Nintendo Switch Lite Review: a great handheld, but do you fear of missing out?

My Nintendo Switch Lite review is specially for anyone who’s looking for a “great handheld”. However, as the Nintendo Switch Lite stays out of the nature of the standard Nintendo Switch by not having docked use. Yes, there is no way you can connect the Nintendo Switch Lite to a monitor screen, so if you fear of missing out, just don’t buy it.

I also have used other models in the Nintendo Switch family, so you can read the review of your exact Switch model:

The Nintendo Switch Lite is what I consider as a great handheld, as it shares the same mission as the Nintendo 2DS in the past, compromising internal hardware for much more affordable price. Again, just like the Nintendo 2DS, the Nintendo Switch Lite features an unique design of the family that is actually very comfortable and convenient handheld wise. It is great to be the backup handheld device for many purposes, and I believe that you should buy one if you love the Switch system.

Nintendo Switch Lite

The ‘handheld-only’ Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch Lite is the handheld-only version of the Nintendo Switch, with a much more attractive price to get. A great-value handheld device that you should buy, but only when you don’t fear of missing out, because there is no way you can use it in docked mode.

Released in the same day as the Nintendo Switch OLED, the little brother of Switch family doesn’t have as good sales as its higher-end sibling. This makes perfect sense, as the Nintendo Switch Lite cuts the main feature that makes Nintendo Switch a family-oriented system. So unless you owned another Switch and need a backup handheld device, it’s quite difficult for the Nintendo Switch Lite to compete with its own brothers. Still, I believe that if you have firm plan to play a Switch on handheld only, the Nintendo Switch Lite is a very suitable system to start.

Nintendo Switch Lite Review: Price

Key features

  • MSRP: $199
  • Can go even lower
  • Best value to play Switch system

Starting at $199, the Nintendo Switch Lite outright reduce 1/3 the price of a standard Nintendo Switch. If you remember the initial price of the previous Nintendo 2DS, the cut was not as good as the Nintendo Switch Lite. Talking about removal of a major feature.

Do you want to buy another Switch for your kids, or your girlfriend to enjoy Splatoon 3 with you? The Nintendo Switch Lite is a no-brainer, great-value handheld gaming console that has the same internal hardware as even the Nintendo Switch OLED.

Sometimes you can find the Nintendo Switch Lite at only $169, meaning it’s even cheaper than, said, a Retroid Pocket 3 Plus or Anbernic RG405M. Given the huge Switch game library, as well as the ability to emulate Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance and Nintendo 64 using the Nintendo Switch Online (NSO) subscription, the Nintendo Switch Lite is truly the best budget handheld gaming console you can buy right now.

Still, if money is no object, the Nintendo Switch OLED is the superior Switch handheld experience, with better image and audio quality. In my opinion, the bigger screen is always the better (the reason I bought both the Nintendo DSi and 3DS in XL versions). Yes, we’re talking about a $150 difference.

Related post: Best handheld gaming console.

Nintendo Switch Lite Review: Design and Build Quality

Nintendo Switch LiteFeatures
Dimensions91 mm x 208 mm x 13.9 mm
Weight275 grams
Screen5.5 inch IPS, 1280 x 720, 267 PPI, 16:9 aspect ratio
ColorsTurquoise, Blue, Coral and other limited editions
Speaker placementFront facing, bottom
StorageInternal 32 GB, External microSD
Audio output3.5mm headphone jack, stereo
Video output
Charge portUSB-C
Key features

  • The most compact and portable handheld Switch
  • Smaller screen means better pixels per inch (ppi) over the standard Switch
  • Analog sticks aren’t prone to drift like usual Joy-Cons
  • 275 grams mean it’s just like a PlayStation Vita
  • Build quality is not cheap

When mentioning the Nintendo Switch Lite, the first thing we want to praise is its weight. Thanks to its reduced size, smaller battery and lacks of docking internal hardware, the Nintendo Switch Lite has a weight of only 275 grams, meaning it is just the same as the PlayStation Vita 1000 that we used to love. Things like the Steam Deck, a popular handheld gaming PC, can weigh 2.5 times the Nintendo Switch Lite. I know many people who can’t stand the weight distribution of even the standard Nintendo Switch (e.g my wife) but love to play Animal Crossing New Horizons on the Switch Lite.

By reducing the size, Nintendo made a very compact yet sturdy handheld product, which you can bring anywhere easily. I usually have a crossbody bag to carry handhelds of mine and my wife’s, so I must say that the Nintendo Switch Lite doesn’t weigh down my shoulder as the New Nintendo 3DS XL (which is my most favorite handheld). Yes, the Switch Lite is only 275 grams while the New Nintendo 3DS XL weighs 330 grams. It is a cut of 30% in weight from a standard Switch, and 35% in weight from an OLED Switch, which is significantly different.

While the light weight of the Nintendo Switch Lite is truly a blessing for people with small hands (e.g my wife and daughters), I find how quickly people can get used to the weight of a Nintendo Switch OLED (again, my wife and daughters) which is 50% increase in weight from the Switch Lite. Perhaps 500-gram weight is the ceiling that people can comfortably hold a handheld. What I want to say is that the Nintendo Switch Lite’s gaming session is so great, you will very quickly handle a Switch OLED, so maybe it isn’t an advantage of using the Switch Lite after all.

The Nintendo Switch Lite has a 5.5-inch screen, reducing from 6.2 inches in the standard Nintendo Switch, however, given the Switch Lite has the same resolution, it will have more pixel density. The result, you will feel the Switch Lite’s image a bit sharper. For me, it is negligible, the same way I don’t feel the difference when changing from smaller 3DS to XL version. Without both devices to compare side by side, certainly I won’t care about such minor difference.

Being a real handheld, the Nintendo Switch Lite has an uni-body that you won’t feel the crackling uncertainty when detaching Joy-Cons. When you’re playing action games like Bayonetta and you’re in the middle of combat, the uni-body of the Nintendo Switch Lite makes me feel a lot better than the standard Nintendo Switch. At least in my rage, I can’t easily bend the Switch Lite (my very bad).

That’s why I believe the Nintendo Switch Lite has a very good build quality. Actually, my whole Nintendo handheld collection is always more durable and more expensive-feeling than most common retro handheld emulators you can buy at the moment. I know, it is like comparing a $170 device with a $300 device, but the Nintendo Switch Lite is truly an example of the best budget handheld gaming console. Yes, no contest.

The Nintendo Switch Lite offers a very compact handheld experience, while being very sturdy

Do you truly want a compact handheld experience? Only you can answer that, but I should remind you that in the end, you will get used to your handheld’s weight. If you can easily afford the Nintendo Switch OLED, you will enjoy a better gaming experience, something that you can feel even better than many handheld gaming PCs that cost 2 times the Switch OLED. Maybe you don’t fear of missing out the docked use of the standard Switch, but the OLED display enjoyment is hard to ignore.

While the Nintendo Switch Lite’s analog sticks don’t drift as easily as the standard Joy-Con, once the issue comes, it would be more difficult to replace sticks. At the moment, my Switch Lite doesn’t show any signs of drifting, while my standard Nintendo Switch‘s Joy-Con has a very bad drift on left stick. However, I can’t guarantee that your Nintendo Switch Lite won’t experience such bad thing. For some people, the Nintendo Switch Lite needs a grip for more comfortable play, because the flat design makes finger position be awkward, and no firm grip leads to worse gaming experience. For me, I use both of my Switch(es) for years without needing of external grips.

Finally, I want to repeat that the Nintendo Switch Lite has an internal storage of only 32 GB, and you should have an SD card to cover all the large data your games will require. I write an ultimate handheld SD card guide to guarantee that you get the best SD card for your Switch.

Lazy handheld man’s grade
B for Design & Feel.

Nintendo Switch Lite Review: Gaming Experience

Nintendo Switch LiteFeatures
CPUNVIDIA customized Tegra X1+ (ARM A57), 4 cores @ 1.02 GHz
GPU256 Maxwell-based CUDA cores @ 307.2 MHz (768 MHz when docked)
Memory4 GB LPDDR4 @ 1331/1600 MHz
Battery3570 mAh
ConnectivityWi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1
Cooling systemFan and ventilation
Key features

  • Targeted games: all game genres except party or multiplayer single-system games
  • For people who want a compact handheld experience
  • The only Switch you should bring around
  • No FPS drop due to overheating

Related post: Best retro handheld emulator.


Tested games

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
  • Pokemon Legend Arceus
  • Bayonetta
  • Pikmin 4
  • Nier Automata
  • Bioshock Infinite
  • Assassin’s Creed: The Rebel Collection

The Nintendo Switch Lite shares the same internal specifications as its brothers, which is quite similar to the 3DS family. It’s meant to play all Switch games (albeit party games that will warn you when you’re about to pick it digitally) without any performance drop. It’s all in the specs paper, so I won’t surprise of the Switch Lite’s performance.

As a result, I don’t think in need of repeating the Switch Lite is using the same 6-year-old hardware that has too many limitations for modern games, even in the case of 1st party Nintendo games like Pikmin 4. Nintendo fans will defend that it’s the problem of developer’s optimization, but we can’t ignore the fact that our Switch has been being sold for 6 years without any power upgrades. We crave for the next-gen Switch 2, which is all but a rumor.

However, some games are being ported really well in this Nintendo system, for example Nier Automata, Bioshock Infinite and Assassin’s Creed Black Flag. I really enjoy these games again in my Nintendo Switch Lite, and I’m satisfied at the graphics. Yes, these games are very old, but they were once my favorite games so I don’t really care.

With the introduction of the Red Dead Redemption for Switch recently, we could expect the Nintendo Switch Lite to be used more often. And I would like to wait for the release of Level 5’s latest games from Professor Layton and Fantasy Life series.

Related post: Best handheld gaming PC.

Gaming session

As it is repeated again and again in tech blogs, I believe the light weight of the Nintendo Switch Lite will give you comfortable gaming sessions. The sound quality is not that different from the standard Nintendo Switch, and the visual is even slightly sharper. So yes, gaming sessions with the Nintendo Switch Lite is truly handheld blessing.

However, while the overall quality of the Switch Lite’s buttons are a bit better than the original Joy-Cons, its analog sticks are a bit short that you can accidentally press L3/R3 (pressing analog sticks) when playing Breath of the Wild, making Link crouch in intense combat. For that case, there are many Joy-Con alternatives for making analog sticks as good as a Pro Controller, while you will be dead fixed with the Nintendo Switch Lite’s original controller.

So action games that require L3/R3 aren’t best to play in Nintendo Switch Lite, but what about games that don’t require? For example, Bayonetta 3 played perfectly on the Nintendo Switch Lite, as the uni-body of the system gives me better feeling of making combos. JRPG games that need your attention for hundreds of hours will be easier with a lightweight Switch Lite. At least, that’s what I think when comparing the Nintendo Switch Lite vs my standard Switch.

Sleep mode is still here, and as long as the Nintendo Switch Lite has this feature, I will consider it to be the perfect handheld gaming console. If you’re in your teenage or 20s, perhaps it will be wrong with you. For other features like gyro sensor or ambient light sensor, perhaps I don’t want to say anything better than other tech blogs. They work as intended.

Battery life

The Nintendo Switch Lite has a smaller battery than the standard Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch OLED (from 4310 mAh to 3570 mAh), so it isn’t a surprise that it would drain battery a bit faster. It will be capped at maximum 7 hours (on average, 4 hours), so it would be 1-2 hours shorter than the standard Nintendo Switch. I am simply a battery lover, so the longer, the better.

But hey, that isn’t fair for a lightweight device like the Switch Lite. To reduce the weight, surely we need a cut somewhere, and I expect the smaller battery. Additionally, 4 hours of gaming sessions are not bad, especially when you can play most common handheld PCs under 3 hours.

The Nintendo Switch Lite isn’t suitable to be charged via original dock, so make sure to use the included charger in box. If you want to use a third party charger, make sure the charger can deliver more than 13.5 watts. Usually, I recommend to use your common 30, 45 or 65W charger, though it can’t fast up the charging process of the Switch Lite.

Lazy handheld man’s grade
A for Gaming Experience.

My verdict

For people who want a second Switch (I bet the most part) to give to kids or use it outdoors, the Nintendo Switch Lite is truly what you need. However, people who fear of missing out, or look for a reason for the Switch Lite to be better than the Nintendo Switch OLED, well honestly, don’t buy the Switch Lite. I can’t find any universe that I choose the Nintendo Switch Lite over the OLED model for handheld use (well, perhaps the universe where I can’t afford the OLED, but even then I won’t be able to afford the Lite, either).

But I must admit that the Nintendo Switch Lite is a very lightweight handheld, and I bet it would be a great handheld to deliver the ultimate joy when playing games. If you owned one, you should be happy with such fantastic handheld gaming console.

Get it if

  • You want a compact, ‘lite’ handheld
  • You want to play 1st party Nintendo games in Switch
  • You want to play retro Nintendo games (is updating)
  • You want to save money on a Switch ($150 equals three of four big Nintendo titles, so that’s a big deal)
Don’t get it if