Monday, 10 January 2011

3DS Battery Life: Unsurprisingly As Expected

Nintendo has been showing off much of its new 3DS system at their World Event in Japan, with confirmed date and full launch line-up for the system’s Japanese release – February 26th – along with a small barrage of impressive video demonstrations of this year’s biggest games for the platform. We may be taking a small, updated tech-themed look at some of these later on in the week, but for now our attention has been turned to the console’s confirmed battery specifications.

Using a 1,300 mAh rated battery, Nintendo has revealed that 3DS games running on the system would give the user around 3-5 hrs of playtime, while original DS games would yield an average of between 5-8 hours before charging is required - noticeably less than the 9 to 14 hours possible on the DSi and 15 to 19 hours on the DSL. Charging itself will require around 3.5 hours.

As to be expected, how long each charge lasts will be dictated by both the screen’s brightness setting and the software being played. Nintendo themselves have stated that screen brightness will have the most affect, although we know that other factors also regularly come into play.

Titles that use up more of the GPU’s capabilities – to push either more geometry on screen, or with additional effects – will drain more power from the device. You also have to consider the additional power requirements of using a parallax barrier, auto-stereoscopic display, which is likely to use up more juice than a regular LCD screen.

While 3-5 hours may not seem like much, given the visuals being pushed on screen by the GPU, and when comparing it to the iPhone 4’s 4-6 hour mark playing games such as Infinity Blade, then this seems well in line with other handheld devices out there. By contrast, some Android smartphones last a mere 2-3 hours when playing high-end games, and that’s with many unessential features turned off.

The 3DS then, should provide ample playtime for most gamers out there, with only the most dedicated of the hardcore crowd likely playing games for the maximum 5 hours straight. That said, a back-up battery-powered recharging station, supplementing the system's usual power supply, looks like an essential add-on for all those looking to regularly travel on long commutes.

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