Switch’s Left Joycon Connectivity Issue Appears to be Hardware Related

The fine folks over at Spawn Wave did some investigating into the connectivity issues being reported in regards to the left Joycon of the Nintendo Switch. As it turns out, the baked in antenna is in a pretty bad location next to a giant piece of metal. It’s also in a spot where your hand is likely going to be covering it up, dampening the connectivity issue further. The antenna itself is baked into the main board. The right joycon has an entirely separate a antenna that is not baked into the main board and located in a different spot, explaining why it generally does not have these connectivity issues.

To further prove it’s all about location and design, Spawn Wave soldered on a wire from the antenna line and moved it to a location on the controller that isn’t obstructed by metal or your hand. The result? The signal was so much better that it actually gained a longer range away from the system (including behind the back) than the right joycon. This seems to point to the fact that the connectivity issues are entirely hardware related.

The interesting part in all of this is that not everyone is having this issue. Some folks have an issue when they are just a few feet away from the system. Others when they are at a more comfortable 10 to 15 feet. Others? No issues at all until you reach more reasonable distances to expect issues – say 20+ feet away or more. However, the issue itself is well documented and fairly frequent. The fact it doesn’t happen for everyone does suggest that there is possible two left joycon designs out there – one with the design flaw and one without. It’s obviously possible Nintendo caught the design flaw at some point during production and simply changed future production to a better design. It’s also possible Nintendo never saw this issue in testing and then simply lowered the overall signal output to increase battery life before launch.

It’s also possible the design itself isn’t directly Nintendo’s fault, as Foxconn, the manufacturer of the system and Joycons, have been known to cut corners at times without the parent company’s knowledge. You can see further proof this might be the case by watching the video below:

The video obviously shows the most extreme cases of issues with Nintendo Switch, but it’s an important video that shows that clearly some Switch’s either never got properly tested or corners were cut during the manfufactoring process. I’ve heard some folks complain they have a faded “milky” screen as well, leading to a bit of a silicon lottery situation like the 3DS currently has. However, those incidents seem to be few, as most folks report they have a very high quality screen.

In the end, a lot of this stuff in general is simply part of the growing pains when launching any new piece of hardware. Nintendo likely won’t recall left joycons, but they could release an update that increases the signal strength (potentially) that will fix the issues across the board while ensuring all future joycon production no longer has the issue in the first place. As for the issues others are having – clearly those are defective systems that Foxconn did not properly check.

Speaking from personal experience, I have not had connectivity issues with my packed in joycons, nor my extra set of blue joycons. However, I also haven’t done a full range test either, so I’ll get back to you on the results and if I do notice a difference between the two, I’ll make a video explaining my testing and even examine the skus to notice if there is a clear “run” difference (IE, model version difference) that you can try and check on your end. Hopefully I’ll have more on this whole issue for you folks tonight!

Nathanial Rumphol-Janc

A veteran in the video game media sphere, Nathanial co-founded Gamnesia, founded MetroidWiki.org, ran the news the segment on the Zelda Universe Podcast, found and ran Zelda Domain from 1998 to 2006, and built Zelda Informer as the Editor-in-Chief from 2008 to 2017. He now owns and operates Nintendo Prime. You can follow him on twitter @NateJanc, otherwise just stay tuned at Nintendo Prime for more of his work.