The 3DS Battery Drains Me

The 3DS Battery Drains Me

For nearly a week, I’ve been playing with the 3DS. And during that time, I’ve asked one question over and over again: How’s the battery?

It’s pretty much what Nintendo said it is. According to the Kyoto-based game company, the 3DS’s battery can last anywhere between 3 to 5 hours and up to 8 hours with no 3D. The 3DS’s battery life is dependent on the settings. So it is possible to lower the brightness and use an lower energy setting to conserve energy. Those numbers are about right, and in the real world, they sometimes end up feeling short.

I wanted to give Nintendo the benefit of the doubt regarding the battery life, which is why I’ve waited days to discuss it. Nintendo said the battery would last between 3 and 8 hours, and I wanted to make sure it did. Well, it does.

The thing is, after owning a DSi XL and a DS Lite, which can seemingly go forever without a charge depending on your settings, it’s hard to get used to the idea that the 3DS is an energy gobbler — especially with the 3D. Like, I’ve read the specs, I knew going in that the 3DS needs a fair amount of juice. But in the real world, it’s been a bit harder to get my head around. I often end up feeling like, “Oh, I need to charge my 3DS. Again?” While with the DS Lite, it was always ready to play — or at least seemed that way.

Three to five hours is short. Eight hours is far better. If you are travelling on a cross-country or international plane flight, don’t be surprised if your 3DS runs out of gas before you land. My advice: do not use the 3D. It’s not necessary to enjoy the 3DS. The system has much more to offer than that.

The 3DS battery “issue” ends up being a bit of a wash, because the Sony told Kotaku that the NGP’s battery life is going to be comparable to the PSP’s, which would mean it could have between 4 and 6 hours of life. Also, so many smartphones these days also seem to slurp down electricity.

The trump card for the 3DS and its battery is the fact that Nintendo has made it possible for 3DS owners to open up their handheld and change the battery themselves — something that doesn’t look possible for the NGP. Nintendo even has a walkthrough in the instruction booklet! This means that conceivably Nintendo (or another company) could release a better battery at some point and 3DS owners would not be forced to upgrade their hardware. They could just get a new battery. While I’m not crazy about the battery life, I do like the possibilities. A lot.


  • The changeable battery was something the PSP had over the DS.

    Now that the 3DS has it, I can rest easy knowing I will very likely not even need to upgrade. I didn’t need to upgrade my DS phat, and now I won’t need to upgrade the 3DS.

    Right now the 3DS batter is 1300 mAh, but i have seen phones that go up to something like 3200 mAh, so I have no worries in thinking that battery life could potentially double with a new battery.

  • Let me tell you something. I’m a full time uni student. So I am, required by law to be totally broke at all times. The only DS I have is a 3rd hand original fat DS I got from EB games for $30. The battery only lasts 2 hours at best. That is, when the thing charges at all. The charging socket is so banged up that when it does work it takes about 4 hours to get that 2 hours of battery life.

    8 hours is more than enough for me.

  • My DSLite’s battery life is horrible. I only get 3-4 hours out of it before I run the risk of not being able to save my data.

  • It is great that they let you replace the battery, but it would be even greater if it just clipped in, then you could carry a spare 🙂

    It does make me wonder about the longevity of the battery if they have gone to the trouble of making it replaceable.

    Just out of interest, how long exactly does the battery on your old DSi last for?

  • interesting.. when nintendo makes spare batteries available, i’ll buy one and carry it in my 3ds pouch.. i did this with my other electronics: leave the battery cover unscrewed, use a crystal case and it’s held closed. when the battery goes to red, just swap it out, and charge them some other time.

    a minor inconvenience to what i hope is an amazing system.

  • This might sound a bit dumb, but couldn’t you, say, just buy two batteries and switch them over? Painful as it would be, if you really needed something to kill that little bit of time…

  • Hmmm… I pre-ordered this thingy, now after reading this, I’m thinking about canceling my preorder.

    Not just because 3 hours is short, but the sentence “My advice: do not use the 3D. It’s not necessary to enjoy the 3DS.” really puts me off.

    I mean, I always WANTED a DS or DSi and so on, but never really regretted not getting one. I wanted this because everybody seemed so “blown away” by the 3D of the 3DS after last E3.
    Maybe I should just wait for the games and how Sony next-gen handheld compares to this before christmas.

  • The more demanding DS games reduced the Battery life allot faster than there suggested lengths which where often tested with 2D launch DS games.

    I just hope western handheld games start to be good. If the 3DS and NGP get iphone quality games there battery life will not be a issue and not only because the games draw hardly any processing power. but because no one will want to use them.

    3DS and NGP need to be for Developed games. Not “Flash games you pay for” like iphone.

  • Still planning on waiting for 3DS v2.0

    Hopefully it will have a better battery, and much, much better games by then (not planning on an NGP unless FFXIII is AMAZING….I did by a PSP for Crisis Core only).

    Anywho, 3DS is my first pref, but not until it gets some expected tweaks and since all technology companies seem to release annual upgrades, I am guessing I have about a year to save up.

  • Wait what? The 3DS has a changeable battery? Wow I can’t believe I missed that. Hopefully Nintendo will sell separate batteries sooner rather than later. It certainly made my long trips with a PSP manageable.

  • Uhm… why are people talking like the first DS didn’t have a changeable battery? Its cover was totally held on by a single phillips head screw :/

    I still use my launch day Phat, and its battery life is somewhere around the 3 hour mark these days. It feels like it hardly lasts at all. Very disappointing to hear the 3DS will deliver the exact same experience.

  • You only get 4.5 hours AT MOST with the 3DS’s audio and backlit screen turned off?! Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic. Back in ’93, my GameGear lasted longer with its required 6 AA batteries on car trips. But… back to Nintendo: The 3DS comes with NO pack-in cartridge (you only get bullsh*t ‘Augmented Reality’ cards); it only gets 4.5 hours of battery life; it has NO AC adapter. AND you have to pay nearly $300 for it?! The 3DS is a flat-out crock of bullsh*t. And yeah, I agree that if 3D is “not necessary to enjoy the 3DS”, as the Kotaku reviewer asserts, then the 3DS ain’t worth buying. Consumers are expected to pay $300 for a Nintendo handheld with NO GAME, NO AC Adapter, and pathetic battery life?! There’s the consumers’ ‘Augmented Reality’ right there — they don’t even need the cards from Nintendo.

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