Which Switch is the better handheld experience? Here’s our breakdown

Nintendo Switch OLED Model

The latest model

$350 at Best Buy
$350 at Amazon

Pros

  • Everything included in a Switch with a larger OLED screen
  • Improved kickstand
  • Ethernet port in dock
  • Enhanced audio in Handheld mode

Cons

  • Almost every con carries over to the OLED Model
  • 64GBs of internal memory is still pretty bad
  • No more powerful than the currently available Switch
  • Higher price point

The Switch OLED makes a couple of improvements to the Switch’s overall design, including a larger OLED screen for sharper portable play.

Nintendo Switch Lite

Handheld only

$200 at Best Buy
$200 at Amazon

Pros

  • Cheaper option
  • Just as powerful as the other Switch
  • Excellent game library
  • Small and lightweight

Cons

  • Smaller screen
  • Some games and accessories are incompatible with it
  • No more powerful than the currently available Switch
  • No docked option

The Switch Lite removes some of the Switch’s key features to make a cheaper model.

The Nintendo Switch is finally getting an update. While it’s not the “Switch Pro” that everyone was hoping for, the Nintendo Switch OLED Model, or Switch OLED, updates the Switch in a few key ways. In addition to the larger OLED screen, the Switch OLED comes with a better kickstand, improved audio when playing handheld, and an ethernet port in the dock. These are welcome additions that improve the Switch experience, though you’ll want to check out how the Switch compares to the Switch OLED.

The Switch Lite begs the question — what if the Switch was just a handheld? The Switch Lite does away with some of the Nintendo Switch’s features, including docked play and detachable Joy-Con, focusing entirely on the handheld play. But are those cuts worth it for the slimmer price tag? Let’s compare the two.

Switch OLED vs. Switch Lite: What’s the difference?

So, here’s the breakdown between these two consoles. Keep in mind, both options are handheld capable, but only the Switch OLED can be played docked.

Switch OLEDSwitch Lite
Price$350$200
CPU/GPUNVIDIA Custom Tegra processorNVIDIA Custom Tegra processor
ResolutionUp to 720p in handheld mode/up to 1080p dockedUp to 720p in handheld mode
ScreenMulti-touch capacitive touch screen / 7.0 inch OLED screenCapacitive touch screen / 5.5 inch LCD screen
WeightApproximately .93 lbs with Joy-Con controllersApprox. .61 lbs
Hardware needed for TV playConsole with Joy-Cons/DockN/A
Number of games400+400+
Internet requiredOnly for online multiplayer (free-to-play games are an exception)Only for online multiplayer (free-to-play games are an exception)
Game data storage64GB internal storage/microSD cards32GB internal storage/microSD cards
Where to playTV/ handheld consoleHandheld only

While price point, resolution, and screen are obvious differences, let’s take a look at what you get for your money and how each console compares.

Initial price: Switch OLED vs. Switch Lite

The first major difference between the Switch OLED and Switch Lite is the price. The Switch OLED releases on October 8, 2021, at $350, while the Switch Lite is available now for $200. A pretty significant price gap, but there are some pretty significant differences between the two. The Switch Lite cannot be docked and therefore not be played on the TV. The Joy-Con controllers are attached to the system, while they can be removed from the Switch OLED. Most notably, though, is the Switch Lite’s screen size, which is only 5.5 inches, a full 1.5 inches smaller than the Switch OLED screen.

The Switch OLED features a 7-inch OLED screen, which does allow for a bigger and brighter picture, even if both systems output at a max of 720p in handheld mode. The Switch OLED also features improved sound quality in handheld mode and all of the pros (and cons) of the normal Switch model.

Subscriptions and games: Are the games the same?

The great thing about the Switch Lite is that you can access almost every Switch game in the console’s library with no problem. Games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Monster Hunter Rise, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and many others are accessible on the Switch Lite. Note that I said almost — a few Switch games don’t work as well on the Switch Lite as they do on the Switch, missing out on features like motion controls. Some aren’t playable on the Switch at all, while others require some additional hardware.

Both the Switch OLED and Switch Lite do have access to the 100 NES and SNES games available on Nintendo Switch Online, as well as the exclusive battle royale games Pac-Man 99 and Tetris 99.

The controller: The Joy-Cons stay on

The Switch OLED comes with two Joy-Con controllers that attach to the console and remove easily for instant two-player multiplayer or motion controls. The Joy-Cons come in many colors and feature many features like HD Rumble, amiibo support, and can support motion and gyro controls. The Switch OLED can also use the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and other third-party controller options.

While the Switch Lite supports Joy-Cons, they are now included on the Switch Lite by default, which means you’ll have to buy a pair yourself if you want to play with Joy-Cons in tabletop mode. The same goes for the Pro Controller, however without the dock’s USB ports, you won’t be able to use any third-party controllers that need to be plugged in, and you can’t charge the controllers using the Switch Lite either.

Performance and storage space: Switch OLED vs. Switch Lite

The Switch V2 and the Switch OLED support MicroSD cards to expand their storage capacity. The Switch Lite comes with only 32GBs of internal memory, while the Switch OLED model has double the memory. Both can access cloud save support via Nintendo Switch Online.

Both Switch models can output resolutions up to 720p in handheld mode, though the Switch OLED will look better thanks to the larger OLED screen. Performance is the same, though, so if a game stutters or runs poorly on a Switch Lite, it will run no differently on the Switch OLED. The Switch OLED can be docked, and the resolution will scale up to 1080p.

Availability: Is the Switch hard to find?

Since their release, the Switch and the Switch Lite have topped the sales charts and have become increasingly hard to find. However, things have gotten better lately, and you can find a Switch Lite with ease at most major electronics retailers. The Switch OLED will release alongside Metroid Dread on October 8, and we expect it to sell out pretty quickly. So if you want a Switch OLED at launch, your best bet is to preorder now.

Parental controls: Keeping things safe for the kids

Both Switch models have access to parental controls. With the Switch, parents can set playtime limits, control the types of games their kids can access, and even set eShop passwords so kids won’t purchase games without approval. Additionally, most Switch games aren’t compatible with a gaming headset, so your kid won’t be able to talk with online strangers.

Switch OLED vs. Switch Lite: Which should you buy?

Picking between the Switch Lite and the Switch OLED comes down to what kind of gamer you are. If you’re a casual gamer and don’t mind the cutbacks made to the Switch Lite, then you’ll find that it’s the cheapest way to access the Nintendo Switch’s excellent game library. With the Switch Lite, you’re ready to play anything right out of the box.

The Switch OLED’s improvements might not be mind-blowing, but they are particularly nice for Switch owners who primarily use their console in handheld mode. The OLED screen, the better kickstand, the improved audio — all of these things make the OLED the better handheld experience, and of course, you have all of the features of a normal Switch, including TV play. The Switch OLED is actually the better handheld experience and better overall experience, but the Switch Lite price point means it’s the most accessible option by far.

Handheld all day

Nintendo Switch Lite

$200 at Best Buy
$200 at Amazon

An essential handheld

The Nintendo Switch Lite drops some of the Switch’s major features to focus solely on handheld play.

The newest model

Nintendo Switch OLED Model

$350 at Best Buy
$350 at Amazon

An OLED upgrade

Enjoy everything you love about the Switch with a few key changes that improve portable play.

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