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Nintendo 3DS: Futuristic Handheld, Retro Battery

Battery Life: Where’s the Beef?

So now we have to address the one true stinker about the Nintendo 3DS: Battery Life. To put it bluntly, the battery life on the 3DS is terrible when compared to previous DS handhelds.

The DS Lite, with the screen at its maximum brightness and max volume, will last between five and six hours on a full charge. Under the right conditions, you can squeeze nearly 20 hours of playtime out of the device before charging again. The DSi, while not as good as the DS Lite, could still go for up to 14 hours. So how does the 3DS fare in similar conditions? With maximum brightness, volume and the 3D on, you’re looking at roughly 2.5 hours of gaming. Even with those factors eliminated (playing at lower brightness, no WiFi and no 3D) the 3DS will die somewhere between the five and six hour marks. That means the best-case scenario for the 3DS is roughly as good as the worst-case for the DS Lite. Nintendo launched its handheld console business with the original Game Boy. Battery life was a crucial selling point for that device – especially when compared to the battery-eating SEGA Game Gear – so to see a company stray so far from its roots is a little disappointing.

Because you’ll be charging your 3DS way more than your DS Lite or DSi, Nintendo ships the console with a dock to make connecting and disconnecting from the power source a little easier. There are no buttons or fasteners to deal with; simply drop the 3DS into place and you’re done. There is even a small door that gives you access to the cartridge so you can swap games out while charging. Of course you can charge the 3DS directly through the included adapter, but the dock is a nice touch.