3DS Nintendo

New Nintendo 2DS XL Hardware Review

As the sixth system in the Nintendo 3DS and 2DS family of consoles, the New Nintendo 2DS XL is a solid offering for tech enthusiasts, collectors and children alike. With a design that’s pleasing to the eye and an exterior upper screen that’s satisfying to touch, the 2DS XL is only a budget device by the materials it uses rather than the hardware it contains.

It’s hard to believe that only six years ago the original Nintendo 3DS was released. In an age where the line drawn between handheld consoles and smartphones is smudged, there’s still a huge market for games on the go. When we talk to non-gaming peers or non-technical individuals, the confusion between a DS and a 2DS XL sets in. On appearance alone, the closed lid of a 2DS XL could be mistaken by non-technical individuals as a bigger and better version of the DS Lite; and they wouldn’t be wrong. It’s got a hinge, has dual screens and there’s no visible stereoscopic 3D. While it could be an upgraded 10-year anniversary edition of the DS Lite, in terms of hardware the New 2DS XL is on par with its bigger brother, performing with almost identical specs to the New 3DS XL.

Weighing in at 260 grams (9.2 ounces), the New 2DS XL is approximately 68 grams lighter than the New 3DS XL and over 70 grams lighter than the original 3DS XL. Both the upper and lower screens are identical in diagonal size to the New 3DS XL, measuring 4.88 inches and 4.18 inches respectively. While the widescreen LCD display is at a rich 16.77 million colours and a 400 x 240 pixel resolution, in comparison to the New 3DS XL which reaches 800 x 240 in resolution.

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In terms of playability, Nintendo cites the New 2DS XL’s battery life as on par with the 3DS family of systems at around three to five hours. Playing Pokemon Moon with internet connectivity enabled, 50 percent volume and on full brightness, the battery clocks in around four hours of play time; on par with the rest of the family, if not better. With no visible hardware glitches when playing Pokemon Moon or the Welcome Amiibo update to Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the New 2DS XL is on equal footing when it comes to the hardware used.

What the New 2DS XL comes down to, then, is its design and user experience. Included in the box, you’ll find six AR cards, an AC adapter, a 4GB SDHC Memory Card and a stylus tucked inside the console itself. Fortunately (and surprisingly), the New 2DS XL includes the AC adapter as standard for North America, Europe, Australia and the UK this time around. In terms of design, though, the New 2DS XL differs quite significantly from the New 3DS XL, with changes that make sense with the compact design of the console, yet do not marry too wonderfully with the overall user experience.

The New 2DS XL’s white and orange colour scheme is pleasing to the eye, with a thick orange outline around the upper screen’s exterior. There’s also a slightly ridged effect on the console’s face up exterior, which is beautiful and very satisfying to touch. At first glance, you’ll notice the console’s hinge isn’t built in to the main console unit, but is actually attached at the seams, so to speak. The cylindrical shape has three distinct sections, with the upper screen held by the two 1.5cm moveable joints at either side of the immovable middle bar, which also features the front facing camera and SpotPass notification lights. Closing and folding the device feels much different and you can hear audible squeaks and grinds from the joints moving in sync, particularly when fully opening the console so that it’s flat. Whereas the 3DS XL feels steady with its middle movable hinge joint, the New 2DS XL feels vulnerable and loose.

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The console’s bottom screen interior, however, is very similar to the layout on the New 3DS XL. A softer orange highlights the console’s shoulder buttons, the A, B, X, Y and D-pad, and the power button, while the circular pad and C stick are in grey. The home button appears just beneath the D-pad, instead of in the middle, and the volume slider appears on the left side of the lower screen, slightly quieter at 100 percent volume than the New 3DS XL. The upper screen’s interior certainly differs with an inset into the fold of the console, giving it a full gloss layer with the system’s stereo speakers internal.  Unfortunately, the one major flaw with this design opens the way to an element that all gamers hate; the New 2DS XL is a dust and smudge magnet. I’ve yet to meet a person that carries cleaning cloths everywhere they go. Heck, I wear glasses every day and I’ve never carried the one bundled in the case, always opting for my shirt as the best cleaning cloth to hand.

The console’s compact design means there’s less room for those with larger hands. Between the game card slot and the size of the stylus, the New 2DS XL is intended for children, or those with smaller hands. Tucked away with the headphone jack at the bottom of the console is the stylus, which measures approximately 2-3cm smaller than the one included with the New 3DS XL and its original. Yet it feels much nicer to hold with coated plastic rather than glossy. The game card slot is covered and houses the Micro SD card as well as the game card. Perhaps the biggest frustration here is that the slots are so finicky and often require a bit of fumbling to get the cards inserted. The SD card slot is, however, easily accessible which certainly beats the New 3DS XL’s purchase of a small screwdriver and removal of the back panel, meaning less hassle overall.

Having played with the New 2DS XL for a lengthy amount of time, it’s certainly not as comfortable to hold due to its rigid back panel casing that overlaps onto the inside of the console causing a slight gap. Resting your thumb in a natural hold position on the console means grazing the casing sometimes, which can be slightly sharp on your skin. The preference for a smoother panelling seen on the New 3DS XL is much more optimal. And while the New 2DS XL is aesthetically inferior to its big brother, the hardware is certainly up to speed, making for a great budget console if you prefer playing in 2D.


New Nintendo 2DS XL unit provided by Nintendo for review purposes. Generally available on July 28th in North America and Europe.



  1. I also thought this was an educational read. one question I had is I was interested in the way you talked about it probably being more comfortable with smaller hands.

    I’ve never held a switch but it also looks like it would be more comfortable and smaller hands. having now played both systems could you comment on how they feel similar or different? that is do you feel like the switch is more versatile to different hand sizes than the new 2DS?

    I hope this doesn’t turn into a loaded question, I’m genuinely curious!

    thanks again for the well thought-out review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ||That’s it you must die because you never held a Switch before…||

      ||Besides that, when docked, the controller might be a little small for bigger hands, but it fits perfectly for anyone when portable…||

      Liked by 2 people

      1. When it’s time to die, do me a solid and make it quick please! I’ve done the long and drawn out Version and I’m not a fan! ;D

        Liked by 2 people

    2. The 2DS XL as a console is okay for both large and small hands. It’s when using the stylus which is absolutely tiny and trying to pop the game card / SD card in that it’s very fiddly. It’s certainly more fiddly compared to the Switch, though when holding the joy-con it’s a perfect fit for my hands, but not my Dad’s as an example. My Dad is perfectly comfortable holding then Switch in handheld version though, the same as how he feels with the Wii u gamepad. Hope that helps!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m too into the 3D effect, so I’ll have to go with a New 3DS if my current old one breaks down on me. Just a shame that only the XL version of the New 3DS seems available, unless you’re willing to pay extra for a bundled one, with a theme that you don’t necessarily want.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. If you like the 3D, You will love the N3DS. You will love the 3D effects even more as it’s super stable. you have to try to make it break on the new one!

      I love mine. I wasn’t sure it was worth the upgrade, then after upgrading it’s so so much nicer. It’s faster also. Your loading times drop significantly, and the browser is actually usable.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. i have a few questions pertaining to this, hope you don’t mind giving me your feedback.
    1. I am curious about the sound. Its at the bottom of the device and while playing it, is there any problems or any discomfort due to the sound waves keep touching ur hands? (I am not sure this is how you say, but sorry for the poor English, English isn’t my first language.)
    2. I am clueless when you talked about resolution between the two devices, can you further explain?
    3. The reason why I am getting this is just to play pokemon. I have never held a 3ds to play, only for about 15 mins of my friend’s device. Back then, when x and y were released, the 3ds was really expensive to buy. So here is my question, does pokemon run smoothly on the 2ds xl? Is there any difference in terms of experiencing the feel of the game, like lag or not smooth flowing?
    4. What device should I buy then? In all honesty, from those 15 mins of playing, I hated the 3d function/slider, its gives me occasional giddiness after that. I would like to know your view from both ends of the spectrum (as in perspective on both devices)
    Sorry for the long read, but I really want to get myself familiarised with the pros and cons, things to look out for before buying anything. Thanks for reading, I hope you may help me with my curiosity.


    1. Hi Shel, I’ll try and answer your questions as best as I can. :)
      1. No, there’s no discomfort when holding the device in regards to the sound. At least not that I noticed. I played with the console for quite some time (four hours ish to wind down the battery in the evening). I did, however, find discomfort holding the device compared to the 3DS XL due to the casing overlay which has some sharp edges and can graze your skin.
      2. In terms of resolution, there aren’t noticeable differences to the eye. The New 2DS XL is 400 x 240 pixels which means it’s less sharp than the New 3DS XL which can reach 800 x 240. To be honest, unless you’re recording videos from the device, there isn’t any reason not to purchase the 2DS XL on resolution alone.
      3. If you’re just buying the 2DS XL to play Pokemon you shouldn’t encounter any problems. I played Pokemon Moon on it and didn’t notice anything particularly different to the 3DS XL. I felt like my character, when running, was a little bit slower and the pixel resolution was certainly less sharp. However, Pokemon X, Y and Sun / Moon have never been pixel perfect when zoomed in. In general, if you played with the 3D on in the battles during X and Y, it would slow down the frame rate massively. But since they got rid of the 3D in Sun / Moon, there’s been no real issues in terms of the game’s performance. I think the 2DS XL is perfectly adequate for Pokemon. It certainly was the same performance for ACNL.
      4. In all honesty, I love my New 3DS XL. Even if I wasn’t a reviewer and needed the top performing console, I would still opt for the New 3DS XL due to its design, overall comfort and use of 3D. If you’re looking to play something like Monster Hunter or Hyrule Warriors for example, I would opt for the New 3DS XL as it’s likely to perform better (though I can’t say that for sure as I have a DL code for both of them) and looks much prettier in 3D. If, as you say, you just want to play Pokemon or titles similar like Yokai, Ever Oasis and Kirby. which don’t necessarily take much processing power compared to those mentioned above, I would opt for a 2DS XL. If you’re not bothered about 3D, and don’t mind the resolution being slightly reduced, it’s certainly a good console.
      I hope that helps! And if you need anything else answered just let me know. :)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 1. I have heard from many sites that holding seems to be an issue. Based on appearance it doesn’t look all that ‘painful’. So here’s my question,
        a) How painful/annoying is it?
        b) On a scale of 1-10, 1 being not annoying and 10 being very annoying
        c) Could you compare the holding with other devices, like maybe the ds? Need not be something that matches the pain, just a simple rough idea will do.
        d) My hand is about 20 cm from tip of middle finger to wrist, will I face any problems in general?
        2. So resolution on the 3ds xl is twice that of the 2ds xl, and since I don’t record, just playing pokemon casually, it will be fine to obtain the 2ds xl? To follow up, I have read many reviews as well, they mentioned of how the pixels are kinda obvious as compared to the 3ds xl, wont it bug the user then, despite its big screen size?
        3. Could you elaborate on ” I felt like my character, when running, was a little bit slower and the pixel resolution was certainly less sharp. However, Pokemon X, Y and Sun / Moon have never been pixel perfect when zoomed in.”?
        Didn’t you mention that it has the same upgraded processing speed as the new 3ds xl?

        Anyways, thanks for the fast reply. I really appreciated it. But I still have some doubts that require clarification, I hope you would reply to my additional doubts. Thanks for reading.


      2. Hey again, I’ll respond to the parts that the others below might not have. :)
        1 a) I wouldn’t say it’s painful, it’s just uncomfortable. Basically if I hold my N3DS XL for three hours or more in the same position I’d start to get cramps in my hands, with a 2DS XL this would be elevated and I would have to change my position more due to the casing overlay.
        b) Depends on the size of your hands, for my really small hands, probably a 4.
        c) It’s very similar to holding a DS lite actually, it’s just bigger but it’s much lighter. With the size of your hands, it’s probably better to opt for something heavier.
        d) Your hands are practically double mine (so you’d probably find holding an XL easier).
        2. I think someone resolved this below.
        3. Generally it just seemed a bit slower (could have been my imagination, hence not speaking about it in the initial review. The Pokemon games, particularly those using the same engine (ie. X/Y/Saphhire/Ruby remakes/Sun/Moon) are all a bit pixellated on the 3DS when they zoom in on a character. It seemed to be more noticeable on a 2DS XL, however.
        Again, hope that helps clarify some things. I know it’s difficult choosing a system, but I really wouldn’t disregard the N3DS XL in your purchase. Try and see if you can get one of the gaming retailers to pop one out of the box for you so you can feel what the differences are like before purchasing. Everybody is different after all.


      3. The resolution difference is for the 3D effect. (400 for each eye) Similar to how passive 3D works on TVs.

        As for Pokemon, Moon and Sun have no 3D, so you can’t notice a difference that is not there. Some games like Hyrule Warriors need full use of the hardware which means 3D is only available on New 3DS models.

        For the 3D feature, it is a lot better on the New 3DS. They didn’t just boost the processor, they added the face tracking feature to adjust to you, which is awesome really.

        Which one you get is solely up to you. I got my New 3DS Zelda model from Gamestop when it was on sale for $169.99. I am sure there will be other sales out there too.

        The only real difference between the two is that one has 3D and one does not. It is up to you to determine if you have any real value in it.

        Let us not all pretend the New 2DS XL is this new amazing thing. It is not, it is just a downgraded model of something that already exists. No one pretended the fat PS3 with Backward compatibility was somehow more awesome and special because it was cheaper and did less.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. On the old 3DS XL, the 3D will give you giddiness, but on the New Nintendo 3DS & New 3DS XL, they fix the 3D effect so it won’t give you giddiness. The resolution of the screen is twice as much more on the New 3DS then it is on the 2DS XL. Only the New 3DS & New 3DS XL have an IPS displays, which gives you a noticeably more better looking screen for gaming. The battery life on the 2DS XL is 3 to 5 hours, but the battery life on the New 3DS XL is 4 to 7 hours long with Super-Stable 3D on (3D with no giddiness). The New 2DS XL is not that comfortable to hold, and the buttons are mushy, but the New 3DS XL buttons are good cause they click. Gaming is noticeably better on the New 3DS XL.

      Liked by 2 people

    3. I forgot to mention that the New 3DS XL has Virtual Surround Sound speakerphones, while the 2DS XL only has stereo speakerphone. And the New 3DS XL speakerphones are louder then the 2DS XL.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. On almost every video game system (consoles & handhelds) the buttons are normal and feel good, but on the 2DS XL the buttons don’t feel normal and in a bad way, I wouldn’t recommend it for game controls, the responsiveness of the buttons on the 2DS XL aren’t as good as other handhelds. And the sound of speakerphones on New 3DS XL make you hear sound in more different directions and more specific directions at that. The 2DS XL only does right & left sound, and because the speakerphones are pointed downwards, it can get annoying in at least half of the games available in the 3DS library of games. I got a New 3DS XL but I still use my Surround Sound headphones in certain video games, so I can hear sound from an even more greater variety of directions. I personally can’t get enough of Super-Stable face-tracking 3D in combination with Surround Sound headphones in a ton of video games on my New 3DS XL, it’s an awesome experience, even games like the Amazing Spider-Man are a fun experience when played with both 3D & Surround Sound headphones.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is the first honest review I have find on the New 2DS XL. Everyone else is just kissing the 2DS XL ass, like 34% of Americans who still brown noise Donald Trump….sad people or should I say sheeple.


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