The Nintendo Switch is a pretty successful console. It has outsold its predecessor, the Wii U, by selling over 32 million units to date. The console was made as a hybrid, merging both stationary and handheld functionalities. Its successor, the Nintendo Switch Lite, is a newer, smaller version of the Switch. Unlike its older sibling, it isn’t a hybrid; it’s made as a handheld console, but with a lot more power than other handhelds like the 3DS. It has other differences, too, from the price to some of the internal components.
For gamers who already own the Switch, the big question is: should they spend that extra $200 and get the Switch Lite? Or is it a shameless cash-grab? What are the pros, cons, and facts about this powerful mini-console? To help answer these questions, we have gathered information about the console that should help anyone interested to make a decision.
10 Best: More Affordable
The Switch Lite costs just $200, which makes it $100 more affordable than the Nintendo Switch. This is a big difference, especially for gamers who could not afford the $300 asking price of the Switch. $200 isn’t much, even if you compare it to other handheld consoles.
And it gets better. The bigger Switch can often be found in hardware bundles with a relatively lower price than just buying the console on its own. If the Switch Lite will be anything like it, we can expect future bundles that will make the console even more cost-effective.
9 Worst: No Customizability
With the Nintendo Switch, customization is one of the most enjoyable things to do. You can mix and match different JoyCons with a range of colors and themes. However, the Nintendo Switch Lite is not as customizable. Even though it comes with a choice of three colors—and, in future, it will have various themed editions—that’s about it when it comes to mixing and matching.
Swapping out the JoyCons for different-colored ones is not an option since they are permanently attached to the console. So, if you’re a fan of making your console the center of attention, the Switch Lite will likely disappoint. Plus, if your console succumbs to the infamous stick drift issues... well, you're stuck.
8 Best: Better on the Go
While the Nintendo Switch works as a portable console, it isn’t always the most convenient. It had moving parts—the JoyCon controllers, in particular—and losing or misplacing them could prove to be a headache when you’re traveling.
The Switch Lite, however, addresses these problems. For one, it has an all-in-one build, which should eliminate the worry of misplacing something and spending hours looking for it. It is also smaller than the Switch, which should be more comfortable to hold for most people. Furthermore, the Switch Lite is lighter than the Switch, so holding it for extended periods is easier. All of these add up to make the Switch Lite the better portable console.
7 Worst: Costlier to Buy Accessories
The $100 price difference between the Switch Lite and the Switch is pretty significant, and if you only stick to the base console, this counts as a great deal. However, once you start buying accessories for the portable console, you will realize that you’re not really saving any money. If anything, your total spend might come to more than if you owned the Switch.
Take JoyCons, for instance. Each set costs between $60 and $80, and don’t forget that they need a charging dock, which costs around $30. This already brings the cost up to the level of the Switch, which makes you wonder if you’re really getting a deal with the Switch Lite.
6 Best: A D-Pad
Now, the JoyCon controllers of the Nintendo Switch do come with directional buttons. However, they don’t have a traditional D-Pad. Not everyone will mind this, especially since the console has the option to connect various other controllers, from the Pro Controller to GameCube-style controllers. But those have to be bought separately.
With the Switch Lite, the controls come with a D-Pad by default, which is functional and also feels quite good to use. This makes the console much better to play old games than the bigger Nintendo Switch since they make full use of the D-Pad.
5 Worst: Cannot Connect to TV
What makes the Nintendo Switch one of the most unique consoles of all time is that it can be used as both a home console and a handheld console. It might not be the best handheld, especially now that the Switch Lite is here, but that variety is invaluable for gamers.
The Switch Lite, however, is purely a handheld console; you will not be able to connect it to a TV. This removes the novelty of the device and leaves it as just a handheld console—albeit a powerful one, at that. To some, this might be a deal-breaker.
4 Best: Attractive Colors
The Nintendo Switch Lite is a great console for people who like bright, shiny colors. Even though the design has remained almost the same to the bigger Switch, the colors in the Switch Lite offer a pleasing variety. It comes in grey, turquoise, and yellow. Depending on the buyer’s personality, they can go for a subtle look or can stand out whenever they pull out their console.
These aren’t the only colors you will find for the Switch Lite. Nintendo has already planned special editions of the console. This November, the game maker will release two special editions: the Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield each with its own distinct look.
3 Worst: It’s Restrictive
According to Nintendo, current and future Switch games that support handheld will be compatible with the Switch Lite. However, if you stick to the base Switch Lite without buying any additional components, you will notice that it can be quite restrictive, especially when it comes to games with motion controls. This includes games like Super Mario Party, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and even the Just Dance series.
Some of these games have button-based alternatives for the motion controls. However, not every game has or will have that. The Lite also doesn’t include rumble, so you won’t feel any vibrations while playing.
2 Best: Decent Battery Life
If you own the bigger Nintendo Switch, you probably hate the battery life. This is arguably the biggest problem with the console when you’re using it as a portable console. When playing a heavy game like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it’s not surprising for the Switch to barely reach 3 hours before it needs to charge.
With this in mind, Nintendo released an updated Switch with improved battery life. But they have also improved the battery life in the Switch Lite. Thanks to the smaller screen and fewer features, the Switch Lite lasts from 20% to 30% longer than the Switch.
1 Worst: Repairs are a Nightmare
When Nintendo chose to make the Switch Lite a portable console, they weren’t messing around. The device is compact and has no moving parts, which is a good thing if you usually misplace your JoyCons.
However, this convenience comes at a potentially steep price: repairs for the console will be a nightmare. Since the console doesn’t have any detachable parts, if it encounters any issue, you have to send the whole thing for repairs. With the bigger Switch, the loss of one component doesn’t necessarily have to ruin your entire gaming experience. If your controller gets damaged, for instance, you can just get it repaired as you continue gaming with the remaining parts.