At an event in Johannesburg last night we were among the first to get our hands on the Nintendo Switch Lite in South Africa, a new console from the company that launches worldwide today.

While we already knew that the Switch Lite would be a cut down version of the console, trading in the ability to dock and detach Joy-Cons, for a cheaper price and a smaller size, it’s not until we got to play around with it to see how that would effect the user experience.

Before even picking the console up it’s a bit surprising just how much smaller it is compared to the original. Sure, we knew the dimensions and weight going in (which you can see in this handy table) but it’s not until we got to see the two together to know that the Switch Lite is significantly smaller.

The Switch Lite is so much smaller in fact that you could reasonably stuff it into the pocket of a regular pair of men’s jeans. Some of the console will stick out the top – and we still need to fight the clothing companies to give woman’s clothes better pockets – but this method of carrying the Nintendo consoles is easier than ever.

Once in the hands there’s another surprise: the plastic that most of the body is made of feels nicer, at least to use. It feels less slick than the original Switch, while still being solid enough despite being so light.

Finally, it’s time to hit some buttons and play some games, and that’s where arguably the biggest change is aside from the smaller form factor. The main face buttons of the Switch Lite feel noticeably mushier than the original Switch, and the buttons seems to be able to pushed in more before they bottom out.

At the event we were able to switch (heh) between the Switch Lite and the original in quick succession, and the new buttons feel like they actuate at about the same depth, but the presses don’t feel as satisfying and everything overall appears to be softer to the touch.

This also applies to the new, true D-pad, which means that some may still be unhappy about this inclusion.

We can honestly see this being a make or break feature of the Switch Lite, so we strongly suggest trying this console out before parting with any money.

Those who felt the original Switch was too small to use comfortably will equally have problems here. The Switch Lite forces you to adopt a pinch motion with all five fingers to properly grip it and reach the buttons.

Anyone with very small hands, or those willing to buy grips, likely won’t have a problem here, but the issue of tiny controls is obviously worsened on this smaller console.

Back onto some positives and the screen looks good, though not that much better from the original unless you’re breaking out a jeweller’s loupe to zoom in on things. The speakers are surprisingly loud and overall it feels like a solid piece of hardware.

We’ll hopefully have a review unit in the office in the near future, but so far the Switch Lite appears to be exactly what it says on the tin.

Those looking to buy their own can do so from today – 20th September – as the console goes on sale locally with an RRP of R3 999 (which is R2 000 less than the original Switch).

If you want to have some hands on time before buying, the console will be playable at Comic Con Africa this weekend together with exclusive demos of Luigi’s Mansion 3 and The Witcher 3.