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 traveling 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.