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Nintendo is set to crank up the capability of their DSi portable gaming device next month in an effort to compete with new gaming capabilities on the Apple iPhone.

Retailers iin Australia ncluding JB Hi Fi and EA Games will get the new device in April shortly after the new Nintendo DSi device goes on sale in Europe. wit

The DSi is currently only available in Japan, where it has been on store shelves since late November.

Accordintg to the Wall Street Journal The rollout of the new DSi comes amid mounting pressure from Apple’s iPhone, which users are employing for more than just phone calls and music, its most prominent functions. Since the iPhone debuted two years ago, billions of games have been downloaded to iPhones, turning them into portable game machines and unexpected competition for Nintendo and Sony Corp (SNE). That has raised questions as to whether the iPhone or other smartphones may one day supplant mobile gaming devices, like the DSi.

“The iPhone was a kind of dark horse,” said Bryan Spaulding, senior director of Boston-based Optaros, a mobile game-development company. “Over time, it will threaten standalone game devices.”

The new DSi has several features that already are part of the iPhone’s playbook. The DSi has a touchscreen, as does the latest generation of the iPhone, which allows players to manipulate it simply by moving their fingers over the device’s display.

More importantly, the DSi allows players to download games over a wireless Internet connection from an online store. That has drawn comparisons to Apple’s App Store, which lets users buy programs, including games .

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