It initially seemed like a step back. Months after launching the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, Google announced the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL—for lack of a better description, they were essentially watered down versions of last year's flagships.

On paper, Google's newest handsets seem inferior to what was released last year. But these phones excel where it counts. When you consider the Pixel 3a's fantastic camera technology, software, and price, it suddenly doesn't seem like such a bad option.

The Nintendo Switch Lite is like Google's Pixel 3a moment. The new portable console is objectively inferior to the original Switch on paper, but it might actually be the superior option. At just $200, it's a great buy and the perfect way for gamers to see why the Switch is so beloved.

The point here isn't to be powerful or to take over your living room. The Switch Lite is a vehicle to access Nintendo's terrific software library, plain and simple. With mobile gaming at an all-time high, the Switch Lite will cement Nintendo's legacy in a portable market where it has always been a leader.

Smaller and lighter

The Switch Lite is smaller than the original Switch. It weighs in at 0.61 pounds and features a 5.5-inch display, which is smaller than most smartphones these days. But it's all in the name of portability.

The original Switch isn't big per se, but the Switch Lite is a more svelte option and will be easier to hold, easier to carry, and easier to transport on long journeys. It's small enough that it can fit in your back pocket (if you have a big back pocket).

More affordable

The Nintendo Switch Lite is $200, a full $100 cheaper than the Nintendo Switch. For parents and casual gamers, saving $100 will more often than not be the more appealing option. And the good news is you don't miss out on much by going with the Nintendo Switch Lite.

You can use that additional money to buy accessories or games for Nintendo's new console. When it comes down to it, the Switch Lite will likely be what consumers pick come this holiday season.

Improved battery life

According to Nintendo, the Switch Lite features superior battery life to the original model; the company's official specs rate the Switch Lite's battery at 3-7 hours, while the Switch's battery is rated at 2.5-6.5 hours. That's not a huge difference, but those hours of gameplay will certainly add up over time.

Better design

The Switch Lite's design sticks pretty close to the original's, without the unreliable Joy-Con. When the Switch originally launched, there were numerous accounts of Joy-Con failure. We even had to send a Joy-Con to Nintendo to get it fixed.

There won't be such problems with the Switch Lite because it doesn't have detachable Joy-Con, nor does it have a kickstand. As such, Nintendo's newest console should feel sturdier and more durable. Which is good, since you'll be toting the portable console around with you everywhere you go.

You also don't need as many pieces as with the original Switch. With the original Switch, you need a TV if you want docked play. That means cables, ports, Joy-Con, maybe a Pro controller, and whatever else comes with a home setup.

It has a D-Pad

If you subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online and play NES games, the Switch Lite offers the superior experience. That's because the Switch Lite has a proper D-Pad while the Switch features directional buttons. With the Switch Lite, you'll be able to play NES games the way they were meant to be played.

The colors are 🔥🔥🔥

The original Switch has a little bit of color thanks to the Joy-Con controllers. But the Switch Lite brings things to a new level by coloring the entire console. Our favorite new color is the Switch Lite in yellow, although the turquoise looks pretty awesome, too.

By giving the Switch Lite some color, Nintendo can easily distinguish the new console from the original Switch. The colors should also go a long way to attracting a wider audience who like to match their gadgets to their personality.

Small but mighty

Nintendo Switch Lite

The Nintendo Switch Lite was designed exclusively for handheld mode. It features improved battery life, a smaller display, and is compatible with all Nintendo Switch titles that support handheld mode. It launches on September 20 for $199 in yellow, grey, and turquoise.

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