Nintendo Explains 3DS Battery Life

Nintendo Explains 3DS Battery Life

3DS system designer Ryuji Umezu has explained why the upcoming Nintendo handheld only has a battery life of between three and five hours.

In the latest of the Iwata Asks series of interviews, Nintendo’s president and Umezu discuss the technical challenges 3D put on the team during the device’s development and how they have impacted on battery life.

“What eats more electricity than anything in a handheld gaming device is the LCD backlight,” says Umezu. 3DS has two backlights, one for each screen, the upper one being used for 3D. “The 3D one has to deliver separate images to the left and right eyes,” he continues. “Which means that in 3D the amount of light delivered to each eye is halved. In order to make it look just as bright as usual, you have to increase the brightness of the backlight, which increases the power used by even more.”

After experimenting with different technology the team introduced a power save mode, which dynamically alters the strength of the backlight according to what is being displayed. “When the screen as a whole is dark, the backlight itself gets darker, which saves power,” Umezu says.

“When I measured [battery life] by playing several Nintendo games, with the backlight set to the brightest level and the power save mode turned off, battery duration was about three hours,” he adds. “But if you use the power save mode under the same conditions, it gets about 10-20% longer. And if you set the backlight to the darkest setting, the battery lasts five hours, but the power save mode makes less of a difference then.”

Umezu also explains that battery life can be increased by turning down the 3D “volume” slider, with battery life extended by up to 25 per cent by playing in 2D.

3DS launches in Japan on February 26, in Europe on March 25 and North America on March 27.