Best overall

Nintendo Switch

Best value

Nintendo Switch Lite

The original Nintendo Switch is the best overall between these two devices, as it can play all Nintendo Switch games by default and can be used with TVs. If you buy the new Switch V2, it will also have longer battery life than the Switch Lite. However, it's $100 pricier.

From $344 at Amazon

Pros

  • Plays all Switch titles by default
  • Can be used with Nintendo Switch Dock
  • Removable Joy-Cons
  • Has rumble and IR camera
  • Larger screen
  • New Switch V2 has longer battery life

Cons

  • More expensive
  • Weighs more
  • No D-Pad

The Nintendo Switch Lite is a more compact version of the Nintendo Switch that trades versatility and compatibility for a lower price and a smaller size, making it perfect for people looking for a dedicated handheld device.

$199 at Amazon

Pros

  • Compact size great for travel
  • Less expensive
  • Long battery life
  • Has a D-Pad

Cons

  • Separate accessories needed for some games
  • Can't be used with Nintendo Switch Dock
  • Fewer features across the board
  • Smaller screen

The Nintendo Switch is a better choice for gamers who are looking for something versatile that can act as both a shared family console and a mobile handheld gaming device, while the Nintendo Switch Lite is for people who are looking to save money or want to get a Switch specifically designed for on-the-go gaming.

Nintendo Switch and related accessories always go on sale during Black Friday. This year, we expect to see some really great sales. Check out our Black Friday Nintendo Switch Deals for more information.

WARNING: Due to the increased demand for indoor entertainment in 2020, it's become relatively hard to find a Switch in stock. Please be wary of scams. Only purchase from trusted sellers and don't fall for deals that are too good to be true.

Cyber Monday may be over but these Cyber Week deals are still alive

Important note: Original Switch and the Switch V2

Old Switch packaging with white box next to new Switch packaging with red box Source: Rebecca Spear / iMore (Left) Original Switch in white packaging. (Right) New Switch in red packaging.

To compare the Nintendo Switch and the Switch Lite, you need to understand that a newer version of the original Switch, unofficially known as the Switch V2, released in 2019. It looks identical to the original Switch, plays all the same games, has all the same functions, and costs the same. The difference is that the new Switch V2 can last 4.5 to 9 hours while the original Switch can only run from 2.5 to 6.5 hours on one charge. If you've got the choice, you'll want to purchase the newer version as it's definitely the better option between the two.

Strangely enough, there's no writing on the packaging to let you know if you're purchasing the newer version of the original. However, the newer Switch V2 version with longer battery life has a box with a red background. Most online and in-person retailers have tried to swap their inventory for the newer version, but if you purchase online and get a Switch in a white box, be ready to return it.

Now on to the Switch vs. Switch Lite comparison!

Nintendo Switch vs Lite: Versatile playing or dedicated handheld?

Nintendo Switch LiteSource: Rebecca Spear / iMore The Nintendo Switch Lite.

Put simply, you're choosing between a more expensive device that can play in handheld mode as well as on TV and a less expensive gaming system that is solely a dedicated handheld system. In terms of gaming power, the Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo Switch Lite are almost identical, but the standard Switch is a bit better.

They pack the same hardware, but the larger Switch improves the resolution by reaching up to 1080p when in docked mode. The Switch Lite only goes up to 720p. However, in practice, most games cap out at 900p. The screen on the regular Nintendo Switch is bigger as well, which helps make finer details easier to see and also makes the gaming experience less straining for your eyes.

The Nintendo Switch additionally comes with Joy-Cons that can be removed for easy multiplayer transitions. There's also rumble functionality and an IR camera. The Nintendo Switch Lite, unfortunately, lacks both rumble and the camera, and its controllers are built-in so it isn't as easy to play multiplayer games unless you're willing to purchase external Joy-Cons separately.

Specs Nintendo Switch (original) Nintendo Switch V2 Nintendo Switch Lite
Resolution 720p (up to 1080p when docked) 720p (up to 1080p when docked) 720p
Screen size 6.2" 6.2" 5.5"
Dimensions (H x L x D) 4" x 9.4" x 0.55" 4" x 9.4" x 0.55" 3.6" x 8.2" x 0.55"
Weight 0.88 pounds 0.88 pounds 0.61 pounds
amiibo scanning Yes Yes Yes
Rumble and IR camera Yes Yes No
Compatible with Nintendo Switch Dock Yes Yes No
Removable Joy-Cons Yes Yes No
Battery life 2.5 - 6.5 hours 4.5 - 9 hours 3 - 7 hours

Even though it offers less in the way of versatility and game compatibility, you shouldn't count the Nintendo Switch Lite out. It costs significantly less than the standard Nintendo Switch does and its smaller size and lower weight make it excellent for portable gaming. If you were a fan of Nintendo's old Dual Screen (DS) handhelds then you'll love this version of the Switch.

The Switch Lite also lasts a bit longer than the standard Switch, though only by a half-hour margin. The new Switch V2 has the Switch Lite beat, though, with its extra-long battery life. Something that does give the Switch Lite an edge is the built-in D-Pad, which is something that the larger Switch consoles don't have. While it isn't as impressive as the regular Switch, you get some serious bang for your buck by opting for the Nintendo Switch Lite.

Something to keep in mind here is that some games are problematic on the Switch Lite. Specifically, games that require detachable Joy-Cons, motion controls, or HD rumble.

Nintendo Switch vs Lite: Which should you buy?

Nintendo Switch Console on blue backgroundSource: Rebecca Spear / iMore The standard Nintendo Switch.

At the end of the day, I don't think there's a definitive winner in this match-up. The system that you should get ultimately depends on your budget and your preferences. If you need something that can act as a hybrid between a shared family console for multiplayer games and a portable gaming machine, then the larger Nintendo Switch is your best bet. You'll be able to play the entire library of Switch games on it, regardless of whether they work with handheld mode or not. Plus, the fact that you can remove the Joy-Cons gives you a lot of freedom to do things like connecting them to a grip to form a traditional-looking controller.

That being said, the Nintendo Switch Lite gives you incredible value for the dollar, and its smaller size and lighter weight make it ideal for gaming on-the-go. Being able to experience most of the Switch library for only two-thirds of the price of a normal Switch is an opportunity that you absolutely should consider going with, especially if you tend to play your games more when out of the house.

Best Overall

Nintendo Switch

Go with the original

The original Nintendo Switch is the best overall between these two devices, as it can play all Nintendo Switch games by default and can be used with TVs. However, it's pricier, and its battery life is worse.

Best Value

Nintendo Switch Lite

Big value, small package

The Nintendo Switch Lite is a more compact version of the Nintendo Switch that trades versatility and compatibility for a lower price and a smaller size, making it perfect for people looking for a dedicated handheld device.

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