News Article

Ever Wondered How Your 3DS Battery Life Compares To the Original Game Boy?

Posted by Damien McFerran

Semi-scientific evidence now available

As portable systems become more powerful it's almost a given that battery life has to suffer as a result. We all fondly remember getting hours and hours of use out of our old monochrome Game Boys and Game Boy Advance MK1 consoles, but just how much more stamina do these retro relics offer when compared to the likes of the DSi and 3DS XL?

Wonder no more. The results are in, thanks to Wired's Geekdad section. Using cutting-edge laboratory methods, the test - which, at one point, is interrupted by a mischievousness child - produced the following results:

  • Sony PSP: 3 hours, 45 minutes
  • Nintendo 3DS: 3 hours, 55 minutes
  • Nintendo DSi: 4 hours, 2 minutes
  • Nintendo DS Lite (Silver): 4 hours, 30 minutes
  • Nintendo 3DS XL: 4 hours, 32 minutes
  • Nintendo DS Lite (Yellow): 4 hours, 38 minutes
  • Game Boy Advance SP (Backlit): 4 hours, 50 minutes
  • Game Boy Micro: 5 hours, 30 minutes
  • Nintendo DSi XL: 5 hours, 45 minutes
  • Nintendo DS: 6 hours, 1 minute
  • Game Boy Advance SP (Frontlit, Black #1): 8 hours, 2 minutes
  • Game Boy Advance SP (Frontlit, Black #2): 8 hours, 5 minutes
  • Nintendo 3DS with Nyco battery pack: 9 hours, 11 minutes
  • Game Boy Advance SP (Frontlit, Silver): 11 hours, 56 minutes
  • Nintendo 3DS with Mugen battery pack: 13 hours, 50 minutes
  • Game Boy: 15 hours, 30 minutes (interference from child)
  • Game Boy Advance: 29 hours, 32 minutes
  • Game Boy Color: 35 hours, 45 minutes

The winner is the Game Boy Color, which is powered by just two AA batteries (but crucially lacks a back-lit screen). They sure don't make them like they used to.

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User Comments (40)



Grodus said:

Wow, the 3DS did pretty bad. Not quite as bad as PSP, but still pretty bad.



MysteryPatron said:

Wanna know the secret to extending the 3DS battery life? SCREEN BRIGHTNESS. Seriously, it's not that hard.



Ernest_The_Crab said:

@Grodus My guess is the 3DS had 3D and anything else that would drain its power considerably. I wouldn't really call this an apples to apples comparison seeing as the 3D is the primary drain on the system and as the article points out the Colour had no backlit screen.



turtlelink said:

I should report the user above me for using worser. jk

Dang, the DSi only lasted 4 hours? Felt like I was banging out 6 or 7 when I had extended play time with Pokemon.



hamispink said:

I don't know what 3ds they were using, but I could never dream of 3 hours and 55 minutes of battery life before I bought the nyko powerpack.
Also, I'd have liked to see where the gameboy pocket fit into this list. It was always my favorite of the gameboy line!

edit: also, I'm surprised that the ds lite didn't last longer.



Aqueous said:

Interesting video. Lots of variables but it is interesting to see the GBC win, still a favourite of mine



grumblegrumble said:

Wow! The Game Boy Micro is cooler than i thought. I have one laying around here somewhere with Minish Cap in its cartridge slot. lol. Great system!



Popyman said:

Wow, those 35 hours went by really fast playing Pokemon back in the day. XD



Odnetnin said:

"Game Boy Color: 35 hours, 45 minutes"
Is this why I've never had to change the batteries on mine?



Maggots said:

i don't necessarily think this is a TRUE and Valid test for battery life because as you play the processor is experienceing all sorts of work loads... especially the PSP with it's moving parts if you were actually playing a game and it constantly had to load levels and characters it would have died much sooner than it did... just playing the title screen doesn't really put these consoles to the real world tests that more accurately depict an average gaming session. ...



Capt_N said:

@Maggots: I agree w/ you, to a certain degree. Actually, I pretty much do agree w/ you.

@MysteryPatron: Correct! I set mine to 2, & it lasts a while longer. Turning off Street/Spot-Pass makes the battery even longer still.



Zombie_Barioth said:

There are too many variables too make this an accurate test. Brightness settings, volume, battery ware. Handhelds have a lot more going on than the gamboy color does. Still shows how the settings can make a difference though.

The gap between the original gameboy and the GBC though, wow it must really be power efficient to last twice as long with half the battery power even with the interference.

Still inclined to believe the GBC life since I've had the same set of batteries my wavebird for years and only changed them 2-3 times in 10+ years. Compare that to current controllers and accessories that might not last 2-3 days on one charge.



tweet75 said:

you have to remember the original gameboy used 4 AA batteries. You could also buy an AC adapter/portable battery pack seperatly that cost $30 I remember this lasting about 5 hours. If AA batteries were used in todays portables maybe they could get 30 plus hours.



triforcepower73 said:

I've never counted the battery life on my 3ds but I usually keep it on 1 or 2 brightness and 3d all the way up and it lasts me the whole day.



shredmeister said:

Gameboy Color FTW! I did 100% of Wario Land and Wario Land II on one set of batteries that I bought at the dollar store. There were 8 in the pack. No need for rechargeable batteries when you do the math and find out that it would cost more. 2 dollars will last me the whole year.



MitchVogel said:

My Gameboy advance backlit could go for a couple days of usage and only then would it go into the red. I played it fairly heavily too. Maybe I just did something right somehow charging it, but it definitely lasted me longer than a little under 5 hours...



Mk_II said:

Standard batteries or rechargeable battery packs are totally different; this is like comparing apples and pears and makes no sense at all.



Kafei2006 said:

I always played my portable consoles with rechargeable batteries personally (I mean rechargeable AA ones). The longevity then really depends on the brand of the batteries (the mAh value inscribed on them).

At the moment I have a third party battery installed in my 3DS and actually measured how long it lasted me just yesterday. On full charge, with Wi-Fi and 3D turned off 95% of the time, on full screen brightness, I could get 17 hours and 30 minutes of Tales of the Abyss gameplay. I wasn't too happy with the original battery, but I have no complaints at the moment ^^, even if it makes my console a bit more bulky.



Void said:

How does a yellow DS Lite get 8 more minutes than a silver one?



Araknie said:

WOW what non-sense! Comparing in-bulit batteries with AA batteries witch there are so many producers of that at the moment and they don't even say what AA where using and if they are produced by new kind of developers or they that producer existed always in the lifetime of all this console.
Plus why they didn't add the PSVita? Why they didin't make two categories, one with only in build batteries and one with AA or AAA or D or whatever batteries that are all from one producer and same model?

This is so flawed.



Samholy said:

incredible handheld collection.
great the see the 3ds has some backup batteries to power it up. i have the nyko, but i didnt hear about the mugen yet. maybe ill switch. 4 hours or so of difference really is a big deal.



florecita said:

I messed up my 3ds even more because Im such a dummy when it comes to technology. Mine doesnt even last 3hrs.



NSBlueLighing said:

Ahh those days with my gbc playing pokemon and trying to quickly finish a battle because i saw the little red light starting to dim...and of course most the time it died before the battle finished and i missed the save...had to re do 1-2hrs of gameplay again ^.^ ahh the good old days had no worries!!!



GreenDream said:

The Game Boy Color is boss! I still have my atomic purple GBC. It is one of the only handheld systems that is actually EASIER to view AND has an improved graphical display under direct sunlight! Modern handheld systems can't handle direct sunlight!

Down with the vampires! We need the Belmonts back!

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