Nintendo Switch Lite vs Nintendo Switch: Which should you buy?
The Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite have been on the market for a few years now, but which console is best suited to you?
We’ve decided to look back at the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite to see which console holds up all these years later. Both consoles have distinct advantages and share the same library of games, making them both worthy options for anyone wanting to engage in some of Nintnedo’s best titles.
Read on to find out all the key differences between these consoles so you can decide which is the best option for you.
Both consoles have been on the market for a few years and can be found on the Nintendo website as well as from third-party retailers.
The Switch is the more expensive console of the two, costing $299.99/£279.99. The Switch Lite is more affordable, coming in at $199.99/£199.99.
The main difference between the Switch and Switch Lite is the inclusion of the detachable Joy-Con controllers on the vanilla model. The original console looks like a tablet with grey bezels and a black rear, with the Joy-Con controllers coming in an array of colours, the most common being Neon Red and Blue.
The Switch Lite comes in various colours including Blue, Yellow, Turquoise, Coral and Grey. This console is more akin to the Steam Deck in terms of design, being built as a solid brick with no support for detachable controllers, but it’s far smaller and lighter than Valve’s portable.
The button layout on both consoles is almost identical, although the Switch Lite did ditch the directional buttons for a traditional D-pad, making it easier to take on platformers such as Super Mario Bros or Hollow Knight. Both controllers have NFC functionality for Amiibo support, too.
Delving into the nitty gritty, the Switch Lite is slightly lighter and thinner than the original console, which may make it the better option for smaller children, since they can hold the console and access all of the buttons easier.
The Switch has a slightly larger screen than the Switch Lite, with the former measuring 6.2 inches and the latter at 5.5 inches. This puts the Switch Lite at the same level as some smartphones and may be less appealing to those who want a larger screen to game on.
They feature the same 1280×720 resolution, just missing out on Full HD. Interestingly, the Switch Lite could actually look superior in comparison, as the smaller screen means that it could have better clarity. In use, however, we have found the screen quality to be almost indistinguishable, with no clear advantages to the Switch Lite’s smaller size.
Both consoles do feature a touchscreen, meaning that you can enjoy games like Super Mario Maker 2 on both devices without missing out on any features. Both touchscreens can be used with your finger and with any Switch-compatible stylus on the market.
Performance and features
Both the Switch and Switch Lite perform very similarly, which will be due to their identical internals. Both share the same Nvidia custom Tegra processor, giving them the same CPU and GPU performance. There is also the same amount of internal storage, at 32GB, which is very low when you consider that games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild take up 13.4GB alone.
However, both consoles feature an SD card slot that can help expand your storage, although you will need to purchase those separately. Both consoles have the same port selection, including a USB-C charging port and a headphone jack.
In terms of features, the Switch Lite is very barebones compared to the original. Since it does not have any detachable controllers, players will not be able to get the advantages of Nintendo’s HD Rumble feature. It will bring limitations to specific titles that put a lot of emphasis on motion control, like ARMS and Nintendo Switch Sports.
It also has limited multiplayer, as unlike the Switch you cannot detach the Joy-Con controllers and play with friends. Online multiplayer is supported on the Switch Lite, but any local multiplayer games that require you to share a screen will not be playable, like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
This can be circumvented by purchasing two separate Joy-Con controllers and pairing them with the Switch Lite to play games. However, if you know you will want to play motion control games that benefit from the Joy-Con controllers, it would be more financially sound to purchase the vanilla Switch console to begin with, since the Joy-Con controllers cost $79.99/£69.99 on their own.
Moreover, the Switch Lite cannot be docked and played on a large screen. One of the biggest benefits of the Switch is that it can be used as a portable console as well as being used as a traditional console, like the PS5 or Xbox Series X. This makes the Switch the much more alluring option for those who will want to play on a large screen from time to time, although it’s worth noting that the graphical quality is capped to 1080p, meaning that you won’t be getting any benefits from owning a 4K monitor or TV.
The battery of the original Nintendo Switch will depend on when you purchased your console. Any Switch purchased before August 2019 has an inferior battery to consoles purchased after this date, with these models being dubbed the Switch V2. We will be focusing on the Switch V2 model here since most people will be using that model over the original.
From our testing, we found that the Switch V2 can last between five and nine hours, depending on the type of game being played, the brightness level and if Wi-Fi is enabled. We managed to play Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe for around five and a half hours at full brightness before needing to recharge, with Animal Crossing: New Horizons managing to last half an hour longer.
The battery life for the Switch Lite ranges from three to seven hours, again being dependent on the type of media you’re engaging with. We played Hades on the Switch Lite for an hour and saw the battery deplete by 21% at full brightness, making it the less alluring option in terms of gaming on the go.
We would recommend investing in a power bank for both consoles if you are planning on taking it out on any long journeys, but thanks to the Switch V2 battery update, the original Switch is the superior option when it comes to battery life.
Overall, the Switch and Switch Lite have their own advantages and both are worthy consoles. If you’re looking for something more affordable and you’re more interested in playing games like Bayonetta 3 or Pokémon Legends: Arceus that do not require motion controls, the Switch Lite is the best option.
However, if you want to engage in motion games or want to play with friends with Joy-Con controllers, the original Switch is the console for you. Since both consoles feature the same processor and GPU as well as the same screen resolution, this is the key differentiator that you will want to consider, since the Switch is better equipped to take advantage of first-party games that utilise Rumble HD and motion controls. The standard Switch also has a larger screen at 6.2 inches, compared to the Lite’s 5.5-inch panel.