Nintendo Switch vs Nintendo Switch Lite is an essential debate if you’re looking to add a Nintendo handheld to your collection. However, when comparing the two features and looking to make your next purchase, there are a few features to consider.
The Nintendo Switch is a hard-to-beat console compared to the Nintendo Switch Lite. It’s compact, convenient, and bridges the gap between home and handheld consoles. However, the Switch Lite is cheaper, and if you’re constantly on the go, being able to connect your console to your TV might not be an advantage anyway.
In fact, shortly after the launch of the console, handheld mode turned out to be the most popular among gamers. So no one was surprised when Nintendo’s next step was to release Nintendo Switch Lite and continues the tradition of the handheld console market.
Potential Switch owners currently have options for Nintendo’s latest console (unless there’s a Nintendo Switch Pro rumor), thanks to the Nintendo Switch OLED launch in 2021. But if you still look at the previous options, which model suits you? Is it just a portable Switch Lite? Or maybe the original hybrid?
To help you decide, we’ll walk you through the similarities and differences between each console, comparing design, pricing, and game libraries. Read on to settle the Nintendo Switch vs Switch Lite battle.
Nintendo Switch vs. Nintendo Switch Lite: price
The current Nintendo Switch model costs £259.99 / $259.99 / AU$435, with multiple bundle options. For the price, you get the console, two Joy-Con controllers, a dock, and related cables. Bundles usually contain very popular games such as Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, Pokemon Sword and Shield or Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – all of which are great games to start with.
Meanwhile, the Nintendo Switch Lite retails for a discounted price of $199.99 / £199.99 / AU$329.95 for the console alone. The console is focused on handheld gaming, so you don’t get a dock or detachable Joy-Con controllers (more on that later), but bundles with the most popular games can be found at most retailers, and the accompanying games usually add a little extra to the cost.
Bundles aside, looking at the prices of the consoles themselves, you can see that the Switch Lite, as you might expect, costs less than the original version. If you’re not interested in the Switch’s TV-out capabilities, choosing a Switch Lite is money worth saving as it might be enough to get you a few more games.
Nintendo Switch vs. Nintendo Switch Lite: Design
Arguably, the Switch’s main selling point is the versatility of the console. It’s instant and almost magical as you take the game from screen to TV and back again. You can use your console to conquer Hyrule in The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild on your morning commute, before docking your console when you get home to play with the detached Joy-Con or Pro Controller.
Nintendo decided to abandon this hybrid functionality on the cheaper Nintendo Switch Lite. It has fixed Joy-Con controllers and can’t be connected to a TV – and while that may be a deal breaker for many, we think it could be very appealing to new and existing customers.
For example, the bright colors really help give the game a more playful feel, which will appeal to younger players. Between yellow, grey, coral and turquoise there is plenty of room for self-expression – albeit without swapping joy-cons at will.
The lower price is perfect for those who are also looking for a second device for a younger child, or just a console that can be taken on the go more easily – the more plastic Switch Lite with fewer moving parts looks a bit more durable than its more versatile big brother.
Despite the fixed controllers, they offer mostly the same buttons as the original Switch – with the exception of the A, Y, B, and X buttons, which have been replaced by the D-Pad – while some features have been removed, which we’ll get to shortly. Both models also enable wireless connectivity, Bluetooth and MicroSD cards to add to the console’s meager 32GB of storage.
Nintendo Switch vs. Nintendo Switch Lite: Display
The Nintendo Switch offers a 6.2-inch LCD display with a maximum resolution of 720p. With PlayStation and Xbox chasing ever-increasing pixel counts, 720p seems decidedly unambitious, but a range of high-quality exclusives belie any technical shortcomings. Of course, you can also dock the console to display the image in 1080p: it’s not 4K, but it’s clearer when stretched to a TV or monitor.
The lower price of the Switch Lite means the system has to make some cuts. While the display is still an LCD with capacitive touch (and achieves the same 720p resolution), it’s slightly smaller than the original Switch at 5.5 inches. Still, the younger sibling will be perfect for fishing in Animal Crossing: New Horizons while traveling.
Nintendo Switch vs. Nintendo Switch Lite: Games
This is where things probably get a bit complicated given the discrepancies between the two console feature sets. Since the Switch Lite controllers are fixed, they don’t offer HD Rumble, motion controls, or the IR Motion camera found on the previous model’s Joy-Con. This means that any game that requires any of these kit items will require a wireless connection to a pair of additional Joy-Con controllers.
This means, for example, that Snipperclips (alongside the Plus version) and Mario Tennis Aces require additional controllers for people playing on Nintendo Switch Lite. But that’s not all. Since many games require detachable Joy-Con controllers, the following are not suitable for the Switch Lite: Labo, 1-2 Switch and Super Mario Party sets.
Perhaps the biggest concern is that there’s a chance games will eventually launch that aren’t compatible with the Switch’s handheld mode, meaning you won’t be able to play them on the Switch Lite. It seems unlikely, but consider a world where Mario’s next big platformer requires full Joy-Con support, and you might feel like you’re missing something.
Also take into account that the Joy-Con charges either by connecting to the Nintendo Switch or via the charging stand. If you only have the Lite, you’ll need to invest in a charging stand.
Nintendo Switch vs Nintendo Switch Lite: Software and Interface
Much easier to explain is the console interface. The Switch offered a clean, possibly barebones UI that has seen only minor incremental updates over the last two years, and the Lite delivers the same functionality. You can share screenshots, follow the latest Nintendo news, and access your settings just as you would on a full-fledged Switch. This means you’ll have your friends list, your titles and your online store at the touch of a button.
You can play multiplayer games like Splatoon 3 with your friends regardless of which Switch model you’re using, although a Nintendo Switch Online subscription is required. It currently costs $3.99 / £3.49 / AU$5.95) per month, $7.99 / £6.99 / AU$11.95 for 90 days or $19.99 / £17.99 / 29, $95/year – An eight-account family plan will set you back $34.99 / £31.49 / AU$54.95.
Whether you have a Nintendo Switch or a Nintendo Switch Lite, you’ll be able to enjoy online gaming, cloud saves, and exclusive member offers. The great advantage here is the ability to play NES games while all the masochists will also get access to the particularly terrible Nintendo app for smartphones.
So there you have it, two Switch models to agonize over in preparation for your next vacation. Which one will you jump to? Luckily, whatever you choose, you’ll be able to play a huge library of excellent games.