Nintendo announced the surprise Bluetooth audio support arrived on the Switch via a software update. The ability to use Bluetooth headphones to listen to in-game audio is a feature that has been clearly missing since the console’s launch in 2017, so it’s great to finally have it – although there are a few limitations.
According to a Nintendo Support article, you’ll be limited to using two wireless controllers if you’ve connected a Bluetooth headset. The system won’t support Bluetooth microphones either, 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 games with their own built-in voice chat capabilities.
People went 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 have acted as adapters. Bluetooth audio, and some headsets like the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless come with a dongle that takes advantage of the Switch’s support for USB wireless headphones.
Having built-in Bluetooth audio is therefore a big deal, especially since 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 natively support Bluetooth audio). Even with the aforementioned limitations, the feature seems to be well supported: Nintendo says the Switch can register up to 10 connected devices, and says it should work with both the standard Switch and the Switch Lite.
My colleague Jay Peters was able to connect his AirPods Pro to his Switch base and to a Switch Lite without too many problems. 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: Gather, without noticeable delay – something that is particularly important for by WarioWare fast and nervous micro-games. While using his Basic 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) struggled to find and connect to any Bluetooth device. He got an Arctis Pro Wireless to connect after rebooting the Switch three times, but most attempts were unsuccessful, including with a set of first-gen Amazon Echo Buds and Wyze Buds Pro, a Bluetooth adapter for the Bose QC25 and LG TV. . While some of them sometimes appear available for pairing, the gaming system will spit out a “Cannot find Bluetooth audio devices” message even after repeated attempts.
According to the changelog, the update also adds some features to make wired internet more useful. The Switch will be able to stay connected to the internet even in sleep mode if it’s wired, apparently through an adapter or the built-in LAN port on the upcoming Nintendo Switch OLED docking station. Nintendo says it will help the console download content while it’s asleep, and the feature will be on by default. Oh, and you may also need to perform firmware updates for the docking station with the built-in LAN port. I wouldn’t expect these to be as exciting as this update.