Guides

How to hack your Nintendo Switch and install Android 10

With just a little elbow grease, you’ll have access to all of Android’s apps, games, and emulators.

Have an original Switch but want it to do more with it?

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Hackers have built Android 10 for hackable Switches

This unlocks tons of games, emulators, and other interesting use cases that Nintendo would never allow.

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Background

In 2019 a team called Switchroot and some folks at XDA Developers ported a version of Android to the Nintendo Switch, allowing apps like YouTube, Spotify, the Google Play store, and even game emulators.

Since then, the same team has upgraded its original mod to Android 10, greatly expanding the port’s capabilities.

You should know...

Given the unofficial nature of the mod, getting your Switch to run Android isn’t exactly straightforward or 100 percent safe.

Nintendo has been known to ban consoles for playing pirated Switch games, but thus far nobody has been banned for this mod. That said, you should assume that changing your Switch’s software could draw Nintendo’s ire.

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But, if you’re willing to take the risk, we’ve highlighted a relatively straightforward method with some pretty nifty upsides. This guide will focus on the newest Switchroot mod which uses a Lineage version of Android 10. The updated method offers major advantages over the initial Android mod, including full Joy-Con support and an easier install process.

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First thing’s first...

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Check your serial number

Some newer Switch models with an updated chipset and battery improvements have been patched, so not every console is actually hackable. To see if yours is among the Android-ready consoles, you can check here. Switch Lite users can stop reading now — the handheld is entirely incompatible.

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Your Switch serial number is located on the bottom edge of your console.

Before you begin...

You should make sure you have a few things, including:

- A computer

- Joy-Cons that are synced to your Switch

- An RCM loader like this one

- A microSD card formatted to FAT32 (this will be partitioned to fit Android later)

- 7zip extractor (Windows extractor won’t do)

- Lineage OS 17.1 (Android 10) downloaded from here onto your computer

- Hekate, a Switch bootloader, downloaded onto your computer

- Download and flash gApps if you want the Play Store

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Once you have everything prepared, you can get to work...

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First...

Connect your Joy-Cons to the Switch, and your Switch’s microSD into your computer (you may also want to backup whatever you have on the card just in case). Unzip the Lineage OS file you downloaded previously using 7zip (not Windows extractor) and drop the files from the folder into the card’s root directory. Unzip your Hekate download and do the same.

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Connect your RCM

From there you can remove the microSD from your computer and slot it into your Nintendo Switch. Here’s where your RCM loader is going to come into play. Plug your RCM loader into the Switch and then press the Switch’s power button to boot it up and then hold the volume down button.

Thanks to your RCM, you should be booted into Hekate where you’ll be able to carry out several important installation steps. You can skip date and time setup and navigate to the main menu screen where you’ll tap “Nyx Options” at the bottom left and then “Dump Joy-Con BT” at the top right. This will sync up your attached Joy-Cons so they can be used in Android once you’ve downloaded it.

This is the message you should get if your Joy-Cons have been properly paired. 📷: XDA Developers

Time to partition

Once your Joy-Cons are synced, close the menu and tap on tools at the top of the Hekate interface and choose, “Arch bit, RCM, Touch, Partitions” at the bottom right. Select “Partition Card.”

From here you’ll choose with the slider how much space you want to reserve on the SD card for Android and how much you’ll want to reserve for the Switch (which is the HOS slider).

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📷: XDA Developers
📷: XDA Developers

The amount of space you designate is up to you, but just make sure you leave enough for the Android OS and other apps and games you may download in the future.

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Once you’ve got your balance struck, tap “next step” and then “start” and wait for the card to partition. Then tap “Flash Android,” then “Continue” and wait until you’re prompted to reboot into TWRP and tap “Continue.”

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When booted into TWRP swipe the bar at the bottom right to allow modifications and then press install. Tap on “select storage” and then choose your microSD card. Tap on your Lineage file (Android 10) and then swipe to confirm your choice.

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Installing the Play Store

You’ll want to make sure that you install gApps zip onto your console before you actually start running Android, so if you intend on using apps like the Google Play store, now is your chance. Make sure you’ve downloaded Arm 64 Pico version if you intend to use your Switch like a tablet.

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When the files are done installing, you’ll want to tap “Reboot system” to begin restarting your Switch. While your Switch is rebooting, hold the volume down button to load into Hekate one more time. In the Hekate menu, tape “more configs” and then, “Switchroot Android 10.”

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Drum roll...

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If everything has gone according to plan, your newly installed Android OS should start booting and your Switch should now be able to do a whole lot more.

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Like:

- Emulate Nintendo DS games with DraStic or games on non-Nintendo consoles via RetroArch

- Organize your whole game collection with frontends like Dig

- Or install games like Hidden Folks or 80 Days which are typically only playable through Steam, iOS or Android

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Cheers to a very unlikely union between Nintendo and Google.

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