“Which Nintendo Switch to buy” may feel like something of a moot question given the console is out of stock in most places (though still available on Amazon), but it’s one that people are asking, so it seems worth answering here.
There are two to choose from: the OG Nintendo Switch and the Switch Lite. There are pros and cons to both, so let’s run through them one by one.
– It’s significantly cheaper.
£80 cheaper to be precise. There are very good reasons for this, but if you’re a price-sensitive consumer, a 28% discount is not to be sneezed at.
– It’s better looking and more comfortable.
The Switch Lite is far more compact, with a 5.5in screen and it’s nearly 25 grams lighter too. The fact that the Joy Con controllers are not detachable also makes the whole thing feel a lot more solidly built.
– It’s portable play only
This is the biggy: the Switch Lite doesn’t, uh, switch. It doesn’t come with a dock to output to your TV, and it wouldn’t work even if you had a spare knocking around.
– It’s for solo players
While you can technically still play multiplayer games on the Switch Lite, it’s not designed for it. There’s no kickstand to prop up the screen, and as the Joy-Cons aren’t detachable you’d need to buy at least one more controller for someone to use while they peer over your shoulder.
– Certain games won’t work
Because the Joy-Cons won’t come off, certain games that rely on them being detached won’t work. That means no Mario Party, no Ring Fit Adventure and no 1-2 Switch. Technically you could buy a couple of Joy-Cons just for external use, but at that point you’ve already reached the price of the full-size Switch.
- Longer battery life
The Nintendo Switch got a refresh on release of the Switch Lite, taking the battery life from 2.5 to 3 hours to 4.5 to 9 hours in handheld mode. Obviously this only qualifies if you buy a new revision, so be cautious of the pre-owned market. For comparison, the Switch Lite is no slouch, boasting 3 to 7 hours’ use.
- More flexible
The Switch lets you use it in handheld mode, or in the bundled dock outputting to your TV via HDMI. Aside from the obvious advantages this presents in terms of game choice and multiplayer, it also gives a graphical boost, with docked mode outputting to 1080p compared to handheld mode’s 720p.
- Detachable Joy-Cons
The Joy-Cons come off, meaning that your Switch comes with two pads out of the box. Don’t like the colours? Buy another set and you’re up to four players, with the ability to mix and match your colour scheme.
- It’s pricier
Retailing at £279, the Switch is a substantially more expensive piece of hardware than the £199 Switch Lite.
- It’s less comfortable in handheld mode
It feels a whole lot more unwieldy if handheld gaming is your intended main usage. It’s also heavier and larger, making it all round less portable than the Switch Lite, which might even fit in a pocket.
- It’s uglier
The Switch isn’t exactly a looker with big thick bezels on the screen. In fact, it looks like a cheapo tablet with a couple of game pads strapped to the side. The Switch Lite, meanwhile, with its moulded plastic design, just looks a whole lot more stylish.
Verdict: Which Nintendo Switch should I buy?
To me, it’s the original Switch every time. The flexibility to play multiplayer games, output to the big screen and to play the entire games catalogue at 1080p feels well worth the extra £80.
But there’s certainly a market for the Switch Lite. If you’re a solo player that wants a handheld for Tube-play only, then it’s the perfect inexpensive machine for blasting through Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Super Mario Odyssey. And the £80 saving is a decent incentive, too…