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What does the L next to the Nintendo Switch Wi-Fi symbol mean?

Have you noticed a tiny L character appearing next to the Wi-Fi indicator on the Nintendo Switch home screen?

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Nintendo Switch L character Wi-Fi symbol
Nintendo / Thumbsticks

Have you noticed a tiny “L” character appearing next to the Wi-Fi signal symbol on the Nintendo Switch home screen? Here’s what it means.

Some Nintendo Switch users have recently spotted a tiny capital “L” snuggled up to the home screen’s Wi-Fi connection icon. But what does it mean?

Various theories circulating on internet forums and message boards suggest that it indicates a low-quality Wi-Fi connection. Indeed, the Switch doesn’t have the strongest wireless networking capability. The console uses a Broadcom BCM4356 chip and owners have found issues with its signal strength and range ever since launch.

Nonetheless, the standard three bars of the Wi-Fi icon are all that are required to indicate the strength of a wireless internet connection. The truth behind the “L” is actually much simpler.

Nintendo Switch L character Wi-Fi symbol

The “L” just means the Switch is using a Local Wi-Fi connection. It will be familiar to anyone who has played Nintendo Switch games using local wireless multiplayer, such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and FIFA 20.

The reason many players are noticing the character for the first time is due Pokémon Sword and Shield’s online game modes.

By default, Pokémon Sword and Shield is always primed for trading, battles and raids with other players. And to do this, it defaults to using the Switch’s local wireless connection. You’ll notice that if you go into the game’s Y-COMM menu and connect to the internet, the “L” disappears. You can also check the game’s connection status – which is displayed as either “Local Communication” or “Internet” – in the top right corner of the Y-COMM menu.

So it’s nothing to worry about, and if you want to turn off all wireless communication to save battery life, you can do so by putting your Nintendo Switch into Flight Mode.

The various ways in which the Switch can connect online are detailed on the Play Nintendo website.


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Thumbsticks editor, and connoisseur of Belgian buns. Currently playing: Fire Emblem Three Houses, Skyrim (still), and Grid.