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Should you buy Nintendo Switch or the Lite version on Black Friday this year?

Should you buy Nintendo Switch or Switch Lite?
(Image credit: Nintendo)

We’re not being hyperbolic when we say that, if you don’t already own a Switch, and enjoy gaming, then you should think about getting one. It’s Nintendo’s best console in years, and home to an unmatched software library. Black Friday is absolutely the time to get it too. While Nintendo doesn’t often go in for hardware discounts (we’ve noticed this from years gone by) retailers will often put together elaborate bundles of games and accessories to go with your shiny new console. However, with two consoles to choose from - the normal Switch and the Lite - which should you buy? Switch Lite is the Switch we know and love, just with a few bits taken out, a longer battery life, and a chunk lopped off the price. Expect to see both featuring in the Nintendo Switch Black Friday deals in some capacity.

Save big

(Image credit: Rockstar)

Here's our guide to all the Black Friday game deals, to save you money this November.

So what’s the difference? If the Switch is a fantastic portable console with a clever way of hooking up to your TV, the Switch Lite is just a fantastic portable console at a lower price. There’s no hardware installed to allow it to dock with your TV at all. It’s also a bit smaller than its predecessor, a little lighter, and doesn’t have detachable Joy-Con controllers - they’re permanently fused to the sides of the screen. The resolution of that screen remains at a distinctly lite, in today’s high-res world, 720p, but the decrease in screen size means the PPI density goes up and, honestly, when it’s in motion you’ll never know you’re looking at something that’s less than full HD.

There’s one more change, and it’s going to make a difference to some people. On the left-hand controller are four buttons, arranged in a cross shape. On the Switch, these are separate buttons, while on the Lite they have been returned to Nintendo’s patented D-pad shape, just as Gunpei Yokoi intended. If any Nintendo purists have been holding off because of this, then now’s your chance to get back in.

(Image credit: Future)

Small packages

It’s true that there are a tiny handful of games that won’t play on the Lite, thanks to them not supporting handheld mode and the Lite not having detachable Joy-Cons. Unless you’re a big fan of Nintendo Labo (look out for discounts on that cardboard marvel this Black Friday) or Mario Party, they’re not going to bother you too much. You can pair any Pro controllers you already have with the Switch Lite, but thanks to its svelte form factor you’re probably going to need a new case for it.

If battery life is a worry, you’re covered whatever you buy. The original Switch could be a little hungry in its energy usage, but a recent refresh of the hardware fixed this. Switch Lite looks to have been put on the same diet, as you’ll now eke six or seven hours of play out of a charge, twice that of the launch model, with the refreshed non-Lite model narrowly in the lead. This positions the Switch as the only friend you’ll need for a train journey or even shorter flights, and - if delays hold you up - there are many portable Nintendo Switch chargers that can be used to chuck some more juice up its USB-C.

New vs Old

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Here’s how you can make sure you’re buying the new Switch, with better battery life and performance. Some sellers are listing the old device as ‘discontinued’:

All new model numbers listed as: HAC-001(01)

Battery life is listed as: 4.5-9 hours

You’re more likely to see discounts on the non-Lite model this Black Friday, simply because it’s been out longer. The recent hardware refresh may complicate matters for buyers as the recent model Switches aren’t being sold with a big ‘NEW!’ flash on their packaging. The only way to tell if you’re getting the new model is to check the model number, so you need to be careful when grabbing a Switch bargain. If you can get one with a decent case, a Nintendo Switch SD card for game saves and download storage, and a couple of older titles packed in too - such as the excellent launch title Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, or Super Mario Odyssey, which is approaching a year old, then you’ll be very happy indeed.

So, coming down to the nitty-gritty: should you buy a Switch or Switch Lite this Black Friday? Hell yes. Which should you buy? That entirely depends on whether being able to dock the console with your TV and play it like a traditional console is something you want to do. Both versions of the Switch are amazing handheld games machines, but if you opt for pure portability with the Switch Lite, you’re not giving much up.

Here are the best current prices on Switch and Switch Lite.

Nintendo Switch current prices

Nintendo Switch Lite current prices