It's difficult to define the purpose of the iPod touch, but it's fair to say that one of its biggest uses is gaming. How does it compare to the latest release in a long-running dedicated portable gaming line, the New 3DS XL?


Even when it's closed (as the measurements above reflect), the New 3DS XL is much larger than the sixth generation iPod touch, measuring 30 percent wider, 60 percent taller and 352 percent thicker. Suffice to say, the touch will feel much more comfortable than the 3DS in your pocket.


The 3DS is more than three and a half times heavier than the iPod touch.


The build of the Nintendo handheld is unashamedly plastic, though this latest model does feel higher-end than older 3DS variants.


You can pick up Apple's product in six different colors, while the New 3DS XL is only available in a choice of red or black.

Display size

The extra size of Nintendo's system comes into play here, with the handheld offering two screens, both of which are considerably larger than that of the iPod touch.

Display resolution

It's the opposite story when it comes to resolution, with the iPod touch's screen providing 343 percent the pixels per inch you'll find on the New 3DS XL. The top screen on Nintendo's handheld doubles up vertical pixels to allow for the 3D effect, providing an effective resolution of 400 x 240 "per eye".

Both the original 3DS, the 2DS and the New Nintendo 3DS (currently not available in the US) feature smaller screens than the current XL model, but the resolution is the same across all variants. You'll find that you can easily pick out individual pixels on the XL's larger displays.


The iPod touch makes use of the same capacitive touch tech you'll find on modern smartphones. The New 3DS XL's lower screen is also touch-enabled, but it uses much older resistive tech. However, you generally interact with the 3DS's touchscreen using the included stylus, so the outdated tech doesn't have a negative impact on the experience.

Glasses-free 3D

One of the 3DS's key features is its ability to provide glasses-free 3D gaming. This has actually been improved on the New 3DS models. It now uses face tracking tech to move the 3D sweet spot to wherever your eyes are, meaning you no longer have to hold the machine in the perfect position to avoid ruining the effect.

Physical controls

While many mobile games have come up with clever, innovative control schemes, using physical controls still feels far more accurate.

Nintendo actually added a few new controls with the release of the New 3DS XL. There's a small secondary control stick, known as the C-Stick, which gives users better camera control in games such as Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, as well as an extra set of shoulder buttons.


As previously mentioned, the 3DS comes with a stylus that slides into the bottom edge of the casing.


Apple rates the sixth generation iPod touch for around 8 hours of video playback. The amount of gaming time you'll get on Nintendo's handheld varies wildly depending on whether you have the 3D effect switched on or not. Switch it off and you'll get up to 7 hours of play time.

Charger included

As there have been so many different versions of the DS and 3DS, Nintendo has decided that most gamers will already have a compatible charger lying around, so they didn't bother to put one in the box. It's a cost-saving move, and one that's not especially considerate of the consumer.


There's a huge difference in what you'll find powering these two machines. Apple's device is powered by a speedy in-house chip, while the New 3DS offers a much more diminutive solution. A glance at the clock speed will give you an idea of just how big a difference there is between these processors.

That said, Nintendo has a knack for getting great visuals out of comparatively underpowered hardware. You're certainly not going to see PS Vita level graphics on this thing, however selected titles, such as The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask and Super Mario 3D World, look great. The glasses-free 3D also plays a big part here, lending graphically mediocre titles that extra visual pop.


It's a similar story here, with the iPod touch's GPU far outstripping the 3DS's.


The iPod touch packs more memory, but the New 3DS XL augments things with 10 MB VRAM.

Internal storage

Apple's device can be configured with up to an expansive 128 GB internal storage, while the New 3DS XL packs only a single gigabyte of built-in space.

External storage

If you plan to download any games on Nintendo's system, then you'll need a microSD card. The company bundles in a 4GB card with every system, but that space will be quickly eaten up, so it's advisable to pick up a higher capacity card.

Nintendo actually made some big changes to the external storage situation on the New 3DS line. Previous 3DS models made use of full-sized SD cards, and you used to be able to click them in and out as desired. With the current version of the system, the microDS card slot is hidden under the back cover, and you'll need to undo several case screws to get at it.

Game formats

You can buy either physical or digital copies of games on Nintendo's handheld console.


Neither product is offered in a cellular variant.


Apple made some big improvements with to the sixth generation iPod touch's cameras, and they'll take vastly superior shots compared to those you'll get from the 3DS. There are dual lenses on the back of the Nintendo handheld, allowing you to take 3D snaps. Given the poor quality of the optics, the feature is more for developers than anything you'd ever want to use a camera.

Game storefront

Apple's App Store is full of great casual games, and even offers a handful of console ports, such as Telltale's excellent Game of Thrones series, numerous Grand Theft Auto titles and more. If you're looking to get your Candy Crush fix, or are a fan of touch-centric titles like Monument Valley or the Infinity Blade series, then the iPod touch provides a great entry point into Apple's extensive ecosystem.

However, if you're looking for more AAA titles – thoroughbred gamer games – then the 3DS will be more to your liking. It's worth noting that Nintendo's systems tend to carry different sorts of games to those you'd find on the PS Vita or home consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One.

There's a focus on family-friendly titles, and you'll find a lot of side scrollers like Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D and New Super Mario Bros. 2. If you're looking for more mature titles, such as first person shooters, then Sony's handheld might be more up your street.


The iPod touch runs on the same iOS 8 OS you'll find on the latest iPhones and iPads. Like all other Nintendo consoles, the New 3DS XL relies on a proprietary OS that's specific to the product line.


While both devices technically launched this year, the New 3DS XL is just the latest refresh of a four year old product.

It has a little more horsepower than previous versions of the handheld, and there are one or two games that will only work on the new system (such as Xenoblade Chronicles 3D), but it's really a variant of the same product Nintendo released back in 2011.

Starting price

Apple and Nintendo's devices might be wildly different in almost every respect, but they have one thing in common – their asking price.

For more, you can check out Gizmag's full reviews of the 6th-gen iPod touch and new 3DS XL.

View gallery - 25 images