Nintendo Switch vs. Nintendo Switch Lite: Which Console Is Best for You?

Consider these differences to make the right decision

The Nintendo Switch features significantly better graphics than those on the Wii U and 3DS and the console can be played connected to a TV for a traditional gaming console experience, or by using its own built-in screen for handheld gaming.

The Nintendo Switch Lite is in the same console generation as the Nintendo Switch and supports the same library of games and apps, but it's unable to connect to TV sets and is primarily designed for handheld or portable gameplay only.

What Is Nintendo Switch?

Nintendo Switch video game console.
What We Like
  • Games can be played on a TV.

  • Comes with two Joy-Con controllers.

  • Large library of video games.

What We Don't Like
  • More expensive than the Nintendo Switch Lite.

  • The Switch screen can be a waste of money if you only play on TV.

  • The dock can be a waste of money if you only play in Handheld Mode.

Nintendo launched the Nintendo Switch console in early-2017. It features an entirely new library of video games with superior graphics to those released on the Wii U and 3DS.

Some Wii U games, such as New Super Mario Bros U, Super Mario Kart 8, and Super Smash Bros Ultimate, have been re-released on the Switch with slight graphical upgrades and additional content. However, the original Wii U and 3DS versions can’t be imported onto a Switch.

The Nintendo Switch can be played as either a handheld gaming device or on a TV like a traditional video game console when placed in a special dock included with the Switch. New Switch consoles also come with two special controllers, officially referred to as Joy-Cons, which can connect to the sides of the console when in Handheld Mode, or disconnected and used by two players when playing on a television in TV Mode.

The Nintendo Switch also supports a Tabletop Mode, which lets players use the device’s screen as a small TV. In this mode, the Joy-Cons can be disconnected and the screen is held upright by a built-in kickstand.

What Is Nintendo Switch Lite?

Nintendo Switch Lite video game console.
What We Like
  • Cheaper than the regular Nintendo Switch.

  • Good option for handheld gamers.

  • Less parts for kids to lose and break.

What We Don't Like
  • Can't connect to a TV screen.

  • No USB port for headphones or capture cards.

  • Screen may be too small for some games.

The Nintendo Switch Lite was released in mid-2019 and is purely a handheld console. It supports all of the Nintendo Switch games and apps, but they must be played on the console’s own screen, as it can't connect to a dock and display its gameplay on a TV.

Unlike the regular Nintendo Switch model, the Nintendo Switch Lite’s controllers can't be removed and used separately. Because of this, another wireless controller, such as the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, must be used when playing in Tabletop Mode.

The Nintendo Switch Lite lacks a USB port so it can't connect wired controllers that require a USB connection. This means that to connect a GameCube controller to a Nintendo Switch Lite, you’ll need to use a wireless Bluetooth model.

The Nintendo Switch dimensions are slightly smaller on the Lite than the regular model, with the screen measuring 5.5-inches compared to the original’s 6.2-inches.

Nintendo Switch vs Nintendo Switch Lite Feature Comparison

Both Nintendo Switch models support the same library of video games and apps, with their main differences being their physical size and ability to connect to a TV. Each can connect to Nintendo Switch Online and fully supports the Nintendo Switch Online Family Membership service.

Here’s a quick rundown of the main Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite features and specs:

  Nintendo Switch Nintendo Switch Lite
Nintendo Switch Games Yes Yes
Nintendo Switch Apps Yes Yes
TV Connectivity Yes No
Tabletop Mode Yes Yes
Handheld Mode Yes Yes
Nintendo Switch Dimensions 4” high, 9.4” long, .55” deep 3.6” high, 8.2” long, .55” deep
Battery Life 4.5 to 9 hours 3 to 7 hours
Internet Connectivity Yes Yes
Audio Jack Yes Yes
USB Port Yes No
Amiibo Figure Support Yes Yes

While it’s possible to play popular games such as Fortnite on the Nintendo Switch, those who want to stream their Nintendo Switch gameplay on Twitch, or other streaming platforms such as Mixer, will need to buy the regular Nintendo Switch model. An HDMI cable connection is required to stream, but the Nintendo Switch Lite has no HDMI port.

Should You Get a Nintendo Switch or a Nintendo Switch Lite?

The Nintendo Switch’s removable Joy-Cons also make the original model a solid choice for households with more than one gamer as these can work as two fully-functional game controllers for multiplayer games. The original model’s USB port can also support a variety of wired controller options, including the popular GameCube controllers, and can be used to stream on Twitch and play Nintendo Switch video games on a laptop or computer.

The Nintendo Switch Lite lacks quite a few features, but is usually around $100 cheaper than the main Nintendo Switch model.

The Nintendo Switch Lite can be a good alternative, though, for those who find themselves only playing in handheld mode. The Lite version of the Nintendo Switch is also significantly cheaper than the regular model, usually retailing for around $100 less, meaning it can be a good choice for gamers on a budget or as a gift for younger players who have a habit of dropping or breaking expensive tech.

Without a doubt, the original Nintendo Switch model is the superior choice for those interested in making the jump to this generation of Nintendo gaming. It features support for all of its form factors and is the only Nintendo Switch that can be played on your TV.

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