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Nintendo Switch vs Switch Lite: What’s the difference?

  • Nintendo Switch

    Versatility pick

    The standard Nintendo Switch comes in two variants, connects to a dock, and has removable controllers, giving it the ultimate mix of home and handheld console experiences.

    Pros

    • Amazing library
    • Total flexibility
    • Still excellent portability
    Cons

    • More expensive
    • More movable parts means more points of failure

  • Nintendo Switch Lite SQ

    Nintendo Switch Lite

    Budget-friendly

    The Nintendo Switch Lite is made as a handheld-only version of the Nintendo Switch. While it lacks the versatility of the regular Switch, it makes up for it by being lighter, easier to carry, and has fewer moving parts.

    Pros

    • Smaller and more comfortable to hold in your hands
    • Same incredible games
    • More budget-friendly
    Cons

    • Smaller display
    • Loses the versatility of the regular Switch


The Nintendo Switch is one of the most popular consoles of all time. The hybrid console charmed many with its dual ability to be handheld or docked for a more traditional home console experience. The Joy-Cons are neat — even if they can experience drift on occasion — and the game library is wonderful. Nintendo even released an OLED variant with a higher-quality screen.



Another variant is the Nintendo Switch Lite. This console omits the home console experience entirely in favor of being totally handheld. It differs from the base Nintendo Switch in several key areas but ultimately delivers the same overall experience. So, which one is better? We’ll look over the key differences and find out together.

  • Nintendo Switch Nintendo Switch Lite
    Screen 6.2-inch 1280 x 720 LCD 5.5-inch 1280 x 720 LCD
    Storage 64GB (expandable with microSD) 32GB (Expandable)
    CPU Nvidia Tegra X1 Nvidia Tegra X1
    Battery 4.5-9 hours of use 3-7 hours
    Connectivity Wi-Fi / Bluetooth Wi-Fi / Bluetooth
    Dimensions 173 x 102 x 14mm 208 x 91 x 14mm
    Weight 398g 277g
    Audio Stereo speakers / Bluetooth / 3.5mm headphone jack Stereo speakers / Bluetooth / 3.5mm headphone jack
    Ports USB-C (dockable to TV) USB-C (charging only)
    Charging Time Approximately 3 hours Approximately 3 hours



Price and availability

Both Nintendo Switch consoles are widely available as of this writing. You can get them from online retailers like Amazon or Newegg as well as in-store retailers like GameStop, Walmart, or Best Buy. In addition, there are several special edition variants, such as the Animal Crossing: New Horizons Edition or the Dialga & Palkia Edition that extend availability even further.

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In terms of price, it’s pretty simple. The Nintendo Switch Lite is the cheaper option at a $200 MSRP. Meanwhile, the regular Nintendo Switch starts at $300 for the base version and the OLED version costs $350, making the Switch OLED the most expensive non-special edition version.

Nintendo Switch and switch lite on a table


Design and usability

While both versions of the switch have the same general layout, they look and feel very different from each other. The regular Nintendo Switch, and Switch OLED, are both larger and heavier than the Switch Lite. You can tell just by looking at the picture above how the dimensions vary for the sake of extra portability with the Switch Lite. Perhaps the most noticeable difference, though, is the 121-gram weight difference, which makes the Switch Lite noticeably lighter.

Each brand-new Nintendo Switch console comes with two Joy-Con controllers that attach to the body of the console along with a dock to park the console when it’s charging or connected to the TV. It’s a neat little package that works wonderfully together. However, it does make the Switch feel bulky and heavy on occasion, especially during longer gaming sessions.

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Nintendo fixed that last problem with the Nintendo Switch Lite. It’s smaller and lighter, which makes it feel much better when playing handheld. That makes it both easier to hold for longer gaming sessions and easier to transport when traveling. It’s a smart design choice considering that you can’t dock a Switch Lite to a TV like you can with the regular Switch.


Overall, we think the design of the regular Nintendo Switch is the best of both worlds. You get something you can take on the go or connect to a TV if you want. Its versatility is part of how it’s sold so many consoles. However, for kids or for people who just want the handheld aspect of it, the Switch Lite is tailor-made for that type of experience. Nintendo hit the nail on the head with both designs.

Nintendo Switch Lite review shots image 15
Pocket-lint

Performance and display

Both the Switch and Switch Lite come with an Nvidia Tegra X1 processor. That means they have the same performance and same game compatibility. That makes the consoles equally capable of playing Switch games like Breath of the Wild 2 or Pokémon Legends: Arceus. Nintendo changed things for the Switch Lite, but the company did a great job of making it equal to its larger sibling when it comes to gaming performance.


The screen of each console displays some visible differences. The regular Switch sports a 6.2-inch 720p display, while the Switch Lite gets a 5.5-inch 720p display. Technically speaking, the Switch Lite has the sharper display as it has the same number of pixels across a tinier display. The OLED variant has a seven-inch 720p display, but the OLED’s outstanding contrast really makes the graphics pop.

Nintendo Switch Pro outed by OLED display firm photo 1
Alvaro Reyes / Unsplash

In day-to-day use, you likely won’t see too much of a difference between the Switch and Switch Lite. In fact, we’d argue that you’d see a bigger difference between the Switch OLED and either of the other two Switches. However, the fact is that the smaller screen on the Switch Lite is part of why it’s easier to hold. Plus, you have to factor in the TV display that the regular Switch and Switch OLED can connect to.


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On paper, the Nintendo Switch OLED has the best display of the three, and the regular Switch models can connect to larger displays. In terms of portability, though, the Nintendo Switch Lite may have a smaller display, but that contributes to its superior handheld comfort.

A Nintendo Switch OLED with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on screen. Link and Kirby prepare to battle.

Pocket-lint

Battery life

Despite having the same specs, the regular Nintendo Switch gets slightly better battery life. According to Nintendo, the regular Switch and Switch OLED are rated for between 4.5 and 9 hours of use, while the Switch Lite is rated for 3 to 7 hours of use. This is due to the Switch Lite having a physically smaller battery of about 740 mAh, which contributes to both its lighter weight and worse battery life.


The battery life is largely determined by what you’re doing on the Switch. Obviously, playing games and watching videos are the two most intensive things the Switch can do and all versions of the console will trend toward the lower range of its battery usage if you do those things. Messing around on the menu and playing lighter games will sip less battery. Sleep mode helps extend the battery for longer.

Nintendo Switch Lite official The Switch Mini we were hoping for not Switch 2 image 1

Nintendo

This one is cut and dry. The regular Switch variants have better battery life than the Switch Lite. Fortunately, all versions of the console have a USB-C port, which should be compatible with all modern smartphone chargers, even the iPhone 15. So, whether you’re at home or in the car, a charger should be nearby.


Switch vs Switch Lite: Which is the best?

So, let’s get to the brass tacks. Which Nintendo Switch is the best for you? It’s a difficult choice, but we think the regular Nintendo Switch is the best all-around option. It’s right in the middle in terms of price while still having the versatility that the Switch is known for. The Switch OLED is right behind it with the bigger screen, which is actually better for handheld gaming, provided that you don’t mind the extra weight.

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch

Overall best option for versatility

For the Nintendo Switch Lite, it does have its uses. It’s a great Switch variant for kids since there aren’t any Joy-Cons to remove and break. Plus, kids can stuff them in their backpacks and take them anywhere to keep them occupied when they might otherwise be bored and rambunctious. Also, folks who value comfort while gaming will enjoy the all-around smaller, lighter package that is much easier to hold for longer gaming sessions.


Nintendo Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch Lite

Good alternative for handheld fans

Fortunately, the similarities outweigh the differences no matter which console you get. They both support both digital and physical games, expandable storage, and have the same controller layout. Additionally, they all have access to online multiplayer via Nintendo Switch Online along with Bluetooth and a 3.5mm headphone jack to use for headsets, so they can talk to friends. So, ultimately, you’re just asking yourself if you want the more versatile one or the one that’s easier to hold for long periods. For us, it’s versatility all the way, but the circumstances might be different for you.

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