Ultimate Gaming Handheld: Apple iPhone vs Nintendo DS

When Steve Jobs uttered the statement that “Now you can make a pretty good argument that the [iPod Touch/iPhone] is the best portable device for playing games on”, did you nod your head in unison? I have my money on you saying no—the iPhone is a great device, to be sure, but a gaming device? Leave that to Nintendo you probably thought.

Why? Because the Nintendo DS has sold close to 80 million units since its inception. The numbers speak for themselves, the Nintendo DS is the king of portable gaming. So what would it take for the iPhone to knock the DS off of its throne? Well, that’s what we are here to tell you.

Read on to see how the iPhone can take on the Nintendo DS!

Taking a quick look at the Nintendo DS we can definitely see that Apple has a lot to learn before even coming remotely close to matching the success of the DS. The DS has great games, a sleek, colorful design, and a fun factor that is unmatched in portable gaming. Nintendo as a company bleeds games, it is their sole priority—to compete with such dedication Apple needs to befriend those whose talents better suit the field.

But looking at it spec-by-spec, it is clear the the iPhone/iPod Touch is fully capable of challenging the DS for portable gaming supremacy, the processor is superior, the screen is bigger, and multi-touch simply runs circles around the stylus+touchscreen of the DS.

Nintendo DS

Processor: two ARM CPUs (67MHz and 33MHz)

Screen: two 256x192 pixel screens



Processor: ARM CPU @ 620MHz

Screen: 480x320 pixels


Plus the added benefit of not having to carry a cell phone AND a gaming device is understated, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve fired up an iPhone game to kill dead time—I don’t readily carry my DS as much as my iPhone.

The biggest concern for iPhone gaming is attracting developers to develop standout games for the iPhone and more importantly, exclusives. The DS has an advantage because the company who makes the system (Nintendo) is the company who makes its best games (Nintendo). This is why it’ll take time to develop the iPhone as a viable gaming platform—developers need to become familiar with the format and develop games that can take advantage of all the iPhone’s features. But guess what? It’s already happening. Super Monkey Ball and Spore Origins is already here, Need for Speed is coming, and who knows what else is next. Multi-touch, the accelerometer, and flexibility is all specs that the DS can’t match.

Games CAN sell on the iPhone because of the wondrous App Store that leaves the developers with no advertising nor packaging costs. If a solid game hits the $9.99 price point, gamers will flock. Add to the fact that the iPhone is always-connected to the internet (DS accepts only WEP encrypted WI-Fi) and has a 8GB/16GB hard drive, the iPhone is the most superior system to develop games on—its more powerful than any gaming device with the most unique control system yet maintains a convenience factor that cannot be duplicated.

We at TiPb agree that gaming on the iPhone is still a work in progress—there are few games that adequately replace the portable gaming device feel and there are still traditionalists who prefer physical buttons over multi-touch. Yeah, the iPhone is heads and shoulders above “cell phone games” but to compete with the DS, Apple desperately needs to accommodate for more “game-like features” such as: better save modes, deeper immersion in video games, and maybe even external, physical buttons.

When all that happens, look out. The DS is a limited system that can only play games. The iPhone? Well, we at TiPb think that the iPhone is the perfect platform for gaming. What do you guys think?