Nintendo Switch vs Nintendo Switch Lite: Which should you buy?

(Image credit: Nintendo)

The Nintendo Switch Lite was released on September 20, and has already proved itself a worthy rival to the original Nintendo Switch. Launched in three tempting colors, the new machine strips away all the extras to focus purely on a super handheld experience, and for a lower price. 

If you're looking to invest in your first ever Nintendo Switch, and need some help on which to choose, we've got you. Read on and we'll explain all the key differences are between the Nintendo Switch Lite and the original Nintendo Switch, as well as comparing the technical specifications for those who like their advice with a side of nitty-gritty. If you're planning a Nintendo Switch Black Friday purchase in November, this is essential reading. 

Nintendo Switch vs Nintendo Switch Lite: Specs

On paper, it sounds like the internal hardware offered by both Switch variants will be the same. However, some outlets are quoting that the Nintendo Switch Lite uses "a more efficient processor", which enables it to offer a slight battery life increase on the original version - four hours of playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild on a single charge, compared to the original model's three. 

What that means for you is that you won't see any performance downgrades if you opt for the Nintendo Switch Lite over the original Switch. It's the same tech squished into a smaller frame intended to be played only as a handheld console. 

And the Nintendo Switch Lite is quite a bit smaller than the original. The Lite comes in at 275g, and measures up as 91.1mm x 208mm x 13.9mm, whereas the full-sized model is a heftier 297g without Joy-Cons, and 398g with a pair attached, and offers dimensions of 102mm x 239mm x 13.9mm. The Lite is definitely focused more at users with smaller hands, offering a more comfortable handheld experience for the younger Ninty fans.  

Nintendo Switch vs Nintendo Switch Lite: Screen

(Image credit: Nintendo)

To aid its smaller form factor, the Nintendo Switch Lite also comes with a smaller screen - 5.5-inches compared to the original's 6.2-inch version. That's quite the decrease in screen estate, coming in at just a touch larger than the PS Vita's 5-inch screen, and almost the same size as the iPhone XR's 6.1-inch screen. Thankfully the screen resolution hasn't diminished with the size though, as the Nintendo Switch Lite still offers the same 720p HD resolution as the current Switch. 

If you want to get really technical, the Nintendo Switch Lite will actually offer a better quality of image than the 2017 model. That's because you're spreading the same amount of pixels over a larger screen with the original console, meaning it's easier to see the individual pixels there that it will be with this smaller screen size. But, in all reality, it's not going to matter that much, you're still getting the same quality of gameplay even in the Lite's smaller screen size. 

Nintendo Switch vs Nintendo Switch Lite: Features and Functionality

Nintendo Switch Lite

(Image credit: Nintendo)

However, where the two consoles really do differ is in their functionality. The Nintendo Switch Lite is built solely as a handheld console, which means it's missing some key features that makes the Switch really sing. 

The flagship Nintendo Switch offers gamers three ways to play: TV mode using the Switch Dock, which boosts the resolution of the gameplay to 1080p full HD; tabletop mode using the built-in kickstand, for quick and easy local multiplayer and co-op; and handheld mode for the more personal, and portable, experience. 

The Nintendo Switch Lite is intended to be played solely in handheld mode. It doesn't feature HD rumble, doesn't come with a dock, and doesn't support output to your TV at all - so you couldn't buy the original Switch dock as an accessory separately and try to use that, for example. It is also an all-in-one console, so you can't detach the Joy-Cons from the side of the screen, as you can with the flagship model. You can wirelessly connect additional Joy-Cons if you wanted to, but you'd all have to huddle around the console to get involved with local multiplayer. It also lacks a kickstand, so no tabletop option either.

But the Lite is intended as the option for gaming on the go, and for those who have small children that are likely to break kickstands, or lose detachable controllers. It's a solid little package of Switch gaming, even without the additional features. 

Nintendo Switch vs Nintendo Switch Lite: Games

As for the games, the Nintendo Switch Lite will almost play everything that you can buy and play on the flagship Switch model. The only caveat to that is games that are solely intended to be played in tabletop or TV mode - such as Super Mario Party 10 - or titles that really utilise the Joy-Cons - like 1-2 Switch. 

However, they're not no go zones for Switch Lite players. Instead, Nintendo suggests connecting additional Joy-Cons wirelessly to ensure you can still access those features when playing.

Nintendo Switch vs Nintendo Switch Lite: Cost and Purchase Options

Nintendo Switch Lite Zamian & Zamazenta Edition

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Another big difference between the two consoles are the pricing, and colour options available. 

The flagship Switch retails at s $299 in the USA and £279 in the UK, without a game. It's available in two main colour options - neon red and blue, or grey - and there are a few special editions, including the red Super Mario Odyssey iteration, the yellow and brown Pokemon Let's Go edition and the grey with Diablo 3 decals option. 

The Nintendo Switch Lite price is $200 in the US, and £200 in the UK. It will come in three main colours - yellow, blue, and grey - and there's already a Pokemon Sword and Shield special edition making its way to stores on November 8. 


If you're looking for a multipurpose, hybrid games console that can be played at home on the big screen or on the go, you'll still need to stick to the flagship Nintendo Switch. But, if you're someone who just wants the handheld option, or something that's great for kids, then the Nintendo Switch Lite is an incredibly attractive alternative.

No matter what you decide to go for, check out our guide to the best Nintendo Switch bundles for the best deals.

Sam Loveridge
Global Editor-in-Chief, GamesRadar+

Sam Loveridge is the Global Editor-in-Chief of GamesRadar, and joined the team in August 2017. Sam came to GamesRadar after working at TrustedReviews, Digital Spy, and Fandom, following the completion of an MA in Journalism. In her time, she's also had appearances on The Guardian, BBC, and more. Her experience has seen her cover console and PC games, along with gaming hardware, for a decade, and for GamesRadar, she's in charge of the site's overall direction, managing the team, and making sure it's the best it can be. Her gaming passions lie with weird simulation games, big open-world RPGs, and beautifully crafted indies. She plays across all platforms, and specializes in titles like Pokemon, Assassin's Creed, The Sims, and more. Basically, she loves all games that aren't sports or fighting titles! In her spare time, Sam likes to live like Stardew Valley by cooking and baking, growing vegetables, and enjoying life in the countryside.