It shouldn’t be breaking news that there are plenty of flash cards on the market of varying degrees of quality and “originality”, some with very complex relationships. There are clones of clones of copies, and for some it is important to keep track of their history. For usability, the primary concern is a proven track record of reliability from the developer. For example, the popular R4i SDHC is a clone of the DSTT, but has a solid set of features and reliable upgrades. Keep in mind that even if a card is a known clone, it may be supported by professional developer teams dedicated to updating your cards. A clone doesn’t necessarily mean a bad, unreliable card, but there are plenty of deliberately confusing labels out there. .
Still, the packaging is often used to distinguish between cards from different manufacturers. The R4 SDHC (beige box) comes from the manufacture of the R4i SDHC (red box), and differs from the team that made the first R4 SDHC (black box). A bad counterfeit can mean instability or infrequent updates, but to date only one card has been known to cause damage to your DS console. The N5 card had a design flaw that caused a short circuit and blown fuse after too many Micro SD card insertions.
This is not a complete review of each card, but rather an explanation of where it came from. The list is not exhaustive, and unpopular and discontinued cards were not included to save space. To get an idea of the variety of clones produced, visit linfoxdomain.com for a list of all available firmware.
The initial developers started with the Game Boy Advanced and continued with slot 2 (lower GBA slot on DS and DS Lite) flash cards for the original DS console. Acknowledgment should be given to those discontinued Slot 2 cards and teams to lay the foundation. Some of them are still working today, including the Supercard team. Since then, there has been a lot of migration of developers which adds to the confusion of who was making which card.
More advanced slot 1 cards were developed when slot 2 cards fell out of favour, and the R4 Revolution card quickly rose to the top in popularity. The R4 v2 is an upgrade primarily in the removal of the spring clip SDHC slot. The R4 kit and the M3 kit are closely related, if not the same kit, and the M3DS Simply was a rebranded R4v2 with new firmware, as opposed to an unlicensed clone card. The M3DS Real is a legitimate upgrade and not a clone of the M3DS Simply. The iTouch series comes from the M3 team, designed as an entry level to their family of cards. The M3i SDHC and M3i Upgrade are fakes that are NOT from the M3 team and should not be trusted.
There have been more clones and rebrands of the R4 line than any other card. While it bears the same name as R4, several manufacturers are not affiliated with the original R4 team and develop their own families of cards and software. There are four main different manufacturers that produce an “R4” card. The original R4 kit is no more, then there are the creators of the first R4 SDHC, the people who make the R4i SDHC (red box) started with a clone of the DSTT and also make the R4i Gold, the R4 Ultra kit is less popular but still prevalent, and to add to the confusion, the M3 team developed their own R4i RTS (white box).
Other teams’ cards were in development at the time or shortly after the R4DS. They are original technologies in their own right and not clones of other cards; the DSTT, the EZFlash V, the Acekard, the Supercard DSONE and the CycloDS Evolution. The Supercard team claims that the CycloDS card is a clone of theirs, but this claim has not been substantiated. CycloDS is generally considered to be superior to Supercard DSONE, and it turned out to be so valuable (albeit expensive) that it spawned the immensely popular Edge card as a clone.