How the Nintendo Switch Lite is Vying for Handheld Supremacy
Even Sony, a company that’s orders of magnitude richer than Nintendo, tried and failed at the handheld segment. Just recently, it announced that it is bowing out of this gaming segment to focus on their console offering. In a way, Nintendo has carved out this handheld gaming niche in the gaming landscape.
It's no secret that they also tried to compete in the console wars with their Game Cube and Wii. However, the duopoly between Sony and Microsoft proved more difficult to penetrate. The fans of the PlayStation and the Xbox are just too entrenched. Nintendo, therefore, was forced to retreat into a tiny corner of the market where they focused on niche games with the Wii's motion-sensing controls.
It was, therefore, seen largely as a good move when they chose to abandon the console market and focus on their portable devices. From this new focus, they developed the Nintendo Switch. A console/handheld hybrid that lets you enjoy console-quality games on the TV or on-the-go.
With their latest hardware release of the Nintendo Switch Lite, it seems that they’ve finally settled with occupying their niche as the handheld console king.
Traditional Portable Gaming Build
The Nintendo Switch occupies a space all to its own. It’s a hybrid gaming console/handheld. The Nintendo Switch Lite, on the other hand, is a solely handheld device but with the same engine as the bigger device.
It's smaller than the old Switch hence the ‘Lite' in its name. It has something similar to the Switch's Joy-Con permanently attached to it. When put side-by-side with a Switch+Joy-Con combo, the Switch Lite quite astonishingly looks like a smaller version of the last-gen device. You're not going to have to adjust too much to the 5.5-inch screen because it doesn't veer too much away from the 6.2-inches of the original Nintendo Switch.
Furthermore, you might also notice that the images on the Switch Lite can be a bit better than they are on the bigger and more expensive Switch. This is because it basically has the same IPS panel with the resolution staying exactly the same at 720p. The smaller size of the overall screen of the Lite, however, make the pixels more compressed thus making the images crisper.
The soft-touch plastic material feels sturdy in the hand, much like the quality you get from a modern polycarbonate smartphone. The button layout is also extremely similar to its older brother with the only exception being the additional directional pad. The Switch had individual directional buttons that users found limiting.
Being a strictly handheld device, the Switch Lite ditches the kickstand at the back. Instead, Nintendo chose to put a micro SD card slot at the bottom right next to the USB-C charging port.
Software-wise, the Switch Lite is basically the same as the bigger Switch. It runs on the same software and has basically the same interface. The Nintendo Switch Lite, therefore, carries almost all of the Nintendo exclusives such as Mario and Zelda games.
However, there are some games, especially those that make use of the Switch’s “table-top” mode and the JoyCon’s motion sensors, that are not compatible with the Switch Lite out of the box. Whether these will be made available to the handheld later through updates is still a mystery. So, if you’re planning to play Super Mario Party on the Switch Lite then you’re out of luck.
Graphical demands of a particular title shouldn't be a problem though. When it comes to the processor, the Switch Lite should be just as powerful as its predecessor.the bigger model. Which isn't difficult to fathom because the Switch isn't exactly a powerhouse. It's an underpowered device as a gaming console, especially when compared to its peers, the PlayStation and the Xbox. As a handheld portable, but a pretty powerful mobile gaming device, however, it's quite a powerful machine especially compared to other portable handheld gaming gear. compared to smartphones and tablets. This helps give the Switch Lite one of the most powerful processors for mobile-only gaming.
Is Portability Worth Sacrificing Versatility for?
With the global free market in place, I'm pretty sure that it's not going to stay as the sole dominant player in the handheld gaming market for very long. Smartphones, for example, are starting to take a life of its own as a gaming-oriented device with the advantage of having a low barrier to entry and ever-increasing processing power from both Snapdragon and Apple processors. These days, everyone has a smartphone. It just so happens that it also excels as a gaming machine. Nintendo devices, on the other hand, are strictly gaming devices that you must buy specifically as a gaming-only device.
The larger Switch knew this, therefore, it steered clear from being just a portable device. You can essentially take with you console-quality games with you and hook it up instantly to a big screen TV anywhere you go. Or, you could also take it with you and play console-quality games on the go.
The Switch Lite, however, is strictly a handheld device with a console’s processing power. It has great ergonomics and excellent gaming performance for a handheld. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends entirely on the user’s preference.
Connectedness that Only a Handheld Gaming Device Can Provide
As far as market share is concerned, Nintendo occupies a small niche. However, it’s not a niche that another brand can easily take over. The company has cemented itself as one of the best portable gaming hardware maker and games developers.
There's just something about handhelds that easy to connect with. It's easy to develop a sort of connection with our portable devices. Just look at how most of us feel about our smartphones. Looking back, this phenomenon might even be applicable to the Gameboy. However, will the Nintendo Switch Lite be able to replicate the same sense of connectedness with its users?
With a little help from great games like Zelda and Mario that pushes the hardware and storytelling to its limits, it just might.