Key Points

  • Nintendo’s wildly successful line of gaming devices includes three models: the Switch, Switch Lite, and OLED Switch.
  • The base Switch model offers TV and handheld modes, while the Switch Lite is strictly a handheld device. The more premium OLED Switch has the dual play modes of the base Switch with the improvement of a larger and higher quality screen.
  • Aside from a few games that require joy-con controllers (such as the Just Dance games) that are not supported by the Switch Lite, the three models can all play the same games.
  • As the cheapest of the three, the Switch Lite is a great option for users looking for an affordable gaming device. The base Switch has the middle price point and is perfect for players who want the versatility to play both handheld and TV modes. The OLED is the most expensive option and is best for players who don’t mind paying a bit more for a superior gaming experience.

Nintendo has seen a lot of ups and downs. A lot of fans remember the disastrous Wii U launch and wonder what the gaming giant was thinking. When the Nintendo Switch hit the scene in 2017 as the first fully hybrid gaming console, fans found out.

The Nintendo Switch beautifully married Nintendo’s stable of beloved franchises, a foothold in the console space, and their dominant hand-held market. Over the Switches life, there have been two iterations of the original, the Switch Lite and OLED Switch. So, which of these should you buy? Let’s put the three head-to-head!

Last year, there was over $13 million worth of standard Nintendo Switches sold.

Nintendo Switch vs Switch Lite vs OLED Switch: Side-by-Side Comparison

Nintendo SwitchSwitch Lite
OLED Switch
Screen:6-inch, LCD 60 Hz5.5-inch, LCD 60 Hz7-inch, OLED 60 Hz
What’s in the Box?:Tablet, Joy-Cons, Grip, Free-floating attachments, dock, and power cablesUnit and ChargerTablet, Joy-Cons, Grip, Free-floating attachments, dock, and power cables
Internal Storage:32 GB32 GB64 GB
TV Connectivity:YesNoYes
Size:9.4 x 4.0 x .6 inches8.2 x 3.6 x .6 inches9.4 x 4.0 x .6 Inches
Price:$299.99$199.99$349.99

Nintendo Switch vs Switch Lite vs OLED Switch: What’s the Difference?

In a lot of ways, all three versions of the Switch are very similar. They have the same performance, UI, and stable of exclusive games. The places they differ are design, price, and connectivity. Let’s break down what each device has to offer.

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch with Neon Blue and Neon Red Joy‑Con
  • 3 Play Styles: TV Mode, Tabletop Mode, Handheld Mode
  • 6.2-inch, multi-touch capacitive touch screen
  • 4.5-9 plus Hours of Battery Life will vary depending on software usage conditions
  • Connects over Wi-Fi for multiplayer gaming; Up to 8 consoles can be connected for local wireless multiplayer
  • Model number: HAC-001(-01)

The OLED Switch and Switch Lite may have improved on the form, but the original Switch is still a force to be reckoned with.

The console is two pieces in one. The tablet, which is the actual brain of the thing, and the dock, which connects the tablet to your TV and charges it. The Switch has great build quality, however, the kickstand on the base model isn’t as sturdy as the rest of the build.

It comes with two Joy-Con controllers that are extremely versatile. You can attach them to the sides of the tablet for handheld mode, use them free-floating, or use the Grip, an attachment that allows you to use the Joy-Cons like a regular controller. The Joy-Cons themselves feel pretty solid but they aren’t without their issues.

When in handheld mode, The Switch can feel bulky. That’s not to say it doesn’t work, but it’s not the most comfortable way to play. Nintendo also offers a Pro Controller for those looking for a more traditional experience.

The base Switch has a six-inch, 720p screen with a 60 Hz refresh rate. So, it lands right in the middle in terms of size, and the resolution is identical across all three. It uses LCD technology as the Switch Lite but is outdone by the OLED Switch.

Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch Lite - Blue
  • Handheld Nintendo Switch gaming at a great price
  • For every member of your family, there's a member of ours
  • Optimized for personal, handheld play, Nintendo Switch Lite is a small and light Nintendo Switch system
  • Includes: Nintendo Switch Lite system and Nintendo Switch AC adapter.

Other than the larger size, the OLED Switch and Base Switch are basically identical in this category. The true deviation from the original Switch is the more compact Switch Lite.

The Switch Lite is straight up and down a handheld console. It has no TV connectivity and instead of Joy-Cons, the controls are built into the device. It is a bit smaller with a 5.5-inch screen but it uses the same LCD panel as the original Switch.

Honestly, the smaller size gives the Switch Lite an edge. The more compact design means your hands are closer together, so it is a more comfortable grip. Also, the fact that the Switch Lite is all one piece makes it feel like a more solid piece of hardware.

So, the Switch Lite’s design and inexpensive price point make it perfect for gamers only interested in handheld gaming. However, it is worth noting a few drawbacks. First is the risk of drift. Like any piece of hardware, the Switch Lite is going to experience wear and tear. But unlike the Switch, if you start having issues with sticks or buttons you aren’t left with many options.

The major drawback has got to be the lack of TV connectivity. It’s an incredible feeling when you are struggling with a game in handheld mode only to pop it in the dock and start dominating with the Grip controller. Switch Lite users will be missing out on this option. This isn’t to say the Switch Lite doesn’t offer the same gaming experience. It plays the same games with the same excellent level of performance. But with some games, you do give up the advantage of being restricted to handheld.

Last year, there was over $3 billion worth of Switch Lites sold.

OLED Switch

Nintendo Switch – OLED Model w/ White Joy-Con
  • 7-inch OLED screen - Enjoy vivid colors and crisp contrast with a screen that makes colors pop
  • Wired LAN port - Use the dock’s LAN port when playing in TV mode for a wired internet connection
  • 64 GB internal storage - Save games to your system with 64 GB of internal storage
  • Enhanced audio – Enjoy enhanced sound from the system’s onboard speakers when playing in Handheld and Tabletop modes.
  • Wide adjustable stand – Freely angle the system’s wide, adjustable stand for comfortable viewing in Tabletop mode. Nintendo Switch – OLED Model supports all Joy-Con controllers and Nintendo Switch software

Every console generation sees improvement on the original model. For instance, the Xbox 360 Slim or Xbox One X. The OLED Switch isn’t quite what fans expected but it is a solid improvement. It is a little bigger to accommodate its seven-inch screen. And, as the name suggests, the screen is the focal point of this upgrade.

It has an OLED display panel which is a significant upgrade from the LCD panels found on the Switch and Switch Lite. OLED technology gives you a brighter screen, better contrast, more color depth, and a fuller viewing angle. And this thing really is a beauty. We tested it with the Supergiant rouge-like Hades, a game full of bright color and meticulous detail. The colors were much richer and more vibrant when compared to the Switch Lite making the game really pop off the screen.

So, the display is beautiful but is there anything else about the OLED Switch that makes this a worthy (and more expensive) upgrade? Well, it has more storage space than the Switch or Switch Lite and an improved kickstand. Aside from a few minor design tweaks, that’s really it. The display is the only major upgrade, which was a bit of a disappointment to a lot of fans.

Price

With so many similarities your choice might just come down to budget. The OLED Switch is the most expensive at $350 and is only a small upgrade. That said, it isn’t too much of a price hike. The Switch Lite is the cheapest at $200, but you are going to be giving up a lot of key features like TV play, removable controllers, and screen size. Finally, the base Switch is $300 and it still holds up remarkably well. If you are more interested in TV gaming and not so much handheld, the base Switch might be the way to go.

Nintendo Switch vs Switch Lite vs OLED Switch: Five Must-Know Facts

Before you make your decision on which to buy, here are some key facts you should consider:

  • All three have the same performance, interface, and stability as Nintendo exclusive games.
  • The base Switch and OLED Switch both connect to your TV. The Switch Lite does not.
  • All three have different size screens, the base Switch has a six-inch screen, Switch Lite has a 5.5-inch screen, and the OLED Switch has a seven-inch screen.
  • The OLED Switch also includes an improved kickstand and 64GB of storage compared to the other two’s 32GB.
  • The Switch Lite is the most budget-friendly by far.

The Breakdown

So, all three have perks and drawbacks that make this an even comparison. While the OLED Switch does have some nice improvements, it is so similar to the base Switch that it really comes down to price and how much you care about the new panel, kickstand, and 32GB of additional storage. If that is worth $50 extra, then go for it.

The major choice that most gamers interested in the Switch are wrestling with is between the hybrid Switches and the Switch Lite. When the Switch was released, Nintendo sort of made its own highly successful handheld market obsolete. The Switch Lite is re-entrance into that market. The only difference is the games are no longer separate, what you can play on the main console, you can play on the handheld.

In addition, Nintendo has sort of cornered the indie market, too. There are a vast array of indie titles available on the e-shop and many are tailored towards a handheld experience. The lack of TV play might be a major setback for some but I can say from experience that I’ve had hundreds of hours of enjoyment from my Switch Lite.

So, that’s the long and the short of it. If you are looking for a budget-friendly introduction to the Switch, I would honestly recommend the Switch Lite. It feels good to play and it’s a much more portable option. For people looking for the full Switch experience, it’s probably the better option to go with the base Switch unless your heart is set on the OLED screen. Either way, the Switch continues to prove why Nintendo is still on the cutting edge of gaming.

Up Next…

How to Connect AirPods to the Nintendo Switch – Get the most out of your Switch gaming experience by using your AirPods.

Best Nintendo Switch Docks – Check out our top picks for the best Switch docks.

Nintendo Switch – Learn more about the Switch with our comprehensive guide.

Last update on 2022-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Nintendo Switch vs Switch Lite vs Switch OLED: Full Comparison FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What are the Nintendo Switch, Switch Lite, and Switch OLED?

The Nintendo Switch beautifully married Nintendo’s stable of beloved franchises, a foothold in the console space, and their dominant hand-held market. Over the Switches life, there have been two iterations of the original, the Switch Lite and OLED Switch. So, which of these should you buy?

What are the Nintendo Switch, Switch Lite, and Switch OLED used for?

In a lot of ways, all three versions of the Switch are very similar. They have the same performance, UI, and stable of exclusive games. The places they differ are design, price, and connectivity. Let’s break down what each device has to offer.

Is the Nintendo Switch Lite better than the original Nintendo Switch?

Depends on if you prefer handheld gaming and don’t want TV connectivity. If you are only interested in handheld gaming, the Switch Lite is perfect.

How can you tell the difference between the old and new Nintendo Switch?

In a lot of ways, all three versions of the Switch are very similar. They have the same performance, UI, and stable of exclusive games. The places they differ are design, price, and connectivity. Let’s break down what each device has to offer.

Which one is the most budget-friendly Switch?

The Switch Lite is the cheapest at $200 but you are going to be giving up a lot of key features like TV play, removable controllers, and screen size.

Which Switch is the best overall?

Depends, the OLED Switch is the easy answer but it doesn’t offer much more for the higher price. Comes down to budget but in terms of pure specs, the OLED Switch takes the cake.

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