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By now you’ve heard that the Nintendo Switch Lite is delightful, fun and possibly the greatest handheld system Nintendo has ever produced, rivaling the GameBoy in importance. That might be a stretch, but the superlatives are earned, the whispers are true.
Nintendo Switch Lite is the true winner of the console wars.
What Is It?
Nintendo Switch Lite is the more portable version of the Nintendo Switch (which, yes, is portable … but not this portable). The unibody device has fixed controls rather than removable Joy Cons, resulting in a more rigid body and pleasing in-hand experience.
It’s meant to be a full-time mobile console, so it will not work with the Switch dock and doesn’t have the ability to connect to your TV. The screen is slightly smaller than the Switch, but even tiny text is still readable. Once you start playing, you don’t notice the difference (which makes sense—both consoles share the same processor).
Is It Really That Good?
In a word, yes. Nintendo has perfected the mobile widescreen form factor introduced by Sony years ago (may the PSP forever rest in peace). The regular Switch is an excellent portable gaming system, but it’s hampered by its own versatility. By having to accommodate removable controls, the system always feels a little wiggly in-hand. And even the smaller screen works better here, making the Switch Lite legitimately pocket-able and drawing less battery power (improving the console’s life by hours).
The Switch Lite also has the benefit of Nintendo’s well-established library of games. Since the Switch Lite can play nearly all the same games as the Switch, there’s already an enormous number of A-grade games to choose from right now. The only caveat is that games have to support handheld mode; there are only six games that don’t.
Nintendo made sure there was an excellent in-house game ready to play on the Switch Lite for its launch. Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is a classic GameBoy game, updated to showcase the power of Nintendo’s portable gaming champion.
So … Winner? Really?
It may not be the most powerful system ever created, but as I mentioned in regard to its big brother in my Console Roundup, it doesn’t have to be. It delivers games that you crave, in a portable form factor that you can comfortably play for hours without distraction.
That last part is the most important, because that’s what gives the Switch Lite the edge over its true competitor, Apple Arcade.
The problem with gaming consoles in 2019 is that they’re fighting a war they don’t even realize they’re losing. As people wait for levels to load in their console games, they’re picking up their phones and checking messages, or even popping open one of the new top-tier games in Apple Arcade and squeezing out a 30-second micro session.
Apple Arcade coming out the same week that Nintendo drops their latest system is no mere coincidence. Apple knows all too well what happens when someone has an engaging digital experience in their hands: They don’t put it down.
When I’m playing on the Nintendo Switch Lite, my iPhone might as well not exist. Even if I get bored with my current title (Okay, that’s a lie—it’s when I get frustrated with a puzzle in Link’s Awakening), I’m 100% going to browse to one of the other games I have loaded on my Switch before I put it down.
The Switch Lite experience is so engaging that I have serious reservations about continuing my Apple Arcade subscription at the end of the free trial. This is what mobile gaming should be.
Where Can I Get It?
The Nintendo Switch Lite’s price point is its other major advantage.
It’s only $199, $100 less than the Switch (and around $1,000 less than an iPhone 11 Pro Max). You can pick it up at Amazon or Best Buy right now.
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