Vita vs. 3DS

3DS will go on to sell far more in its lifespan, but with the right support the Vita can become the superior gaming platform this generation.

By fishdalf, Posted 09 Oct 2011

PlayStation Vita is due out this December in Japan and worldwide early 2012, so I thought I’d see how it shapes up compared to its main competitor; the device currently leading the game-specific handheld market – the Nintendo 3DS. While it’s only speculative at this point, with no indication of how successful Sony’s PSP successor will fare, we try to break it down piece-by-piece and see – in theory – who will be the ultimate victor.

Handheld, Console, PS Vita, 3DS, Sony, Nintendo, 2DS, Versus


We begin with how they size up against one another, because as with everyone handheld, it needs to be compact enough to travel with, and preferably small enough to fit in your pocket. The 3DS is noticeably the more minute of the two, by quite a margin, at 134 x 73 x 20mm, whereas the bulkier Vita measures in at 182 x 83.55 x 18.6mm. The 3DS also benefits from being lighter at 226g, a full 53g less than the Vita, which may not seem like a whole lot, but when you have to lug it around with you that difference will be felt.

Round 1: 3DS


The flipside of the Vita’s size is that it allows for a bigger display and with a 5-inch touchscreen that measures 960 x 544 it dwarfs the 3DS in comparison, with its humble 3.53-inch display and 800 x 240 resolution. The 3DS does have more pixels per inch packed into its screens, but that’s quite common when dealing with a smaller surface area, and there will be very little difference in the overall quality. In fact it’s arguable that with the Vita having an OLED capacitive display, the quality will appear higher and certainly more vibrant. Of course Nintendo’s offering is 3D capable and has dual screens, but the problem with two is that it doesn’t immerse you in the game in quite the same way, and while its 3D elements are impressive without the need for glasses, it leaves you vulnerable to headaches after prolonged use.

Round 2: Vita


Sony’s new handheld device will be powered by a quad-core Cortex-A9 MPCore, SGX543MP4+ GPU, which probably doesn’t mean much to many, but the two key words here are quad-core. It essentially means it’s going to be faster, more powerful and probably more efficient than the 3DS, which houses a 2x 266MHz ARM11, 64MB RAM, PICA200 GPU. In real terms it essentially equates to games that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a console half a decade ago and that is a pretty impressive feat for a handheld.

Round 3: Vita


It’s hard enough comparing games from one system to the next, but when you attempt to compare one now over half a year into its life cycle against a list of upcoming launch titles from another then the task becomes near impossible. If we are working on mere figures the 3DS was launched with 15 titles and the promise of many big hitters to follow, such as Resident Evil and StarFox, but these are games that remain unreleased, which has naturally irked quite a few people. The Vita has promised us 26 titles on launch, including Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Katamari no Biita and Ridge Racer. These alone are enough to bring in many sales and their diversity will definitely help appeal to a wide audience, but again, there’s simply no telling how these will shape up as retail versions and could bomb both critically and sales-wise. In terms of packing a punch come launch Sony does seem to have the upper hand, and Nintendo certainly aren’t resting on their laurels, releasing Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7 and the long-awaited Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater in time for the holiday season to counteract.

Round 4: Draw


It’s not simply enough to have a gaming platform with a selection of great games anymore, especially in a time where smart phones and tablets are proving big sellers. Companies like Apple are constantly bringing out devices that grant internet access, multimedia usage and offer many games at a bargain basement cost and it’s naïve to think these aren’t serious competitors anymore. The 3DS has 2GB of flash memory and an extra SD card slot allowing for a further 2GB of memory. The vita only has 512MB of on board RAM and 128MV of VRAM (Video RAM) but using the specialised NVG slot, cards can be purchased to allow for a further 32GB, This can be used for playing old PSP games as well as downloading your UMD’s, as the Vita no longer accepts that format directly. Game saves and patches can also be downloaded onto these cards. The downside is some games will require these cards as the initial 512MB isn’t enough space for much of anything, meaning you’ll be forced into a purchase sooner or later and they won’t be cheap. However, the reality is the 3DS doesn’t allow for much of anything at all with its limited internal and external space and flies in the face of current public demand.

Round 5: Vita


While both devices have internet browsers, their own messenger services and can connect to users who are in the same vicinity, it doesn’t take much deliberation to decide the winner here as the 3DS is only Wi-Fi capable, whereas the Vita will come in both Wi-Fi and 3G and Wi-Fi versions, meaning you can connect to the web almost anywhere, without hassle or inconvenience.

Round 6: Vita


Both are quite evenly matched in this department, with each including D-Pads, an analogue stick – or two in the case of the Vita - gyroscopes, motion sensing technology and the usual set of face and shoulder buttons found on any bog-standard controller. The differences are found in their touchscreens. Nintendo have reaped the rewards of theirs for many years now, helping them to lead the charge and produce some great games along the way. Sony are relatively new to the party and it will be interesting to see whether they take full advantage of the technology in a way that will set them apart and retread paths that have already been walked. What may win it for the Vita is the flexibility that comes from forward and backwards facing touch technology, that doesn’t require a stylus. Ultimately it will be prolonged use where we will learn of any discrepancies and discomforts, and discover a true winner.

Round 7: Draw


An evenly matched contest with both having front and back facing cameras that take up to 0.3 megapixel pictures. The 3DS does have an ace in the hole though, with the ability to take them in glorious 3D. They’re also pretty closely matched in terms of video capturing, with both able to take videos in up to 640 x 480 resolution. With such marginal differences its small things that make the difference and the fact that the 3DS, while unable to record in 3D, can play movies back, is a deal-breaker.

Round 8: 3DS


When the Vita launches it will retail for €249 / £229 / $249 / ¥24,980 for the Wi-Fi only version and €299 / £279 / $299 / ¥29,980 for the Wi-Fi and 3G version, which is in the same ballpark as the 3DS launch price. The consideration here is, will people shell out their hard-earned cash for a handheld that is now seriously more expensive than its rival, with the 3DS unit now being sold for around $160 / £130 / €140 / ¥ 14,000. I guess Nintendo have the advantage here, having had a head start and been granted the ability to execute such a price drop. With Christmas around the corner and recessions-a-plenty budgets will be pushed to their limits, and the lower price bracket plus the hook of 3D may well tip the scales in their favour.

Round 9: 3DS

Battery Life

The 3DS has a battery life of around 3.5 gaming hours, depending on your screen brightness, whether Wi-Fi is switched on, the sound volume and how high your 3D effect is turned up. Sony are claiming the Vita has a similar battery life whilst gaming, up to 5 hours of video playback, or 9 hours of continuous music with the screen switched off. This however is very rarely the case when you experience it first hand and these figures might turn out to be far lower than the ones claimed. Assuming it does live up to the billing then they both sit pretty evenly, but only time will tell.

Round 10: Draw

The Verdict

It’s all only speculative at this point, but with a mix of figures, experience and current market state I believe that the 3DS will go on to sell far more in its lifespan, but with the right support the Vita can become the superior gaming platform this generation. It has the right tech behind it and now all it needs is a catalogue of games that can do the device justice. Game on. Game on.

Craig Bryan, NoobFeed
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  • Indeed, agreed that the Vita does outshine the 3DS in most aspects, but in my opinion the PSP also outshone the DS. Lack of games and attention is what really killed the PSP. Should the Vita fail to bring in the games, its as good as just another multimedia handheld like the psp turned out to be.

    Posted Oct 10, 2011

  • I was looking forward to a comparison like this. @BrunoBRS should take a look too. And I agree that Vita has the upper hand till now. But things might change after a year or two based on the number of games we can play in each of them. Dramus certainly made the point clear.

    Posted Oct 10, 2011
  • avatar RON

    Price was one of the main issues for Sony to discontinue PSP Go, and now look at the price tag of Vita! It's almost the same price of PS3 Slim. It's not going to be easy for Vita to compete in the market when 3DS comes with such a great package in terms of price, games and everything else. I hope Sony has an extraordinary marketing plan to have Vita a successful sustainable life line. Though I won’t hesitate to share my concern that it might as well consume the fate of its predecessors.

    Posted Oct 14, 2011

  • I have a bad feeling the Vita might cause the company a loss, no one i know is really excited about the console and its really expensive.

    Posted Nov 07, 2011

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Publisher(s): NoobFeed
Developer(s): NoobFeed Editors
Genres: Artcile
Themes: Feature, Editorial, Interviews, Opinion Pieces
Release Date: 2009-02-14

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