My reasons for picking up the Switch were simple: I got nostalgic for my old SNES games, felt like playing Yoshi’s Island, and impulsively went to GameStop to grab a console. I wasn’t deadset on getting the original Switch model. My plans for the gadget were simple — I hadn’t owned a portable console since the near-ancient Sega Game Gear and the idea of being able to carry around high-quality games in my pocket was appealing.
GameStop only had the Switch Lite in stock and I didn’t feel like driving across town in search of its larger sibling, so the choice was quickly made and soon lamented.
I loved the Switch Lite and don’t get me wrong, I still love it. But. But. In retrospect, I wish I had bought the main console for the extra features it offers, the ones I didn’t expect to want but that I now desperately need. The removable Joycons are great, but even better is the ability to play your games on the big screen — two features the Lite totally lacks.
There are some other good reasons to pick up the Switch rather than the Switch light — it has a larger 6.2″ display rather than the smaller 5.5″ offering, for example. The Switch Lite can only play games that support handheld mode without requiring the user to wirelessly connect a separate controller. As well, the Switch has an IR motion camera and HD Rumble whereas the Lite does not.
The only advantage you get with the Lite compared to the Switch is the lower price — but at only $100 cheaper, you’re not saving much compared to the features you’ll miss out on. The larger display on the Switch is easier on the eyes when playing certain games, but the ability to rapidly toggle from handheld to TV gameplay is where the magic happens.
Some games run perfectly on the Switch, but are too visually complicated to play on the small screen — the small details are lost in the chaos and it gets frustrating trying to keep track of everything. That’s not a big deal for Switch owners, of course, as they can drop the console into its dock and fire up the game on the big screen. But try to play DOOM on the Lite and you’ll soon rage quit.
The other key loss is the ability to play with other people, something I didn’t anticipate wanting to do initially — I have a PS5, after all, and that could fit the bill. But whereas the PS5 is massive, the Switch is incredibly portable and there’s something special about being able to bring a small device with you, then fire it up on the big screen for an impromptu round of Super Smash Bros.
The simple fact is, the original Nintendo Switch can do everything the Lite can, but the Lite is a stripped down compromise to save $100. The savings aren’t worth it in the long-run — if you own a Switch, you’re already prepared to spend generously on games, and saving that extra money by going for the Lite instead of the original console seems to make less sense the first time you drop $50 on a single game.
I still own the Switch Lite and I still love it. But every time my eyes feel strained and I long to see Stardew Valley on the big 60″ TV, I’m reminded of the fact that saving $100 wasn’t worth it. I’ll eventually swap the Lite for the original Switch and regret nothing.