Nintendo has announced surprise that Bluetooth audio support has come to the Switch through a software update. The ability to use Bluetooth headsets to listen to game audio has been a conspicuously missing feature since the console launched in 2017, so it’s great to finally have it, although there are some limitations.
According to a Nintendo support item, you will be limited to using two wireless controllers if you have a Bluetooth headset connected. The system also doesn’t support Bluetooth microphones, which isn’t necessarily surprising given that Nintendo’s own voice chat system relies on an app running on your phone. Still, it’s a bummer for people who play with their own built-in voice chat capabilities.
People have gone to great lengths to get wireless audio on their Switch (we even said it would be a great selling point for a Switch Pro) – there have been accessories that acted as Bluetooth audio adapters and some headphones like the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless came with a dongle that took advantage of the Switch’s support for USB wireless headsets.
Having built-in Bluetooth audio is a big deal, so especially considering that Nintendo’s Pro Controller, unlike many others, doesn’t include a headphone jack (although it’s worth noting that the PS5 and Xbox series do not support Bluetooth audio natively). Even with the limitations mentioned above, the feature seems to be well supported – Nintendo says the Switch can hold up to 10 connected devices and says it should work with both the regular Switch and the Switch Lite.
My colleague Jay Peters was able to connect his AirPods Pro to his base Switch and a Switch Lite without much trouble. In the settings menu, there is a section for “Bluetooth Audio”, and you can pair your headphones from there by following the instructions.
Jay’s AirPods Pro performed well in a few rounds of WarioWare: get it together, without noticeable delays, something that is particularly important to From WarioWare fast-paced and fast-paced microgames. While using his base Switch, Jay also reports that after a cold boot his AirPods Pro paired almost instantly after selecting them again in the settings menu.
However, Sean Hollister’s second-gen Switch (not a Lite) had trouble finding and connecting to any Bluetooth device. He managed to connect an Arctis Pro Wireless after rebooting the Switch three times, but most attempts ended in failure, even with a first-gen Amazon Echo Buds and Wyze Buds Pro set, a Bluetooth adapter for the Bose QC25, and an LG TV. . . While some of them sometimes appear available for pairing, the game system spits out a message “Cannot find Bluetooth audio devices” even after several attempts.
According to the changelog, the update also adds some features to make the wired Internet connection more useful. The Switch will be able to stay connected to the internet even in sleep mode if it’s wired, apparently via an adapter or the built-in LAN port on the upcoming Nintendo Switch OLED dock. Nintendo says this will help the console download content while idle, and that the feature will be on by default. Oh, and you may also have to do firmware updates for the base with the built-in LAN port. However, you wouldn’t expect them to be as exciting as this update.