Following the biggest Nintendo console release ever in 2017, early adopters of the Nintendo Switch noticed connection issues with the left Joy-Con, but not the right Joy-Con. Why would this be the case? Both Joy-Cons feature the same Broadcom Bluetooth transceiver, after all.
While it was initially thought that it was due to a software issue, it was later revealed that it was down to the hardware - although those purchasing a Nintendo Switch in 2019 shouldn't worry. Here, we explain why the left Joy-Con connection issues are occurring, and how you can fix it if you're affected.
Why do I have connection issues with my left Joy-Con?
While users initially thought that the Nintendo Switch left Joy-Con connection issue was software-related and that Nintendo would fix it with a patch shortly after release, iFixit’s teardown of the modular console revealed that it is, in fact, a hardware issue. Take a look at the below photo from iFixit:
It seems that in addition to the slightly different button layouts, the right Joy-Con has both an IR sensor and NFC sensor, making the internals pretty cramped compared to the spacious left Joy-Con. The lack of space in the right Joy-Con is why Nintendo decided to include a dedicated antenna, with the aim of boosting the Bluetooth signal (this is the grey cable you can see above the circuit board in the above photo).
However, as you can see above, the left Joy-Con doesn’t feature an IR or NFC sensor, so there’s much more room to play with. So much room, in fact, that Nintendo decided to put the antenna directly on the main circuit board. Per Ars Technica, “the circuit board peninsula that you can see right next to the stick acts as the antenna”. But what does that mean to everybody at home?
Essentially, it means that the left Joy-Con sometimes has issues with sending commands to the console, hence the connectivity issue. The good news is that you can fix any Joy-Con issues with the help of Nintendo.
How to fix Joy-Con connection issues
So, what can you do to negate the effects of the left Joy-Con connection issue? While home repair kits for consoles are nothing new, we don’t recommend taking your Joy-Con apart and soldering on a makeshift antenna. Even Spawn Wave, the YouTuber that performs the repair in the below video, warns against viewers trying it at home.
So, apart from taking the Joy-Con apart and fixing it yourself, what is there to do? Nintendo has released guidelines that should help negate the effects. What does it include? Apart from the rather standard instructions for making sure the system software is up to date and that the controllers are charged, Nintendo advises users keep the Switch away from Aquariums and WiFi-enabled devices.
Yes, you heard that right, Nintendo advises that you keep the Switch at least three or four feet away from a WiFi-enabled device. Now, that’s pretty much impossible: most modern TVs have built-in Wi-Fi, as do media streamers and other game consoles, and all are in incredibly close proximity to one another. It’s a similar story with wireless headphones, speakers and even USB 3.0-compatible devices like memory sticks.
So, what else should you try? Don’t keep the Switch behind the TV, in or under a metal object or pressed against large amounts of cords.
It'san annoying workaround that didn't resonate well with consumers, and after initially staying quiet, Nintendo now offers a proper fix for the issue.
Nintendo confirmed in a statement to Polygon that despite apparently not having a hardware issue, the company did find a "manufacturing variation" with the controllers that was promptly fixed, meaning consoles bought in 2018 and 2019 shouldn't suffer from the same connectivity issues.
Nintendo does have a fix available for affected early retail units, but it first has to make sure that the issues are truly down to the hardware. As reported by Polygon, Nintendo said the following:
"There are other reasons consumers may be experiencing wireless interference. We are asking consumers to contact our customer support team so we can help them determine if a repair is necessary. If it is, consumers can send their controller directly to Nintendo for the adjustment, free of charge, with an anticipated quick return of less than a week."
So, after initially staying quiet on the issue, Nintendo is now willing to admit that there was an issue with the controllers, and the company is now actively fixing the issue for affected users.