New Nintendo 2DS XL vs. New Nintendo 3DS XL



While the Nintendo Switch is touting itself as a great handheld console and reigning supreme in popularity, Nintendo isn’t ready to let its handhelds go down the drain. Since the Switch’s release, the 3DS has gotten a plethora of great games, including Metroid: Samus Returns, WarioWare Gold, Luigi’s mansion,Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions, and Hey! Pikmin.

It wasn’t a total surprise when Nintendo announced a new 3DS to add to its family of handheld consoles. The Nintendo 2DS XL was announced just a few months after the Switch’s initial release. Additionally, Nintendo continued to provide support for its 3DS platform. Those of us who are in love with Nintendo portable consoles have the option of continuing to use these systems and find new games to explore.

Although the original Nintendo 3DS models are being phased out and production of the smaller 3DS has ceased, you can still get the New Nintendo 2DS XL, New Nintendo 3DS XL, or Nintendo 2DS. We don’t really recommend the Nintendo 2DS unless you’re buying it for a younger child. It doesn’t have the power gamers typically want, it doesn’t shut off – which makes it susceptible to scratches – and it has a smaller screen size. However, that leaves you with two great options that are similar.

So the question is: which one to buy? The New Nintendo 2DS XL or the New Nintendo 3DS XL? Let’s break it down.


New Nintendo 2DS XL

New Nintendo 3DS XL

Dimensions 3.4 x 6.3 x 0.85 inches (closed) 3.69 x 6.3 x 0.85 inches (closed)
Weight 261 grams 329 grams
Filter 4.88 inch (upper) 4.18 inch touchscreen (lower) 4.88 inch (upper) 4.18 inch touchscreen (lower)
Resolution 800×240 800×240
GPU 804 MHz quad-core ARM11 MPCore 804 MHz quad-core ARM11 MPCore
CPU 4x VFPv2 coprocessor 4x VFPv2 coprocessor
Storage room 4 GB MicroSD included (replaceable) 4 GB MicroSD included (replaceable)
Sensors Gyroscope Gyroscope
3D support No Yes
Loudspeakers Stereo Stereo
Drums Lithium-ion 1300 mAh 1400 mAh lithium-ion
Battery life 3.5 to 7 hours 3.5 to 7 hours
NFC support Yes Yes
Camera Back and front Back and front
Ports Listeners Listeners
Connectivity 802.11b / g Wi-Fi 802.11b / g Wi-Fi
Price $ 120 $ 150
DT Notice 4 out of 5 stars 3 out of 5 stars
Availablity Now Now


At first glance, the two handhelds seem almost identical, but a myriad of small differences between the two make them different not only for holding but also for playing.

Right off the bat, you can feel the difference in weight. The New Nintendo 2DS XL is a few ounces lighter than the New Nintendo 3DS XL, making it slightly less heavy to carry in your pocket. In addition to the reduced weight, it is also slightly smaller in height. As you can easily see, there is less space around the two screens on the New Nintendo 2DS XL, easily detectable when examining the move of the home button to the left side of the lower screen. The budget design of the New Nintendo 2DS XL makes it look a bit more like a toy than the New Nintendo 3DS XL, but the build quality is excellent nonetheless.

As for the differences that can affect the quality of play, the shoulder buttons on the New Nintendo 2DS XL are just a little curved, making them easier to press without discomfort. The stylus is positioned directly next to the headphone jack and is slightly smaller in size compared to the New Nintendo 3DS XL. Although the touchscreen is underused in 3DS games, if you have large hands, the New Nintendo 2DS stylus can have a few issues.

The two systems use stereo sound, but their locations are different. On the New Nintendo 3DS XL, the speakers are on both sides of the top screen, while on the New Nintendo 2DS XL, they are on the bottom of the handheld. Unfortunately, sound may be muffled due to this change, but as always, 3DS is best heard with headphones.

While the game card is located on the lower left in both models, the New Nintendo 2DS XL fortunately adds a cover, which mitigates the risk of accidentally ejecting a cartridge during gameplay. Additionally, the microSD card slot can be found under the cover of the New Nintendo 2DS XL. In order to change memory card in the New Nintendo 3DS XL, you need to unscrew the back panel, so the change is definitely welcome.

As for the screens themselves, the brightness has been upped a notch on the New Nintendo 2DS XL. This can cause problems when playing back in natural light, but on top of that, the picture quality has increased vibrancy.

Speaker placement and stylus size may be a problem for some, but overall the changes to the New Nintendo 2DS XL make it a better-designed handheld than the New Nintendo 3DS XL.

Winner: New Nintendo 2DS XL

3D: an important but largely unimportant difference

As the name suggests, the New Nintendo 2DS XL lacks the initial differentiator of the 3DS family of systems: 3D. When the 3DS launched in 2011, one of its most intriguing selling points was its stereoscopic 3D (without glasses). However, over the years, interest in 3D has waned. If you ask a long-time 3DS owner how often they turn on 3D when playing their 3DS, there’s a good chance they’ll tell you that they rarely use this feature.

While some games in the 3DS library have been designed for 3D use – such as the first system vendor Super Mario 3D Land – it’s not something that you are likely to use a lot. Turning on 3D to see what a game looks like is one thing, but playing the game for a long enough time with the slider on is another. 3D tends to tire your eyes after a little while.

While the New Nintendo 3DS XL is technically one step ahead of the 2DS XL, the price difference can be worth the sacrifice.

Winner: New Nintendo 3DS XL (technically)

Performances and games

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Under the hood, handhelds mirror each other. Both are enhanced by better processors than early 3DS models, meaning every great game in the 3DS library will perform better with either option.

The extensive library of 3DS achievements, including the handful of New Nintendo 3DS XL exclusives (including, Xenoblade Chronicles 3D and The Bond of Isaac: Rebirth), can be played on the New Nintendo 2DS XL without a hitch.

Winner: tie

Pricing and availability

The New Nintendo 3DS XL costs $ 150. Colors have varied since launch, but for now you’ll likely find black, galaxy blue, and red. However, you can buy a refurbished Nintendo 3DS XL for as little as $ 120. If you’re not committed to a brand new version of this system, getting a refurbishment can be a great way to go.

You can find the New Nintendo 2DS XL in the market for $ 120. You can choose between three separate Mario Kart 7 packages (black and turquoise, orange and white, and purple and silver). You also have the option to select several other colors that are not included in a package, including black and teal, white and orange, purple, and a pokeball design.

Currently, you are not looking at a huge price gap between the two. However, take into account that the New Nintendo 2DS XL comes with a power adapter, whereas you need to purchase a charger separately when you pick up the New Nintendo 3DS XL. Chargers can be found for $ 10 or less, but that extends the price difference a bit further.

Winner: New Nintendo 2DS XL

Final verdict

If you’re looking for a dedicated Nintendo handheld, you can’t go wrong with the New Nintendo 2DS XL or the New Nintendo 3DS XL. That said, if we’re forced to choose, we’ll pick the New Nintendo 2DS XL for its new and improved design features.

Winner: The new Nintendo 2DS XL

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