The original R4 DS Card, produced by the self-titled “Team R4″, came into existence in early 2007. The original R4 Revolution DS Card looked much the same as the R4v2 Card, but there was a noticeable difference.
The top of the original R4 Revolution DS Card had a small groove to push-lock a Micro-SD card inside. This made use of a spring mechanism so that a Micro-SD card would lock into place when pushed. A simple second push would allow it to come back out of the R4 Card.
The R4 Card in its original guise was produced for just under one year. Team R4 realised that the spring mechanism in the R4 Card had problems, affecting up to 5% of the card’s production. Problems with the spring could cause the mechanism to break.
This meant that Micro-SD cards would no longer go into the R4 DS Card properly. Obviously, this was a big problem. Therefore, Team R4 set out to create a newer version of the R4 Card, fixing the problem and helping reliability. They called this card the “R4v2 Card”.
The new version of the R4 Revolution DS Card, titled the “R4v2 Revolution DS Card” (predictably!), was released in late 2007. This new version removed the need for a spring mechanism to insert a Micro-SD card. Instead, it simply had a slot in the back where a user could manually slot a Micro-SD card in.
This eliminated the problems of the original R4 Revolution DS Card where the spring mechanism could go wrong
The original R4v2 card was produced (with software updates) until June of 2008. By this time, many other DS cards were available on the market. These had many features, including support for Micro-SDHC cards (The R4v2 could only accept up to 2GB Micro-SD cards) which increased capacities to 32GB. Other features to come later included Real Time Save, the ability to save a game at any freeze point and continue at a later stage.
The last software update for the R4v2 was released on the 24th of April, 2008. While manufacturing itself did not stop, the R4 team disbanded and have since worked on many other cards, including the M3, M3i Zero, DSTT, and EZFlash cards. A group of dedicated R4v2 fans continued producing unofficial firmware to keep the R4v2 compatible with later games (the original software was incompatible with some newer games with different coding). This software was known as YSMenu. It could play newer games, but (initially at least) was unable to play homebrew applications.
These days, while still the fastest loading card of all time, the R4v2 does not tend to be bought nor offered for sale – simply because users who play newer games demand larger capacity for storage space, and compatibility with new games.
The R4 SDHC was first produced by a rival factory to the original R4v2 in April/May 2008. At the time, only the R4v2, DSTT, and M3DS cards were really in mass production for the DS and DS Lite, and adopted en-masse by the public. The R4 SDHC was produced in response to public demand for an equivalent to an R4v2 card that could accept Micro-SD cards with larger capacity than 2GB.
At the time, the DSTT’s menu system (a ‘list’ system rather than giving the user the option of choosing games or multimedia) was not very popular with the general public, and the M3DS was generally recognised as being too expensive, albeit a good card. The R4 SDHC, therefore, was picked up like it was going out of fashion – it easily the most popular Nintendo DS / DS Lite card instantly. As a result of this, there have been many clones of the R4 SDHC card – more than any other card in existent (see the R4 SDHC Clones section for more information).
The R4 SDHC remains the most popular Nintendo DS / DS Lite card in history.
The R4i SDHC was the first ever DSi compatible card to be produced for the homebrew market. It was released in the second quarter of 2009 after the general release of the Nintendo DSi console. It boasted the same functionality as old DS cards, including up to 32GB Micro-SDHC support, being able to run Moonshell to play media, and frequent software updates.
When Nintendo released the 1.4 DSi firmware update in late July 2009, all DSi cards were temporarily disabled. Several cards, including the EZFlash Vi and Acekard 2i, were able to patch themselves to become compatible with the new 1.4 firmware. However, the R4i SDHC (among others) was unable to do this. As a result, all existing R4i SDHC cards became unable to be used on the DSi console.
This was obviously a big blow to the manufacturers, who quickly resolved the issues and manufactured a brand new 1.4-compatible card. Strangely, despite the big setback of effectively nullifying all its DSi cards to date (when the 1.4 firmware was released), it regained its market share incredibly quickly. After the release of the new card, the R4i SDHC once again became the leading DSi compatible card on the market – despite the advances of the Acekard 2i, EZFlash Vi, and the M3i Zero.