Nintendo has confirmed that it’ll start selling its official, previously Japan-only Switch Lite Flip Cover in the US next month, with a release date set for January 9th. This is good news, because it’s a great product, and I’d recommend picking one up when it’s out if you’re using the newer, smaller Switch. It does what I want a case to do, which is to protect the screen while adding as little bulk as possible.
The Flip Cover is a lightweight case that the Switch clips into, with a fabric finish and a lid that attaches magnetically. It also comes with a plastic screen protector. I’ve been using the case for a few weeks now, as it came out in Japan at the beginning of the month alongside the Pokémon Sword and Shield limited edition Switch Lite, which I decided to wait for because, well, look at those pink and blue buttons.
The Switch Lite is meant to be a more portable version of the Switch, but it isn’t that much smaller than the regular model. The Lite is still a console that you’ll almost always need to carry in a bag. That’s for the best — I don’t think I could play Fire Emblem: Three Houses if the font size shrunk much further. But the overall size of the Switch-plus-case combination gets reduced so dramatically with the Flip Cover that it makes a huge difference to the system’s portability.
In particular, Nintendo has managed to make the case much thinner by covering the analog sticks with two slightly raised bumps rather than allowing them to balloon the dimensions of the entire case. Here’s how it compares to the official Nintendo case I got with my original Switch at launch in March 2017:
The result is that the Switch Lite is now something I can just toss into a tote bag without a second thought, rather than a bulky gadget I’d only want to bring along with me if I were sure I was really going to use it.
It’s thankfully easy to take the Switch Lite in and out of the case, but you can still play the system with the cover attached and open if that proves to be more convenient. It doesn’t fold all the way back — it just dangles down at a 90-degree angle without getting in the way. There’s also a cut-out for the USB-C port so you don’t have to remove the case to charge the Switch.
I don’t know why Nintendo didn’t have the Flip Cover ready for the Switch Lite’s launch and available in more regions, because it feels like an integral part of the product to me, like the Smart Cover was when Apple first introduced it for the iPad. My one complaint, actually, it doesn’t magnetically lock and unlock the Switch itself like an iPad Smart Cover, which would have been nice.
Still, at $39.99, I would recommend this to pretty much anyone. The point of the Switch Lite is portability, so you’re probably going to want a case, and this is the best one I can imagine.