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Nintendo Switch OLED vs Lite (2021): Should You Upgrade Or Save Your Money?

If you’ve been debating between the Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo Switch Lite, your dilemma just got bigger because a brand new Switch has been added to the mix. Called the Nintendo Switch OLED, it boasts of several upgrades that are missing on the original Switch. But how does it fare against the Switch Lite, Nintendo’s well-loved handheld-only device? To help you make the best decision for you and your wallet, here’s an in-depth comparison that covers their design, display, performance, and battery life.

Nintendo Switch OLED vs Lite Comparison Chart

ModelNintendo Switch OLEDNintendo Switch Lite
 Nintendo Switch – OLED Model w/ White Joy-ConNintendo Switch Lite - Blue
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Detachable Joy-ConsYesNo
Dedicated D-PadNoYes
Display 7-inch OLED screen; multi-capacitative touch screen5.5-inch LCD screen;multi-capacitative touch screen
Display Resolution1280 x 7201280 x 720
ProcessorNvidia Custom TegraNvidia Custom Tegra
Storage64GB32GB
SpeakerStereoStereo
Battery Life4.5 to 9 hours3 to 7 hours
USB ConnectorUSB Type-CUSB Type-C
Weight0.71lbs0.61lbs

Design

The Nintendo Switch Lite is smaller than the Nintendo Switch OLED and doesn’t come with detachable Joy-Cons.

Nintendo Switch OLED vs Lite design
The Nintendo Switch OLED (left) has Joy-Cons while the Nintendo Switch Lite (right) has a dedicated D-pad.

At first glance, the new Nintendo Switch OLED looks like it could be the original Switch’s twin. They have the exact same Joy-Cons, the same button pattern, and the same blue and red colorway. The OLED version, however, is also available in a white finish which screams class and elegance.

But as similar as they are in looks, there are significant design differences between the two models. For starters, the Switch OLED’s kickstand is wider and is able to get into more positions in tabletop mode. Also, the Switch OLED comes with a sleeker dock that has a built-in ethernet port for a more stable connection. To cap things off, the OLED version also has double the storage space and is equipped with more powerful speakers.

Positioned as a handheld-only console, the Nintendo Switch Lite has a different design altogether. This means no detachable Joy-Cons and no playing on the TV but it does have a dedicated D-pad, a feature that’s exclusive to this model. For some, this will be enough reason to go for the Lite as they don’t have to spend extra money on the Pro Controller. As for dimensions, the Lite is significantly smaller, making it extra easy to chuck in your bag and bring around with you. It’s a nice bonus too that you can get the Lite in a bunch of fun and vibrant colors.

Display

The Nintendo Switch OLED’s display is bigger, brighter, and more vibrant than the Nintendo Switch Lite’s.

Nintendo Switch OLED vs Lite display
The Nintendo Switch OLED (left) makes use of OLED panel technology while the Nintendo Switch Lite (right) has LCD.

As you can tell by its name, the biggest advantage that the new Nintendo Switch OLED has over the other Switch consoles is its display. Not only does it have a bigger and brighter 7-inch screen to brag about, but the upgrade from LCD to OLED panel technology will let you experience deeper blacks and more vibrant hues. But what’s really commendable about the bump in screen size is that Nintendo didn’t have to increase the Switch OLED’s dimensions or weight. Instead, they slimmed down the bezels to accommodate the larger display, giving the Switch OLED a much sleeker and modern look.

As for the Nintendo Switch Lite’s screen, it’s enough for a lot of games but there are titles out there that will be nearly unplayable. If you’re playing a text-heavy game like Fire Emblem: Three Houses, for example, the Switch Lite’s screen is just too small to truly enjoy the experience. And unlike the original Switch and the Switch OLED, you can’t transfer to the TV to give your eyes a break from all the squinting. This is the biggest drawback that you need to live with if you do decide to go for the Switch Lite.

Performance

Both the Nintendo Switch OLED and the Nintendo Switch Lite are compatible with all Switch games although you get to enjoy more versatility with the former.

Nintendo Switch OLED vs Lite performance
The Nintendo Switch OLED can be used in handheld mode, tabletop mode, and TV mode.

Specs-wise, it’s a tie between the Nintendo Switch OLED and the Nintendo Switch Lite, both running on the Nvidia Custom Tegra processor. As for games, it’s great news that they’re both compatible with Nintendo’s entire selection of Switch games. However, Nintendo has pointed out that because of the Switch OLED’s bigger screen, users might have a different experience with the Toy-Con accessories. That’s about the only issue though.

But even though you can play the same games on these two consoles, the experience is completely different because of the Switch OLED’s versatility. As mentioned, you can switch over to the TV if you want a more immersive view of your game. You can also go into tabletop mode and make use of the detachable Joy-Cons if you want to play multi-player games with your buds. With the Switch Lite, you only get one mode and some may find this very limiting. You can’t really complain though given that the Switch Lite is a fraction of the price of the Switch OLED.

As mentioned, another advantage that the Switch OLED has over the Switch Lite is storage. It offers 64GB of internal storage whereas you only get 32GB with the Switch Lite. So if you tend to download your games from the Nintendo Switch eShop, you’re going to love the extra space. But then again, you can always just buy multiple SD cards for your Switch Lite and that would still be cheaper than getting the Switch OLED.

Battery

The Nintendo Switch OLED has a more impressive battery life than the Nintendo Switch Lite.

Nintendo Switch OLED vs Lite battery
The Nintendo Switch OLED can last up to 9 hours on a single charge.

Aside from a better screen and more versatility, another reason you may want to pick the Nintendo Switch OLED over the Nintendo Switch Lite is battery life. While both models take around three hours to fully charge, you only get around three to seven hours of playtime with the Switch Lite while the Switch OLED can last up to four and a half to nine hours. If you’re completely engrossed in a game and don’t want to lose your momentum, those extra hours can really mean a lot. As for cables, both use a USB Type-C for charging.

Verdict

The Nintendo Switch OLED is worth considering if you’re new to the Switch world but an upgrade isn’t necessary if you already own a Nintendo Switch Lite.

If you’re completely new to the Switch world, it’s easy to recommend the Nintendo Switch OLED because it’ll give you the best experience out of all the other consoles. It has a dazzling screen that will surely impress you during your handheld sessions, plus its revamped kickstand gives you extra flexibility during tabletop mode. Not to mention the Switch OLED has the longest battery life.

But if you’re an existing Nintendo Switch Lite user, upgrading may not be necessary. If all you want is to be able to enjoy the full Switch library for a fraction of the price and you’re content with playing these games in handheld mode, then you’re better off saving your money and keeping your Switch Lite.

FAQs

📌 Is the Nintendo Switch OLED 4K?

When in handheld mode, the Nintendo Switch OLED has a 720p resolution. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a 4K output so when you play games on the TV, everything looks exactly the same as with the original Nintendo Switch.

📌 Is the Nintendo Switch OLED screen good?

Not only is the Nintendo Switch OLED’s screen bigger and brighter, but you can also expect the blacks to be deeper and the colors to be more vibrant thanks to the OLED panel technology.

📌 What is the difference with the Nintendo Switch OLED dock?

Compared to the original Nintendo Switch, the new Nintendo Switch OLED’s dock is more rounded and has a sleeker look. It’s also equipped with an ethernet port so that you can enjoy better connection while playing.

📌 Which one is better, the Nintendo Switch OLED or the Nintendo Switch Lite?

If you’re completely new to the Switch world, the Nintendo Switch OLED is worth considering for its improved screen, versatility, and battery life. But if you already own the Nintendo Switch Lite and you’re content with playing in handheld mode, an upgrade isn’t necessary.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Denise Jose

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Researcher and yoga teacher passionate about article writing, photography, wellness, and mindfulness.