Nintendo 3DS Specs: More Proof Smartphone Gaming is Better?

By Posted 22 Sep 2010, 17:55

In the last year or so smartphone gaming has really kicked off, this has had an obvious effect on handhelds from Nintendo and Sony, therefore I was very keen to see what Nintendo had up their sleeves with the 3DS.

Recently the 3DS technical specs were revealed, personally I can’t help but feel a little disappointed with hardware spec, especially when compared to today’s high-end smartphones.

The standard Nintendo DS features two ARM processors, one of which has a core speed of 67 MHz and the other runs at 33 MHz, the 3DS has two 266MHz ARM11 CPUs which shows a huge improvement, however still lacking when compared to the 1GHz chips we see in smartphones such as the iPhone 4 and HTC Desire etc.

Obviously two 266MHz CPUs, 64MB of RAM, 4MB of VRAM and a 133MHz GPU dedicated to gaming is pretty good, especially as a smartphone’s hardware has a lot of other background processes to handle, however with Qualcomm working on dual core 1.5GHz processors and other chip manufacturers working on competing chips I’m worried that in a year or so the 3DS will be far inferior in terms of graphics and performance.

Nintendo has proven that there is a niche in the market for gamers who do not care about cutting-edge graphics and instead would prefer great gameplay, I understand this, but gameplay on smartphones is always improving, which could perhaps result in the 3DS becoming inferior in terms of gameplay.

We would love your feedback on this matter, do you think that the 3DS’ hardware is sufficient? Or do you think that smartphones do/will offer a greater overall gaming experience?

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  • Zebedee

    Considering they have the number one selling console of this hardware gen and the number one portable it's hard to call that "niche in the market." Like you say, the fact that this is dedicated gaming hardware will give it an edge, not only in terms of graphics but also games produced for it. As always there will be more graphically powerful options for those willing to pay for them. It's just like the high end PC gamer versus console gamers. However, if you're looking for great system-exclusive games you're more or less SOL with the high end PCs and Smart phones. Sure, you'll get the occasional Crysis that most others can only dream of running on max settings, but for the most part fun exclusive games are to be found on dedicated hardware, especially Nintendo's hardware

  • Geddings

    lets get this streight. Smartphones are NOT gaming devices. yeah if you want to play a game using the tiney keyboard or keypad on a "smartphone" go ahead. but most of the "games" on smartphones are nothing more then glorified mini games. You never see game guides published in stores for games for smartphones do you?

    and the reason most smart phones have higher specs is because they also have to run other software that requires it. Besides you cant judge the specs on clock speed alone as some processers's clock speeds are not the same as others. it may not be as fast as you might hope but its at least near twice as fast as the PSP and around near 4 times faster the the original DS.

    another thing some smart phones on their own without a service plan can cost 300 to 400 bucks or more. To keep the price down Nintendo knew they needed to provide a handheld that had better graphics then the DS but did not put prices through the roof.

    Stop bashing it before you even had a chance to try it out. or view some of the readers responces of hands on time for it.

  • bob

    I'm so tired of hearing people compare gaming handhelds with smartphones. Yes, they both have games but they are hardly substitute goods. No one – I repeat – no one is deciding not to get a PSP or a DS because they already have a smartphone. It's true that Nintendo attracts more casual gamers, but someone who plays Bejewled on a phone for 30 seconds while in line at the grocery store is not even a casual gamer. That is an accidental gamer. People who buy games on a cell phone are getting them purely for the convenience and if phones didn't have games they would spend that time on facebook or email instead. They would never go out and buy a whole new device to fill two minutes of downtime in the day. So that makes this whole spec comparison completely trivial. We may as well compare specs on the PSP and Deep Blue. That's a gaming device right?

    • Jamie Pert

      Thanks for the input, however I disagree with one point “No one – I repeat – no one is deciding not to get a PSP or a DS because they already have a smartphone”.

      My girlfriend had a pretty basic Sony Ericsson smartphone up until 1 month ago, she always wanted a DS as she has to stay awake at night time at work, however now that she has a HTC Desire she no longer wants a handheld console.

      • guest

        You do have a point. Smartphones are eating away the casual gamer market that Nintendo has acquired a few years back with NDS and Wii. However not all the casual gamers will pick a smartphone for their gaming needs. Old people will still pick up a Nintendo product for brain training and stuff, and most little kids will not get an expensive smartphone that requires a data plan but does not have cute pikachu anyway.

        Nintendo will probably lose a lot of the young adult female market to smartphones though.

    • Kiwi Round Eye

      awsome post my friend you hit it on the nail,. i guess people like compiring apples to carrotts lol makes them feel like they know everthing <must be on crack>

  • hardA TOEnail

    Nintendo knows what fans want. They will provide "decent" graphics and killer software. With games like new super mario brothers flying off the shelves, Nintendo probably doesn't see reason to boost graphic performance. And personally, Gamecube level graphics are enough for me. The 3ds will fly off the shelves and Nintendo will probably manufacture them for less than the retail cost and make millions just as they did with the wii and ds. There are already millions of consumers that are stoked for games like kid icarus and OOT3d. These will be excellent games that do not require quad cores to run. (in fact I still play ocarina and majoras mask to this day on my pc via emulator and the graphics don't bug me at all)
    As far as smart phones are concerned, untill companies start providing an identicle framework for developing games on all phones, game developers will not invest the time and money they would to something like the xbox 360 where they know there are millions of potential buyers. Until there is a universal dev kit for all phones, small time killer games like angry birds and flight control will dominate the market.

    As an owner of a gaming pc, 360, ps3, Wii, DS lite, PSP 2000, ipad, and a 135" hd projector setup, I couldn't be more excited for the release of the 3ds. Thank you, Nintendo. I've been wanting to be able to take OOT on the road for too long.

  • DHZ

    It's never about technical specs in gaming – It's all about the games.

    A Nintendo console automatically comes with first-party support from Nintendo, which means Mario, Zelda and Pokemon. You'll never see those on other devices, whether they're more powerful or not.

    Zelda alone elevates a Nintendo console to above the status of, say, an iPhone.

    That, and the fact that third-party developers generally take 'dedicated' gaming platforms more seriously, means that there's still no substitute for a great piece of gaming kit, which the 3DS is shaping up to be, what with its unique 'no glasses required' 3D.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wolfmanz51 Michael Rowan

    indeed the CPU's together hardly keep up with what's currently in high-end phones. however those phones are built to multi-task and run a heavy OS, the 3DS however will run a very light OS which is likely to "shut down" mostly when a game is running, so the game has 95-100% of the resources available.(funny note: despite having 1/8th of the RAM most new android phones have, 3DS games will have 4 times as much RAM available as android games) mobile chipsets these days tend to use only 1 processor for everything, and without using a GPU producing Graphics on those is Quite Process Intensive. So using 2 266MHz ARM11s is better than using one 532MHz processor, and using 2 266MHz ARM11s and a amazing GPU like the pica 200 even at 133MHz is way more capable than using Even the most powerful ARM11 which maxes out at 1GHz. a higher clock rate is NOT preferable when a better architecture and more efficiency can do the same job at a lower clock rate. for example the GPU, (Pica 200) if the specifications in the MIT presentation are true (2008), then this will run 40 millions of polygons at 100 MHz, so if the CPU will run at 133 MHz, then it will display 53.2 milloins of polygons, wich is more than the 33 millions that the psp could do with its whole hardware done just by the GPU alone. in the end the leval of professionalism and dedicated hardware will alow these games to look much better than smartphone gaming for years to come

  • Grey

    Also, keep this in mind:

    Smartphones ranged as much as $500-700 without a contract.

    The Nintendo 3DS will be (the highest) as much as $200-300.

    Don't forget about the better control schemes on the hand helds as well. Plus (most) can't do 3D without glasses either. Although phone companies seem to be jumping on the Nintendo bandwagon now.

    • Epic User

      Who doesn't have a phone? So if you already do then you may not feel the need to buy a DS. You have a phone so why pay another 2-300 for a gaming device.

      • hansel

        your an idiot if you were a real gamer you would understand

  • Zeph

    Its pretty sufficient.

    While they maybe based on different technologies, the PS2 itself only had 4MB of VRAM and had to deal with 480i level video output, and look at where Gran Turismo 4 stands on it back then.

    64MB main RAM sounds good as well, considering the Gamecube and PS2 had less, and equal to the original xBox.

    The 3DS only has to handle 320×240 + either 400×240 resolutions or 800×240 resolutions (if the 3D feature is utilized) which are overall of lower pixel count compared to 640×480 (720×240 = 172800 pixels, 1120×240 = 268800pixels, 640×480 = 307200pixels) for example, and we've seen some pretty good stuffs come out of the 3DS tech demoes thus far.

    Plus, I'd like to believe that the 3D usually won't be run on 2 screens at one go if pushing a graphically intensive game due to differing resolution (aesthetic issues),

    It can only get better with age as devs learn to squeeze the most out of the system.

    In the end though, I don't think its so much about the technical specs of the system, but rather, how a developer makes use of it.

    An old 8-bit game remake of Toki Tori for the Steam platform for example, existed since the MSX2 days but aged so well that people still have fun with it to date. Not the same can be said for a good number of games that were so strongly hyped in 3D back then when the 3D acceleration was all the rage on PCs and the 32-bit consoles were first introduced.

  • Maurice

    I agree with the comments made! You can't compare the two systems. they are on completely different spectrums. this article is kinda dumb.

  • Indy

    Smart Phone gaming will never be better until they have real game controls and real games. Until then they aren't even in the same market.

  • Kiwi Round Eye

    stop comparing apple to oranges (or in this case game machine to pocket pcs)

  • Jean-Luc

    Smartphone games better ?? Are you Kidding ?? First of all, please keep in mind that the DS have won over the VERY more powerful psp. Same before….the Atari Lynx was the first handheld to push forward the performance…and the Sega game gear not long after…Both lost…And the very unpowerful Game boy won the war by far ! Short after the Neo-Geo Pocket, wich as very powerful processor for the time have lost the war in face of….The game boy color ! Same happened with DS and psp in the current generation…If you look a little bit in the portable game history, you can see that the horsepower have never been a huge sales factor…Simply because that for portable game, people want to have sort and fun game…Not cutting hedge graphic…And Nintendo know this very well….

  • Jean-Luc

    Everything is about the Games ! Nintendo will have Zelda, Metroid, Mario, nintendogs, brain age, pokemon and so on ! all in 3d on 2 screens ! and to be honest, phones have no games, because the iphone users are never going to spend as much money on games compare to people that have a DS ( or a 3DS )..people want games at 5-10$ on their phone, and people can spend 50$ for a game on the DS…So who's gonna won ?? for the gamers, that's Nintendo 100% sure ! No question…

  • Owain

    SUCCESSFUL TROLL IS SUCCESSFUL.

  • Juan Nepomuceno

    Nintendo 3DS Specs: More Proof Smartphone Gaming is Better? -> I think this should be the most incompetent/stupid title for an article. OK, the 3DS hasn't come out yet. The Iphone4 or any new Android device have a processor that is a lot faster than the DS/PSP… now compare the gaming experience and the types of games between the smartphones and the dedicated handheld gaming devices. What r the results??

    Smartphones are BAD at gaming specially due to bad controls (touch CANT and WONT ever replace phisical BUTTONS) and the GAMES itself are not glorified minigames as somebody said before.

    The author of this topic must research and read before posting his opinion based on facts that can't be compared (tech aspects of a smartphone vs a dedicated gaming platform)

  • WIIBOY101

    WHAT DRUGS ARE YOU ON YOU INEPT NO NOTHING ABOUT SPECS MORON

    FACT 1 IF ANY TRUTH IN THIS LEAK THE CPUS WILL BE CUSTOM AND INCLUDE SOUND HARDWARE AND 3D GRAPHICS HARDWARE JUST LIKE DS DID AS WELL AS BIG CATCH AND OR IWRAM INTERNAL FAST WORK RAM

    FACT2 DS/i HAS 3XGPU AREAS 2X 2D GPUS 1 PER SCREEN WITH 3D EXTENSIONS 1X 3D ENGINE INCLUDED WITH ARM9= 3X GPU

    THE 3DS IS BACKWARD COMPATIBLE SO THIS HARDWARE IS ALL STILL THERE AND MOST LIKLEY FULLY ACCESSIBLE IN 3DS MODE

    SO WE HAVE PICA200 GPU WE HAVE CPU BASED 3D GRAPHICS AND WE HAVE 2X 2D GPUS

    I COUNT 4 X GPU AREAS IN THE 3DS IF WE ARE TALKING A SUPER DSi PLUS PICA 200

    THERE IS NO APPLE OS ANDROID OS WINDOWS 7 OS ITS A GAMING DEVICE YOU INEPT FREAK THE CHIPS WILL BE CODED TO ALMOST DIRECTLY PUSHING PERFORMANCE MUCH HIGHER

    4MB GRAPHICS BUFFER THATS 4MB MORE THAN IPAD AND IPHONE4 AND 2X MORE THAN PSP (2MB)

    3DS RESOLUTION AND 3D CAN FIT IN A2MB BUFFER THE 3DS LOOKS LIKE A 4MB BUFFER/CATCH TO ME 1MB MORE THAN WII 2MB MORE THAN PSP

    CARTRIDGE HAS DATA GRAPHICS STREAMING MANY MANY MANY TIMES FASTER PER SECOND THAN PSP DISC PS2 DISC XBOX DISC GAMECUBE DISC YOU CAN FLIP IN AND OUT OF RAM AND EVEN WRITE TO A CART MEMORY THIS IS A HUGE BOOST IN RAM PERFORMANCE

    THE SYSTEMS CLOCK BALANCED A 3.5GHZ CPU AND A 400MHZ GPU = CLOCK WASTAGE THERE NOT SYNCED

    THE 3DS LOOKS TO HAVE A PERFECT 2:1 RATIO BALANCE HELPING DEVELOPERS RAPE THOSE CHIPS FOR EVERY CLOCK CYCLE

    THE 3DS HAS TO SUPPORT A LOWER OVERALL RESOLUTION THAN IPHONE 4 WITH A MUCH BETTER GPU AND A 4MB CATCH BUFFER IT DESTROYS IPHONE 4 WITH EASE

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kuUaw6M54M THIS IS LIGHT YEARS AHEAD OF CITIDEL WHY ABOVE ANYTHING SEEN ON IPHONE4 AND WE AINT EVEN SEEING THE 3D ON TOP OF THOSE GREAT GRAPHICS

    THERE IS NOTHING OUT THERE DOING 3DS RESIDENT EVIL LET ALONE IN 3D http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kuUaw6M54M

    GO LOOK AT THE IPAD IPHONE 4 PSP DESTROYING VISUALS

    DUAL PROPER CPUS PLUS CUSTOM GOODIES

    2D GRAPHICS CHIPS

    PICA 200 CUSTOM GPU AND 4MB CATCH BUFFER

    YOU NEED YOUR HEAD TESTING SMARTPHONE FAN ZOMBIE

    ANALOG STICK / D-PAD/BUTTONS /TACTILE SEPERATE TOUCH SCREEN/MOTION CONTROLS/3D CAMERA/ 2D CAMERA

    SMART PHONE GAMING = HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH hehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehe YOUR A TWAT

  • Bent

    Take a look at an Xbox 360/PS3's specs compared to a gaming PC that will run the games at the same quality.

    Notice that the specs are much lower on the gaming systems than the PC. Same idea here. More performance from specialization.

  • james braselton

    hi there smart phone cost from $199 too a rediculus $1,499 on price is right it was a nokia smart phone at $1,499 for that price a new macbook air with a 256 gb solid stae drive or a 13 inch macbook pro with 128 gb ssd or a dell adamo with 128 gb solid state drive you can buy gold iphones at $20,000 too gold wiis at like $50,000 or gold ps3 at like $60,000 i bet you a gold nintendo 3DS cost $30,000 instead of $300

  • Bob

    The 3DS price will be $250.00- just so you people know. I'm also sure of this because the Wii started out at 25,000 yen and was $250.00 in America.

  • Gamer

    Gaming on smart phones is total ass in my opinion… I own an iPhone 4 and an iPad and have plenty of games for both, but I'm still yet to be blown away by any of them. I think the best so far for me has been Plants Vs Zombies, but that is hardly an in-depth title. I find the complete lack of buttons to be the biggest drawback for smart phone / tablet style gaming.

  • Andy

    Sorry but gameplay on smartphones is worse than the old DS lite let alone the new 3DS.
    How can cheap app games compete with nintedo for gameplay?
    Graphics are not everything or else why did the DS and DSI outsell the PSP by 2 to 1, the answer is versatility and sbetter gameplay. The PSP is far more powerful than a DSI with a far better engine and graphics but the majority still prefer the DS thanks to better game sand gameplay and versitility.

  • brain

    theres no iphone4/ipad game in existence that matches early 3DS high end games then add 3D the real world graphics power to screen ratio of 3DS rapes ipad/iphone4 and last time i checked iphones had poor bandwidth and around 24mb ram reserved for gaming apps 3DS entire system is gaming dedicated and plus 3D theres no way iphone4 ipad android compete in REAL-WORLD GAMING PERFORMANCE and then add 3DS proper gaming controls and lag free mouse like tactile touch screen….smart phone gaming is a sad joke and specs are not efficent or gaming dedicted there for bulky slow OS you do not know what your talking about

  • TechnicalDeathMetal

    the 3DS sounds excellent, I'v been doing quite a bit of research and it looks like we are going to be getting a handheld Xbox(graphically) with next gen lighting/fog/anti-aliasing and to be honest on a 3.5 inch screen using the right tricks that WILL look like early PS3/Xbox360 graphics NP. Not to mention would a company like Volation (saints Row) decide to make a 3d saints row game on inferior technology (let alone be able to) NO. RE: revelations speaks for itself….80% of people seem mind blown while watching this on their 20 inch computer monitors…imagine a 3.5 inch screen in full 3d. Prepare to be mind blown.

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