Nintendo Switch Lite one year later: What I love and what I hate

Nintendo Switch Lite
(Image credit: Future)

One year ago the portable-only Nintendo Switch Lite stole my heart with its fun colors, compact design and palatable price tag. I adored it so much I even wrote an animated column on why the Switch Lite is the gaming console I’ve been waiting for.

But that was after a few weeks of toting Nintendo's portable console around on my daily commute. Now, several months into working at home, my relationship with this adorable yellow device looks a little bit different. The on-go-lifestyle I once led is virtually non-existent, and I find myself sitting in front of a TV with my family more often than I could’ve expected.

So yes, there are times when I wish I had the regular ‘ole Nintendo Switch (it was near-impossible to find in the spring), and reasons why the Switch Lite isn’t the faultless gadget I once deemed it. But it’s still an excellent entry-level gaming device and that shouldn’t be disregarded in conversations comparing consoles, as exhaustive as they are these days.

Here’s what I love and hate about Nintendo Switch Lite after using it for a year.

Switch Lite is still accessible (and affordable) 

nintendo switch lite

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Some hardcore gamers may consider the Switch a novelty item or even a children's device. But it has a purpose, exactly the one Nintendo positioned it to have: being an accessible console made for a mild mobile user. 

While I’m not as mobile anymore, I still appreciate the Nintendo system and the fact that I have a functional gaming device for just $199. The Switch Lite hasn’t converted me to a fully-fledged gamer, but it caters to me enough that the Xbox Series X and PS5 are completely off my radar. I’m sure the next-gen consoles will make great holiday gifts for many, but I’ll take a Nintendo eShop gift card instead please. It’ll cost my family members much less, anyway.

Nintendo Switch has the best games for nostalgia...

As a sucker for nostalgia, getting to play modern versions of Pokemon and Super Mario Bros. and more is enough to make me feel like a kid again. I’ve found several of the best Nintendo Switch games are comparable to DS ones I loved when I was younger. The Switch Lite lets me disappear to 2005 for a few hours at a time, which I certainly prefer to 2020. 

Sometimes, I even get warped even further back into my childhood. Right now I’m working through the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, which reimagines the games I used to play on my dad’s PS2 before I tragically broke it. I somehow think I was better at destroying boxes when I was 6 than I am now (I literally destroyed that box-shaped PlayStation), but it’s exactly the escape I need from time to time.

…But I wish more games were available

Crash 4

(Image credit: PlayStation via YouTube)

In the timeless words of rapper JaRule, I felt hustled, scammed, bamboozled, hoodwinked and led astray when I realized not every game I wanted to play would arrive for Nintendo Switch. Again, novice gamer here. While there are enough titles to keep me satisfied, I am limited when it comes to some new releases like Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, for example.

I see the compatibility benefit to owning multiple consoles, but as I explained that’s not really an option for me, so I’ll just learn to let this one go. Besides, I have a habit of leaving games unfinished, so I shouldn’t complain about wanting more games when I haven’t completed the ones I already own.

The battery life is still a drag, but at least I’m always near a charger

My biggest complaint with the Switch Lite is its dismal battery life. I’m spoiled by Bluetooth earbuds, an e-reader and iPhone that last at least a day’s worth of activities before needing juice. The Switch Lite, on the other hand, gets less than 4 hours of game time. If my commute was particularly slow one morning, I would find my Switch Lite dying before I make it home at night. As a mobile device, it should have better stamina.

But, again, I’m not mobile anymore. I play my Switch Lite almost exclusively in bed, where a charger is never further than an arm’s reach (or perhaps a hang-off-the-side-of-the-bed’s reach) away. In this sense, I'd say the pandemic is the best thing that could've happened for the Switch Lite. 

Do I miss long commutes? Not really. But I do miss pulling out my Switch Lite on the train and disappearing to Koholint Island for a couple hours. Luckily, this year keeps on delivering excuses to escape reality — except now I can do it from the comfort of my home instead of on crowded public transportation.

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.