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Nintendo Switch vs Lite: what’s the difference and which should you buy?

Need help deciding on a Nintendo Switch console? Here’s everything you need to know.

Nintendo Switch vs Lite

Released in 2019, the Nintendo Switch Lite has quickly become one of the most popular handheld consoles, with over 8.9 million units having been sold worldwide since launch. 

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But, can it compete with the best-selling Nintendo Switch? Or, is it simply for those looking for a more budget-friendly option?

We’re hopefully here to answer these questions, outline the biggest differences and help you find out which console is best for you. 

The Nintendo Switch Lite is the new, cheaper, and more compact console that is designed to be handheld only. Because of this, all its controls are integrated into the device. 

The detachable Joy-Cons of the Nintendo Switch allow the console to be more flexible, be played by multiple players and via a stand or TV. This provides a more traditional at-home gaming set-up, but the console is still relatively small and can be played in handheld mode, if you do want to play while you’re travelling. 

If this is the case, games can be downloaded straight onto the console to avoid you having to carry with you more than you need. It is worth keeping in mind that the Nintendo Switch’s storage is only 32GB though, so you may want to consider purchasing a micro SD card to optimise the download capability. 

And, with the news that the new Nintendo Switch OLED pre-orders are now live, those looking for a new Nintendo Switch console are now spoiled for choice. 

What’s the difference between the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite?

Nintendo Switch

The main difference between the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite is that the latter is designed to be solely a handheld console, while Nintendo describes the Switch as a “home console”. This means that the Nintendo Switch has three “play” modes; handheld, tabletop (when the controllers detach and the screen stands) and via the TV.

Because the Nintendo Switch has two detachable Joy-Cons, it is also a multi-player console. Straight from the box, two players are able to battle it out and you can purchase Joy-Cons separately in order to allow even more people to play.

The Switch Lite, on the other hand, is purely a console for individual use, so it is smaller and more compact than the original Switch. There is also no need for detachable Joy-Cons so all the controls are integrated onto the device.

There are naturally some similarities, too. Firstly, Nintendo Switch games can be played on both consoles, in particular any games that feature a handheld mode.

However, for games that do not support handheld, players are able to wirelessly connect controllers to the Switch Lite but these will need to be bought separately (along with a Joy-Con Charging Grip).

The screens are also the same resolution (up to 720p), even if they aren’t the same size. And, the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite both use the same NVIDIA Custom Tegra processor.

Now we’ve addressed the fundamental differences, here’s a more detailed breakdown of how the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite vary when it comes to size, display, battery life and the colours they’re sold in.

Size

Though both consoles are described as portable, the Nintendo Switch Lite is a fair bit more compact. Weighing only 276g, the Switch Lite is 100g lighter than the original Switch (with the Joy-Cons attached). 

The Nintendo Switch is also 30mm longer and 10mm taller, primarily due to the fact it has a bigger screen.

Display

As we discussed earlier, both consoles have a 1280 x 720 LCD display but the screen size is considerably different. The original Switch has a bigger 6.2-inch screen, while the more compact Switch Lite’s screen is only 5.5-inches.

This is largely due to the fact that the Switch Lite is designed as a handheld console so there does not need to be the same level of consideration about whether “all” the players can see the screen.

Battery Life

When looking for a portable gaming console, a good battery life is essential. Nintendo guarantees that the Switch Lite will last between three and seven hours, though this does somewhat depend on which games you are playing.

The new 2019 version of Nintendo Switch will last a little longer, with a decent battery life of up to nine hours. This is a vast improvement on the older models, which would only last a maximum of six and a half hours (and could run out after just two and a half).

If you want to keep either device powered up for longer, we’d suggest investing in a power bank so that you no longer have to worry about charge while you’re on the go. Take a look at our full list of the best power banks for the Nintendo Switch to find the type that’ll suit you.

Colours

Nintendo Switch Lite colours

In the Nintendo Switch vs Lite colour battle, the cheaper console wins hands down. Sold in coral, turquoise, grey and yellow, the Nintendo Switch Lite offers a decent variety of matte finish colours. In comparison, the Nintendo Switch is only available in two colourways; grey and neon red/blue. 

However, there have been a couple of special edition consoles that have been released to coincide with new game launches. For example, the Nintendo Switch has an Animal Crossing version with pastel blue and green Joy-Cons. 

Cost

As you would expect, the smaller Nintendo Switch Lite is the more affordable of the two consoles. It can either be bought individually for £199 on Amazon or in bundles with various games including Mario Kart Deluxe 8 and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

For the more versatile Nintendo Switch, you should expect to pay £279 on Amazon but there are also numerous bundles available for the console. 

Should you buy the Nintendo Switch or the Nintendo Switch Lite?

In short, it really does just depend on your budget, whether you intend to play on your own and how much you’ll be gaming on the go. If price is a major consideration, then you’re likely to prefer the Nintendo Switch Lite. It’s hard to beat the console’s brilliant value for money. 

The Nintendo Switch Lite should also be your console of choice, if you’re often going to be gaming on the move. It’s smaller, lighter and more compact and it still has a respectable battery life of up to seven hours. 

But, if you intend for the console to be played by more than one member of your household, the Nintendo Switch is the only choice that makes sense. It is the only console that offers a more traditional set-up and the ability to game via the TV. 

The detachable Joy-Cons give you the option to play on your own or include other players. Finally, the Nintendo Switch is also compatible with all the Nintendo Switch accessories on the market so you can make the most of your console. These include everything from cases to the Wireless Pro Controller and wii-esque Ring Fit Adventure.

The Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite are available from a number of retailers.

Nintendo Switch:

Nintendo Switch Lite:

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For more news, visit our Technology section. Looking for more on the Nintendo Switch? These are the best Nintendo Switch games to buy this year.