After posting up my video preview of this Nintendo 3DS power battle, I learned that I am far from the only mobile gamer out there who is concerned about the less than impressive battery life on Nintendo's 3D console. We need more power when we're busy stomping on goombas and doing barrel rolls.
So, we here at MEGATechNews decided to take a look at two of the more popular solutions on the market today: the Nyko Power Pak+ and the Hyperkin Power Plus. Both of these are supposed to give the Nintendo 3DS a lot more battery life, but which one is the superior product? Let's shoot them out and find out!
The Claims of Extended Battery Life
When you look at the official marketing materials and read the corresponding product packaging, you'll find that both the Nyko and the Hyperkin entry have similar claims. In essence, they're both saying that their respective products will approximately double the battery life of your 3DS. That's pretty great.
What's interesting is that they do it in utterly different ways. The Nyko Power Pak+ is a complete battery replacement, taking out the Nintendo OEM battery altogether and replacing it with its own larger alternative. This is not unlike swapping out the batteries on your Xbox 360 controllers for the Nyko Charge Base S.
The Hyperkin Power Plus, on the other hand, is better understood as a power supplement. It works in tandem with the existing OEM battery, not unlike some of the battery boosting cases and skins you find for smartphones.
The Installation Process: Hyperkin Power Plus
As the first part of this little competition, let's look at the installation process. The Hyperkin Power Plus has virtually no "installation" process to speak of, since you don't have to really set anything up.
The Power Plus simply slides onto the back of your 3DS and locks itself into place. See those two little pins? They line up with the golden connectors on either side of the charging port on the 3DS. Simple. The Hyperkin Power Plus can be recharged via miniUSB and it, in turn, can recharge the battery inside the 3DS. There's also a battery indicator on the back, as well as a switch on top to turn the charging function on and off.
The Installation Process: Nyko Power Pak+
The Nyko Power Pak+ is a different beast, because it is a complete battery replacement. As such, the installation process is a little more involved. The good news is that it's not exactly complicated either.
And that's it. You'll probably want to keep your OEM back cover and battery some place safe, but they are no longer necessary with the Nyko kit. You charge your Nintendo 3DS as normal with a cable, but it will no longer work with the OEM dock.
Based on this, the Hyperkin installation process is worlds easier than the Nyko equivalent. One point to Hyperkin.
General Ergonomics and Daily Use
Next, let's have a look at the ergonomics of both products. They both have a rubberized finish for a better grip, but they have very different shapes. Starting with the Hyperkin, there is a significant "bump" where the mini-USB port is and this is right next to the right trigger button (R). It usually doesn't get in the way, but it can be troublesome under some circumstances.
Another thing I noticed is that the portions on the side create unsightly edges and gaps. One part even blocks the Wi-Fi indicator light, but you can still access the switch and the light sort of shines through the gap. It's not a huge deal, I suppose, but it's not exactly attractive either. The charging process is also a little different, since the OEM charging port is blocked. You either charge the 3DS and Hyperkin separately, or charge the 3DS via the Hyperkin and mini-USB.
The Nyko is much cleaner. Yes, it adds a small "hump" to the back of your Nintendo 3DS, but there are no unsightly gaps, ridges, or edges. It just fits into place and gives you a rubberized grip. This extra thickness means that it may not fit into certain protective cases and pouches, though, so you will want to keep that in mind.
For daily usage, charging as normal through the Nintendo 3DS charger is easy enough. It's a shame that it doesn't work with the OEM dock, but there is a Nyko replacement for that should you so desire. In the end, I think I have to give this part of the shootout to Nyko. That ties up the score at 1-1.
The Battery Life Test
Of course, the most important part of an extended battery power shootout is how much power is being extended. After all, what's the point of a bigger battery pack if you don't get longer battery life? To test this, I played three marathon sessions of Mario Kart 7. I mixed it up with some grand prix, battle, and "idle" replays. This is with Wi-Fi on (but dormant) and both 3D and volume set to maximum.
The clear victor, based on this battery rundown scheme, was the Nyko Power Pak+. The chart above compares the OEM battery alone against the Hypkerkin and the Nyko. The blue bars indicate the number of minutes before the battery indicator light turned red, while the added red bars indicate the extra number of minutes before the 3DS turned itself off.
What's fascinating is that while both the Hyperkin (250 minutes) and the Nyko (240 minutes) had about the same amount of life before the red light turned on (compared to 150 minutes on OEM), the Nyko had significantly more (80 vs. 10 minutes) time before it shut off completely. That brings the total battery life on the Nyko to 320 minutes (5h20), versus the 260 minutes (4h20) of total time on the Hyperkin. That's an extra hour of tossing green shells and slipping on banana peels!
Which Nintendo 3DS Power Booster Is FTW?
The answer, based on my personal experience with these two products, is clear. While the Hyperkin certainly has an easier installation process, the Nyko offers a much cleaner design and -- more importantly -- gives significantly longer battery life. Since they both retail for about twenty dollars, there's no real price advantage with the Hyperkin either.
The almost five and a half hours I got out of the Nyko Power Pak+ on the Nintendo 3DS is still nowhere near what I was able to achieve with the OEM battery on the DS Lite, but I guess that's the price I pay for enjoying glasses-free 3D gaming on the go.