Not sure whether to buy a Nintendo Switch or a Switch Lite? Then this guide is for you. Depending on your uses and habits, each of the two consoles may be right for you. Find out which one suits you best and which one we think offers the best value for money.
In March 2017, Nintendo hit the video game market hard with the launch of its Switch, a hybrid system that allows you to play games both in portable mode and on a TV like a home console when docked. Bingo: The Nintendo Switch was a hit. To build on this success, Big N decided to take it to the next level and release a Switch Lite. For consumers, the question then arises: which one is right for me? In this paper, we help you find your way around and choose which system is best for you.
If you’re a large diagonal user, please note that the Switch Lite has a 5.5″ screen, which is smaller than the 6.2″ screen of the standard Switch. This is a parameter to be taken into account at the time of purchase. However, the definition remains unchanged: the panel can display HD up to 1280 x 720 pixels on both models. However, some particularly demanding titles such as The Witcher III can only be played at 540 pixels.
The Switch Lite offers a slightly higher resolution because it has the same number of pixels on a smaller surface. It is entitled to 267 pixels per inch (dpi) against 237 dpi for the Switch.
Switch Game Catalog
In theory, the Switch Lite benefits from the same catalogue of games as the Switch and itself does not benefit from any exclusivity. In practice, it’s more complicated: some limitations of the Switch Lite make access to certain games impossible or complicated.
First of all, only titles with a portable mode are supported. This is certainly the majority of them, but it still excludes a few major games. One such game is Super Mario Party, which is designed to be played on a TV in a multiplayer mode like a board game. Its mini-games absolutely require the motion control and HD rumble features of Joy-Con. For the same reasons, don’t expect to play Just Dance, Fitness Boxing or 1-2-Switch with the Lite. The system also lacks Nintendo Labo and the new Ring Fit Adventure accessory.
After that, there are also playable productions, but with a much deteriorated experience. The most obvious example is probably Super Mario Odyssey, whose controls become very complicated without Joy-Con and motion control. On Pokémon Go, the capture of small creatures has had to be adapted and may not be as much fun. The same goes for Mario Tennis Aces, Splatoon 2, Okami HD, all playable on Switch Lite but less enjoyable as they were designed to be played with Joy-Con. We can also mention The World Ends With You: Final Remix and Astral Chain, whose cooperation modes are unusable on the handheld console only. We also recommend that you read our guide to the best Switch games of the moment.
Modes, features and services
On the Nintendo Switch, the player can choose from three different game modes:
TV Mode: Placing the system on the included dock, which is connected to the TV, allows you to play on the big screen in the living room or bedroom.
Tabletop mode: a stand allows the handheld console to be held on a flat surface and play with the Joy-Con detached
Portable mode: the Joy-Con are attached to the screen, and the whole thing fits in the player’s hands.
With the Switch Lite, logically only the portable mode is supported, which is not only a comfort issue but also deprives the user of a part of the game catalog (see the dedicated section for more information).
The Nintendo Switch Online, which notably allows access to multiplayer and a catalogue of retro games, is present on both consoles. Local multiplayer for up to eight players is also available on both devices.
If you already own a Switch and are hesitant to purchase an additional Switch Lite, you can link the backups to a joint account. There is no problem to find your progress by switching consoles (backup in the cloud is only available to Switch Online subscribers).
A part that will interest the nomads. When the Switch Lite was announced, Nintendo gave consumers some great news: with the Switch Lite’s mobility focus, the handheld system needed to have a longer battery life than the Switch. According to the publisher, the Switch Lite’s battery can last between 3 and 7 hours (3 hours for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild) compared to between 2.5 and 6.5 hours (3 hours for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild) for the Switch. That’s a small gain of up to 30 minutes depending on usage.
Problem: Right after the official presentation of its handheld system, Nintendo announced that it was releasing a new Switch model to replace the old one. And if this one has a battery identical to the version released in 2017, it embeds on the other hand a new SoC Tegra X1 from Nvidia more optimized. As a result, the autonomy is soaring and you can now enjoy between 4.5 and 9 hours (5.5 hours on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild). A huge difference that puts the Switch Lite’s interest into perspective, since you end up with a 100% portable console that’s less durable than its hybrid counterpart.
We take this opportunity to warn you to be very careful when buying a standard Switch because the 2017 model is still sold at resellers, especially on the marketplace. Make sure that you purchase a console with the serial number starting with “HAD” to get the latest switch and its increased autonomy. If it says “HAC”, it means that it is the 2017 version. If you see an important price reduction on the Switch, it is very likely that it is a “HAC”, so no rush.
With dimensions of 91.1 x 208 x 13.9 mm and a design better suited to mobile gaming, the Switch Lite is more manoeuvrable than its bigger sister, 102 x 239 x 13.9 mm. The latter is also much heavier: 378 grams compared to 275 grams for the handheld console. Easier to carry and handle, the Switch Lite is also more resistant and less shock resistant, which can be an advantage if the device is intended for children, if you are clumsy, or if you plan to go on a mop.
But the Nintendo Switch does have its advantages. Thanks to its Joy-Con, it has HD vibration for added immersion. The effect is guaranteed if the game’s developers have made the most of this feature. Moreover, the next DualShock controllers for the PS5 should also feature similar technology with dynamic vibrations and a haptic engine. If even Sony is inspired by Nintendo…
Of course, the infrared camera with motion detector of the Joy-Con is not present on the Switch Lite either, which poses some problems of playability on some titles that particularly exploit this option. In fact, it becomes difficult to enjoy some games in the catalog with the Switch Lite.