Nintendo Switch vs Switch Lite Review & Comparison

Which Nintendo Switch Should You Buy? The Switch or Switch Lite?

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image of nintendo switch console and two games

Nintendo Switch

Versatile Console
image of a nintendo switch lite console in yellow

Nintendo Switch Lite

Handheld Console

By now, you’re probably aware the Nintendo Switch is one of the most popular video game consoles currently on the market. Earlier this year when states began to impose stay-at-home orders because of COVID-19, parents and gamers did everything they could to get their hands on the console. However , these consoles were completely sold out everywhere except on sites like eBay at prices higher than retail value.

With the holiday season right around the corner, you might be wondering, which Nintendo Switch should you buy? Some parents might be wondering, what exactly is a Nintendo Switch? In this post, I’ll go over the major differences between the Switch consoles, current bundles available, how many models there are, and more.

But before we get into the details that separate these two consoles from each other, we should first briefly mention what common features these Nintendo Switch consoles have.

      • 1280×720 Screen: Both consoles have the same resolution screen
      • Same Internal storage: Both consoles come standard with 32GB of internal storage. 
      • Expandable Storage: Both consoles storage capacity can be expanded to up to 256GB through a MicroSD card.
      • Games: These two Switches can play the same games so you don’t have to rebuy them.
      • Nintendo Switch Online: The Switch and Switch Lite both have the ability to play games online.

Those are the main similarities between these consoles that you can expect. Now let’s get into the major differences and why you’d get one over the other.

Nintendo Switch vs Nintendo Switch Lite Comparison Chart

Swipe the table!

Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch was released in 2017, and was a massive hit thanks to it’s two-in-one console design. The biggest selling point is the ability to hook up the console and play the game on your TV or take it with you on the go.

What’s Included with a Standard Nintendo Switch?

Source: “Nintendo Switch Zelda” by Sinchen.Lin – Under Creative Commons license

Below is what’s included with a base console purchase. 

  • Pair of joy-con controllers: The removable joy-con controllers are available in different colors, and will be shown on the cover of the box the Switch is packaged in. As we mentioned before, there are two joy-cons to enable multi-player. You can also purchase additional joycons.
  • Plastic joy-con grip: This is the grip your joy-cons click onto, which allows you to play with a more traditional handheld controller rather than small joy-con.
  • Dock: This connects to your TV and will charge your Switch whenever it is connected.
  • HDMI cable: Use this cable to connect your dock to your TV in order to play games on your TV screen.
  • Power Supply: This is meant to plug into the wall from your docking station and functions as the console’s power supply.

With that out of the way, let’s go over the major details of the Switch.

Dedicated Multiplayer Machine

The Nintendo Switch has several different modes that you can use to play games. 

    • Docked Mode: Sit the console in the included cradle which you can then connect to your TV using an HDMI. In this mode you have the option of using the Joy-Con controllers, the Pro Controller, or a third Party compatible Switch controller.
    • Tabletop Mode: Take the tablet portion of the console and stand it up with the built in kickstand. In this mode each Joy-con acts as a separate controller so you and a friend can play 2-player games.
    • Handheld Mode: Pretty Straightforward. The console is a portable gaming device that you can use on the go.

Having different ways to play games makes the Switch a dedicated multiplayer machine. For example, the Switch is so versatile, you can play couch co-op games such as Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart, etc., on your TV with friends, play online multiplayer with others around the world through Nintendo Switch Online, or set it up as a party machine on a table and have up to 8 people play.

This is the big selling point of the console and a major benefit over the Switch Lite.

Dock Functionality & More Features

Speaking of docked mode, The Nintendo Switch benefits from the ability to use a dock to connect to your television. The dock also functions as a charger keeping the Switch charged while you play games in this mode. The Switch Lite doesn’t have this ability since its primary function is to be a handheld device so it can’t connect to your TV at all. This is a bit of a smaller difference but one I thought was worth mentioning. 

Also the Switch has HD Rumble for more realistic vibrations as you interact with the gaming environment as well as an IR Motion Camera which helps with using the Switch as a whole as a controller. Basically, if you move the Switch (in handheld mode) up, down, left, or right, it will move the camera in games (that support this feature) in the specified direction.

Bigger Screen Size

If you look at both consoles side by side, you’ll notice the original Switch has a slightly bigger screen over the Switch Lite. The Nintendo Switch has a 6.2 inch screen while the Switch Lite has a 5.5-inch screen. While both screens have a resolution of 720p, the advantage here is that you get more screen real estate when playing games in handheld mode which overall will look better. 

If you or someone you know, have trouble reading small text or have some vision problems in general, the bigger screen on the original Nintendo Switch may be the better choice.

Battery Life On the Nintendo Switch is Better…Sorta

When the Nintendo Switch was first released, one of the drawbacks of the console was bad battery life outside of the dock. The release of the Switch Lite saw improvements on the battery and for a time had better battery life than the Switch. Nintendo later refreshed the Switch line with a version 2 of the Switch console which improved on its battery. 

What once was a drawback of the Switch is now a positive.

So What’s The Difference Between the Nintendo Switch and Version 2?

You’re probably asking yourself, what’s the difference between the Switch and version 2? On the outside, they both look exactly the same. The most notable changes are on the inside. Here is a helpful table to illustrate the most prominent internal differences between these two consoles.

I won’t go into too much technical detail but the most noticeable differences under the hood is a different processor to help manage energy consumption more effectively, better battery performance for longer playing sessions, and an improved display. 

To tell the two consoles apart (if you plan on purchasing), the packaging will be the easiest method. The packaging on version 1 of the Switch has a grey background with a hand while version 2’s packaging has a bright red background.

Nintendo Switch Lite

The Nintendo Switch lite was introduced in 2019 to give customers a more affordable and mobile way to play. Appearance wise it’s almost identical to the original Nintendo Switch, only a little smaller, which is ideal for younger children with smaller hands who might struggle to grip the original Switch. There are also other differences that I’ll touch on later but first let’s discuss what you can expect when you purchase a Switch Lite.

What’s Included with a Nintendo Switch Lite?

This is what’s included with the Switch Lite:

  • Nintendo Switch Lite system
  • Nintendo Switch AC adapter

That’s it.

Nintendo Switch vs Switch Lite: Design

The Switch Lite’s build quality consists of a solid body with no detachable controllers. The console is smaller in size than the Switch making it ideal for gamers with smaller hands and who prefers overall comfortability. This solid body also lends itself to an overall more durable console since the Joy-Cons are now permanently attached instead of using the slide bar to connect the controllers. Moving on, the Switch Lite is slightly thinner and lighter than the regular Switch which should lend itself to a more comfortable experience when playing handheld.

As far as colors, the Switch Lite is available in

  • Turquoise
  • Yellow
  • Grey
  • Coral

Dedicated D-Pad

One thing that’s apparent on the Switch Lite is the inclusion of a dedicated D-Pad. I’m surprised they wouldn’t include this on the regular Switch. Having an actual D-pad can go a long way in enhancing the game playing experience for a lot of players. The four buttons on the Switch is still a decent experience, but there’s something about using an actual D-Pad that makes the experience on the Switch Lite feel more natural when using it as a handheld over the Switch. This is most noticeable when playing fighting games or if you happen to use the D-Pad as your main form of moving over the joystick.

The Switch Lite is More Affordable

Finally the most obvious benefit over the Switch is the price. The Switch Lite is $100 cheaper coming in at an MSRP of $199.99 while the Switch has an MSRP of $299.99. This is a big positive because not only are you saving money, but you could potentially put that towards a game and/or accessories along with the purchase. 

The affordable price also makes it a lower barrier of entry if you’re buying for kids or several members of the family.

Nintendo Switch Bundles

I want to throw in this section for the parents looking to buy a Switch console for the kids or who  are unaware of such things as console bundles. 

You can purchase Nintendo Switch bundles that include the console, controllers, and a popular Switch game.

Some gaming consoles even come with a themed bundle, like Animal Crossing for example. You can get a set of matching blue joy-cons and a Switch Console featuring Tom Nook, Timmy, and Tommy on a deserted island. 

Why purchase a bundle? 

Not only can you save a little bit of money, but it’s a lot of fun for those who are obsessed with a specific game. Here is a list of currently available bundles.

  • Super Mario Odyssey Switch Bundle
  • Super Smash Bros Switch Bundle  
  • Mario Kart 8 Switch Bundle
  • Zelda Switch Switch Bundle
  • Luigi’s Mansion Switch Bundle
  • Pokemon Sword and Shield Switch Bundle
  • Splatoon 2 Switch Bundle

So Which Nintendo Switch Console Should You Buy?

I’m going to recommend that the majority of people get the regular Switch. While the Switch Lite is cheaper, the Switch is just so versatile that you can play it in different scenarios and not just locked into one mode. Also you have a slightly bigger screen size for handheld mode, and a better battery on version 2, 

Those who are sticking to a budget or are strictly looking for a handheld console, I recommend the Switch Lite. It’s more affordable, has a solid durable build, dedicated D-pad, and for the price of a regular Switch you can pick up a bundled Switch Lite with a game.