For a console designed to be played almost anywhere, the Nintendo Switch has mysteriously lacked support for wireless headphones, despite having Bluetooth connectivity. You’ve either had to connect headphones using a wire, or attach a wireless headphone adapter. But with the 13.0.0 Switch update that just rolled out, the Switch finally supports Bluetooth audio devices.
Nintendo of America just announced the new feature on its Twitter account, although you’d have assumed the company would have made a bigger deal about promoting the added functionality given Switch gamers have been asking for native Bluetooth audio support for years now. Better late than never?
With the 13.0.0 update installed, a new Bluetooth Audio section appears in the Switch’s settings menu beneath Controllers and Sensors, with a simple Pair Device option, along with a list of limitations that are also detailed in a new support page on the Nintendo website. With a Bluetooth audio device connected—be it a pair of wireless headphones, earbuds, or a speaker—the Switch is only able to wirelessly connect to up two controllers at a time. This means four-player Super Mario Party battles are out of the question. Bluetooth audio devices will also be disconnected when two Switches are locally connected for wireless multiplayer gaming.
The Switch also only allows a single Bluetooth audio device to be actively paired at any one time, although it can remember connections to up to 10 different devices at a time. The console also doesn’t support the microphone on wireless headphones or speakers, presumably because voice chat functionality on the Switch is already reliant on a smartphone app, and Nintendo warns that gamers may experience audio latency depending on the type of Bluetooth audio device being used. Those are not insignificant limitations, and it’s probably why Nintendo didn’t include this functionality at launch. But with the Switch getting long in the tooth, and the holidays are coming up with only the OLED Switch as a new hardware option, it’s an upgrade that does make the original Switch more appealing for those who haven’t bought one yet.