What are the different Nintendo Switch models?

By Matt Clough | | 36728 |

Despite being just three years old, Nintendo’s latest console – the Switch – now has not one, not two, but three separate models for you to pick from. In this guide, we’ll break down the key differences between the three models, helping you choose which is right for you, as well as guiding you on how to spot the very best deals for your chosen Switch model.

The Nintendo Switch can be broken down into three models, although somewhat frustratingly, two of the models have no ‘official’ name (think PS4 Pro, Xbox One S) – they’re just called the Switch. For that reason, it’s extra important when it comes to buying a Switch to pay attention to the model.

What are the three different Switch models?

There are three core Switch models: the original, the revised original with extended battery life, and the Lite. The original Switch is being phased out, with the extended battery version replacing it, though you can still find the original. The Lite is an entirely separate model, with vastly different features.

The original Switch model launched in March, 2017. The revised edition with extended battery arrived in August 2019, while the Lite was launched was launched a month later in September 2019.

What is the original Nintendo Switch?

The original Nintendo Switch model showcased what Nintendo wanted from this hardware, and, despite some pretty awful industry projections, took the world by storm. The core features of the original Switch model are as follows:

  • A modular console, which enables you to attach and detach the Joy-Con controllers at will.
  • When the Joy-Cons are attached, the Switch functions as a handheld, with around 2.5 to 6.5 hours of battery life.
  • When the Joy-Cons are detached, the console can either be played in ‘table-top’ mode, using the integrated kickstand, or on the TV like a classic console via a dock, which comes free with the console.
  • The Joy-Cons can be flipped sideways and used as two mini controllers, meaning that you can enjoy multiplayer games straight out of the box.

What is the extended battery Nintendo Switch?

The extended battery Nintendo Switch model does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s had some internal tweaks compared to the original Nintendo Switch release model, but broadly speaking, it’s basically identical – except for improved battery life. The original model could typically manage between 2.5 and 6.5 hours, depending on what software was being used. The new model can muster closer to 4.5 – 9 hours, making it the best Switch model in terms of total features.

Naturally, with this in mind, most buyers will be on the look out for the newer, extended battery version of the Switch. Spotting the new model and the old model can be tough online, but thankfully, our Switch comparison page has a handy way of differentiating. The original, shorter battery life Switch, features a box that has a hand reaching down to place the Switch in a dock, in front of a mainly white background. The new version has no hand, and the background of the box is almost entirely red. Keep this in mind – if you see an incredible deal on the Switch, it may be the older, shorter battery life model you’re seeing!

Extended battery Switch v original Switch

On a technical level, there’s absolutely no reason to buy an original Switch over the extended battery replacement. The extended battery life Switch does everything the original does, but had – you guessed it – extended battery life. There are even some unconfirmed reports that extended battery models are less likely to suffer from the pesky ‘Joy-Con drift’ issue, as they’re all newer models than the original Switch.

The extended battery Switch is intended to ultimately replace the original model Switch, so they have the same RRP, meaning there is no clear pricing reason why you should pick the original over the extended battery version. However, as retailers look to clear out their stock of the original model, it’s entirely possible that we’ll spot some big discounts. If you can’t see yourself needing more than a couple of handheld play at a time, the original Switch is still a fantastic piece of hardware and may be available at some bargain prices.

What is the extended battery Nintendo Switch Lite?

The newest edition to the Nintendo Switch family, the Switch Lite is the first full revision of the console. Its features differ quite dramatically from the main Switch, as does its price, so it’s worth knowing exactly what you’re looking for in a console before you take the plunge.

Switch Lite v classic style Switch

As the name suggests, the Switch Lite is a pared down version of the classic style, dockable Switch. It’s important to know the differences when buying. The Switch Lite does come with a much lower RRP, which makes it extremely attractive, but be sure to know exactly what it can and can’t do before purchasing.

The Switch Lite can:

  • Play all the games that the main Switch models can (games such as 1-2 Switch and others that make heavy use of motion require additional controllers to be played)
  • Be played online against other players
  • Have digital games downloaded on to it
  • Have its memory expanded via SD card
  • Have external controllers attached wirelessly

The Switch Lite cannot:

  • Detach its controllers – it has controls fixed to its body, rather than Joy-Cons
  • Play in docked mode – there is no way of connecting the Switch Lite to a TV
  • Play in table-top mode (at least out of the box) – there’s no integrated kickstand
  • Work with any Nintendo LABO kits – the Switch Lite is the wrong shape and size, and most LABO kits require the body of the classic Switch to work, as well as Joy-Cons