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Nintendo Switch vs. Switch Lite – which one is right for me?

The Japanese company has really hit the bull’s eye with the Nintendo Switch. The popular game console is available in two versions – the big Switch with docking station and the smaller Lite version. But what are the differences between the two consoles in detail and which target group are they aimed at?

The Nintendo Switch has sold millions of units since its release in March 2017. It was even so successful that Nintendo launched a more compact version, the Switch Lite, in September 2019. Probably the biggest difference between the consoles: While the Nintendo Switch can also be connected to the TV thanks to the included dock, the Switch Lite is primarily intended for mobile use. In our comparison of the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite, atechbook has listed the details that still distinguish the two consoles from each other.

Visual comparison of the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite

The Nintendo Switch Lite is significantly more compact than the normal version. This is also noticeable in the size of the screen. While the small console has a 5.5-inch LC multi-touch screen, the display of the conventional Switch model is 6.2 inches. The resolution of both consoles is 1280 x 720 pixels.

However, the crucial difference in the comparison of the Nintendo Switch and the Switch Lite is in the controls. While the Switch comes with the familiar Joy-Cons on the sides, which can be removed if necessary, the Switch Lite has different controls. Unlike the Nintendo Switch, the button areas are not removable and are firmly built into the console’s casing. The typical functions of the Joy-Cons – such as HD vibration or the IR motion camera – are thus not integrated.

Nintendo Switch Lite
The Switch Lite from Nintendo Photo: Nintendo

However, the motion control is available in a modified version. Already on the conventional Switch, instead of using the controllers, you can also aim via the gyroscope function by holding the console in the desired direction. This also works on the Switch Lite. The button layout is otherwise the same for both models, but Nintendo has given the Lite a real directional pad instead of single arrow keys. This evokes retro nostalgia, since we have known this design aspect since the first Game Boy.

Since the Joy-Cons cannot be removed from the Switch Lite compared to the Nintendo Switch and the smaller console does not have a stand, it cannot be used in table mode without additional accessories. However, gamers can upgrade – for example, with a separately available stand and controller. The storage capacity of both consoles can also be upgraded. The Switch Lite has a specially designed cover for the microSD card slot on the back. On the Switch, it is hidden behind the fold-out stand.

Differences in hardware and features

The Switch Lite is a pure handheld console compared to the Nintendo Switch. Some games like Super Mario Party, 1-2 Switch, Just Dance, Ring Fit Adventure, Nintendo Labo and Fitness Boxing are thus not compatible. You will need the detachable Joy-Cons. Nintendo also did without the docking station and the TV mode for the Switch Lite. For this reason, it cannot be connected to the TV. Thus, its gaming mode cannot be “switched”, contrary to its name. The big Switch, on the other hand, offers all these things. At least additional Joy-Cons can be connected to the Switch Lite, even though playing with several people on the small screen is less convenient.

Nintendo Switch
The Nintendo Switch’s control units can be removed on the left and right and converted into a controller – so that the tablet unit can be connected to the TV. Photo: Nintendo

The larger display and the additional technology inside the Nintendo Switch make for higher power requirements. The first version of the big Switch achieved a battery life of 2.5 to 6 hours. That wasn’t much and quickly caused complaints from gamers. Nintendo then released an improved version of the Switch that achieves a runtime of 4.5 to 9 hours. The improved version can be recognized on the one hand by the packaging (old version with hand, new version without hand on the box), and on the other hand by the model number HAC-001(-01). Serial numbers that start with “XK” also indicate a Nintendo Switch console with improved battery runtime.

In terms of battery life, the Switch Lite is right between the old and new versions of the big Switch. On average, players can gamble for 3 to 7 hours on one battery charge. Specifically, Nintendo has installed a 3570 mAh battery here. Compared to the Switch Lite, the Nintendo Switch comes with a 4310 mAh battery – both the old and the new version. Nintendo achieves the better runtime here with an adapted version of Nvidia’s Tegra X1 chip, which is also used in the Switch Lite.

Prices of the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite in comparison

Due to the aforementioned trade-offs, the Switch Lite is also cheaper compared to the big Nintendo Switch. The console is available in yellow, gray, turquoise and coral and has an MSRP of 219 euros. Meanwhile, the console is also available at prices around 200 Euros. The big Switch is more expensive – not least because of the included Joy-Cons and docking station. It is available in a gray version and with Joy-Cons in neon red and neon blue. The MSRP is 329 Euros, although it is also often sold at this price at the moment.

Nintendo has also released various bundles of both consoles with games, which are then a bit more expensive. In the case of the standard Switch, the bundle versions often also bring a special color scheme for the console.

Which console is the right one for me?

With its flexible use, the Nintendo Switch has become the console darling. Whether alone or in pairs, in tabletop or TV mode, you can use it in many places and always have the gaming fun with you – even with friends. The Switch can also function as a family console, since up to eight individual Joy-Cons can be connected.

If you do not own a Switch yet and do not necessarily want to play on the TV, the Lite version might seem more attractive. Nintendo at least delivers a cheaper console for those who prefer an even more compact design with the Switch Lite. The larger battery already points to a device that relies entirely on the portable factor of the Switch and is especially suitable for people who like to play on the go. They don’t need detachable Joy-Cons, but a lightweight handheld console.


  • Nintendo
  • Nintendo Switch