You can now install Android on the Nintendo Switch, using the LineageOS 15.1 Android ROM. However, there are plenty of caveats you need to be aware of first…
If you’ve ever wondered whether you could port Android onto the Nintendo Switch, you’re in luck – there is now a working Android ROM that’ll run on the Nintendo Switch.
HOWEVER, this is not an official ROM nor is it endorsed or supported by Nintendo. That means you download and install it at your own risk. And if things go wrong, which they might, Nintendo might not replace your busted Switch because you messed around with the software.
You will also need to ensure that you have the correct Nintendo Switch console too. Why? Because in order to run the Android ROM, you need to be able to run the Hekate bootloader and that only works on older Nintendo Switch consoles (anything before June 2018, basically).
On top of this, you’ll definitely want some kind of experience with custom ROMs before you attempt this – it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted! Got it? OK, good – here’s how you install Android on the Nintendo Switch via XDA.
How To Install Android on Nintendo Switch
- Download The Android ROM (You Can Do That Here)
- Pick the image that corresponds to the size of your SD card. You can use an image that is smaller than your card. You’ll end up with the remaining space unused on your card.
- Write the image to your SD card with e.g. balenaEtcher Do not extract the image, Etcher can handle the compressed image just fine! WARNING: This will overwrite any contents on your card! The progress bar/percentage might go haywire in Etcher, but you can ignore that. The flashing will still work and Etcher will let you know when it’s done. It can take up to an hour depending on your SD card’s speed. Also, make sure not to format any of the partitions when Windows prompts you to after flashing.
- Download GApps for Android 8.1. from OpenGApps, use ARM64. Put the file on the first partition of your new SD card
If the desired download the “Shield-ifier” zip and place it also on the SD card. This will make your Switch identify as Nvidia Shield TV and install the Nvidia app.
- Load Hekate and boot to TWRP by holding VOL+ when you select the Android config.
- Make sure to mount /system first in TWRP. Flash GApps zip, optionally flash other zips. Also after installing GApps wipe cache/Dalvik as offered by TWRP. Video that shows how to access and flash zips in TWRP: https://youtu.be/3F6WgAb44yk
- Reboot to Hekate and boot into Android
- Complete the initial setup. For the Nvidia app to work make sure to update it from Play Store!
Is LineageOS 15.1 For Nintendo Switch Stable?
LineageOS 15.1 is based on the NVIDIA Shield TV’s operating system, so performance and functionality are pretty solid. The custom ROM is the first publicly available Android ROM for the Nintendo Switch. It is also extremely stable, bringing all the functionality you’d expect over from the Shield TV.
With LineageOS 15.1 installed on your Switch, you’ll be able to use the Nintendo Switch in both handheld and dock modes. You can enjoy using the JoyCon with it, which is surprising given just how locked-down Nintendo’s hardware usually is!
LineageOS 15.1 is not 100% perfect though; there are some known bugs, according to the developer. The most pressing right now is as follows:
- Won’t Go Into Deep Sleep Mode
- Auto-Rotation Doesn’t Work
- Unable To Turn Display off When Docked
- Some Apps Don’t Handle JoyCon Input Correctly
- Touchscreen Issues
- WiFi May Randomly Stop Working
And that’s about it. Should you install LineageOS 15.1 on your Nintendo Switch? Probably not. I mean, it could break the entire console and you don’t want that. On top of that, Nintendo’s software for the Switch is pretty damn good, so why mess with a winning formula?
Personally, I wouldn’t do this. But I know A LOT of you guys love tinkering with things, so if you’ve ever fancied porting Android onto the Nintendo Switch, well… now you can!
Just remember: it’s not designed for the Switch, so it might cause some issues!
Have you heard about Nintendo’s incoming Nintendo Switch 2? It’s shaping up to be pretty darn interesting!
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.