On January 7, 2003 Nintendo announced the newest member of the Game Boy family, the Game Boy Advance SP. The device is a new version of the Game Boy Advance and, like the GBA, will be backwards-compatible with the games for the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and the Game Boy Advance itself (with the exception of the Rumble Pak game Kirby's Tilt 'n Tumble and other games with a built-in tilt sensor such as and Command Master and Koro Koro Puzzle Happy Panetchu). The unit retains the familiar A, B, L, and R buttons as well as a Control Pad, Start, and Select buttons, however the unit itself resembles a cosmetics case and features a clamshellesque design. Game Paks load from the front of the unit and the traditional volume control wheel has been replaced with a slider.

The major differences between the GBA-SP and the familiar GBA is that the SP model has a rechargable battery good for up to eighteen hours of play (removing the need for AA batteries and only needs three hours to charge), features a flip-up lighted screen (the first for a member of the Game Boy family), and the entire device measures roughly 3" x 3" x 1" when folded up. The screen itself measures 2.4" x 1.6". Note that the unit does not have a headphone jack; instead headphones can be plugged in through one of the link cables by using a special Nintendo-produced adapter (sold seperately).

Exact Specs:

  • Approximate Size (Closed): Height 3.33 inches, width 3.23 inches, depth 0.96 inches
  • CPU: 32-bit RISC CPU with embedded memory
  • Screen: 2.9-inch reflective TFT color LCD
  • Light Source: Front lights have been integrated with the existing reflective LCD
  • Display Size: 1.61 inches by 2.41 inches (identical to the Game Boy Advance)
  • Resolution: 240x160 pixels (identical to the Game Boy Advance)
  • Color: Simultaneously displays more than 32,000 colors (identical to the Game Boy Advance)
  • Weight: Approximately 5 ounces
  • Power Supply: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Battery Life: 10 hours continuous play with three hour recharging period; 18 hours continuous play with light function disabled
  • Peripheral Devices (Sold Separately): e-Reader, Game Boy Advance Game Link Cable, Nintendo GameCube Game Boy Advance Cable, Game Boy Advance SP Headphone Jack Adapter
The SP was released on March 23, 2003 in the USA for a MSRP of $99.95. The Japanese release came on February 14, 2003 (where it sold out in a matter of hours) and the European release came on March 28, 2003. Units are available in two colors: Platinum and Cobalt. Nintendo considers the SP model a companion to the existing Game Boy Advance unit and plans to continue producing and selling both units for the immediate future.

Based on this and the earlier announcement of the Game Boy Player, 2003 could be the year of the Game Boy Advance.