Did Nintendo Switch’s surprising Bluetooth audio update yesterday make your handheld worse instead of better? That’s what happened to me: instead of inviting me into the magical world of wireless audio, it repeatedly failed to detect my headsets and connect to them reliably.
Worse, it suddenly took over 30 seconds to wake my Switch! That’s a huge pain in the butt, given that one of the Switch’s biggest strengths is how you can jump right back into a game.
But after a whole bunch of testing, I think I know what’s going on – and seeing the same thing, a full Switch shutdown seems to provide a partial solution.
It’s not quite so simple, so read on for the details.
Nintendo Switch’s Bluetooth pairing problem
To pair a Bluetooth headset, go to: System settings, scroll down to Bluetooth audio, put your Bluetooth device into pairing mode, tap Pair device: on your Switch, then select your device once it appears on the Switch’s screen.
If it mates, you’re done! If it failed because your device was not ready to pair, you can power still be okay. Just put it back into pairing mode and tap the Search again button on your Switch.
Problem #1. But if it fails to pair properly – as your Switch thinks it’s paired, if your headset flashes as if it’s paired but isn’t transmitting audio and doesn’t show up on your Switch screen as a paired headset, you could be in for a world of pain. The process of the Switch does: not fail gracefully, and you may encounter all sorts of error messages afterwards.
After that point, sometimes my Switch won’t even bother to keep searching for Bluetooth devices. A message “Cannot find Bluetooth audio devices” appears when I press the scan button.
Problem #2. And if you run into a ghost pairing issue, you may also have an issue with the Switch waking up from sleep mode – because it seems like the Switch is trying to activate Bluetooth audio before it wakes up the screen and controllers.
This is what the Nintendo Switch looks like without any Bluetooth audio devices paired or memorized. It wakes up pretty quickly, right?
But once I pair a headset to the Switch, it’s no longer instant: the screen takes a little longer to light up, and it doesn’t immediately recognize my button press to unlock the system.
Now, here’s what it’s like if the Switch can’t pair properly with a waiting headset:
So, uh, not only is my Nintendo Switch not getting along with Bluetooth headphones from the new update…it now takes AT LEAST 10 seconds to wake up from sleep. pic.twitter.com/13dUvv41ga
— Sean Hollister (@StarFire2258) September 15, 2021
(Why yes, my eyes to do looks scary when they are out, thanks for noticing.)
How to partially fix Nintendo Switch Bluetooth
You need to shut down the Switch completely, and I mean shut down completely. I restarted it quite often and it didn’t seem to help.
- Tap the power button and wait how long it takes for your screen to turn on
- Disconnect and forget all Bluetooth devices
- Press and hold the power button for four seconds until you see Power management
- Tap Power management then hit Switch off
- Wait a minute and turn your Switch back on
Sometimes, simply turning my Switch off was enough to fix the ghost pairing issue (where I saw a 10-30 second delay when the system wakes up) and let me re-pair the Bluetooth headsets. I was able to pair my Wyze Buds Pro on the very first try, a headset that repeatedly failed to connect last night.
But other times it still wouldn’t do a first pair – and as soon as I saw the “Unable to find Bluetooth audio devices” message, it would take forever for my Switch to wake up from sleep again. Your mileage may vary: just in case it matters, I’m using the v2 from the original Switch, the one that extended battery life.
And if you’re trying to restore the full wake-up speed the Switch is normally known for, you’ll also need to unpair and forget about any Bluetooth devices. before you do the full closing. When I just unpaired a Bluetooth headset but left it in the Bluetooth menu, I still saw the slight lag. Same if I first shut down and then unplug and forgot the headset second.
My guess is that the Switch will leave its Bluetooth audio feature enabled when it thinks you’re going to use it, but you can force it by removing those devices and starting a full shutdown.
We asked Nintendo if these are known issues and if we can expect fixes in a future firmware update. We’ll let you know what we hear.