was even announced. One would think that the undisputed sales champion of the 7th generation of game consoles would be a huge boon to whatever came next. Momentum alone would almost be enough to ensure a solid showing! And yet here we are, with the Wii U a distant third in the console market.

I think the Wii U was doomed because the product it was replacing was sitting in closets across the world when it came out. Yes the Wii sold over 100 million units, which was more than the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but I'd wager a lot more of those Sony/Microsoft boxes were still in use than Nintendo's in November 20131. People still went home and played Call of Duty and Minecraft, but how many people were still playing Wii Sports?

It was a classic story: you buy a Wii, you play it a ton, and then it goes in the closet for years. So when the Wii U was shown off and looked very similar to the Wii you had sitting next to your laptop from 2001 and those sheets that you never quite decide to put on the bed2, you don't feel too compelled to upgrade to its replacement. The Wii had great sales numbers, but it ultimately wasn't a great gaming product, and it soured people to the product line.

Nintendo thought "Wii" was a great brand; it was definitely recognizable, but it wasn't loved. By 2013 the "my Wii is in a closet" was basically a meme, and people had no interest in buying another Wii (especially when it had all the problems mentioned above).

Last week's episode of Remaster on Relay.fm had a great discussion of Nintendo's current struggles and got me thinking about Nintendo, which is always fun.


  1. When the Wii U was released. 
  2. What, where do you have your Wii?