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Which Nintendo DS To Buy

Can’t Decide Which Nintendo DS To Buy? Let Us Help

Even after all these years, the Nintendo DS is still as charming and popular among gamers, as it was when it was first rolled out back in 2004. This handheld gaming machine is quite versatile and comes in several models to meet the different needs of all kinds of gamers. 

However, with so many different models out there, you might get puzzled while choosing the best one for yourself. If you have any particular features or preferences in mind, this guide might help sift things down for you.

Catch a glimpse of what our ranked list includes, in case you’re in a hurry:

  • Best for Value & Homebrew: Nintendo DS Lite
  • Best for Indie & Creativity: Nintendo DSi
  • Best for Wide Screen Gaming: Nintendo DSi XL
  • Best for Original-Style Retro: Nintendo DS Original

Which Nintendo DS Is Best For You?

There are four types of Nintendo DS models out there, namely Nintendo DS Original, Nintendo DS Lite, Nintendo DSi, and Nintendo DSi XL. While each Nintendo DS is captivating in its own way. So you’ll need to gain detailed insights about each of these models, which will certainly aid you in selecting the best one for yourself.

In the following section, we’ll break down the features of models to help you gauge which one you should take for handheld retro gaming.

Top 4 Nintendo DS Models Ranked and Explained

Along with a breakdown of their features, we’ve ranked based on their gaming experience and worth of consoles to make it easy for you to judge which is the best and ideal for you to play retro games.

1. Nintendo DS Lite

The Nintendo DS Lite is the redesigned version of the Original DS console based on public feedback. This console was released in 2006, with all of its predecessor functions. 

Plus, this console has fixed the dark screen problems. While it supports all original DS and GBA games. This means you can enjoy tons of old and new games released for this model. It also improved its control systems and battery life for 5 to 8 hours, even on high brightness game activity. And you adjust the brightness levels with four settings.

What’s more, it is lighter and looks sleeker than its previous version. The compactness of this console lets you hold it comfortably for hours. And you can stash it into your pockets when traveling. 

Since this console was officially discontinued by Nintendo in 2011. You might not be able to find the original piece in the market. Even if you do, it’ll be at a much higher rate. However, you can get the refurbished version of this console from retro stores or any other third-part in the gaming market.

2. Nintendo DSi

Nintendo released the DSi console in 2009 for its global consumers. Being the third iteration of the DS family, this console added modern functionality. But at the same time, it removed some of its predecessor features to make it slimmer and lighter.

This console supports dual cameras, DS carts, and DSi-ware downloadable games with better Wi-Fi performance. Improved online connectivity means that online multiplayer functions much better than its previous DS versions.

In addition, this handheld has a slightly wider screen than the Orginal DS and DS Lite. And its casing quality ensures that it does not leave any mark. This lets you comfortably play games without worrying about ruining its design because of holding it for too long.

However, it has removed the GBA title slot to improve its portability. Instead of that, you’ll be using the DSi Shop (Discontinued in 2017) to download all games digitally via the internet. You can also get these games from third-party retailers. So, your GBA cartridges won’t be of any use in case you buy DSi consoles.

On the other hand, Nintendo has added internal and external storage, which lets you access the downloaded or installed games from there. This feature of the Nintendo DSi is considered one of the biggest incentives by the critics of the modern era.

3. Nintendo DSi XL

As the console’s name suggests, the Nintendo DSi XL has a much bigger and wider screen than all of its predecessors. On the demand of its consumers, Nintendo released the fourth and final version of the DS family in 2010 – globally.

Apart from its inherited features, it has a 4.2-inch wide view of the gameplay. This feature with dual screens lets the players get to see more maps or landscapes on this console’s screen. That is, it enhances the visual gaming experience and gives more sight in strategic games.

Furthermore, the Nintendo DSi XL also offers you a longer stylus. Making it easier for you to perform actions on large screens. Reaching to every corner of the screen faster with much better precision.

However, there are two drawbacks to this console. It doesn’t support GBA cartridges, and its battery life lasts up to 5 hours. Because this handheld is loaded with too many functionalities.

For more games, you can download them digitally from Nintendo or third-party. But less battery life can hinder your gaming experience. So, you’ll have to limit your playing hours to charge the Nintendo DSi XL on time.

Overall, if you are looking for high graphics in a retro handheld and can compromise on playing hours. Then, this console pretty much fits your requirement.

4. Nintendo DS Original

The Nintendo DS Original made the record achievement by being different in every aspect from every other handheld gaming system at the time of its release in 2004. In fact, Nintendo faced a lot of criticism in the beginning, but later it became the best-selling console of all time.

The DS game developer introduced games for gamers and non-gamers too. Such as Brain Age, Nintendogs, and many others. You can find games for almost every genre and for everyone.

Another best part of this console is the GBA cartridge support. This feature is still applauded by many GBA fans, even today. This adds an incredible huge gaming library to this console.

Although it looks bulky and heavy enough to feel it in your pocket. But it is the first revolutionary handheld gaming console, making it extremely valuable. Plus, its battery life is up to 10 hours, which is pretty amazing for the games it can let you play.

The prominent additional features include multiplayer games, Wi-Fi connectivity, microphone. While the dual-screen, with its touch capabilities and stylus, dominated the gamers in the past – and it still does!

FAQs – Which Nintendo DS To Buy?

Got some queries? You might find some of them here:

How long can a Nintendo DS console’s battery last?

Well, it depends on your gaming activity and how much the game consumes power. Under ideal conditions, the Nintendo DS console’s battery life is around 10 hours. However, all-time retro gamers prefer this console due to its longer battery life than other DS consoles.

How much time does a Nintendo DS take to charge?

The Nintendo DS takes up to four hours to charge the battery. When it is fully charged, you can confirm by checking on the charging light yellow indicator that turns off.

Can you play a Nintendo DS while it is charging?

You can play games while charging, but this practice is not recommended. Because the battery will take more time to get fully charged. Plus, this can potentially damage the battery. But if you do not play while charging, it will take less time. So as a gamer, you should prefer the latter to keep your console’s battery durable for a longer time.
Is Nintendo DS worth anything? Read here.

Do Nintendo DS games wear out?

Yes, the cartridges of DS games may wear out over time. You have to keep the pins of the cartridges and console clean. But, if you use flash memory instead of the cartridges, then you don’t have to worry about losing your game data because of the faulty cartridge.


Whether it’s about gaming or consoles, Nintendo has always done a great job of producing an excellent gaming experience. The DS family innovation got everyone’s attention. Even the non-gamers bought and enjoyed playing games on these consoles. Overall the Nintendo DS consoles are great handheld retro gaming devices with value-added features.

Must read:

Why was Nintendo DS discontinued?

6 Common Nintendo DS Console Errors to Fix.

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