How Bright is YOUR Backlight? The GBA SP’s Secret Relative Revealed, AGS-101 vs AGS-001

So, you have a Gameboy Advance SP to play GB / GBC and GBA Games on? Not bright enough?

Turns out theres something that not many people know about the GBA SP. There was a second release with a backlit screen, not frontlit (technically side lit..).

It was released in North America, and Europe in very limited numbers. The available colours are typically light blue, light pink and dark metallic grey. In Europe, also the tribal is rumoured to have been released in the 101 model. So, you won’t see a standard common silver AGS-101.

How can you tell the difference? It’s simple, if you know what you’re looking for. The serial number on the bottom.

The original GBA SP has model number “AGS-001″.

The prized 2nd release with the bright screen has model number “AGS-101″.

And here’s the difference in brightness, side by side. The AGS-101 is on the left, obviously.

..and the difference in price is at least double.

So, next time you see a GBA SP console, just flip it over and check the model number ;o)

6 Responses to “How Bright is YOUR Backlight? The GBA SP’s Secret Relative Revealed, AGS-101 vs AGS-001”

  • Alistair Gutcher says:

    Hi, I am in UK and just in the last couple of weeks got a mint AGS101 with all original box and packaging and leaflets etc. from USA with no customs fees to pay and it’s a real beauty, the color of the item is “graphite”.

    Also got a 2nd one in real beat up but fully working condition (for a spare incase either goes wrong) but both AGS101′s screens have no dead pixels and the light scratches on the screen on the beat up one makes no practical difference to the gameplay.

    Both of them seem to have no centre thing under the Dpad so manouvering can be tricky in some games sometimes. I bought a headphone adapter for a couple of GBP off Ebay and tried it and it works fine but I sometimes hear a slight whining noise at high volume through my headphones when no music plays when the battery has had some drain, on my beat up AGS101 (not tried it on my minter). Background noise when the battery has been charged is very low even at full volume level whilst listening on headphones when the sound is absent (like on the load screen of my flash cart’s).

    They are both so much better than my AGS001 that I got from GameStation for a fiver, the screen is washed out and has poor blacks and hardly any color saturation on my AGS001, and that’s indoors with the lights off! It sucks.

    You can even play outdoors in fairly bright conditions with very satisfactory results on the AGS101 with it’s backlight on bright mode. It’s incredibly bright in that mode, way brighter than my fairly recent Sony laptop! In normal backlight mode the AGS101 is rather bright and very colorful and has excellent contrast and sharpness with just a tiny gap between pixels. The sound is also capable of going quite loud with it, same as AGS001 and way louder than GBC.

    Both AGS001 and 101 are compatible with my Netmars GB Emerger flash cards (16 and 64Mb) for GB / GBP / GBC and also work with Action Replay Extreme Pokemon Crystal edition used with the same cards.

    Although both AGS101 and 001 are compatible with both of my identical NDS/GBA 128Mb Firelinker flash cards that I got from Deal Extreme and Light in the box, the same flash cards do NOT work with my Action Replay for GBA, which is dissappointing, but I don’t think it’s the fault of any of my GBA SP’s!

    Both my AGS101′s came from USA came with USA/Japan mains adapters which of course I don’t use and instead use them both with the UK mains adapter for GBASP that I got with my 2nd hand GBASP AGS001 that came from GameStation UK. Output voltage of both of these US/Japan and UK original Nintendo adapters is identical so the UK adapter works fine with my North American AGS101′s. Safe and reliable.

    Battery life on the AGS101 is very very good, even with it’s much brighter screen, I can play indoors for a couple of hours and don’t have to worry about the battery giving out, then I always take a break and recharge it, and it’s always recharged in under half an hour! And this is with used original batteries which came with the systems!

    I highly recommend anyone to get the AGS101, it’s got a WAY better screen, the difference is frankly staggering.

    BTW seems to be no difference in gameplay speed between my AGS001 UK/Euro model and my AGS101 North American model. Both AGS001 and 101 run at 60Hz. This is because with consoles they have to sync to whatever TV they are connected to, so PAL old skool consoles are it seems always slower than their NTSC counterparts, unless “modified”, whereas hand helds can stay at 60Hz since they have their own dedicated screen. So you can buy e.g. Game Gear or GBA / GBA SP ( 101 / 001 ) games from any region in the world and play them on your own country’s hand held and they work fine and the gameplay speed is identical on all.

    Note that on the box for the Euro version of the AGS101 that I saw on Wiki (not on my box which is USA edition), it mentions that it is NOT for sale or use in the UK! So even if we had of seen a widespread European release, I wouldn’t have ever been able to buy one in a normal UK retail games shop. Charming! Thanks Nintendo LOL. Thank goodness for Ebay!


    Alistair G.

  • Climber says:

    Now released portable console GBA ??

  • Climber says:

    good administrator :)

  • admin says:

    Actually, I checked your site out. It’s OK :) link reinstated!

  • Alistair G. says:

    Hi, I have been looking further into exact screens used in these AGS-101′s and comparing them to the screens used in other Nintendo hand helds.

    I just opened up my Euro GBA SP model AGS-001 (front lit screen) (bought 2nd hand from local shop) Serial No. XEH11395853 and the screen has LQ029B2DB51L 35E02355714 on it, which looks like a Sharp brand display (going by the product code), see examples at

    I then just opened up the first of my USA GBA SP model AGS-101 ‘s (back lit screen) (bought 2nd hand from Ebay USA and imported into UK) where I am) Serial No. XU319102679 and the screen has 702A5070S59PF846 on it. Case was Graphite colour and scratched up on this one so I bought a black replacement from Deal Extreme LOL. I would like to be able to identify what brand the screen is but I don’t recognise the model code.

    Also I just opened up the second of my USA GBA SP model AGS-101 ‘s (back lit screen) (bought 2nd hand from Ebay USA and imported into UK) where I am) Serial No. XU705917733 and the screen has 702A1011H5915485 on it. Case was Graphite colour and was mint condition. Again can’t identify the brand of the screen as again I don’t recognise the model code.

    I also have a 2nd hand DS lite from Ebay and it appeared to have a replacement upper screen in it (the idiot hadn’t taken off the screen protector and had also damaged the ribbon cable) with one stuck red pixel and a yellow tint and it was very noticeably darker than the original lower touch screen (the latter has LS030B1DC44R 8Y20Q I0001902QTFD written on it). This is a Sharp brand model code (see link above).

    Out of interest, has anyone got a lower or upper screen in their original (bought from new) DS Lite which has got a noticeably different code on it compared to mine? Indicating that it comes from a different manufacturer?

    I just ordered a “Genuine Nintendo” DS Lite upper screen from Deal Extreme and also another upper DSL screen from where it had a review on the site where the guy mentions it is “poco illuminare” which I think means very bright, and I also ordered an “OEM actual Sharp brand” replacement upper DSL screen from Ebay and we will see whether any of the 3 is of the same quality and performance as the DS lite originals. If not I will have to complain and return the screen as I am fussy about quality! So here’s hoping! Also ordered a replacement black case for it as well.

    I don’t care who makes it or where it comes from as long as the quality equals or exceeds Nintendo’s original screens.

    BTW Nintendo doesn’t make any of their own screens. Also if Nintendo has a contact with Sharp, I imagine that it’s an exclusive deal i.e. where Sharp cannot provide the screens new to anyone else, so that may be why replacement Sharp brand screens are not available new. If you got a Sharp screen of equivalent performance / and size new yourself then you have to make sure it has the correct ribbon cable on it LOL, which it’s not going to have if it’s new and from Sharp, because of the exclusive deal with Nintendo.

    Nintendo want a lot of money (54 GBP) to replace a DSL screen and won’t give out spare parts for cash as far as I know. I have read many posts in forums about problems with quality control on the DS lite so I don’t want to buy a new DS lite (can’t anyway, discontinued) and DSi is too expensive for what it is IMHO.

    Can anyone (who has opened their DS Lite) tell me what the ORIGINAL UPPER screen in their (bought from new) Nintendo DS Lite had written on it (photo’s would be good also) ?

    I see that the lower screen on my DS lite is very similar indeed (in brightness / native contrast / color saturation / viewing angles vertical and horizontal) to the screens on both of my original Nintendo GameBoy Advance SP updated model AGS101′s with their VERY high quality backlit screens.

    I just found a link to where someone opened up a Japanese DSi XL (LL) and it has a Hitachi code screen in it ;-
    , item has model no. TX11D02VCA1 , which is a high end quality TFT screen with Hitachi’s best contrast and brightness performance (seems to be an IPS type screen?). For by Birthday in April I want either 3DS in black or DSiXL in black but I can’t decide which LOL. I’ll be buying it from Game in St.Helens (NW England) as they have a zero stuck / dead (sub) pixel warranty.


    Alistair G.

  • Alistair G. says:

    More ripping open of my Nintendo systems to see what was on the screens ;-

    Also opened up my Euro GBA model AGB-001 (NON lit screen) (bought 2nd hand from local shop) Serial No. AC15285075 and the screen has SHARP and MADE IN JAPAN embossed into the metal of it, and has LQ029B2DD02N 24S00132692 on a label on it.

    I have seen pictures of an opened up 3DS and the lower screen had LS030Q7DW48B 0Y03E B0005439QTFD on it which is a Sharp display going by the model number. No idea what the upper 3D screen has since no pictures of that, but I assume it to be a Sharp parallax barrier screen.

    Finally, I managed to get the 2 thicknesses of black double sided rubber tape (looks like servo tape from my RC cars) off the back of my recased AGS-101 GBA SP backlit screen and it’s got nothing underneath the tape to identify the maker of the screen, only two 1cm round paper stickers that the “servo tape” tears the top off of because the tape is insanely tacky (sticky). So any information on those 2 small stickers is impossible to see. The metal rear of the screen has nothing on it whatsoever under the “servo tape”. Curses.

    I’d still love to hear from anyone who knows which manufacturer the GBA SP AGS-101 screens came from ?


    Alistair G.

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