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Common Nintendo Switch Lite problems and how to fix them

The Nintendo Switch Lite might not be as versatile as the original Nintendo Switch, but it remains one of the best ways to access your favorite games on the go. Like any gaming system, however, the Switch Lite is not free from technical problems. Though many issues are easy to fix, others can have catastrophic consequences, some of which may require you to purchase a new machine. Here, we’ve outlined some of the most common Switch Lite issues and provided some helpful steps on how to fix them. With any luck, you’ll be playing again in no time.

Further reading:

Problem: I can’t play certain games

Nintendo Labo VR kit
Felicia Miranda/Digital Trends

The Nintendo Switch Lite is designed to be played in handheld mode out of the box. This makes certain games incompatible with the console by default. These include games like Super Mario Party and 1-2 Switch, as well as the Nintendo Labo VR Kit.

The system also doesn’t come with a built-in kickstand on the back, meaning that you cannot use it in its tabletop mode out of the box either. This issue and the inability to play certain games have a shared solution, so don’t worry about the Switch Lite’s limitations just yet.


Most of the problems mentioned above can be solved by purchasing a few accessories. In order to play games like Super Mario Party, you need Joy-Cons because the games make heavy use of motion. Separate packs can be purchased online for around $80, and they make the Switch Lite compatible with these games.

You’ll still be playing with the Switch sitting flush on a table, however, without one other accessory: a third-party stand. There are several different manufacturers of Nintendo Switch stands at this point, but we recommend the Dual USB Playstand by HORI. It’s available for just $30 on Amazon and includes a charging nub and ports for plugging in external devices.

Problem: Switch Lite won’t fit in the dock

One of the downsides of the Nintendo Switch Lite is its inability to dock and connect to a television. There are no workarounds for this, unfortunately, as the technology needs to output video through USB-C, and HDMI simply isn’t included in the Switch Lite. The standard Nintendo Switch dock also can’t accommodate the Switch Lite, as its analog sticks are in the way.


There is no way to magically let your Switch Lite output to the television, even if you purchase an adapter from a third-party manufacturer. However, you can still use a dock’s internal components to charge the Switch Lite and even connect certain controllers to it. Doing this requires crafting a new shell for your dock, but it should still play nice with the standard Switch once you do this.

Problem: Analog sticks are drifting

Switch Lite
Image used with permission by copyright holder

One of the most common problems facing the Switch Lite also affects the standard Switch: drifting analog sticks. Without moving the sticks themselves, you can experience drifting as your character in a game moves to one side. This can be caused by a hardware failure or by dust or grime getting on the internal components. It’s unfortunately more annoying on the Switch Lite, as you can’t just replace the Joy-Con controller when it happens. Nintendo is even reportedly making a new model to combat the issue.


You have a few options for tackling analog stick drifting on the Switch Lite. Before doing anything else, clean underneath the rubber dome at the base of the analog stick using a cotton swab and isopropyl alcohol.

If this fails, then you will likely need to send your Switch Lite to Nintendo for a repair. Use the official support website and fill out the necessary fields to begin the process.

Problem: Can’t transfer save data from another Switch

If you are making the jump from a standard Nintendo Switch system to the Switch Lite, you might want to bring your saved game data with you. However, if you sign into your account and find yourself unable to download any of the game save data, it likely means your account isn’t subscribed to the Nintendo Switch Online service.


The easiest solution for this problem is to subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online. It costs just $20 per year and lets you automatically back your save data up for nearly every game on the system, excluding certain titles like Pokémon: Let’s Go and Dark Souls Remastered.

Alternatively, you can use the data management tool in the system settings from your previous Nintendo Switch system. Select the individual games for which you want to transfer data, and then choose the Receive Save Data option on your Switch Lite for each game. However, note that this option deletes that same save data on the first system.

Problem: Can’t voice chat with headset plugged in

Nintendo Switch Online
Image used with permission by copyright holder

One of Nintendo’s most baffling decisions with the Switch was to limit in-game chat to a separate application. The application requires players to have a mobile phone on hand and connect to the system like a bizarre Frankenstein’s monster. The Switch Lite does not support voice chat when you simply plug a chat headset into its 3.5mm audio port, and instead will only play game audio.


There are a few different solutions to this issue, and they are identical to what you would do on the standard Nintendo Switch. You can opt to download the Nintendo Switch Online app, connect your phone to your Switch Lite, and invite your friend to chat while you’re in a game. However, we suggest using a service like Skype or Discord and chatting with them directly on your phone. It requires one fewer cable, and you can talk if you switch games or log off.

Problem: Wireless headphones won’t work

If you want to use wireless headphones with the Nintendo Switch Lite, they aren’t going to work by default. A Bluetooth adapter is necessary for you to do this, and you have to make sure you choose one that is compatible with the Switch Lite’s unique design, or you could be wasting your cash.


We discovered an inexpensive Bluetooth adapter from GuliKit that is compatible with the Switch Lite and maintains a very small footprint. The adapter should allow any Bluetooth headphones you own to function with the Switch Lite, and its USB-C plug means no extra converters are required to use it.

Problem: Switch Lite screen is getting scratched

Switch Lite
Image used with permission by copyright holder

For reasons we’re not quite sure of, Nintendo uses very scratch-prone screens on its Nintendo Switch systems. Since you’ll likely take the Switch Lite with you on the go, you have to be careful of the system’s screen getting scratched or cracked. You won’t have to worry about a dock scratching the screen, like with the standard Switch, but it remains an important issue.


Your solution here is simple and inexpensive: a screen protector. Before you even play your Nintendo Switch Lite system at all, purchase a screen protector and apply it as directed. You can find bundles that also include a carrying case, and you can choose between plastic and tempered glass. Either will work, though tempered glass will also help protect against impact damage.

Problem: Switch Lite won’t turn on or charge

In rare instances, you may find that your Nintendo Switch will not turn on or that you are greeted with a black screen when trying to use it. This can mean a few things — your battery may be completely dead or your system may be defective. However, there is no need to panic right away if this occurs.


You have a few potential solutions for this problem, though some are more involved than others. Should your battery simply be dead, unplug the official Switch charger on both sides, reconnect it, and give the system a few hours to charge before unplugging it to see if it is holding its charge. If not, you may need a new charging cable.

Should this not solve the problem, hold down the power button for 12 seconds to force a hard reset. This may resolve the issue, as it returns the console to its original state.

If neither solution works, you will need to send it in for repair.

Problem: Game cartridge won’t work

Switch cartridge
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Nintendo Switch Lite supports physical game cartridges, but you might encounter an issue getting them to be recognized when put into the system. This can be a problem with the cartridge itself, or it could be a sign of a larger issue with the console’s own hardware.


Once you ensure that your Switch Lite is updated to the latest console firmware, take out the game cartridge in question and replace it with a different game. If the second game is recognized, the problem is likely with the game itself, and you will have to get it replaced at the point of purchase. If the second game cartridge isn’t recognized, then you will need to send the Switch Lite in for repair.

Problem: Can’t play games offline

Just like with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, you can encounter an issue on Nintendo Switch Lite where your game library cannot be played offline. This problem will occur with digital games tied to your Nintendo Account, and there is an easy step you can take to make them work properly — but it will affect any other Switch systems tied to that account.


If you want to get Nintendo Switch digital games on your Switch Lite to work offline, you have to register the system as your primary Nintendo Switch. First, you will need to de-register the original Switch system via the console’s settings. Once you’ve finished, turn that system off and access the eShop on the Switch Lite. It will automatically become the new primary console, allowing digital games to work offline.

Problem: Ran out of system storage

SanDsik 64GB
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Unfortunately, you may run into some issues with storage. Currently, the Switch Lite only supports about 32GB of storage, so you’ll only be able to store a small number of games. Some popular games don’t even operate with 32GB devices, to begin with— which means you may need to use an external storage device to play certain games. Luckily, you can pick from many budget-friendly external-storage options to upgrade your device.


The Switch Lite is immediately compatible with microSDHC and microSDXC cards if you’d like to expand your potential for data. These cards can provide an overall additional two terabytes of data— a storage amount far larger than most gamers will ever need. You can easily opt for a smaller, less expensive option with a 256GB card, which could cost you about $53.

SanDisk provides top-tier microSD cards that contain the memory of a small SSD on a standard computer. If you use one of these tools, you’ll grow the storage space on your Switch Lite for a reasonable price. These cards are also very easy to set up under the microSD card cover.

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Gabe Gurwin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Gabe Gurwin has been playing games since 1997, beginning with the N64 and the Super Nintendo. He began his journalism career…
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