In the ongoing saga of Nintendo’s Joy-Con drift problem, it appears even the Switch Lite isn’t immune. On Saturday complaints about the barely week-old system were added to a class-action lawsuit against Nintendo.
Originally filed in July, the lawsuit alleges Nintendo knew about a design defect in the Switch’s controllers and has failed to correct or acknowledge the problem. This issue causes a Joy-Con’s analog stick to register input, a.k.a. drift, even when nothing’s touching it, significantly disrupting gameplay.
And it doesn’t appear to have been fixed with the Switch Lite. Online reports of players experiencing drift on Nintendo’s newest system started cropping up days after its release, several of which were referenced in the lawsuit.
“I can’t believe it, my Nintendo Switch Lite is already drifting,” one player cited wrote. “I was playing BOTW and the camera kept moving without touching the analogue stick. I tried to calibrate and update the controllers but it was still the same.”
“I beat Link’s Awakening over the weekend on my original Switch Lite system,” said another, “I had only put like 20 something hours on it, and it started to show joy-con drift. Why is this happening earlier on than with the earlier Switch?”
The firm Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith (CSK&D) is representing 18 plaintiffs in 16 different states as part of this suit, which goes on to cite online complaints of drift with a new version of the Switch released last month. This updated version sports a longer battery life and apparently the exact same joystick defect.
While there are no official numbers indicating how widespread this problem may be, online complaints have been cropping up since the Switch’s launch in 2017. At least three Gizmodo staffers have personally experienced Joy-Con drift, including myself, and it can render a game downright unplayable if any kind of speed or accuracy is required. So, most games.
Though not nearly as frustrating as having the issue crop up on the Switch Lite. While Nintendo hasn’t addressed the problem in any kind of detail, the company did begin offering free Joy-Con repairs, no questions asked, after the lawsuit was entered. But the Switch Lite’s controllers are built into the system itself, which means any kind of fix would involve shipping the whole thing off to a repair center, a process I can tell personally tell you takes weeks. Tomorrow I’ll be going into my third and still counting.
Plenty of online tutorials have popped up offering DYI methods for troubleshooting and fixing Joy-Con drift yourself, but they don’t always work and, in the case of the Switch Lite, could damage the console itself. According to a company memo obtained by Vice, Nintendo doesn’t require warranty information as part of this free Joy-Con repair offer, but there’s been no official news yet regarding anything similar with its newest system. Worst-case scenario, you could just be out a Switch Lite.
Nintendo did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment. You can find the updated complaint in its entirety here, per Polygon, and those interested can sign up here to enter your name to participate in the litigation.
The Nintendo Switch Lite is one of the finest handheld gaming devices I’ve ever used. It’s sturdy, stylish, and comfortable. It launches with a library that’s already over 2,500 games strong. If all you’re looking for from the Nintendo Switch is personal, portable play, it’s perfect. But is that all you’re looking for?
From its first trailer, with its rooftop parties, car trips, and esports tournaments, the $300 Nintendo Switch has been a device that’s not just about which games to play but how to play them. Basic portable play is part of it, but so is connecting to a high-definition television in the living room, or slipping off a Joy-Con and passing it to a friend as easy as sharing a piece of candy. Those amazing little removable controllers, paired with hardware features like HD rumble and infrared cameras, allow Nintendo to explore new ways to combine real-world activity and gaming with products like Labo and the upcoming Ring-Con. Versatility defines the Switch.
The $200 Switch Lite is not a versatile gaming device. It plays Switch games in handheld mode. It does not support television mode. While Joy-Cons, purchased separately, can be connected to the Lite, the Lite’s smaller screen (5.5 inches to the Switch’s 6.2) and lack of an integrated kickstand make tabletop play inconvenient. There is no rumble. There is no infrared camera. It still supports near-field communication for Amiibo support, and has a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope for motion control, so not all of the Switch’s extra features have been stripped away. But most of them have. As has been pointed out time and time again since the hardware was announced in July, there’s not much “Switch” in the Switch Lite. “Switch Lacking” would be more accurate, if far less marketable.
Though I don’t see it as such, many consider the Switch Lite to be Nintendo’s successor to the 3DS, the dual-screened portable gaming system that’s been desperately clinging to life since the Switch launched in early 2017 and is now all but dead. I understand the comparison. Both the 3DS and the Switch Lite are devices exclusively made for portable gaming. But where the 3DS and its kin had their own ecosystem of unique games, most of which can’t be played anywhere else, the Switch Lite plays Switch games. To me the Switch Lite is to the Switch as the 2DS is to the 3DS. Both play the same games, but one is cheaper and stripped of features that some players never bothered with anyway. I would not trade my 2DS XL in for a Switch Lite.
Judged strictly as a portable personal gaming system, the Switch Lite is better than the original Switch. It’s more compact, which makes it more portable. Since it has no removable parts, the Switch Lite feels much more solid and sturdy than the regular Switch in handheld mode, even though it weighs slightly less at .66 pounds versus .88. The plastic that makes up the Switch Lite’s casing has a soft and slightly rough texture to it that’s a joy on the fingertips. The three colors Nintendo chose for for the initial batch of Switch Lites, yellow, gray, and turquoise, give the device a hip, retro look.
The battery life is slightly longer than my launch Switch, though not as long as the newer models. And then there’s the D-pad, that lovely little white cross in place of the regular Switch’s dinky buttons. I’ve been playing with the Switch Lite for several days now, and every time my thumb brushes that D-pad there’s still a tiny burst of joy. It’s only slightly bigger than the D-pad on my 2DS XL and just as shallow, but it’s responsive enough, and most importantly it’s not four disconnected pieces of round plastic.
As a portable system, the only real downside to the Switch Lite is the screen size. Most of the time, the .7 inch difference between the regular Switch and the smaller Switch Lite isn’t a problem.. But when I play games like Fire Emblem: Three Houses, recently categorized by Kotaku’s Heather Alexandra as one of the Switch’s “extremely good games with tiny text,” my poor, aging eyes struggle even harder on the Lite. Maybe the launch of a portable-only Switch with a smaller screen will make developers more conscientious of tiny text. Or maybe we’ll just have to squint more.
If my only desire was to play Switch games in handheld mode, I would choose the Switch Lite over the regular Switch, hands down. It’s $100 cheaper. It plays all the games I want to play. It looks and feels better in my hands, and it’s impossible for my chonky fingers to accidentally disconnect a Joy-Con during heated play. Yes, I have done this.
But the original does a whole lot of cool stuff the Switch Lite does not do—stuff I’ve grown used to, and now feel awkward going without. Removing Joy-Cons to play multiplayer games is a Switch feature I hardly ever use, but when I have, it’s led to some pretty magical moments. My gaming is normally a personal thing, but the ability to make it social with the click of my Switch means it doesn’t have to be.
Being able to drop a portable game I am playing into a dock and have it show up on my television set looking even better than it did in my hands? Also very cool. It might not seem like much of a jump, going from a small 720p screen to a large 1080p display, but the higher resolution coupled with the Switch’s increased processing power when docked can make quite a difference. Here’s a screenshot I took of the recent Switch exclusive game Astral Chain in docked mode.
Here is a similar shot taken in handheld mode.
See the jaggy hair and glasses? Compare the textures on the uniforms. It’s night and day. And while the graphical difference might not look as dramatic when playing on a 5.5 inch screen, many Switch games also perform better in docked mode, with better lighting effects and higher framerates. Even if 99 percent of my Switch play is portable, I’d still wonder if I was getting the most out of the games I am playing with the Lite.
Plus the Switch Lite lacks a very important feature for a person like me who enjoys sharing their gameplay online. It has no external HDMI support. Not only does that mean no TV mode, it also means no connecting it to a capture card for grabbing footage or streaming. I spent years kicking around the idea of spending a couple hundred dollars to have my Nintendo 3DS modified with an HDMI port for recording and streaming. Scraping together an extra hundred for a Switch with that capability included makes perfect sense to me.
Perhaps you can see the appeal of both models of Switch, and consider buying both of them to get the best of both worlds. I currently possess both a Switch and a Switch Lite. My plan is to keep the Switch proper, with its more delicate build and extra power, firmly seated in my Switch dock for television-based play. The more rugged and sturdy Switch Lite will become my travel companion, tucked into its little blue pouch and safely wrapped in a protective shell cover that I will never have to remove to disconnect a Joy-Con.
I’ve set up my Nintendo account on both devices. The Switch Lite is designated the “primary” Switch on my account, which means I don’t have to connect to the internet to verify I have permission to play games loaded on it. My “secondary” docked Switch has to connect to the internet before I play a game, to verify I don’t currently have that gamerunning on the primary Switch. That’s no problem, since it never leaves the range of my Wi-Fi router.
Transferring save data between two Switches is a painless enough process, right there in the Settings menu. As long as the save belongs to the same user, you can transfer it wirelessly. Cloud saves can be downloaded between systems as well, as long as the game being saved supports the feature. Alternatively, I could just not transfer saves at all, keeping unique records on each system. That would just mean I have to level two Puzzle Quest characters at once. Oh no. Not that.
Now, I don’t need two Switches. You probably don’t, either. But if you want to add another Switch to your family’s game collection, something your kids can abuse a little bit more as they throw it into their backpacks or at their siblings’ faces, the Lite might be the answer. And there are people out there who don’t ever dock their Switches or remove the Joy-Cons who will be perfectly happy playing their games exclusively on a Switch Lite. But it’s far from a total replacement for the existing Switch.
As I began, it’s one of the finest handheld gaming devices I’ve ever used. It’s larger, and feels more mainstream, than the quirky 3DS. It’s more rugged and earthy than Sony’s precious-looking Vita. It’s the sort of gaming hardware I wouldn’t feel bad just tossing in a bag unprotected. It’s console gaming in the palm of your hand, and you can pull it out during a rooftop party without feeling obligated to share.
The Nintendo Switch’s gimmick is the ability to “switch” between playing on your television and handheld mode. The Nintendo Switch Lite is a cheaper but no less impressive console focused exclusively on portable fun. I enjoyed a hands-on demo in New York and walked away much more impressed than I expected to be.
Viewed from a cynical perspective, the $200 Nintendo Switch Lite, available on September 20, ditches most of what makes the Switch unique. It is a handheld-only alternative to Nintendo’s current-generation console, whose iconic and snappy ability to swap between your TV and a portable mode is a major selling point. The promise of the Nintendo Switch is that it can do a little bit of everything. You can have Smash Bros. tournaments on your big screen, you can plop it down on a bar table for some shenanigans on a patio, and you can take it with you on a plane. The Joy-Con controllers, detachable and featuring HD rumble and motion controls, offer a new tactile experience for playing games.
The Switch Lite discards these features in favor of a form factor that offers a single play configuration: handheld portablility. Playing a Switch Lite feels more like playing the Nintendo 3DS than anything else. The console is lighter in the hands than a standard Switch. It’s also one single piece: no kickstand, no detachable controllers, just a reliable handheld device. I worried that the Switch Lite would feel like a kids’ toy, with some of the same Fisher-Price flimsiness that dogged the Wii U’s GamePad controller. Instead, I found it just hefty enough to avoid feeling like a plaything. In fact, one of the most surprising things was how damn comfortable it was to play. The Lite somehow feels cozier than its larger sibling, fitting into your hands with a comfy grip and playful delicacy. It might be cheaper than the standard Switch, but it certainly doesn’t feel cheaper.
The Lite has a few differences from the original Switch. The screen is 5.5 inches diagonally, reduced from the standard model’s 6.2, although the resolution remains 1280×720. While the Lite is the same thickness as the original, there’s a noticeable reduction in its overall size. It’s not as small as a 3DS or Playstation Vita, but it’s enough of a slimming down that the Lite will fit into a few more pockets.
Importantly, none of this feels like a disadvantage. Playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Breath of the Wild on a Switch Lite is the same experience as playing on the original Switch, with a subtle but welcome improvement: There’s now a standard D-pad instead of four separate buttons.
One area in which the Nintendo Switch Lite is a clear winner is battery life. In the roughly three hours that I spent playing the Switch Lite, battery power was never a concern. A comparison page on Nintendo’s official site states that there’s a one- to two-hour improvement in battery life depending on what you’re playing. For instance, three hours of playtime for Breath of the Wild expands to about four hours on the Switch Lite. That’s not a massive increase but for players on the go or snug in their beds, it’s a very welcome change and one of the few areas where the Lite flat out beats its chunkier brother. (Unless, of course, you buy one of the new batches of Switch that also has significant battery improvements.)
Switch Lite also wins the style competition. While the original Switch’s range of options has expanded with differently-colored Joy-Cons and nifty customizations, the Switch Lite has some bright options that really stand out. While there’s a traditional grey model, there are also bold yellow and turquoise versions. An additional version with multiple-color buttons will release alongside Pokemon Sword and Shield.
One of my favorite things about the 3DS is how many different looks there are—I have one with a Lisa Frank-esque galaxy design—and the prospect of a more colorful console is exciting. Nintendo has never shied away from producing variant after variant of its portable machines, so I’d expect much the same for Switch Lite.
I can’t see myself buying a Switch Lite, even if I was impressed. While increased battery life in portable mode is welcome, there’s not a stark difference between the original and the Lite. For players who already have a Switch, and especially those that enjoy playing docked, the Switch Lite might prove unnecessary. This is the sort of thing you give to your kid instead of having to share a family Switch, or else suggest to your girlfriend or boyfriend. This is console meant for traveling, for sitting in the park or flying on a plane. It’s a console you take to conventions or toss into your baggy pockets. The Switch Lite’s ethos is that you pick it up and take it with you, or pass it around on a couch to your kids. To that end, I can see the Switch Lite excelling as a nifty and portable fun machine.
The Switch Lite is a great option for newbies and hardcore fans alike. It’s cozy and perfectly portable, The color options are stylish and it manages to capture the playfulness of the original even without some of the key features. Whatever skepticism I had was washed away with some hands-on time, and it seems like a great, smaller gateway into a fantastic video game library.
This August, Nintendo is releasing a new Switch model with a longer battery life. It will be priced the same as the current model and, aside from the improved battery, feature the same specs.
The new model’s battery life will last between 4.5 and 9 hours, depending on the game. For Breath of the Wild, for example, the battery life will last for an estimated 5.5 hours. In comparison, the current model has a battery life that’s between 2.5 and 6.5 hours, depending on the game. Once again, for Breath of the Wild, the battery life is 3 hours.
Above, you can see how that compares to the newly announced Nintendo Switch Lite, which will feature a battery life of 3 to 7 hours. Breath of the Wild clocks in at 4 hours.
According to Nintendo, the new model, number HAC-001(-01), will also be available in the US starting mid-August.
Remember the Nintendo 3DS? Enjoy that while you can, because after the Nintendo Switch Lite comes out, the 3DS will be erased from all of our collective memories. Okay, not really, but the Switch Lite does look nifty. On this week’s Kotaku Splitscreen, we talk about playing Switch games while lying in a hammock and also the cool limited edition 3DSes we bought for no reason.
We start out by discussing games we’ve been playing, with Jason still on Dragon Quest Builders 2 (check out his impressions) and Kirk getting the bad ending in Metro Exodus. I was on vacation, so I played Switch games in the wild (Phoenix Wright and West of Loathing). Then we break for some news (33:25); there was the Switch Lite announcement, a situation with the game marketplace G2A trying to pay journalists for positive coverage (with no one biting), and the Wind Waker homage discovered in Breath of the Wild. Finally, we get into off-topic discussion (54:23) of Pose, Stranger Things 3, and Veronica Mars before Kirk’s music pick of the week.
Jason: [The Switch Lite] is clearly designed to fill that gap that the 3DS and 2DS, which are now basically dead, have left in their wake. So this is definitely going to appeal to parents who want to buy their kids something and don’t want to spend $300, or people who want a Switch but can’t afford $300, because it’s a $200 price point. It looks sleek, got some cool color options. Kirk, what did you think of the Switch Lite?
Kirk: I have a couple of questions. First of all, was there a video announcing this?
Maddy: Yeah, there’s the commercial where people are playing by the fireside. It’s a typical Nintendo commercial where groups of diverse, hot teens are playing a Switch together in various permutations.
Kirk: Nice. Did they use the Switch sound effect?
Maddy: They did.
Kirk: That is interesting, because it will not make that sound effect. You will not get to hear that lovely snapping sound effect if you get this handheld, because that is the sound of the Joy-Con controller snapping in. Interesting, they’re going to stick with that sound even though they have removed one of the Switch’s defining gimmicks.
Second question: can we call it the Lite Switch? Because I like that name more than the Switch Lite. And I’m kind of surprised that Nintendo didn’t come up with that.
Jason: [laughs] That wouldn’t make any sense. Can you imagine going to Target and being like, “Hey, can I have a Lite Switch?” “Oh, well, electronics are in the back, and hardware is over there—” “No no no, a Lite Switch!”
Maddy: But, up until now, people have been going to the store and asking for a Switch and getting directed to the riding crops. It’s just been a huge problem this whole time. Nobody knows what a Nintendo Switch or Switch Lite would be, and they certainly wouldn’t acclimate to that phrase if asked by a customer.
Jason: Oh, but those are BDSM shops.
Maddy: You’re right, and that’s on the customer for not understanding where the Nintendo Switch is sold. You’re so right.
I don’t know what is with the convention of putting “Lite” after the end of a product name. It’s definitely weird, because that’s not how the English language works, but it’s just something we’ve accepted.
Jason: Well, it’s a Nintendo thing. Nintendo started it with the DS Lite, which was actually their best hardware upgrade ever, because the original DS was kind of chunky and felt kinda off and had some hardware issues. Then the DS Lite came out, and it was perfect: this great clamshell, super sleek, looked kinda like an iPod, was just super Apple-inspired.
Kirk: Yeah, I got the DS Lite. That was the first gaming system I bought since an original Xbox, in a long time. I played many, many games on that thing. I think I still have it somewhere.
Maddy: I think I traded mine in. I needed that tiny amount of money for trading it in, at some point in my life.
Jason: [laughs] $25 at GameStop.
Kirk: What are the other Nintendo Lite consoles? Are there other ones, or is it just the DS Lite?
Jason: Just the DS Lite. There was a Game Boy SP, but that was before they started using Lite.
Maddy: There was the Game Boy Pocket. That would have been the equivalent of the Lite. I had one of those.
Kirk: Pocket, that’s the same idea as Switch Lite. Anyway, I don’t really know what I think of it. It’s not for me, but that’s fine. I already have a Switch. I guess my main feeling is that I’m glad that at least thus far they haven’t announced a more powerful Switch that will be able to run Breath of the Wild 2 and make it look better, because then I’ll start being tempted, and I really don’t want to spend $250 on a new console when I already have a Switch. So it’s kind of nice to just be like, “Oh, cool! This one is not one of the ones that I have to concern myself with.” Which I typically feel about these kinds of Nintendo sub-hardware revisions, and I’m fine with it.
Jason: Yeah, the Pro will be next year, I bet.
Kirk: Yeah. I’m sure it’ll happen. I’m just glad it hasn’t happened yet.
Jason: For sure. You can hold off on that hardware purchase for now. In fact, I bet it gets combined with Breath of the Wild 2, the way this one has launched right before Pokemon.
Kirk: Which is what they did with the 2DS as well.
Maddy: Are you guys sad that the 3DS is basically dead now? Because I’m kind of sad about it. I have such a pretty 3DS. When Metroid II came out—the new one—I got the 3DS that has Samus on it, and it looks so freakin’ cool. What happened was I got that one, traded in my old one, played and loved that game, and then that was it. It’s a Metroid machine. I purchased a Metroid machine, with Metroid herself! With Samus on there. And that’s it, that’s all I did with it. Now it’s just been collecting dust ever since.
Jason: Good old Captain Metroid.
Maddy: Can she crawl, though? That’s what I still can’t figure it out. I don’t know, I’m sad about it.
Kirk: I have the Majora’s Mask 3DS, which is amazing looking.
Maddy: I had to pre-order mine! I had to sign up to get it.
Kirk: Same, yeah. It was on Best Buy for the five minutes that it would be available. I felt really cool getting it. I think I played that Metroid remake, and I didn’t even finish that, because the Switch was already out by then. I guess it came out a little bit before the Switch, but then the Switch came out, and I was playing Zelda and I just completely left the 3DS behind. I feel that feeling of, “Oh, I have this really neat 3DS,” but also I like playing the Switch so much better than I like playing the 3DS for a variety of reasons that I don’t feel sad.
Jason: That’s the thing. Once you’re used to the big screen —
Kirk: And the buttons, for me. Having a full controller scheme is so much better.
Jason: Yeah. I agree on both counts. And once you’re used to that, it’s hard to go back to the 3DS. I know this because I tried to go back to the 3DS to play a bunch of Persona Q2, and just could not get used to it. I was like, why am I not just playing Switch games right now? So yeah, I’m not going to miss the 3DS.
Maddy: I’ll just have to buy a really pretty Metroid sticker for my Switch and put it on the back and pretend that I have a special Metroid Switch.
For much more, listen to the entire episode. As always, you can subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts and Google Play to get every episode as it happens. Leave us a review if you like what you hear, and reach us at email@example.com with any and all questions, requests, and suggestions.
If you’re able to hold off a few weeks on buying the new Nintendo Switch Lite when it releases September 20, you’ll have the chance to get a pretty slick version of Nintendo’s latest Switch: the Pokémon Sword and Shield-themed Zacian and Zamazenta edition.
As you can see, it’s an elegant light gray with cyan and magenta buttons and joysticks, with illustrations of the eponymous Pokémon on the back.
Unfortunately, this is just a cool new color scheme for the Switch—it doesn’t come with Pokémon Sword or Shield bundled or pre-loaded as currently listed. Still, those Zacian and Zamazenta illustrations are pretty sweet.
The Nintendo Switch Lite Zacian and Zamazenta edition will be available November 8 for $199.99. Take a closer look below.
The Nintendo Switch Lite is a smaller handheld-only portable that will be released this fall. It is being described as a Nintendo Switch for those who just want to play on the go.
The Lite will come in three colors: yellow, gray, and turquoise.
Priced at $199.99, the Switch Lite is cheaper than the standard-issue Switch, which goes for $299.99.
It is also a slightly smaller piece of hardware. Compared to the regular Switch, which measures 4 inches high and 9.4 inches long, the Switch Lite is 3.6 inches high and 8.2 inches long. The Lite’s touch screen is also slightly smaller (5.5 inches compared to the regular Switch’s 6.2-inch touch screen). The Lite, however, does have a longer battery life and a D-Pad instead of directional buttons.
Size is not the only difference. Unlike the regular Switch, it will not feature detachable Joy-Con controllers or a kickstand, and it won’t support TV mode. The Lite also does not come with with a Switch Dock.
Nintendo Switch Lite can play the games in the Nintendo Switch library that support handheld mode.
For games that do not support handheld mode, players can wirelessly connect compatible controllers (sold separately) to Nintendo Switch Lite. If using separate Joy-Con controllers, users will need to have a device to recharge them, such as the Joy-Con Charging Grip.
To find play mode compatibility information for specific games, please refer to the product packaging or Nintendo eShop.
You can see how the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite compare below.
No bundle has been announced, but keep in mind that Link’s Awakening also comes out on September 20.