8 Questions to Ask Before Buying Nintendo Switch Lite

Switch Lite coral

8 Questions to Ask Before Buying Nintendo Switch Lite

The Nintendo Switch is currently entering its 7th year of production and showing very little sign of slowing down outside fewer first-party games released in 2024. Though it hasn’t been officially announced by Nintendo yet, industry insiders have been privileged to the existence of the device’s successor, the “Switch 2”, and most analysts expect Nintendo’s next console to arrive sometime in 2025. Until then, though, the Nintendo Switch continues to be one of the company’s best single pieces of hardware, dominating the handheld market and becoming the best-selling console of all time in Japan. With three different versions of the hardware and a next-gen upgrade just around the corner, there are likely some questions to ask before buying a Nintendo Switch Lite.

First arriving in September 2019, the Switch Lite is a handheld-only refresh of the Nintendo Switch hardware coming in at a lower price point. Unlike the standard and OLED models of the Nintendo Switch, the JoyCon controllers do not detach from the Switch Lite and the device cuts back on its cost by not coming with a dock to enable hybrid play between handheld and docked modes on a TV. Still, with many players almost exclusively playing their Switch in its handheld mode, the Switch Lite is a great cost-effective option for anyone looking to get a Nintendo Switch.

1. What is the total cost of buying a Switch Lite?

The Switch Lite has an MSRP of $199.99, making it a full $100 less expensive than the standard Nintendo Switch and $150 less expensive than the Switch OLED. That said, the lower price point comes at the cost of losing the console’s signature hybrid functionality, with the Switch Lite only usable as a portable handheld device. Outside the console itself, players will also likely need to purchase a removable microSD card for storing digital purchases from the Nintendo eShop. Unlike the standard Nintendo Switch models, multiplayer is only possible via local wireless with other Nintendo Switch consoles or via online multiplayer modes, so purchasing extra JoyCon controllers for more than one player isn’t necessary. There are also refurbished models of the Switch Lite available from both Nintendo and third-party retailers, and these range in price from $159 to $169.

2. What are the different models of the Nintendo Switch?

Nintendo Switch hardware family

©Nintendo Switch console – Original

There are three different models of the Nintendo Switch. The original model is the standard Nintendo Switch with an LCD screen, with the Switch Lite and the Nintendo Switch OLED arriving as the second and third iterations of the hardware in 2019 and 2022, respectively. While the Switch Lite is a handheld-only device, both the LCD and OLED models of the Nintendo Switch can be placed on their proprietary docks to play on a monitor or television with HDMI inputs. Additionally, the JoyCon controllers are detachable from the LCD and OLED Switch models. The OLED Switch has a brighter and larger screen than the standard LCD Switch but is otherwise the same in terms of performance and power. The smallest model of the Switch is the Switch Lite, which has a decidedly compact footprint as a handheld device.

3. Will I only be using the Switch as a portable device?

If you plan on playing the Switch as a purely portable device and never plugging the console into a dock for playing on a television, the Switch Lite is absolutely the way to go. The Switch Lite’s entire existence is to serve as the portable-only option of Nintendo’s latest hardware. Many players who own the standard LCD and OLED models of the Nintendo Switch still spend most of their time with the device in portable mode, and the Switch Lite offers that same functionality at a much more appealing price point.

4. Do I plan on playing any multiplayer games?

One thing to consider before picking up a Switch Lite is whether you plan on playing online or local multiplayer. As a portable device, the Switch Lite only offers a single screen intended for solo players. Playing multiplayer on a Switch Lite requires linking wirelessly with other Nintendo Switch consoles on the same network. Alternatively, players can connect to WiFi with the Switch Lite and play either competitively or cooperatively using online multiplayer in games that feature those modes. Those planning to pick up a Nintendo Switch as a family gaming device should arguably steer clear of the Switch Lite and go for one of the other models with detachable JoyCons and a dock for playing on a bigger screen.

5. Should I wait for the Switch 2?

As the oldest console currently on the market in the 9th generation, the Nintendo Switch is nearing the end of its life span. The eventual successor to the Nintendo Switch is reportedly arriving sometime in 2025, though there’s no confirmation from Nintendo itself regarding the hardware’s existence, much less its release date. That said, it’s not unreasonable to assume that a new model of the Switch is right around the corner, especially with most of the big first-party Nintendo franchises having multiple successful entries on the Switch and the cadence of releases slowing down significantly. Buying a Switch Lite in 2024 is still a good move if you have yet to grab the console, as the Switch’s massive library of physical and digital games means there are plenty of great experiences to have before next-generation iterations of the Switch arrive.

6. Can I play my games without an internet connection?

In an effort to cut down on piracy and prevent modders from hacking the Switch, the console’s firmware dictates that hardware needs to be registered to a MyNintendo account. As a result, booting up games prompts the Switch’s firmware to check and verify that the game belongs to the account currently using the Switch. The only workaround for this is to play the Switch in offline mode, which often results in losing some functionality with any games requiring a network connection. Though it’s possible to play physical games on the Switch Lite without any connection to WiFi, players may run into some hiccups when trying to boot digital purchases without an internet connection. In those scenarios, simply select to play the game anyway, but know that you might have some title features unavailable.

7. Can I share games with someone on my Nintendo family plan?

Sharing games across Switch consoles comes with its own set of hoops to jump through. The Switch Lite can act as a portable-only device that is a great option for a second household console, but to access an already existing library of Switch titles you’ll need to set up family sharing across both devices. And, the console will need to be online in order for the Switch’s firmware to verify the user’s account and title access. By setting the other Switch as the user’s Primary or Home console, sharing games across two devices becomes significantly easier and less cumbersome.

8. How much internal storage will I need? Can I upgrade?

The Switch Lite comes with an onboard internal storage of 32GB, which isn’t very much considering The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has an install size of 18.2GB. Buying a microSD card is practically a necessity, and it’s advisable to go ahead and get as big of a card as is affordable right out of the gate. Purchasing a 1TB card is ideal, especially since it’s unlikely that you’ll need more space and the cost of such cards has come down significantly in recent years. Switch games can vary between hundreds of MB or over a dozen GB, and the more space you have available on a microSD card, the less you’ll need to worry about deleting games to free up room.

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