The Nintendo Switch Lite is still as cute as when it first launched, proving a good alternative to the original for children and those that want a more portable device. Its affordable price does come with some restrictions, like a lack of TV output, motion controls and limited local multiplayer capabilities, but that doesn’t erase its fantastic games library and compact design.
- Design is robust, attractive and easy to use
- Already boasts a fantastic library of games
- Increased battery life compared to the base model
- Nature of console means certain games are no longer supported
- Local multiplayer is far harder to achieve without docking
- Handheld consoleThe lightweight and compact design makes it perfect to take on the go.
- Support for Nintendo titlesHas support for the vast array of Nintendo titles including games from previous consoles.
- Modeterate battery lifeHas a quoted battery life of between 3 to 7 hours.
The Nintendo Switch has been on the market since 2019 and is the smaller, more affordable alternative to the vanilla Switch.
The Switch Lite doesn’t get nearly as much attention as its two siblings, the base Switch and shiny Switch OLED. While it does come with some limitations, it nevertheless boasts a fantastic games library, including new releases like Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe, Bayonetta 3 and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
It now benefits from Nintendo’s latest Switch Online service, a paid subscription in the same vein as Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus Premium, giving users access to games from the NES, SNES, N64, Sega Mega Drive, Game Boy and Game Boy Advance.
It’s clear that the Switch Lite still has a lot going for it four years after launch, which is why we wanted to revisit this console and see if it can stack up in the era of the Steam Deck and Asus ROG Ally. It may not be the most powerful handheld on the market, but it’s certainly still the cutest.
- Handheld console — smaller than the Switch and Switch OLED
- Comes in an array of colours
- Bluetooth is now supported
To get the obvious out of the way, the Switch Lite is incredibly adorable. It has a chunkier design than the base Switch and larger bezels than the Switch OLED, but I think that just adds to its charm. It can be found in five colourways – blue, yellow, grey, turquoise and coral – with our model sporting the turquoise look. It can easily be held in one hand and would be a better fit for smaller children than the other models due to this smaller size.
It has an identical button layout to its siblings other than the traditional D-Pad on the left-hand side, which I find a lot more enjoyable to use than four disconnected inputs. The buttons themselves feel a little squishier than my regular Switch. I did not feel like this resulted in decreased responsiveness, actually feeling more satisfying than the harder inputs on the base model.
The most striking design change is the lack of Joy-Con controllers since these controllers are fused to the body of the console. While this does have an impact on the performance of some games it does eliminate any accidental damage that could be brought about by younger gamers. The console itself feels sturdier too, but I put that down to the fact that I wasn’t worried about breaking the controller docks, a constant worry for me while playing on the base model.
Nintendo did update the Switch Lite to support Bluetooth, allowing me to game with my wireless earbuds. My experience was seamless and crisp, but I’m thankful to see the inclusion of a 3.5mm audio jack for any wired connections. There is also a USB-C port for charging, alongside a microSD port to add more memory.
- 5.5-inch LCD panel
- 1280×720 resolution – limiting in some games
- Responsive touch screen
I was hesitant about the screen size of the Switch Lite, which sits at just 5.2 inches compared to the original’s 6.2 inches. Since it still packs the same 720p resolution it actually looks a little better than the base model, as the pixels don’t need to be stretched out quite as much. This ‘improvement’ is hard to spot, but it does mean that you won’t need to worry about the visuals on screen.
Due to the lack of docking abilities, there is no way to upscale any content higher than 720p. I’ve played a couple of titles on the Switch Lite – such as Hades, Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – and they all looked great, or as great as 720p can look. Granted, the Switch OLED will provide a more premium viewing experience thanks to its titular OLED panel, but that doesn’t mean that the Switch Lite looks bad by any means.
This doesn’t discount some of the other qualms that surface with the design. When playing games with lots of text, such as Fire Emblem: Three Houses, it can be hard to read smaller portions of text in menus and during dialogue scenes. As such, it’s often necessary to hold the screen closer to your face.
- Unchanged since launch
- Ranges between three to seven hours
Battery life for the Nintendo Switch Lite can range between three to seven hours, depending on the game and the brightness intensity of the screen.
Unlike the base Switch model, the Lite has not undergone any battery upgrades since its launch, meaning that models bought right now will have the same battery capacity as the ones that came out in 2019.
There are myriad factors to consider when testing a console such as this, so we put the Lite through its paces through continuous sessions of Super Smash Bros Ultimate and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. On the former, the latter tapped out just shy of the four-hour mark during an eight-player battle.
Less intensive titles such as Undertale and Untitled Goose Game fare better, squeezing far more time out of the battery. You’ll notice increased fan noise and a high temperature towards the top of the unit while playing more graphically intensive games, but it’s seldom distracting enough to be an issue.
UI and Social
- User interface largely unchanged since launch
- Screenshots and videos can be shared on social media
- Nintendo Switch Online subscription launched in 2017
The touchscreen on the Switch Lite makes navigating it simple and streamlined. Switching between users is also very easy – up to eight accounts being supported – with users being prompted to pick a profile every time they start a game or want to access the eShop.
Screenshots can be taken by pressing the screenshot button on the left-hand side. Media can be sent directly to social media or to a phone via a QR code, with the ability to send it to a laptop or desktop via the USB-C port too. Sending media over on the Switch series is a lot simpler than using a PS5 for example, with the menu and navigation being much cleaner.
The Switch is a completely dedicated gaming console, with no support for apps like Netflix, Disney Plus or YouTube. This sets it apart from devices like the PS5 and Xbox Series X which put a lot more focus on entertainment beyond gaming. Due to the smaller screen and battery life limitations, I have no issue with it being exclusively a gaming machine, but you may want to look towards handhelds like the Steam Deck for a more well-rounded experience.
Nintendo introduced a video game subscription service in 2017, Nintendo Switch Online. It works in a similar way to Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus Premium, giving users access to NES and SNES games, with the Expansion Pack offering up Sega Genesis, N64, Game Boy and Game Boy Advance titles.
It’s pretty affordable too when compared to other gaming services. The base membership costs $19.99/£17.99/€19.99 a year, with the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion pack costing a little more at $79.99/£59.99/€69/99 a year.
- Massive collection of first-party titles
- Decent selection of third-party games
- Less support than the vanilla Switch for games with motion control
The Nintendo Switch Lite is anomalous in some regards, largely because it makes a small selection of existing games defunct due to the lack of detachable controllers. Titles such as Super Mario Party, Nintendo Switch Sports and 1-2 Switch simply aren’t supported in handheld mode, requiring individual Joy-Cons to function.
In some cases, this could be remedied by buying and connecting individual controllers, but the lack of a kickstand makes this a very inconvenient solution. Beyond this, the majority of games I tested using the Switch Lite worked perfectly, with visuals, control methods and performance living up to the original console’s standard.
Ultimately, if you are happy to go without motion control titles and some multiplayer games, the Switch Lite has a massive games library that is well worth delving into, it will just depend on which games you want to play more.
Should you buy it?
You want an affordable portable console:
The Switch Lite does not pack the same power as the Steam Deck or ROG Ally, but it’s more than serviceable for on-the-go gaming. It supports a massive library of games from Nintendo and third parties and has a great battery life, and it comes in a lot more colourways than the standard model.
You want a docked experience with more power:
The main downfall of the Switch Lite is that it can not be docked to an external TV/monitor and misses out on a selection of motion control games. If you want a more premium experience, you should opt for another handheld console or splash out on the standard Switch or Switch OLED.
The Nintendo Switch Lite still holds up as a worthy console within the handheld market a few years after launch. It is an excellent portable console that refines the display, buttons and overall form factor of its older sibling.
It does sacrifice docked play and the Joy-Con controllers of the vanilla model, which could be a dealbreaker for some. But if you’re only interested in portable play and don’t want to break the bank for the more luxurious Switch OLED, then the Switch Lite is a no-brainer.
How we test
In order to test the Nintendo Switch, we played a number of games and compared its performance to rival consoles such as the Steam Deck.
We’ve also made sure to check the latest firmware updates and design alterations to make sure this review is up-to-date for modern-day buyers.
Played multiple games to test performance
Tested the battery life
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The Switch Lite has a smaller screen and does not feature the detachable Joy-Con controllers, limiting the playability of motion control games. It can’t be docked to link up to a TV either.
The Switch Lite can be found in Blue, Yellow, Gray, Coral and Turquoise.