Nintendo Switch Gift Guide for 2019

Buying a Nintendo Switch for yourself or someone else? Looking for a gift for someone who already has a Switch? This Nintendo Switch gift guide will help you out. It’ll go over common questions from both  gamers and non-gamers. And distinguish between essential and optional accessories. The items selected for this guide are among the favorites of the Switch community.

Updated for Christmas 2019!

Nintendo Switch Lite - Zacian and Zamazenta Edition

Nintendo Switch Lite – Zacian and Zamazenta Edition

Nintendo Switch Console | Games | Controllers | Essential Accessories | Additional Accessories


Nintendo Switch Consoles

The Nintendo Switch console is available in two options:

Nintendo Switch

This is the original version of the console. It offers handheld, tabletop, and TV play modes. Boasts a larger screen and larger battery. But also uses more power and weighs more.

Original Nintendo Switch, new Nintendo Switch, and Nintendo Switch Lite

Original Nintendo Switch, new Nintendo Switch, and Nintendo Switch Lite

Pros:

  • Both handheld and TV modes available
  • Larger screen
  • Longer battery life (updated version vs Lite)
  • Removable Joy-Cons

Cons:

  • Heavier
  • More expensive

Nintendo Switch Lite

A handheld only version of the Switch. Works with the same games (motion control only games require separate Joy-Cons). Offers the same performance and video quality on its built-in screen. And can work with many of the same controllers and accessories. But it cannot be connected to your TV. And has other trade offs in exchange for its smaller size and price.

Pros:

  • Smaller and lighter
  • Cheaper
  • Longer battery life than original Switch
  • Available in different colors

Cons:

  • Smaller screen
  • No TV mode
  • Controllers are built-in

Nintendo Switch

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Nintendo Switch with Neon Blue and Neon Red Joy-Con

The iconic Nintendo Switch.

Includes:

  • Nintendo Switch console
  • Joy-Cons (blue and red)
  • Joy-Con grip (turns Joy-Cons into a more classic controller)
  • Dock (connect Switch to TV or display via HDMI)
  • HDMI cable
  • Power adapter

Nintendo Switch with Gray Joy-Con

A more subdued looking Nintendo Switch.

Includes:

  • Nintendo Switch console
  • Joy-Cons (gray)
  • Joy-Con grip (turns Joy-Cons into a more classic controller)
  • Dock (connect Switch to TV or display via HDMI)
  • HDMI cable
  • Power adapter

The Nintendo Switch was updated in August 2019 with a new, more power efficient model. Functions, gaming performance, and accessories are all the same as the original model Switch. But the same size battery lasts for 2+ hours longer with efficiency improvements. Read more on the improvements of the updated Switch.

Most retailers now only stock the update model. You can quickly identify the updated version as it comes in an all red box.

Nintendo Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch Lite - Gray

The more subtle Nintendo Switch Lite.

Includes:

  • Nintendo Switch Lite console
  • Power adapter

Nintendo Switch Lite - Turquoise

The best selling color of the Nintendo Switch Lite.

Includes:

  • Nintendo Switch Lite console
  • Power adapter

Nintendo Switch Lite - Yellow

Never lose this bright colored Nintendo Switch Lite.

Includes:

  • Nintendo Switch Lite console
  • Power adapter

Nintendo Switch Lite - Zacian and Zamazenta Edition

Featuring two new Legendary Pokémon from Pokémon Sword and Shield.

Includes:

  • Nintendo Switch Lite console
  • Power adapter

Does not include a copy of Pokémon Sword or Pokémon Shield.


Games

There are two formats for Nintendo Switch games: physical and digital.

Pokémon Sword for Nintendo Switch

Pokémon Sword for Nintendo Switch

Physical Games

  • Sold in any store that also sells the Switch.
  • Discounts from retailers.
  • Buy pre-owned copies for less.
  • Loan to friends and family. Or resell.
  • You control the copy.
  • Have to swap cartridges when changing games.
  • If lost it is gone.

Digital Games

  • Can launch immediately from the Switch.
  • Can loan to friends and family, but can’t both play at same time.
  • Even if you lose your Switch you can re-download the game.
  • Nintendo eShop doesn’t have discounts as often or deep as retailers.
  • Can’t resell or even give away.
  • Nintendo can take it away from you under extreme circumstances.
  • Need a larger microSD card to hold your game collection.

Most Switch owners use a mix of physical and digital games. All games are available as digital. But not all are available as physical, although the popular ones usually are.

If buying for yourself you’ll want to decide which you want to use. Physical saves you money (if willing to wait for a deal) and you can resell games when you’re done. But you have to travel with and swap out cartridges. Digital is quick and easy, and you won’t ever lose the actual game. You’ll more often than not have to pay full MSRP, but if you usually buy on launch day then the cost is the same.

If buying for someone else find out if they have a preference. For physical games you can get them the one they want easily enough. If they prefer digital then buy them a Nintendo eShop gift card. They have to buy the game with their own Nintendo account, so a gift card is the best option.

Popular Games

These are among the most popular Nintendo Switch games this holiday season. If you aren’t sure what to get it is hard to go wrong with Legend of Zelda, Mario Kart, Pokémon, Super Mario, and Smash Bros.


Controllers

Controller preference is a personal thing for a gamer. Some prefer one style while others prefer another. It can depend on what we’re use to and what game we’re playing. When buying a controller for someone else it is best to get something they’ve told you they want.

Pro Controller

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller

Considered the best for the Nintendo Switch. It is wireless, the battery lasts for 40 hours, and it feels good in your hands. The heftier controller is great for shooting games, like Fortnite and Splatoon 2.

For new Switch owners I recommend trying the Joy-Cons out before you buy a Pro Controller. They have worked out well for most players with most games.

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Joy-Con Charging Grip

This is the same as the Joy-Con Comfort Grip included with the Nintendo Switch. But you can connect it to the dock to recharge a pair of Joy-Cons. Handy if you have an extra pair of Joy-Cons. One pair can charge on the Switch while the other charges on this. With 2 players both can use a grip.

Extra Joy-Cons

Joy-Cons Neon Pink/Neon Green

Joy-Cons Neon Pink/Neon Green

The Nintendo Switch includes two Joy-Cons. Turn them 90 degrees and you have two individual controllers. If you want to do 4 player games, such as Mario Kart and Super Mario Party, then you’ll need an extra set of Joy-Cons.

Joy-Cons come in many colors. They all work the same, the difference is only in their appearance. You can get a set that matches what you have. Or get something new and change things up sometimes. Any pair of Joy-Cons can connect to the Switch.

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Surge Nintendo Switch Grip Kit

Playing multiplayer games with single Joy-Cons is fine, but they are a bit small. Adults with larger hands may find them uncomfortable. Before gathering for the holidays consider getting a Surge Nintendo Switch Grip Kit. They attach to the Joy-Cons and make them much more comfortable to hold. Get one kit for every pair of Joy-Cons you own. The included thumb caps may also help, but some find them a distraction.


Essential Accessories

There are a lot of accessories made for the Nintendo Switch. Many are useful, but these are essential according to the Switch community.

Screen Protector

A screen protector is a cheap way to protect the most vulnerable part of the Switch. You can still use the touch screen. When ready to install run a hot shower in the bathroom and do the install there. The steam will reduce the dust in the air, making it easier to keep the space between screen and protector clean.

amFilm Tempered Glass Screen Protector for Nintendo Switch

  • Most recommended brand.
  • Comes in a 2 pack, useful in case the first install isn't perfect.
  • Low cost. Anything cheaper will be less quality.

amFilm Tempered Glass Screen Protector for Nintendo Switch Lite

  • amFilm is the most recommended brand
  • Comes in a 3 pack, useful in case the first couple of tries isn’t perfect
  • Includes tools to assist in a clean install

Carrying Case

If your Switch ever leaves home you’ll want a carrying case. There are different models. The most recommended hold game cartridges and have an accessory pocket. The Switch with Joy-Cons goes in the bottom. Flaps protect the Switch and hold games. The upper section holds accessories, preferable with a closing zipper.

Be sure to get a case for your model Switch. A regular Switch case won’t carry a Switch Lite well.

Nintendo Switch Cases

Hestia Goods Switch Carrying Case

  • My personal Switch case. The one pictured in many reviews
  • Holds Switch, 20 game cartridges, and an accessory pocket
  • Cloth zipper tab for upper accessory pocket, so no scratching

ButterFox Carrying Case

  • The most recommended model by Switch community
  • Holds Switch, 19 game cartridges, and an accessory pocket

ButterFox Carrying Case, Large

  • Holds Switch, 19 game cartridges, and an accessory pocket
  • Deeper upper accessory pocket that can hold the Switch's AC adapter

Nintendo Switch Deluxe System Case

  • Officially licensed by Nintendo for use with the Nintendo Switch
  • Carries the Switch and all its accessories, for setting up at a TV away from home
  • Included game cases can hold up to 8 games

Nintendo Switch Lite Cases

ButterFox Switch Lite Carrying Case

  • Holds Switch Lite, 19 game cartridges, 2 microSD cards, and an accessory pocket
  • ButterFox is the most recommended brand by the Switch community

Also available with red, blue, green, and pink highlights. Or a large model, with more space in the accessory pocket.

Orzly Carry Case for Nintendo Switch Lite

  • Holds Switch Lite, 8 game cartridges, and accessory pockets
  • Accessories are divided into an open pocket for larger items, and a zipper pocket for small items
  • Available in black, blue, green, grey, pink, red, yellow, carbon fiber black, or red and white (Pokéball inspired)

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Nintendo Switch Lite Slim Tough Pouch By HORI

  • Officially licensed by Nintendo for use with the Nintendo Switch Lite
  • Holds Switch Lite, 10 game cartridges, and an accessory pocket
  • One of the thinner Switch Lite carrying cases

microSD Card

The Switch and Switch Lite have 32GB internal storage. That has to hold any digital games you buy, DLC, game updates, your game saves, and screenshots. That’s not enough for a lot of players. A microSD card allows you to move the larger digital game data to a larger format. Game load times will increase by 2-3 seconds vs internal storage.

  • SanDisk’s Ultra series is usually the best value.
  • The Switch limits how fast it can read a microSD card. So getting a faster, more expensive card doesn’t provide any benefit.
  • When selecting a card compare the cost per GB. Take the price and divide it by how many GB you get. This will tell you which are a better value.
  • You can always upgrade to a larger card later. But you’ll need to re-download your digital games and updates.
SanDisk Ultra 128GB microSD Card

  • Great for Switch owners doing a mix of physical and digital games
  • Inexpensive with plenty of storage

SanDisk Ultra 200GB microSD Card

  • Good start for Switch owners going all digital
  • Between 200GB and 256GB get whichever has the best cost per GB

SanDisk Ultra 256GB microSD Card

  • Good start for Switch owners going all digital
  • Between 200GB and 256GB get whichever has the best cost per GB

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SanDisk Ultra 400GB microSD Card

  • Was the largest microSD card when the original Switch came out, but has since come down in price
  • Not necessary for the vast majority of Switch owners

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SanDisk Ultra 512GB microSD Card

  • Among the largest microSD cards currently available
  • The largest models typically have the worst cost per GB
  • Not necessary for the vast majority of Switch owners


Additional Accessories

As with any popular electronic device there is no shortage of available accessories for the Nintendo Switch. Check out these extra options you may want or hadn’t thought about.

Stands

A downside to the Switch’s design is you can’t plug it into power while in tabletop mode. Using its built-in kickstand blocks the USB-C port at the bottom. And the Switch Lite doesn’t even come with a kickstand. Either way plugging into the USB-C port is a problem when playing in tabletop mode. A stand solves the problem.

Nintendo Switch Adjustable Charging Stand

  • Official charging stand from Nintendo
  • Switch plugs into stand
  • USB-C port on the side for power
  • Small, doesn't fold up
  • Can fit Switch and Switch Lite

Genki Portable Stand

  • Minimalist stand
  • Simple design and light, great for travel
  • Effectively a small tripod
  • Can fit Switch and Switch Lite

HORI Compact Playstand for Nintendo Switch

  • Nintendo licensed
  • Folds down for easier packing
  • Designed for the Switch, but will also fit the Switch Lite

HORI Nintendo Switch Multiport USB Playstand

  • Nintendo licensed
  • USB-C port and four USB-A ports on the sides
  • Connect power and up to four wired controllers or other accessories
  • More USB ports than the Nintendo Switch dock
  • No TV output

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Nintendo Switch Lite Dual USB Playstand By HORI

  • Nintendo licensed for Switch Lite
  • USB-C port and two USB-A ports on the sides
  • Connect power and up to two wired controllers or other accessories

Power Banks

To charge your Switch while on a plane or otherwise away from a power outlet you’ll need a portable charger (aka power bank). The right one can keep up with your game play. And it doesn’t take a big, expensive model to double your play time.

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AUKEY PB-Y13 10000 USB-C PD

  • 10,000mAh, 18W USB-C PD & Quick Charge 3.0 power bank
  • Will charge Switch Lite while you play
  • Provides 4.5+ hours of play time for the regular Switch, should do the same or better with the Switch Lite
  • Thin design to better fit in a Switch Lite's carrying case
  • Fast charges iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, LG, and Motorola phones when not being used with the Switch Lite

Requires a USB-C to USB-C cable, sold separately.

Review of the AUKEY PB-Y13 10000 USB-C PD

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Anker PowerCore 13400 Nintendo Switch Edition

  • 13,400mAh, 22.5W USB-C PD power bank
  • Licensed by Nintendo for use with the Switch
  • Will charge Switch Lite while you play at max rate
  • Provides 5.5+ hours of play time for the regular Switch, should do the same or better with the Switch Lite
  • Includes a USB-C to USB-C cable
  • Fast charges iPhone 8/X/XR/XS, Samsung Galaxy S8 and newer, Google Pixel; regular charges other phones

Review of the Anker PowerCore 13400 Nintendo Switch Edition

Check out my power bank buying guide for the Nintendo Switch for more options.

Travel Chargers

The Switch includes a Nintendo Switch AC Adapter. But it isn’t a travel friendly design. And it won’t work well with most of your other small devices. Depending on your play and travel habits you may want one or more more charges. And a third party option can give you more options for a lower price.

Anker PowerPort PD 1

  • 18W USB-C PD
  • USB-IF Certified
  • Will charge Switch Lite while you play
  • Fast charges iPhone 8/X/XR/XS, Samsung Galaxy S8 and newer, Google Pixel; regular charges other phones
  • Will recharge power banks listed above

Review of Anker PowerPort PD 1

Requires a USB-C to USB-C cable, sold separately.

ZMI PowerPlug Turbo

  • 45W USB-C PD & Quick Charge 3.0
  • Will charge Switch Lite while you play at max rate
  • Includes a USB-C to USB-C cable
  • Fast charges iPhone 8/X/XR/XS, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, and LG, phones
  • Will power most 12 to 13-inch laptops with USB-C
  • Will recharge power banks listed above

Review of the ZMI PowerPlug Turbo

Check out my charger buying guide for the Nintendo Switch for more options.

Car Chargers

If you only need a car charger on occasion. And your road trips are 8 hours or less. Then consider getting a power bank instead. Those work in the car, plus on planes, camping, everywhere. But you if you need charge a Switch in the car often you can get a car charger, which you don’t have to worry about recharging.

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PowerA Nintendo Switch Car Charger

  • 15W USB-C
  • Licensed by Nintendo for use with the Switch
  • Will charge Switch while you play
  • Built-in USB-C cable
  • Can also charge any USB-C phone, but only charges one device at a time

Nekteck USB Type-C Car Charger 27W PD

  • 18W USB-C PD
  • USB-C and USB-A ports
  • USB-IF Certified
  • Will charge Switch while you play (USB-C)
  • Includes USB-C to USB-C cable (3.3 feet)
  • Fast charges iPhone 8/X/XR/XS, Samsung Galaxy S8 and newer, Google Pixel; regular charges other phones

Audio Accessories

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SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth

If playing in public you'll want headphones. And if you want to chat in online multiplayer you'll want a headset. The SteelSeries Arctis 3 accommodates both. And is one the more popular, well reviewed, and affordable gaming headsets on the market.

For listening to game audio only the wired version, available in black or white, works great. Also best for using voice chat in a non-Nintendo game. Including Fortnite.

For voice chat in a Nintendo game, such as Splatoon 2, you have to use the Nintendo Switch Online app. Which runs on your phone, not the Switch. Here you want to get the Bluetooth version. Connect via Bluetooth to your phone. And connect via 3.5mm to your Switch. That will allow you to hear both chat and game audio.

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HomeSpot Bluetooth 5.0 Audio Transmitter Adapter

If you have a pair of Bluetooth earbuds/headphones you love you can use them with the Switch. But you'll need a Bluetooth audio transmitter such as this one. The Switch supports Bluetooth, but not Bluetooth audio.

Plug this adapter into the Switch's USB-C port. Then sync it with your Bluetooth audio gear.

ZIOCOM Bluetooth Adapter Audio Transmitter for Nintendo Switch

Another Bluetooth adapter that connects to the Switch's USB-C port. This model is larger than HomeSpot's. But it includes a pass through USB-C port. Which means you can plug in both this adapter and a charger. Or other USB-C accessory.

Other Accessories

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PowerA Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Charging Dock

  • For Switch owners with two or more sets of Joy-Cons
  • Up to 4 Joy-Cons hang and charge from stand

Nintendo Switch Wired Internet LAN Adapter by HORI

  • Licensed by Nintendo
  • Connects Switch dock to Ethernet
  • For locations with weak or no Wi-Fi
  • Also used by seriously competition online multiplayers


Prices are from Amazon Product Advertising API, last updated on 2020-10-25.