Switching it up: Comparing the Nintendo Switch consoles

Date:8 October 2019 Author: Sam Spiller Tags:,

The Nintendo Switch Lite, a smaller version of Nintendo’s popular video game console, has just been launched with much fanfare and enthusiasm. The Switch Lite is a dedicated handheld console following the likes of the Playstation Vita, and Nintendo’s previous handheld, the 3DS. It’s all very cool, but now the question is: Should you buy a Switch or a Switch Lite?

The two consoles have their similarities and differences, but their similar outward appearances could get some people confused as to which one they should ultimately purchase. What are their technical capabilities? How long will the battery last? Will I be able to use it to catch Pokemon?

Do not fear, we have put the Switch and Switch Lite up against one another and put together a brief comparison guide. Here’s what you need to know when deciding which console to buy.

Gaming modes

With the Switch Lite, it’s all about gaming on the go. The console is only playable in ‘handheld’ mode. This is the major difference to its big brother which can also be enjoyed by being plugged into your TV, or standing it up on a surface, and detaching the Joy Controllers for the home console experience. This is not possible with the Switch Lite given that the controllers are not detachable and because of this, this limits the console to playing games that can are playable in said mode. This means that games such as Super Mario Party, 1-2-Switch, and the Nintendo Labo construction kits are hampered by the console’s shortcoming, which may frustrate some fans. The Switch Lite is also not equipped with a rumble function in the controls, or IR motion cameras which are used to track a player’s movements.

However thanks to the technical innards of the console, the Switch Lite is able to deliver the same quality level of gaming as the bigger Switch. Games look bright and crisp on the display, and there is no graphical lag to speak of, especially on Nintendo titles. You can expect upcoming titles like Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games, and Luigi’s Mansion 3, to work well on either console.

Physical dimensions

Think of the Switch Lite as a smartphone with an extra set of buttons on each end. While it and its big brother are of the same thickness, measuring 28.4mm, the Switch Lite boasts a decreased length of 208mm. That may not seem like much less than the Switch’s 239mm, but the difference is noticeable when the console is in transit and when you’re holding it in your hands. The same goes for the height of the console, measuring 91.1mm down from 102mm. What definitely catches your attention is the weight of the device. The Switch Lite comes in at just 275 grams. That is significantly lighter than the Switch which, with two Joy Controllers attached, weighs around 398 grams.


The only difference between the displays on the Switch and Switch Lite is its size. Both consoles feature a capacitive touchscreen with 1280×720 resolution. While the Switch’s LCD display measures 6.2 inches in length, the Switch Lite is equipped with a 5.5-inch LCD.

Battery life

Working out how long a full charge on the Switch Lite can last can be tricky. The running time fluctuates according to how much juice each specific video game uses. The example Nintendo gives is how players can expect around four hours of game time when playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild while others could last longer. Because of this disparity, Nintendo says that the approximate battery life for the console is between three to seven hours. This is slightly more than the battery life of the previous generation of its big brother (2.5-6.5 hours), but is slightly less than the recently-released Switch console with the improved battery pack (4.5-9 hours).


This will be the real dealbreaker for those interested in getting a Switch. Now available at the Nintendo Store, the Switch Lite retails for the price of R3,999. Meanwhile, two versions of the bigger Switch are available. The previous HAC model can be bought for R5,999, while the newer HAC model (which includes the improved battery life) sells for R6,999.


Written and Image: Sam Spiller

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