Nintendo DS, DS Lite, DSi, DSi XL, and 3DS

Vital Statistics

Introduced 21 Nov 2004 (DS), Jun 2006 (DS Lite), Sep 2008 (DSi), 21st Nov 2009 (DSi XL), 27th March 2011 (3DS)
Retired: Apr 2016 (Entire DS/DS Lite/DSi Family), 3DS line continued
Price: $149.99 (DS), £99 or $129.99 (DS Lite), £149.99/$169.99 (DSi), $249.99 (3DS)
Quantity Sold: approx 18.8m (DS), 84.5m (DS Lite), 16.4m (DSi)
Countries: Worldwide
Dimensions: 148.7 x 84.7 x 28.9 mm (DS), 133 x 73.9 x 21.5 mm (DS Lite), 137 x 74.9 x 18.9 mm (DSi), 161 x 91.4 x 21.2 mm (DSi XL)
Weight: 261g (DS), 218g (DS Lite), 214g (DSi), 314g (DSi XL)
Ports: DS game cartridge slot, Peripheral Slot (also accepts Game Boy Advance cartridges, only on DS/DS Lite), stylus slot, SD card slot (DSi/DSi XL only)
Usable RAM: 4Mb of Mobile RAM (16Mb on DSi/DSi XL), 656K video memory
Built-in ROM: ?
Colours: up to 260,000 colours
Graphics:two 256 x 192 px LCD screens, 0.24mm dot pitch, 4 levels of screen brightness (3 on original DS)
Sound: 16-channel stereo virtual surround sound through 2 built-in speakers, built-in microphone
Battery Life : 6-10 hours of gameplay from a 4 hour charge (DS), 16 hours of gameplay (DS Lite)
Codenames : Nitro

What's it like today?

Fun Factor:
: Available at most Retail outlets
Typical value: £99
Boxed & Mint: £99



The Nintendo DS (or "Dual Screen"), was first released in Japan in November 2004, with releases in Europe and other nations in Feb/March 2005. Designed to fit in between the Nintendo Game Cube and the Game Boy Advance, and directly competing against the Sony Playstation Portable (PSP), the DS was the first handheld console since the Game & Watch systems of the early 80s to feature two seperate displays, the lower of which was touch-sensitive. It also featured 802.11 Wi-Fi support, virtual stereo surround sound, and 3D hardware graphics capability.

Two ARM processors are used. The main CPU is an ARM946E-S, while an ARM7TDMI is used as a coprocessor. The 3D graphics abilities of the DS are on a par with the Nintendo 64 console, being able to render approximately 120,000 polygons a second at 60fps.

Games are sold on proprietory ROM cartridges (or "game cards"), supporting capacities up to 256Mb. These cards also have a writeable area for saving game progress.

With built-in wireless support, DS users can communicate with up to 16 other DS users or browse the Internet using a version of the Opera web browser on game card. The range is between 30-100 feet, and communicates using a proprietory Nintendo wireless protocol.

DS Lite

In June 2006, Nintendo released the DS Lite. Physically smaller but with the same internals (and hence the same capabilities) as the DS, the DS Lite is approximately 42% smaller than the DS it replaced. The LCD screens have the same dimensions, but are brighter and more durable. The D-pad control buttons are smaller. Battery life was improved due to the larger 1000mAh battery over the DS's 850mAh unit, but the Accessories slot, although still able to run Game Boy Advance games, now doesn't support Game Boy Advance accessories due to the removal of the external extension port.

The DSi was released in Japan on November 1, 2008, in matte black and matte white; these same colors were available for its April 2, 2009 launch in Australia and New Zealand. It was released in Europe on April 3 in the same colors, with a list price of £149.99,



The Nintendo DSi (2008)In late 2008 Nintendo launched their third incarnation of the DS: DSi. Although very similar in physical design - it's 12% shorter but slightly wider - , this new model featured two interactive VGA 0.3MP digital cameras (one forward-facing when the unit is open, and the other facing towards the user), and standardised 802.11b/g wireless support. To further make use of these cameras, the unit also came with an SD card slot for storing and playback of music and pictures. Built-in software in the ROM was also extended from the earlier models' Pictochat to also including a music player and access to the new DSi Shop, where users can purchase and download software from the web. Despite being fully backward-compatible with the DS and DS Lite for games, the GBA (Game Boy Advance) "Game Paks" has been removed - this also means that any accessories that used this slot are no longer usable on a DSi, e.g. the Nintendo DS Rumble Pak.

Nintendo however, have planned for the future with the DSi architecture. The primary CPU, ARM9, is twice the speed of the DS Lite's, clocking in at 133 MHz, and RAM has been increased fourfold to 16 Mb. Other enhancements of the DSi are slightly larger screens (+0.25" diagonal), improved audio quality and volume, more screen brightness settings.


Nintendo DSi XL (2009)To further ride on the success of the popular DS-series, Nintendo launched the DSi XL (also called the DSi LL in some countries) in Japan on 21st November 2009, and in Europe on 5th March 2010. Measuring almost 1.5x the physical dimensions of the DSi, this new console was pitched at customers who wanted DS games on a larger screen. Development of a larger-screen version of the DS Lite had been planned during the DS Lite's development (before the DSi), and prototypes were produced with two 3.8" screens. At the time, these were to be branded "DS Lite XL". But due to unprecedented high volumes of DS Lite sales and the prohibitive manufacturing costs of larger LCD screens with wider viewing angles, Nintendo chose to put the project on hold. In 2007 when development work on the DSi began, Nintendo again considered producing a large-screen DS as well as a standard size DS for production and launch at the same time, but it was deemed almost impossible so once more the project was held back. In 2009 however, the project was restarted as by now sales of the DS Lite had fallen, as had the cost of larger LCD screens. The 4" diagonal screens provided in the DSi XL have no noticeable degradation of image quality over the DSi, despite having the same pixel count.



In September 2010, Nintendo announced that they were going to take the DS family into the realm of 3D, with the launch in early 2011 of the Nintendo 3DS. The upper screen allows the viewing of real 3D without the need for special glasses. Originally it was planned for launch in Japan in 2010 in time for Christmas, but was pushed back to 26th February 2011, for a retail price of approx $300 (25,000 Yen). Technically, it became the first of the DS family to have different-sized screens top and bottom, with the upper screen supporting a much larger resolution and 3D capability using an internal camera. It also comes with a new "slide pad" that allows 360-degree analogue input in addition to the regular D-pad. For the new 3D element, a 3D depth slider allows the user to adjust the level of 3D effect, scaling it back or turn it off completely depending on preference of the user. It can play original DS games, downloaded games for the DSi/DSi XL from Nintendo Virtual Console, and new 3DS games (via the same socket as the DS cartridge port). The 3DS hardware is also capable of exchanging data with other 3DS systems or receive data via the Internet while in sleep mode.

Here's a quick comparison chart of the DS family:

  DS DS Lite DSi DSi XL 3DS
Width 148.7mm 133mm 137mm 161mm 134mm
Depth 84.7mm 73.9mm 74.9mm 91.4mm 74mm
Height 28.9 mm 21.5mm 18.9mm 21.2mm 21mm
Weight 261g 218g 214g 314g 230g
Available Colours
At launch   Matte Black, Polar White, Crystal White   Wine Red, Brown, White Aqua Blue, Cosmo Black
Post-launch   Noble Pink, Jet Black (Onyx), Metallic Rose, Gloss Silver, Crimson/Black, Cobalt/Black, Turquoise, Red, and Lime Green Pink, Lime Green, Metallic Blue    
Screen Type 256x192 LCD
Transmissive TFT colour LCD (brighter than DS)
256x192 resolution
Transmissive TFT colour LCD with wide viewing angle. 256x192 resolution. 800x240 LCD top screen (400 pixels wide for each eye), and 320x240 LCD bottom screen
Size 3.0" 3.0" 3.25" 4.2" 3.53" (top), 3.02" (bottom)
Displayable Colours
260,000 colours
Number of Brightness Settings ? 3 4 4 ?
3.5mm mini-out jack (stereo)
2 stereo speakers housed in top panel behind oval grille
As DS but larger speaker boxes for improved volume ?
DS cartridge slot
GBA cartridge slot
SD card slot
Proprietary Nintendo
2 x 0.3 Megapixel (640x480) cameras
Hardware Specs
CPUs ARM7 TDMI coprocessor (33 MHz), ARM9 (ARM946E-S) main CPU (67 MHz) ARM7, ARM9 (much lower power drain than DS but same clock speeds)
ARM7, ARM9 (133 MHz)
4 MB (expandable via GBA slot)
16 MB
Flash Memory       Max. 256 MB Max. 2 GB
Input Methods
Stylus (internal)   87.5mm stylus 92mm stylus 96mm stylus Telescoping 4" stylus
Touch Pen - - - 129.3mm pen -
Motion sensor/gyro sensor - - - - Yes
Battery / Power
Battery Type 850mAh 1000mAh      
Charge Time 3 hours 3 hours 2.5 hours 3 hours  
Lowest brightness 10-15 hours 15-19 hours 9-14 hours 13-17 hours  
Low brightness   10-15 hours 8-12 hours 11-14 hours  
High brightness   7-11 hours 4-6 hours 6-8 hours  
Highest brightness   5-8 hours 3-4 hours 4-5 hours  
Supported Software
Game Boy Advance Game Pak
DS Cartridge
DSi-specific Cartridge
DSi Ware
Built-in Software
Pictochat interactive notebook
DSi Browser
DSi Shop
What's in the Box ?
  DS console
DS adapter
DS stylus
Instruction Manual

DS Lite console
DS Lite AC adapter
DS Lite touch pen x 2
DS Lite GBA connector cover
Strap for DS Lite

DSi console
DSi AC adapter
DSi stylus x 2
Easy Start guide
Instruction manual
Book support
DSi XL console
DSi AC adapter
DSi XL-specific stylus
DSi XL large stylus (touch pen)
East Start guide
Mr. Kawashima's Little Bit of Brain Training, Dictionary 6-1
Flipnote Studio
3DS console
Charger Stand
AC adapter
3DS stylus
2GB SD card
6 augmented reality (AR) cards - when viewed through the 3DS' cameras, the cards produce AR effects



Original Launch Titles

Asphalt: Urban GT - Nintendo DS, USA
Feel the Magic XY/XX - Nintendo DS, USA
Madden NFL 2005 - Nintendo DS, USA
Spider-Man 2 - Nintendo DS, USA
Super Mario 64 DS - Nintendo DS, USA
The Urbz: Sims in the City - Nintendo DS, USA


Asphalt 3D - Nintendo 3DS, USA
Bust-a-Move Universe - Nintendo 3DS, USA
Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D - Nintendo 3DS, USA
Face Raiders - Nintendo 3DS, USA
LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars - Nintendo 3DS, USA
Madden NFL Football - Nintendo 3DS, USA
Nintendogs + Cats - Nintendo 3DS, USA
Pilotwings Resort - Nintendo 3DS, USA
Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 - Nintendo 3DS, USA
Rayman 2: The Great Escape - Nintendo 3DS, USA
Ridge Racer 3D - Nintendo 3DS, USA
Samurai Warriors: Chronicles - Nintendo 3DS, USA
The Sims 3 - Nintendo 3DS, USA
Steel Diver - Nintendo 3DS, USA
Super Monkey Ball 3D - Nintendo 3DS, USA
Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition - Nintendo 3DS, USA
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars - Nintendo 3DS, USA

This page was last updated on 15th January 2017.