Every portable-preferred player’s dreams came true in early 2017 when Nintendo officially unveiled its new console, the Nintendo Switch. No longer would you be limited to just playing video games on the big screen at home, but you could now remove it from the dock and take it anywhere with you when wanting to lose endless time to the new Mario, Zelda and Metroid. The Nintendo Switch gets its title from that very ability, and it’s been considered a rollicking success ever since in its first 2 and a half years out in the wild.
Specs | Performance | Design | Limited Editions | Price | Games | Verdict
Now, however, Nintendo has made a new addition to the console’s family in the form of the Nintendo Switch Lite. As its name suggests, this is a smaller, more affordable, but just as fun rendition of the console – one that’s Joy-Cons are unable to be detached and therefore is geared mainly towards those who only want to enjoy handheld/portable gaming. The Nintendo Switch Lite isn’t a complete replacement for the original, but rather a much cheaper lower barrier of entry to this already great gaming eco-system.
Still wondering what all the important alterations are between the two and want to settle the Nintendo Switch vs Nintendo Switch Lite debate for good? Here we’ll break down all the similarities and differences in the hope of helping you make the right purchase decision. From battery life to the inherent design changes, here is everything you need to know.
We won’t inundate you with hefty helpings of technical jargon when it comes to outlining the two consoles’ specs. Instead we thought it worthwhile presenting them as key bullet points so they can be easily compared side-by-side. Why not take a look?
It's worth mentioning that both the original Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite display no discernible difference in terms of performance. That is to say that one isn’t necessarily more powerful than the other. As such, purchasers of the Lite shouldn't expect to see any major boost in graphics compared to what's already been made possible on the standard version. However, the launch Nintendo Switch model’s slightly larger screen size might be more appealing to those who care about visuals.
Nintendo’s previous history in doing this kind of thing also tells us that this is likely to remain the case. For example, the Nintendo Switch Lite sounds extremely similar to what happened when the Nintendo 2DS was pitched to release alongside the Nintendo 3DS. In that instance there was no difference in power, just that the central feature of 3D games was shelved in honour of the lower price tag. With the Nintendo Switch Lite the one major discounted feature is the ability to play Switch games on the big screen – resulting in a lower price of around £200.
As already alluded to, the Nintendo Switch Lite is ever so slightly smaller than the original launch model of the Nintendo Switch. This is something you’d only really notice when playing to the two side-by-side, however, as the Lite hasn’t drifted away too much from what was laid out already. You still have two wholly responsive analogue sticks, a dedicated share button and SD Card slot useful for expanding your Switch’s memory, for instance.
What’s more worth discussing is the fact that technically with the Nintendo Switch Lite, you no longer can play two-player games right out of the box. This is because the two standard controllers (known as Joy-Con) that come supplied with the original Nintendo Switch aren’t now able to be detached. Instead, the Nintendo Switch Lite comes with its controls built-in, like former portable consoles like the PlayStation Vita or Nintendo DS. This is what allows the Lite to be cheaper, now being specifically more geared towards those that don’t mind not being able to play on the big screen.
Because of this, Nintendo Switch Lite also no longer features Joy-Con in different colours. Instead there are three available pastel shades to pick from at launch on September 20th: Blue, Yellow and Grey. All look attractive yet remarkably subtle at the same time, continuing Nintendo’s recent streak of creating smart-looking hardware that’s in line with Apple products.
One of the most notable aspects of any video game console’s design is the colour, and in this regard the new Nintendo Switch Lite has arrived on the scene with an eclectic mix. The three available at launch (Grey, Yellow and Blue) all boast a pastel tone, marking a notable step away from the original Nintendo Switch console’s Neon-coloured Joy-Con controllers. Any of the three colours you choose cover the entire border and back of the console to make for an extremely elegant design.
In terms of the standard Nintendo Switch, limited editions have been a bit of an awkward beast. This is because the only colours seen traditionally are whatever Joy-Con controllers you just so happen to have attached at the time. You see, Joy-Con are purchasable separately from the console and are generally sold as a pair, so if you wanted a unique-looking Nintendo Switch then the onus would be on you. Outside of this, it’s the Nintendo Switch dock that might sport a cool vinyl graphic, as was the case with Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Despite the standard three colours releasing alongside each other, we know that the Nintendo Switch Lite will be receiving a swanky limited edition console to tie in with the November release of Pokemon Sword and Shield. The limited edition in question features a grey chassis, with a light blue left analogue stick and D-pad and light red right analogue stick and face buttons. These colours are representative of Sword and Shield’s two new legendary Pokemon, Zacian and Zamazena, the designs of which you’ll also find etched onto the Lite’s back plate.
Of course, for most people the appeal of a particular model will likely come down to price. And here is where you’ll currently find the biggest difference. The standard Nintendo Switch (complete with HD Rumble, detachable Joy-Con controllers and big screen play) can generally be purchased for around £280 – with a first-party game like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe bundled in, if you’re lucky. The Nintendo Switch Lite, by comparison, will net you somewhere in the region of £170-£200. But remember, it can only be played and used as a handheld console.
Want to secure yourself a new Nintendo Switch Lite ahead of its launch? Take a look at the current deal listings below:
Now this one’s easy. Regardless of whether you opt for the traditional Nintendo Switch console or the new, cheaper Nintendo Switch Lite model, you’ll still have access to the same library of great Nintendo games. Popular first-party favourites already range from Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Super Mario Maker 2 and many more.
One thing you should be wary of, though, if you opt for the Lite is that there are a select few games (1-2 Switch being the most notable) that don’t support handheld play. This is extremely rare, but you can always check which games these are by looking for the “handheld mode” icon, which resembles a small Switch Lite in the eShop or on the back of the game box.
The truth is that Nintendo Switch is one hell of a great gaming eco-system to be a part of no matter which SKU you want to go for. Personally, however, if you’re a die-hard gamer who will be spending hours upon end playing games, then the original Nintendo Switch’s larger screen and ability to be played on the big screen seals the deal. For players who want to use their Switch only as a handheld console, though, we’d say take advantage of the discounted price and grab the Nintendo Switch Lite. You can see all of our Nintendo Switch bundles here.
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