Nintendo Switch gets unofficial Android port

(Image credit: Nintendo)

For many, the Nintendo Switch has a form factor and interface that would make it ideal for running a mobile operating system on and, along with it, the wealth of popular mobile gaming titles. However, it’s fair to assume that Nintendo would not be so keen on this idea.

The Japanese gaming giant is well known for being overly protective of its property and how exactly it’s used, but that hasn’t stopped the enthusiasts over at XDA Developers from releasing a publicly available (and highly unofficial) Android ROM for the portable console.

The firmware is based on the Nvidia Shield TV operating system – LineageOS 15.1, which itself is based on Android 8.1 – and can be used to browse the web, play mobile games, and (theoretically) anything else you could do on a mobile device.

With LineageOS 15.1 installed on your Switch, you’ll be able to use it in both handheld and docked modes, with audio and Joy-Con support in both modes.

There's a catch...

Naturally, this comes with a pile of caveats too, the foremost of them being that Nintendo obviously doesn’t support this kind of meddling and wouldn’t help you if any kind of issue were to befall your console as a result of the hack.

You’ll also need a Switch console that is able to run the Hekate bootloader, something that might not be possible if you’ve purchased one of the updated consoles after June 2018.

Apart from that, some other listed limitations include poor battery life, a lack of auto-rotation, Joy-Cons not communicating properly with some apps, and various patchy Wi-Fi and docking problems.

While this is certainly a hack reserved for those with some knowhow at this stage (we don’t recommend trying this if you’re inexperienced, for fear of bricking your console), it does mark a significant milestone for cracking open the Nintendo Switch’s full potential.

Harry Domanski
Harry is an Australian Journalist for TechRadar with an ear to the ground for future tech, and the other in front of a vintage amplifier. He likes stories told in charming ways, and content consumed through massive screens. He also likes to get his hands dirty with the ethics of the tech.