19 July 2019
UPDATE (July 29th, 2019):
The much-awaited Nintendo Switch Android port is finally available for enthusiasts to download. The modded Android version is available for all hackable Switch models (usually sold before summer 2018). The mod is essentially LineageOS 15.1 based on Android 8.1 Oreo and features pre-installed TWRP custom recovery. It is compatible with the handheld as well as docked mode.
But before you proceed, here is a quick list of known issues with the custom mod:
- Deep sleep, so battery life is not great
- Auto rotation
- Screen off in dock
- Charging is not detected, but console still charges
- Some apps don’t handle joycon inputs correctly
- The touchscreen sometimes detects touches even when your finger is just floating over the screen
Original (June 24th, 2019)
There are various bare-bones Nintendo Switch Android mods available out there but if you have been waiting for a fully-fledged version, the wait is about to get over. The folks over at XDA have got access to an early private build of a new mod that brings complete Android experience to Nintendo Switch.
This unofficial mod has been developed by Billy Laws aka ByLaws and fellow developers who have been working on the same for months now. It is based on LineageOS 15.1 (Android 8.1 Oreo) build which was originally meant for the NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV. It transforms the hand-held gaming console into a complete Android tablet with support for all Android apps and games available on the Google Play Store. It means you can enjoy YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu like you would on an actual tablet.
One of the best things about this Android mod is that it installs and runs from the external microSD card. It means you don't have to worry about getting banned from using Nintendo services since you are not meddling with any of the official components and offerings. It also means that you are not restricted to the native 32GB storage space and can have as much storage as you want to have with the help of microSD cards.
The initial impressions of the mod have been positive for the most part. The underlying Tegra X1 processor and 4GB RAM means the performance is smooth and fast. This holds true even for Android games including PUBG Mobile. Although, it was running on Balanced graphics since all the higher graphics were labeled as coming soon.
As far as Joycons support is concerned, it was found to be working for some apps and not working on others. There is no way to know whether these will work beforehand. It means you will have to just launch a particular app and see if both, only one or none of them work. One interesting thing to note here is that Joycons currently works on Android only via a wireless connection. A wireless connection is needed even if you have physically attached them to the console.
All in all, the Nintendo Switch Android mod performance is satisfactory except for a few minor hiccups here and there. One such major issue is that since the device lacks GPS and cameras, you will not be able to use apps like Pokemon Go and Snapchat as they rely on these hardware components for working. The team has said that a public build will be released soon along with an easy-to-use installer and complete instructions. An exact release timeline is still missing but we will keep you updated as any more details will be shared.