The Game Boy Advance SP, released in February 2003, is an upgraded version of Nintendo's Game Boy Advance. The "SP" stands for Special. The SP was marketed at US $99.99 at launch. In September 2004, Nintendo lowered the price to US $79.99. The SP is accompanied by the Nintendo DS (released in November 2004) and the Game Boy Micro (released in September 2005).
In Japan, it was marketed at 12,500¥ on February 14, 2003. In Canada, it was marketed at CA $149.95 on March 22, 2003. In Australia, it was marketed at AU $199.99 on March 28, 2003. In Europe, it was marketed at 129.99 on March 28, 2003.
» Size (closed): Approximately 8.4 x 8.2 x 2.44 cm (3.3 x 3.23 x 0.96 inches).
» Weight: 142 grams (approximately 5 ounces).
» Screen: Reflective TFT Color LCD.
» Light source: Frontlight integrated LCD.
» Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery.
» Battery Life: 10 hours continuous play with light on, 18 hours with light off; needs at most 3 hours recharging.
» Hardware colors: Onyx, Flame, Platinum, Cobalt blue, Pearl pink, Pearl blue, Graphite, Midnight blue (backlit), Charizard red, Venusaur green, Pikachu yellow. In September 2005 a Surf Blue edition was sold through Best Buy. A limited Spongebob Squarepants edition exists. There is also an All Blacks edition.
The GBA SP is slightly more than half the size of the GBA when closed and roughly the height of Nintendo's Game Boy Color when open. The clamshell or laptop design protects the screen from scratches and dust, reminiscent of two-screen Game & Watch units. However, the casing is made from a different material, making it more prone to scratches than previous Game Boy systems.
The GBA SP AC adapter comes with the package to recharge its lithium ion battery, something previous Game Boys did not have. The software library and general hardware specifications are identical to those of the Game Boy Advance.
In most regions it was released in Platinum Silver, and Charcoal Black. Later a Flame Red version was released. The Six special editions have also been released: a NES Classics model with the same color scheme as a classic NES controller (and designed to resemble an NES deck when closed), a SpongeBob SquarePants model, a Pikachu model, and a silver SP with a tattoo engraved on it, called the 'Tribal Edition'. In other regions, such as Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, additional colors have been released, such as Pearl Green and Starlight Gold.
» CPU: 32-bit ARM7TDMI with embedded memory.
» Memory: 32 kibibyte+96 kibibyte VRAM (internal CPU), 256 kibibyte WRAM (external CPU).
» Resolution: 240 x 160 pixels.
» Color: Can display 511 simultaneous colors in character mode and 32,768 simultaneous colors in bitmap mode.
» Software: Fully compatible with Game Boy and Game Boy Color games.
Due to form-factor limitations, Nintendo removed the headphone jack, which had been included on all previous Game Boy models. Headphones designed specifically for the GBA SP can be purchased, or standard headphones can be attached with an optional adapter that plugs into the same port as the AC adapter.
As both AC adapter and headphones use the same port, it is not possible to charge the SP and listen to headphones at the same time with the Nintendo brand adapter. There are however third-party solutions, such as an adapter that "splits" into two different cords; The power jack on one side, and a normal headphone jack on the other.
Majesco developed officially licensed neckband stereo headphones that plugs directly into the port without the need of an adapter.
In North America in September 2005, around the time of the Game Boy Micro's release, Nintendo released an improved version of the Game Boy Advance SP featuring a backlight instead of the previous version's frontlight. The brightness can be set to low or high. The box says, "Now with a BRIGHTER backlit screen!" to distinguish the new model from the older, frontlit models. In addition, the backlit SP model can be recognized by the AGS-101 model designation on the bottom of the unit.
The standard edition of the backlit version currently comes in three colors, Pearl Blue, Graphite (a greyer version of Charcoal Black), and Pearl Pink.