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The Nintendo Switch Lite: Is It Worth it?

After months of speculation of an impending new model of the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo has finally put all the rumors to rest with the announcement of the Nintendo Switch Lite. Set to release this September for a price point of $199.99, the Nintendo Switch Lite will offer consumers a more affordable way to experience the Nintendo Switch’s game library…

But at what cost?

Though the Switch Lite is certainly cheaper and smaller than the original model, it isn’t without its drawbacks. The name of the console would have you think that it should be compared to the successor of the Nintendo DS, the DS Lite, but in fact it has more similarities to the 2DS, the stripped-down, budget version of the 3DS.

While the DS Lite was indeed smaller than its predecessor, it sported an improved backlight, with no drawbacks aside from GBA games sticking out a little more. On the other hand, the 2DS lost the 3DS’s 3D display and offered no real benefits over the original model other than the cheaper price point. The latter is basically what is happening here.

The Switch Lite is a stripped-down version of the original Switch. Some of the features that make the Switch, the Switch, are completely absent here. According to Nintendo, playing the game on your TV is impossible, even if you were to purchase a dock separately, and it doesn’t even support tabletop mode, as there is no kickstand to hold the system up.

The Switch Lite can only be played in handheld mode, and the controls are unable to be removed from the system, meaning that some Switch games cannot be played at all using the Switch Lite, or have certain gameplay features unavailable. There’s also a few other missing features, including a lack of the Switch’s HD rumble and IR motion camera.

Certainly, some people will feel that they only need handheld mode, and that the Switch Lite is the perfect fit for them, but I think you should really sit down and ask yourself: Is the cheaper price point really worth it for a gimped piece of hardware?

A piece of hardware that is just outright worse than an already existing model. A piece of hardware that offers absolutely no benefits (other than apparently slightly improved battery life, I guess) over its predecessor. Sure, it’s $100 cheaper than the existing model, but if you wanted to play any games that require separate Joy-Cons, you’d have to shell out $80 for the Joy-Cons and optionally another $20 for the Joy-Con Grip, instantly nullifying the price advantage over the original Switch. And you will still have to lay it flat on your table in order to play tabletop games, unless you spend more money on a third-party stand, and you still won’t be able to dock the system to play on your TV, even if you wanted to shell out even more money on a dock.

But perhaps none of that matters to you. Perhaps you don’t want to play any of those games that would require purchasing additional Joy-Cons and accessories.

But there’s still one key problem that makes the purchase of the Switch Lite questionable: the built-in Joy-Con controls. See, the Switch Joy-Cons have a bit of a problem–they’re extremely prone to failure. A quick visit to your favorite search engine will reveal countless stories of people’s left Joy-Con analog sticks “drifting”—which means that they move on their own without user input. This is such a widespread problem across just about every single first-party Nintendo controller for the Switch that it isn’t even a question of if your Joy-Cons will need to be replaced or repaired, but a question of when.

Repairing them means physically opening them, and since the Lite’s controls are hardwired into the system, that would mean having to open up the entire console to fix it, which is probably a significantly tougher repair job. And if you want to replace them… well… tough luck. Hope you enjoy playing your games with your system flat on your table. It is certainly possible that these Joy-Con drifting issues will be fixed by the time the Switch Lite rolls around, but considering that this has been a problem as far back as the Switch’s launch, I seriously doubt it.

With all of these issues in mind, I honestly don’t think the Switch Lite is worth anybody’s money.

Sure, it’s lighter, more portable and has slightly better battery life, but pretty much every other aspect of the system is a downside compared to the original model, and I honestly think you’re better off just saving up an extra hundred dollars and getting the fully-featured original Switch model instead.