Here’s Android Running on a… Nintendo Switch?


When launched in October 2016, the Nintendo Switch shipped almost 3 million devices within its first month. Within a year, it sold almost 14 million units surpassing the total lifetime sales of the Nintendo Wii U. As of December 2018, more than 32 million units have been sold worldwide. Because of its hybrid design, the Nintendo Switch can be used as a fully-fledged gaming console which you can also take on the go. Now, it looks like you can do a lot more things with it.

Giving the Nintendo Switch a taste of Oreo

Developed by XDA Member Bylaws and a few others, the Nintendo Switch Android Mod runs entirely from the system’s microSD card. This means that the actual system files of the Nintendo switch remain untouched. So you won’t get banned from Nintendo for modding your Switch if you decide to do so.

The Nintendo Switch Android mod takes Lineage OS 15.1 (based on Android 8.1 Oreo and gives you Android in both handheld and docked modes. The ROM is also based on Nvidia Shield TV and according to the developer, you can even fool the Nintendo Switch into thinking that it’s an Nvidia Shield TV. In doing so, you can install the Nvidia app and possibly play Switch-exclusive titles.

Nintendo Switch
Yep, that’s Android running on a Switch (Image Credits: XDA)

This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen someone trying to mod the Nintendo Switch. A couple of months ago, we saw a sneak peek of it running Android. This was made possible due to a few factors. Firstly, the Nintendo Switch is powered by an ARM-based Nvidia Tegra X1 chip. So Android support was always possible in terms of hardware compatibility.

In addition, an exploit took advantage of a flaw in the Tegra X1 chip that gave access to its boot ROM. The flaw enabled modders to run Linux on the Nintendo Switch. From there, it was only a matter of time before someone found a way to run Android on it. And that’s exactly what they did.

Nintendo Switch
Lineage OS running on a Nintendo Switch. Now you’ve seen everything (Image Credits: Thurrott)

The mod also takes full support of the Joy-Cons. This means that you can play Android games as well as emulators, using the Joy-Cons as a controller, giving it that retro gaming vibe. Not all games will work smoothly though. Remember, it’s still a work in progress.

It’s not all that sweet though

Everything you need to know about the Mod is here. Clearly, it’s not a bed of rose. For example, deep sleep is buggy so you are bound to experience decreased battery life. The screen doesn’t turn off when docked, and there are also reports of ghost touches. Lastly, there are also reports of some apps not handling the Joy-Con outputs correctly.

Should you take the plunge?

Well, that decision is entirely up to you. You should be fully aware of what you’re doing if you are looking to run Android on your Nintendo Switch. We bear no responsibility if you damage your Nintendo Switch in any way. We’re still not sure how good the gaming performance would be on Android for the Nintendo Switch.

Nintendo Switch
While mods like those for Tomb Raider exist for the Switch, other demanding titles may not work well with the Android mod (Image Credits: XDA)

Given that the Switch has reduced clock speeds in comparison to the Nvidia Shield TV, it’s likely that heavy games will stutter or perhaps not work at all. On the other hand, the custom ROM supports CPU/GPU profiles so you can actually overclock the CPU and GPU when you want to run a game.

We wouldn’t recommend using the Switch as an Android tablet either. For starters, the Tegra X1 chip is fairly old and most smartphones from 2018 and later will outperform it in terms of games. Things might get better in future releases, but we wouldn’t get too excited about it.

However, if you have a Nintendo Switch lying around and you are not afraid to tinker with it, you could go ahead and try out the Android Mod for it and see for yourself. If you do, we would love to hear from you about it as well.


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