Nintendo Switch Lite: The ultimate guide

I got my hands on this smaller handheld Switch system the day it was released, and I have to say I absolutely love it. If you're interested, you can check out my full Switch Lite review to learn how it handles. If you just want some information on the system, then read on.

There have also been rumors for a while that another, more powerful Switch Pro or Super Switch is also in the making, but we haven't heard anything official about that unit yet. Without further ado, here's everything you might want to know about the Nintendo Switch Lite.

What is the Nintendo Switch Lite?

Before the internet knew the actual name, this device was referred to as the Nintendo Switch mini. It's a smaller, handheld version of the Nintendo Switch that offers longer battery life than the original console.

There are several other differences between the Switch Lite and the original Switch console that you should know about. To not get confused, you need to know a couple of things. In 2019, Nintendo released an updated version of the original Switch known as the Nintendo Switch V2. This newer model has a few changes from the original, but the most notable is that it has longer battery life.

We'll go through and tell you how the Switch Lite differs from both the original Switch and the Switch V2.

Nintendo Switch vs. Nintendo Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch Lite (Image credit: iMore)
Swipe to scroll horizontally
SpecsSwitch (original)Switch V2Switch Lite
Resolution720p (up to 1080p when docked)720p (up to 1080p when docked)720p
Screen size6.2 inches6.2 inches5.5 inches
Dimensions (H x L x D)4 x 9.4 x 0.55 inches4 x 9.4 x 0.55 inches3.6 x 8.2 x 0.55 inches
Weight0.88 pounds0.88 pounds0.61 pounds
Rumble and IR cameraYesYesNo
Compatible with Nintendo Switch DockYesYesNo
Removable Joy-ConsYesYesNo
Battery life2.5–6.5 hours4.5–9 hours3–7 hours

The Switch Lite has a 5.5-inch screen, which is the average size for smartphone displays.

As you can tell by looking at these specs, the mini Switch weighs less and has a smaller screen than the original Switch and the Switch V2. To help you visualize the Switch Lite screen size better, it helps to know that a 5.5-inch display is the average size for a smartphone screen.

Perhaps the Switch Lite's most interesting thing is the extra battery life. It can last longer than the original Switch, but the Switch V2 still has the longest battery life of all three systems. Still, with up to seven hours of playtime, you'll be able to get really far when playing on a Switch Lite.

However, the biggest difference between these three systems is that the Lite is a dedicated handheld, so you can't play it on a TV by placing it on the Dock, and you can't play it in tabletop mode. In fact, the Switch Lite doesn't have a kickstand, and the Joy-Cons don't detach. Similarly, there is no HD rumble and no IR Motion Camera in this system.

Nintendo Switch Nintendo Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch Nintendo Switch Lite (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

Aside from the obvious screen and system size differences, there are a few other visual changes with the smaller Switch. One of the biggest being that the buttons on the left-hand side have been switched out for a D-pad. This is something many gamers have wanted as it can give you a little more control.

Nintendo Switch Lite's micro SD port (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

Additionally, while both the original Switch and the Switch V2 have a microSD card slot hidden behind the kickstand, the kickstand-less Nintendo Switch Lite has a dedicated memory card slot on the bottom right of the system. Additionally, while the speakers on the original Switch and Switch V2 are located on the backside, speakers on the Switch Lite are found at the bottom of the system near the microSD card slot.

If you open the Switch Lite and take a look at the inner components, you'll see that it looks pretty similar to the larger, original Switch but with a few differences. It still houses an Nvidia Tegra X-1 SoC, a 32 GB Flash Storage, and a 4 GB of LPDDR4X DRAM, like the original. However, it has a smaller 3.8 volt, 13.6 Watt-hour battery, which is slightly smaller than the larger Switch's 3.7 volt, 16 Watt-hour battery. As we mentioned before, this battery offers more juice than the original Switch console's battery despite being smaller.

Can I make Switch Lite play on TV?

You might be wondering to yourself, "I know that Nintendo didn't intend for the Switch Lite to be used on a TV, but is there a way to work around that?" The simple answer is no, the internal hardware is different inside the Switch Lite, and it's missing the bits that allow it to connect to a TV via an adapter. Even if you could force the display to show up on a TV, it wouldn't be worth it since the Switch Lite can only reach a resolution of 720p. The graphics would just look horrid on a large widescreen display.

Now granted, I have seen people set up an old-school camera on a tripod and point it at a Switch Lite and then make the camera feed show up on a large TV. But once again, this results in a super pixelated playing experience. But if that's something you want to try, it's an option, I guess.

Does the Switch Lite have drift issues?

Animal Cossing Switch Lite

Animal Cossing Switch Lite (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

Unfortunately, the joysticks are pretty similar to the larger Switch console's so Joy-Con drift issues are likely. In fact, several cases of Nintendo Switch Lite joystick drift have already come to light. This has pulled the Nintendo Switch Lite into the existing class action lawsuit against Nintendo, conducted by the Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith law firm.

Due to the prevalent drift issues found in the larger Switch console's Joy-Cons, Nintendo offers free repairs. It has set up a special customer support page specifically for submitting a Joy-Con repair ticket. Now, not every Joy-Con nor every Switch Lite will be affected by joystick drift, but it's important to be aware of it.

How much does a Nintendo Switch Lite cost?

Nintendo Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch Lite (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

Since the smaller Switch ditches some of the tech seen in both the original console and the Switch V2, it's also less expensive. You'll only need to pay $200 for a brand new Switch Lite in comparison to the $300 you'll spend on a new standard Switch or the Switch V2. Incidentally, $200 is how much you used to pay for a brand new 3DS XL, and it looks like the Switch Lite has quietly replaced that handheld gaming system.

This smaller Switch is currently available in several colors, including yellow, gray, turquoise, coral, and blue. There's even a special Pokémon Sword and Shield edition if you're a Pokémon fan. Though, it was a limited release, so you'll need to spend a pretty penny to acquire it.

Don't get scammed when buying a Nintendo Switch Lite

The last two years have definitely been weird. With so many people stuck inside, gaming equipment has become much more in demand than usual. This, in turn, has caused a shortage on many retailer's sites. There are plenty of scalpers on eBay, Amazon, or other such locations which will sell you a Nintendo Switch Lite at a skyrocketed price. Unfortunately, this shortage has also lead to more scams than usual.

If you see an online deal for a Nintendo Switch Lite that is way lower than anywhere else you've seen, be wary. It's best to stick to trusted retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, or Target. One of the best ways to see if a reliable store has a Switch Lite in stock is to get updates from Stock Informer.

Can it play the same Switch games and use the same accessories?

Nintendo Switch Lite with external Joy-Cons and a Pro Controller

Turquoise Nintendo Switch Lite with Joy-Cons and Pro Controller (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

Many of the same games played on the original Nintendo Switch work just fine on the new Switch Lite. However, if you want to play any Switch games that don't support handheld mode, like Super Mario Party, then you'll need to connect a compatible wireless controller to play those games.

The Switch Lite works with many of the existing Switch accessories. This includes Joy-Cons and the Pro Controller. If you like to play multiplayer games or party games, you'll likely need to pair external Joy-Cons to the system to play. The Switch Lite is smaller and built a little differently from the larger Switch, so some Switch accessories won't work. For instance, it's better to use a dedicated Nintendo Switch Lite case rather than using one for the larger system.

Nintendo Switch Online and local co-op with a Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch Lite (Image credit: Nintendo)

You can still access Nintendo Switch Online content and participate in online multiplayer gaming with the Switch Lite. As a matter of fact, if you have a friend who owns one of the larger Switch consoles and you purchase the Switch Lite, you'll be able to connect your devices and play local co-op games. Pretty nifty, eh?

Can I transfer my Switch game saves to the Switch Lite?

Anyone planning on shifting from either of the larger console versions to the smaller gaming system can breathe a sigh of relief. You can transfer your game saves and downloads from one Switch device to another, whether it be the original Switch to the New Switch V2, the Switch V2 to the Switch Lite, or any other order.

Need some help? We can show you how to transfer Switch games saves in our guide.

Does Switch Lite support amiibo?

Nintendo Switch Lite Link's Awakening

Nintendo Switch Lite Link's Awakening (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

Don't worry; your amazing amiibo collection is usable with the smaller Switch as the device still offers NFC functionality. Of course, some Switch games don't work with amiibo, so whether or not you want to use them will depend on which game you're playing (but you already knew that).

What are your thoughts?

Are you going to purchase the Nintendo Switch Lite? Sound off in the comments below.

Updated April 2021: Made several small changes throughout the article.

Rebecca Spear
Gaming Editor

Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.