The Nintendo Switch has been a smash hit based on just about every metric you can use. But that doesn’t mean that the handheld console is perfect, and for a long time, Switch users complained about how the device was not compatible with wireless audio.
Luckily their demands were heard, and Nintendo has now added Bluetooth capabilities to the Switch, which means you can finally connect a pair of wireless headphones. The new functionality is available on both the Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo Switch Lite, and any Bluetooth headphones or earbuds should work, so gamers on the go can play privately without the inconvenience of cables.
To get the feature on your gadget, you’re going to need version 13.0.0 (or later) of the system software on your Nintendo Switch. To check, select the cog icon from the home screen, then choose System and System Update to find out if you’re right up to date or if you need to download and install a newer version.
Connecting Bluetooth headphones
To connect a pair of Bluetooth headphones, you first need to get your headphones into pairing mode so that they’re discoverable. How you do this will depend on the headphones, but check online or dig out the user manual if you’re not sure.
When it comes to the Apple AirPods Pro, for example, put them in the charging case, open the case lid and press and hold the button on the back of the case until the white light on the front starts blinking. The earbuds will stay in pairing mode until you close the lid again.
Once your headphones are in pairing mode, select the cog icon from the Nintendo Switch home screen, then choose Bluetooth Audio and Add Device (or Pair Device, as some users have reported seeing). When the headphones you want to connect show up on screen, select them and then confirm the connection.
If you adjust the Switch volume using the buttons on the top, you’ll notice the changes on your headphones while they’re connected. To permanently remove a pair of Bluetooth headphones, go back to the Bluetooth Audio menu in System Settings, then select the headphones and choose Remove Device. If you want to reconnect them, you’ll need to go through the pairing process all over again.
Limitations and issues
Nintendo says there are certain limitations to using Bluetooth audio. For example, when you connect your Bluetooth headphones you can only pair a maximum of two controllers to the Switch rather than the usual eight. Also, if your Bluetooth headphones have a built-in microphone, it won’t work.
Via an on-screen message, your Switch will also let you know that “you may experience latency depending on the Bluetooth device you are using.” This is not unusual for Bluetooth audio devices, but it’s still worth noting. Hopefully, as further software updates roll out, latency will be less of a problem and affect fewer devices.
Another limitation is that you can only pair your Switch to one audio device at a time, though the console can remember 10 devices and quickly swap between them. You should also be aware that Bluetooth audio will be disconnected whenever there is “local communication,” like, for example, when you start up a local wireless multiplayer game.
We’ve seen some reports of problems with this new feature, like slow wake-up times and varying audio quality between different pairs of Bluetooth headphones. If you experience anything like this, try removing any paired devices, powering off your Switch by holding the button at the top, and restarting it after 30 seconds.
Bear in mind that this is a brand new bit of functionality, so if one pair of headphones don’t connect properly, you might have better luck with a different pair.