Nintendo Switch vs Switch Lite vs Switch OLED: Full Comparison

The Nintendo Switch ushered in a new era of hybrid home/handheld gaming when it launched in 2017. With the subsequent releases of the scaled-down Switch Lite in 2019 and the upgraded Switch OLED model in 2021, Nintendo now offers three excellent alternatives tailored to different gamer priorities like budget, portability, and display quality.

But which Switch is right for you? In this comprehensive, 2000+ word guide, we‘ll compare every aspect of the standard Nintendo Switch, Switch Lite, and Switch OLED models to help you decide. From specs and technical capabilities to real-world performance, this is your complete Switch buyer‘s guide.

Hardware and Design

The core functionality of all three Switch models is the same – they can all play the entire Switch game library flawlessly. But the hardware designs cater to different use cases.

Nintendo Switch

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The original Switch pairs modular Joy-Con controllers with a tablet-like 6.2" 720p LCD display. It‘s the only model that "switches" between docked and handheld configurations: the tablet can connect to your TV to play games in full HD, while the Joy-Cons and kickstand allow flexible handheld and tabletop gaming.


  • Hybrid functionality for full home console and handheld experience
  • 6.2" display nicely balanced for any usage mode
  • Detachable Joy-Cons offer greatest flexibility


  • Bulky as a pure handheld
  • Weakest battery life

Nintendo Switch Lite

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The Switch Lite pares the console down to a rigid handheld with integrated controls and a 5.5" 720p LCD screen. It‘s compact, lightweight, and extremely portable, but cannot connect to a TV and lacks detachable Joy-Cons.


  • Small and light design perfect for handheld play
  • Excellent value and pricing
  • Sturdy build quality


  • No TV output or detached Joy-Cons
  • Smaller screen less ideal for some games

Nintendo Switch OLED

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The premium OLED model features the same hybrid TV/handheld design as the original, but with a gorgeous 7" OLED screen. It‘s the ultimate refined Switch experience, but carries a higher price tag.


  • Stunning OLED screen with vivid colors
  • Enhanced kickstand and audio
  • Increased 64GB internal storage


  • Much more expensive
  • Little performance upgrade over standard Switch

When it comes to hardware and industrial design, all three models excel in their own ways tailored towards their intended usage, whether home console gaming, ultimate portability, or premium display quality.

Display and Visuals

Display tech makes for the most obvious visual differences between the Switch models while playing games.

The original Switch and Switch Lite both utilize 6.2" and 5.5" LCD screens respectively. They render games at an adequate 720p resolution in handheld mode with acceptable color range and accuracy. Comparing them directly however, the smaller Lite screen is sharper thanks to higher pixel density.

The Switch OLED truly stands out with its 7" panel. The OLED tech produces profoundly improved contrast with true blacks and outstanding color vibrancy that makes every game look its best. Side by side, the richer and more dynamic OLED visuals are no contest compared to the standard LCD Switches.

While all models cap rendering resolution at 720p handheld/1080p docked, the OLED‘s upgraded panel takes advantage of the native contrast and color capabilities of Switch games to deliver the absolute best gameplay viewing experience. For fans who want their Nintendo games to look as stunning as possible, it brings a substantial visual boost.

Performance and Battery

Internally all three Switch models utilize the same Nvidia Tegra processor and overall architecture, so game performance is identical across the board:

  • Handheld: 720p resolution, 30 – 60fps framerates for system titles
  • Docked (Switch/OLED): Up to 1080p, 60fps with demanding games at 30fps

The same games play the same on any Switch (limitations for detachable Joy-Cons withstanding). Each model can smoothly run acclaimed Nintendo titles like Breath of the Wild and Metroid Dread along with third party ports like The Witcher 3 without performance differences. Owners can choose their preferred model based on other factors without worrying about performance downsides.

Battery life does vary however, with usable life while gaming rating as:

  • Switch OLED: 4.5 – 9 hours
  • Switch: 4.5 – 9 hours
  • Switch Lite: 3 – 7 hours

The Switch and OLED offer comparable average battery life of around 5 and a half hours for intensive 3D games under bright screen settings. The Lite‘s smaller size necessitates a physically smaller battery with approximately an hour less practical usage when pushed. All models provide solidly acceptable battery life for mobile play sessions.

Controllers and Accessories

The detached Joy-Cons and accessories compatibility add more variability between the systems.

Joy-Cons – The standard Switch includes a pair of fully functional Joy-Cons with wrist straps which can be used detached or slid onto the screen to serve as controllers. Their versatility suits the system‘s flexible play modes, and two players can use a Joy-Con each out of the box.

The Lite instead integrates the controls permanently without included Joy-Cons. While the handheld form factor has its benefits, it limits multiplayer readiness and prevents using Joy-Cons separately from the console itself. Players will have to purchase Joy-Cons or third party controllers additionally for local co-op play.

The OLED model packs traditional Joy-Cons like the original. Both deliver advantage over the Lite for separate Joy-Con use cases.

Accessories – Thanks to matching externals like USB-C charging, the Choice of extra controllers and accessories broadly carry between systems:

  • Pro Controllers for extended handheld play sessions
  • Joy-Con battery packs and grips
  • TV output docks and cables
  • Cases and protective accessories

Core Switch add-ons like portable docks explicitly will not work with the handheld-only Switch Lite however. And adjusting to the Lite‘s integrated controls without separate Joy-Cons changes optimal control choices. Otherwise the Switch ecosystem‘s vast compatibility broadly applies to both hybrid models.

Games and Digital Libraries

Gamers will be happy to know all Switch models play the exact same game cartridges and downloadable digital titles from the eShop store. The entire Switch game library can be played across any of the systems – beyond a small subset of games reliant motion controls from detached Joy-Cons excluded on Switch Lite.

Switch games released on physical cartridges simply insert directly into the appropriate slot, while downloaded digital purchases remain tied to your Nintendo Account rather than any specific device. Your digital library and save data seamlessly carry over if transitioning between Switch systems.

In the rare event Joy-Con-required motion controls appear in an obscure title or mini-game that the Switch Lite cannot reproduce, it remains an exceedingly minor use case unlikely to affect most players‘ libraries. Otherwise gamers can build their Switch game collection freely knowing it will boot up and play on any model.

One advantage the OLED system introduces is 64GB of internal storage out of the box – double that of the 32GB found n the original Switch and Switch Lite. Combined with large download-only titles and DLC packs from the eShop, the extra space helps manage storage needs before needing to add a Micro SD card. It‘s a nice quality of life touch atop the OLED‘s more significant updates.

Pricing and Value Comparison

Considering the different hardware capabilities and target use cases, Nintendo smartly prices each Switch model appropriately:

  • Nintendo Switch OLED: MSRP $349.99
  • Nintendo Switch: MSRP $299.99
  • Nintendo Switch Lite: MSRP $199.99

At 200 dollars, the Switch Lite offers outstanding value focused purely on handheld play. The standard $300 Switch nicely balances hybrid functionality against cost as a "default" choice. And buyers who appreciate premium display quality will find the OLED appropriately priced for the upgrades it brings.

Comparing against one another:

  • The Lite purely offers cost savings by sacrificing TV connectivity and detachable Joy-Cons versus the standard model. The choice between them depends on your priorities.

  • The OLED provides the "best" hardware experience at a fair $50 markup over the original that may or may not make sense depending on your interest in its exclusive advantages.

Ultimately the Switch family accommodates a range of budgets while suiting multiple use cases. With each system priced appropriately based on its capabilities, buyers can confidently choose where their needs and values lie. Those chasing big and beautiful screen tech will gladly spring for improved visuals, while gamers on a budget lose nothing vital opting for affordable handheld-only access.

Which Nintendo Switch Is Right for You?

So where do the differences between the Nintendo Switch family leave prospective gamers deciding on purchasing their ideal model?

Nintendo Switch – The versatile original remains a gold standard, balancing portable and living room gaming with capable battery life. For many, the Switch "that switches" still strikes an ideal middle ground.

Nintendo Switch Lite – Pure handheld gaming seekers who don‘t need TV connectivity benefit greatly from the smaller size, sharper pixel density, and bargain pricing as an amazing mobile Nintendo console.

Nintendo Switch OLED – Players craving the ultimate display quality for Nintendo‘s vibrant first party games will find the OLED screen‘s high contrast, true blacks, and lively colors transform the experience to justify its luxury pricing.

Here is a quick breakdown comparing the systems across the most essential factors:

Nintendo SwitchNintendo Switch LiteNintendo Switch OLED
Screen6.2" 720p LCD5.5" 720p LCD7" 720p OLED
DesignHybrid / detachable Joy-ConsIntegrated handheldHybrid / detachable Joy-Cons
Gaming ModesTV / Tabletop / HandheldHandheldTV / Tabletop / Handheld
PerformanceSame internal hardware and frameratesSame internal hardware and frameratesSame internal hardware and framerates
Game CompatibilityFull library*Full library*Full library*
Price$$ – $299.99$ – $199.99$$$ – $349.99

*Excludes local multiplayer in rare Joy-Con dependent titles

For most gamers, the Switch or Switch OLED will cover the full spectrum of console modes while providing left and right Joy-Con support the Lite lacks. Either standard hybrid model works wonderfully as comprehensive systems.

But the Switch Lite remains far more affordable while still playing the entirety of Nintendo‘s fantastic libraries. As a dedicated handheld it‘s hard to beat for the price.

Ultimately there is no universally "superior" or "best" Nintendo Switch. Each system lands in a capable sweet spot perfect for specific buyers depending on which design philosophy and price point speaks the most to their individual gaming priorities and budget. Whichever you pick, enjoy exploring the fantastic selection of Nintendo titles available to each member of the Switch family!

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