Nintendo just revealed a more mobile version than the original Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo Switch Lite is the newest addition to the lineup of consoles by Nintendo. The Nintendo Switch Lite removes some features from the original Switch that people have come to love. Some of these features include the ability to remove the side Joycons and dock the Switch into a dock to connect to a TV. This newest console is for the gamer on the go wanting the AAA title. But, this was something another company tried doing earlier in the decade. Sony tried releasing a version of PS Vita with a 3G version. This 3G version allowed for a network data package from AT&T to play limited online features of the games on the go. This proved to be too expensive for many people and the data version didn’t work as well as people would’ve liked. Nintendo has yet to announce this version of the Nintendo Switch Lite but with the announcement of 5G networks from many network providers, the Nintendo Switch Lite could very well be the next console on a network plan.
The announcement and development of the 5G network could make low latency online gaming possible. The 5G networks are being advertised with low latency to make online mobile gaming possible. This is vastly different than what came out with the above mentioned PS Vita 3G device. The 3G network, when the PS Vita was released back in 2012, was just not the best in terms of low latency online play that many players were used to with the PS3. The data packages as well that came with the PS Vita 3G were too little of data for too much of a price. With as little as 250 MB for $14.99 a month to as high as 5 GB for $50 a month, many players just didn’t want to spend extra money on subpar internet connection. The new 5G networks to be coming out in the next year, fully established by 2020, will make mobile gaming and downloads of games quicker and seamless.
5G networks are provided by the big four cell networks; AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile. With each one claiming they have the most 5G coverage now, it’s hard to tell who will have the best network when it comes to mobile gaming. What does 5G connectivity really mean for online mobile gaming though? Well summed up quickly and in as few words as possible, it means faster downloads and low latency. The first one, faster downloads, means games that are 50 GB of information to get onto the device that used to take an hour with 4G LTE speeds and slower with typical home internet will take less than a quarter of that time. The faster download speeds to get the information to the device you’re playing on could mean less time waiting to actually play the game.
Now, what games do mobile players usually play now though? That varies but with what we’ve seen so far, a lot of mobile gamers are playing AR games such as Pokemon Go and the new Harry Potter game Wizards Unite. There is also a good group of players who play more intense games such as Fortnite Mobile and PUBG Mobile but currently, they are nowhere near the game you can play on PC or console with a stable internet connection. To play better and compete better, players will need faster everything when it comes to connecting to a mobile network on the go. That gets into the next positive about the new 5G networks, low latency. Latency is just a big fancy word that means the amount of time it takes to get requested information from one place to another. For example, every time a player requests to move their character in the game in the online space, that request is sent to the game’s server and then sent back to move that character in the requested way. This takes time depending on what connection you are using, mobile or home internet and the amount of speed you’re using as well. Lower latency means quicker moves and actions being made in the online game to compete and play better.
For their newest Switch Lite, Nintendo may not get a 5G compatible version quite yet or even at all but that doesn’t mean you can’t connect to a 5G hotspot such like your phone on the 5G network when it comes around. Most games as well played by Nintendo players are not online competition type of games. By that I mean the games players play from Nintendo do not require a very heavy amount of bandwidth and speeds to be played online. One game that comes to mind from Nintendo is Super Smash Bros. Ultimate that does utilize online play to fight players around the world. Currently, the game is easily played with a stable home internet connection. A good majority of Nintendo’s games come with a good story for single play or sometimes coop play and a little bit of an online mode. The online mode is usually not a highlight for many Nintendo video games. This could very well be the reason as to why Nintendo didn’t consider a version of the Switch Lite that could connect to a data plan. From the information I was able to gather (Courtesy of Nintendo Life), Nintendo is investigating and learning all the can about the new 5G networks before they start implementing it into their consoles. A 5G model would be cool to see but if the current Switch Lite and maybe even the upgraded Switch in the future could handle being connected to an internet hotspot, then a specific 5G model wouldn’t be needed.
There are a few concerns that come to mind with the new Switch Lite that could make connecting to a 5G hotspot difficult and not last very long. The biggest concern is battery life. The battery on the Switch when it first came out didn’t hold a charge for long and most intense games or online play made it shorter. The introduction of the Switch Lite gave us a little bit better of a battery but still didn’t improve it by much. If the Switch Lite were to be connected to a 5G network than I could see the battery life being reduced down to maybe two hours worth of play. The other concern is the ability of the Switch to talk with the nearest cell tower and then bounce that requested information back to the Switch. If the player isn’t near a tower that supports 5G or even owned by the network you have a connection with could make playing worse. The idea of low latency would not be there as the time it takes to get the information would be increased farther away from a tower. If the networks could play nice with each other, then this wouldn’t be an issue.
From the issues facing the current Switch and now the new Switch Lite, I doubt Nintendo would place too much faith in making a 5G compatible version of the Switch Lite. They see the newness, if you will, of the 5G networks and the problems it will bring like with any new piece of tech. With their further investigation of the network, there very well could be the ability to connect the Switch consoles to a 5G hotspot but with some definite drawbacks.
Tell us what you think about a possible 5G version of the Nintendo Switch Lite or even the pro version soon. Would you pay for a separate data plan from one of the four big players or try a hotspot from your phone? Let us know what you think down in the comments below!