Can You Hack A Nintendo Switch Lite To Play On A TV?

Nintendo announced the original Switch console in 2017, introducing to the world an interesting hybrid device that offered portability similar to that of its classic handhelds, but also with support for playing games on an external monitor or TV. A couple of years later, the company followed up the console with a true handheld variant called the Switch Lite

Unlike the original Switch, the Switch Lite console features built-in joysticks and buttons, it lacks HD Rumble, the screen is smaller, and — most notably — it doesn't work with the Switch dock that enables players to fire up their games on the big screen. That's a very important distinction, as it fundamentally changes the types of games you can play on the system. While titles like "No Man's Sky" or "DOOM Eternal" are available through Nintendo's eShop, it's challenging to play either game (or ones like them) on the 5.5-inch LCD.

That's not a big deal if you use the Lite for gaming on the go, but what if it's your only console? Can you hack the Switch Lite so that it'll work with the dock and output the game on a TV? Unfortunately, even though the Pro Controller works with this smaller handheld, it's simply impossible to play it on an external display.

Why the Nintendo Switch Lite doesn't work with TVs

Both the Nintendo Switch and the Switch Lite are powered by a customized Tegra system-on-chip made for the consoles by Nvidia (via Nintendo). Despite this, the two devices are not identical, and the lack of TV support is more than a software limitation. The Switch Lite is considerably cheaper than the regular Switch at $199.99 versus $349.99. That lower price is the result of some hardware cuts Nintendo made to the product, and that includes axing the tiny chip needed to output to an external display.

With the regular Switch, the console can output audio and video to the dock, which is connected to a monitor or TV using an HDMI cable. That's why, for example, the Switch can be used to livestream games on Twitch, but the Switch Lite cannot. Unfortunately, there's no way around this issue — no amount of software cracking or coding can get around the lack of the actual hardware needed to send the gameplay from the console to the display.

There is a workaround if you're desperate to play the Switch Lite on a TV

There's certainly no official or even decent way to play the Switch Lite on a TV — unless, perhaps, you have the skills needed to buy the chip that Nintendo removed and then solder it onto the device's board yourself. The vast majority of people have neither the ability nor the tools needed to pull that off, but one interesting alternative has circulated on YouTube — a method you'd truly have to be desperate to try, but it's an option regardless.

As demonstrated by the YouTube channel Tech Yesterday, most modern smartphones have decent cameras and can be connected to a monitor or TV using an adapter or wirelessly. The solution to playing the Switch Lite on a TV — if one can call it a solution — is pointing your phone's camera at the console's screen and mirroring the phone's screen on your TV. This is similar to the old-school PSP on TV accessory announced in 2005 that let PlayStation Portable owners play their games on their television (via PR Web).

To be clear, there are several downsides to this, including poor image quality and input lag. If you're desperate to play an impromptu game of "Mario Kart 8 Deluxe" with your friends and only have the Switch Lite, though, it's a decent enough option until you can save up for a full Switch console.