Nintendo Switch Lite vs. new Switch V2: Which one should you get?

Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite with Pokemon Sword and Shield
Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite with Pokemon Sword and Shield (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

When it comes to buying a Nintendo gaming system, the question is, should you buy the new Nintendo Switch V2 with 50% more battery life than the original Switch or the smaller, handheld-only Switch Lite? I had the same question, so I've compared the two devices together to weigh their pros and cons. In my opinion, there's a clear winner between the two, but the other gaming system could be a better fit for some people.

Both of these Switch systems are good, but they have different focuses. The Switch Lite is a handheld system meant solely for portable gaming. It's a great choice for young children, on-the-go Switch users, or anyone on a budget. However, the new Switch V2 provides so much more battery life, works with every Switch game in the library, and gives you plenty of different ways to play, making it the better option between the two.

If you're already leaning towards the Switch V2, then it's also worth considering whether you should get the new Nintendo Switch OLED model vs. the Switch V2.

Nintendo Switch vs. Nintendo Switch Lite: Specs & differences

Nintendo Switch Console on blue background (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

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

Source: Rebecca Spear / iMore and iMoreNintendo Switch V2 (Left). Nintendo Switch Lite (Right).

When the Switch Lite was announced, I got freakishly excited about it, but when I learned about the new Switch V2, I didn't care as much... at first. This seems to be the consensus; for some reason, the smaller, less expensive version is way more exciting. Probably partially due to the cool new colors lower price point. However, you'll quickly see that you get far more convenience and functionality with the larger Switch V2 when you sit down and compare the two gaming systems.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Switch V2Switch Lite
Screen6.2 inches, 720p5.5 inches, 720p
Battery Life4.5-9 hours3-7 hours
Storage32GB Internal + MicroSD32GB Internal + MicroSD
Game CompatibilityAll GamesGames that Support Handheld Mode
Detachable Joy-Consx
HD Rumblex
Dimensions4 x 9.4 x 0.55 inches3.6 x 8.2 x 0.55 inches
Weight0.88 pounds0.61 pounds

There are small but significant differences upfront. While you can get up to seven hours of battery life with the Switch Lite, more than what we got with the original Switch, the new Switch V2 can last even longer, up to nine hours. That extra amount of time will make a difference when you're on vacation or on-the-go.

Size is an issue here, but not a super pronounced one. The new Switch V2 looks and feels like the original Switch, only weighing about 0.88 pounds and having a 6.2-inch screen. The Switch Lite weighs even less at 0.61 pounds, and the 5.5-inch screen is about the size of an average smartphone. This smaller version feels better in your hands since it was designed as a dedicated handheld device, and it's easier to transport wherever you go. Keep in mind that when in handheld mode, both devices have the same resolution. You'll have to decide if you prefer a larger screen or portability in this case.

Initial & setup costs

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and Joy-Cons

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

Initially, the Switch Lite is $100 cheaper, with the handheld gaming system only costing $200 rather than the new Switch's $300 price point. This makes the Switch Lite an excellent buy if you're planning on solely using the handheld system on the go or for single-player gaming.

This lower cost is possible because certain technologies available in the new Switch aren't available on the Switch Lite, like HD rumble, detachable Joy-Cons, or motion control. This means that Switch Lite owners need to buy some accessories to play multiplayer games or games that rely on you waving a Joy-Con around.

Firstly, you'll need external controllers like the Pro Controller or Joy-Cons that feature motion controls. They'll typically run you $40–$80 each. Additionally, since the Switch Lite doesn't have a built-in kickstand, you'll want to get a stand to prop up your gaming system. At that point, you'll be spending anywhere from $250 to $290 for your preferred gaming setup, which isn't that much cheaper than buying the more versatile new Switch.

Game compatibility & storage

As mentioned above, several games don't play well on the Switch Lite. This is either because the game doesn't support handheld mode or relies heavily on motion controls, which the Switch Lite doesn't have. In this way, it's better to get the new Switch since you won't have to find out the hard way whether or not a game works on the system. Of course, you can always pair wireless controllers to your Switch Lite if you want to play one of these problematic games.

Both Switch versions offer built-in storage of 32GB with the ability to add external storage in the form of microSD cards. As long as you have plenty of memory cards, you'll never run out of space.

Local & online multiplayer gaming

Nintendo Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch Lite (Image credit: Nintendo)

As previously mentioned, you can still play some local multiplayer games with friends on the Switch Lite as long as you purchase a pair of wireless controllers. As always, the larger new Switch's detachable Joy-Cons can be used individually to allow two-player gaming. But for the Switch Lite, you'll need to purchase additional controllers if you want more than two people to play locally. The number of players possible will vary depending on what game you're playing.

The new Switch V2 and the Switch Lite allow you to link several Switches together for nearby local play. In this scenario, each player plays together, but they each look at their own Switch screen. Additionally, both new Switch owners and Switch Lite owners can access Nintendo Switch Online content from their gaming systems. To use this service, you'll need to pay for a membership, but you'll be able to play multiplayer games with others online, as well as access select NES and SNES games.


Nintendo Switch In Dock (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

The new Switch V2 is the more versatile option between the two systems since you can play in handheld mode when on the go or docked to the TV when in the comfort of your living room. If you're out and about and decide you want to play a multiplayer game or something that requires motion controls, you simply slide the Joy-Cons off, pop the kickstand out and continue playing. When you're home, place the Switch in the Dock, and you'll play on your TV.

The Switch Lite is great for handheld mode, but it isn't designed for anything else. It doesn't even have the inner hardware to allow it to be set up to a TV. So, even if you hook it up with the cables that work on a larger Switch, the game will not appear on a TV screen. Not to mention, it doesn't have a kickstand, and the controllers don't slide off.

Nintendo Switch vs. Nintendo Switch Lite: Bottom line

These are both great little devices that can provide hours of entertainment on the go. Despite the new Switch's higher price, we firmly believe it is the better option for most players. You'll be able to use it in handheld mode, tabletop mode, and TV mode. It provides up to 50% more battery life than the original Switch, and perhaps most importantly, it works with multiplayer games and every Switch game out there. Just make sure you're getting the newest version with longer battery life — look for the red box.

The cheaper price of the Switch Lite makes the smaller device a tempting option. If you really think that you'll be using the system mainly on-the-go and for single-players games, then it's an excellent fit for you. As mentioned before, just remember that certain games won't be as convenient to play on the mini Switch.

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.