Last week, Ars Technica was invited to a brief hands-on session with the Switch Lite, the $200, portable-only version of the Switch due next month. After spending an hour playing around with the device, we can confirm that it is definitely a smaller version of the Switch, with all that implies and entails.
That means the system feels a bit better in your hands, both in terms of weight—the Lite is about a quarter-pound (113g) lighter than the 0.88lb (400g) original—and in how the system rests cradled in the crook of your palms, thanks in large part to its shorter height). The controls, which are no longer detachable on the Light, feel a little more solid than the original Switch Joy-Cons, which have a tendency to rattle around slightly in their housing with heavy use.
The buttons and sticks on the Switch Lite maintain the same comfortable size and positioning as the original Switch, for the most part. The main difference is the addition of a d-pad on the left side, replacing the four separate directional face buttons on the standard Joy-Cons. This d-pad should feel completely familiar to anyone who has ever played another Nintendo system, and it makes pulling off quick directional changes or diagonal button holds in games like feel a bit more natural.
Depending on the quality of your eyesight, the smaller 720p screen (5.5-inches on the Lite, compared to 6.2-inches on the original) might require some squinting or leaning in to view in-game text designed for a larger display. And while the new screen supposedly offers additional crispness thanks to a higher pixels-per-inch ratio, we had trouble discerning a real difference with the naked eye.
We’ll have more to say when we have time to tinker with a review unit in the coming weeks. For now, enjoy the above photos and a few other notes from our quick hands-on: