Nintendo Switch vs Nintendo Switch Lite is an essential debate if you’re looking to add Nintendo’s handheld console to your collection. However, there are several features to consider if you are comparing them and looking to make your next purchase.
The Nintendo Switch is a hard console to beat when compared to the Nintendo Switch Lite. It’s compact, convenient, and bridges the gap between home and portable consoles. However, the Switch Lite is cheaper, and if you find yourself constantly on the go, the ability to connect your console to a TV might not be a selling point anyway.
In fact, shortly after the console was released, it was found that the handheld mode was the most popular with gamers. So no one was surprised when Nintendo’s next step was to launch Nintendo Switch Lite And continuing the tradition of the portable gaming console market only.
Potential Switch owners currently have options for Nintendo’s latest console (unless the rumored Nintendo Switch Pro appears), thanks to the launch of the Nintendo Switch OLED in 2021. But if you’re still looking at the earlier options, which model is right for you? Is it only portable Switch Lite? Or the original hybrid?
To help you decide, we’ll take you through the similarities and differences between each console, and compare design, pricing, and game libraries. Keep reading to settle the Nintendo Switch vs Switch Lite battle.
Nintendo Switch vs Nintendo Switch Lite Comparison: Price
The current Nintendo Switch model retails for £259.99 / $259.99 / AU$435, with plenty of bundle options. For that price, you get the console, two Joy-Con controllers, a dock and associated cables. Bundles tend to include massively popular games like Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, Pokemon Sword and Shield, or Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Ultimate – which are all great games to start with.
Meanwhile, the Nintendo Switch Lite retails for as little as $199.99 / £199.99 / AU$329.95 for the console alone. The console is focused on handheld play, so you don’t get a detachable Joy-Con dock or controllers (more on that later), but bundles with the most popular games can be found at most retailers, with companion games generally adding a little extra on the cost.
Bundles aside, looking at the prices of the consoles alone shows that, as you’d expect, the Switch Lite costs less than the original version. If you aren’t interested in the Switch’s TV output capabilities, picking up the Switch Lite is money worth saving, as it may be enough to get you two more games.
Comparison of Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite: Design
Arguably, the Switch’s main selling point is the console’s versatility. It’s instant and feels almost magical as you take your game from screen to TV and back again. You can use your controller to beat Hyrule in The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild on your morning commute before docking the console once you get home to play with the separate Joy-Con or Pro controller.
Nintendo chose to forgo this hybrid functionality on the cheaper Nintendo Switch Lite. It has fixed Joy-Con controllers and can’t be docked to a TV – and while this might be a deal breaker for many, we think it could be very attractive to existing and new customers.
For example, the bright colors really help give it a more game-like feel that younger players will find appealing. Between yellow, grey, coral, and turquoise, there’s plenty of room to express yourself—albeit without swapping the negatives of joy to your heart’s content.
The lower price is perfect for those looking for a second device for a younger kid, too, or simply a console you can take on the go with more ease — the plastic-looking Switch Lite with its fewer moving parts feels more durable than its more versatile big brother.
Although the controllers have been overhauled, they offer mostly the same buttons as the original Switch — except the A, Y, B, and X buttons have been replaced by the D-pad — while some functionality has been removed, which we’ll get to shortly. Both models also allow for wireless connectivity, Bluetooth and MicroSD cards to augment the console’s 32GB of storage.
Nintendo Switch vs. Nintendo Switch Lite: The Show
Nintendo Switch offers a 6.2-inch LCD screen with a maximum resolution of 720p. With PlayStation and Xbox chasing higher and higher pixel counts, 720p certainly feels unambitious, but the system’s exclusive high-quality collection belies any technical flaws. Of course, you can also dock the console to output it in 1080p: it’s not 4K, but it’s much crisper when stretched across a TV or monitor.
The Switch Lite’s lower price point means the system has to make some cuts. While the screen is still an LCD with capacitive touch functionality (and it reaches the same 720p resolution), it’s slightly smaller than the original, at 5.5 inches. However, it would be ideal for younger brothers to fish in Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the go.
Nintendo Switch vs. Nintendo Switch Lite: The Games
This is where things get a little complicated, given the discrepancy between the two console feature sets. Because the Switch Lite’s controllers are fixed, they don’t offer the HD Rumble, motion controls, or IR Motion Camera found on the previous model Joy-Con. This means that any game that requires either of these tools will need a wireless connection to a pair of additional Joy-Con controllers.
For example, this means that Snipperclips (along with the Plus version) and Mario Tennis Aces require additional controllers for those playing on a Nintendo Switch Lite. That’s not all. Since many games require separate Joy-Con controllers, the following are not suitable for the Switch Lite: Labo, 1-2 Switch, and Super Mario Party combos.
Perhaps the biggest concern is that there’s a chance games launch on the end that aren’t compatible with the Switch’s portable 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 platform requires full Joy-Con support, and you might feel like you’re missing out.
Also keep in mind that the Joy-Con charges either by connecting to the Nintendo Switch or via the charging cradle. If you only got the Lite, you’ll need to invest in a charging stand.
Nintendo Switch vs. Nintendo Switch Lite: Software and Interface
It is easier to explain the console interface. The Switch has offered a clean, arguably stripped-down user interface, which has seen only minor incremental updates over the past couple of years, and the Lite offers the same functionality. You can share screenshots, catch up on the latest Nintendo news, and access your settings just like you can on a full-fat Switch. This means you’ll have your friends list, nicknames, and online store all at the push of a button.
You can play multiplayer games like Splatoon 3 with friends no matter which Switch model you’re on, though a subscription to Nintendo Switch Online is required. This 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 / AU $29.95 for 90 days. $ / £ 31.49 / AU $ 54.95.
Whether you have a Nintendo Switch or a Nintendo Switch Lite, you’ll be able to enjoy online play, cloud saves, and member exclusives. The big draw here is the ability to play NES games, while any masochist will also get access to Nintendo’s unique smartphone app as well.
So there you have it, a couple of Switch models to snag in preparation for your next vacation. What are you going to jump to? Fortunately, whichever you choose, you’ll be able to play a huge library of excellent games.