Hands on With the New Nintendo 2DS XL

Nintendo’s newest hand held drops 3D for a slimmer design with access to the same great game library, but there is no performance upgrade to match the improved portability and design.

The New Nintendo 2DS XL takes all the best parts of the 3DS and slips them into something a little sleeker. You’ll likely not even miss the 3D functionality and the compact new design with the systems bright new colors look great. It has an 82% larger screen than the 2DS and this time it folds so its easier to take with you. It is fully compatible with 3DS games so you if you’re upgrading or even picking up a Nintendo handheld for the first time you have a big library of games already.

Unfortunately, the internal hardware remains largely unchanged. It does feature Nintendo’s “new” series CPU like the New Nintendo 3DS but even that is three years old and the graphics are looking dated especially when compared to Nintendo’s Hybrid home console/handheld system the Switch.

Nintendo 2DS XL Box
Nintendo 2DS XL Box

Nintendo 2DS XL

What’s in the box

  • New Nintendo 2DS XL
  • Power Cord
  • AR Cards
  • 4gig Micro SD Card
  • Product Information booklet


  • Larger Screen than the 2DS
  • Folding Hinge
  • C Stick
  • Amiibo Support
  • Supports 3DS Games

The Details

The Good

  • Large Libary of Games
  • Sleek Design

Probably the best thing about the 2DS XL is that it already has a massive library of games. The 2D XL accepts all 3DS games (just without the 3D functionality). That means you can play everything from Pokemon Sun & Moon to classics like Mario Kart 7.

It folds now! The original 2DS, which launched in 2013, ditched the 3D and the convenient folding of the 3DS for a strange tablet with two screens design. This is a big step up because it’s more compact and you don’t have to worry about the screen getting damaged. The streamlined design looks especially good in the new color combinations the 2DS XL comes in. I am a fan of the matte black and teal because it really pops but the bright white and orange also looks great.

Nintendo 2DS XL
Holding the Nintendo 2DS XL

The design also features a larger screen. The top screen has an area of 4.88-inches with a 400 x 240-pixel display while the lower screen has an area of 4.18-inches. It is a huge improvement over the 2DS but it is also an improvement on the 3DS XL because the top screen has a smaller, lighter bevel.

Despite its name, the 2DS XL is compact. It is slightly larger than my Galaxy S7 and twice as thick with its otter box on. Nintendo has moved most of the important components into the lower section making it the thicker of the two. This works well because it gives you something to hold on and puts the balance of the weight in your hands rather than on the screen side. That new “ergonomic design” Nintendo touts really does feel comfortable.

The Bad

  • May be too compact for larger hands
  • Outdated Graphics
  • Disappointing Battery Life

I will put one caveat on the comfort in that the Nintendo 2DS XL feels great in my hands but I have fairly small hands. I can’t promise the long term playing comfort for people with larger hands. I’m looking at you men of gaming.

At its core, the 2DS is essentially the same hardware as the 3DS, so while you get to enjoy that big library of games the graphics look a bit dated. Especially if you are looking at the HD display of the Nintendo Switch. On the same note, the on board camera pales in comparison to pretty much any phone sold in the last five years. It is acceptable for the amusing AR and other mini games that are included but I wouldn’t recommend it for saving your memories.

Nintendo 2DS XL Mario Kart 7
Mario Kart 7 on the Nintendo 2DS XL

The battery life is the most disappointing, especially given how out of date the visuals appear.  Two cups on Mario Kart 7 zapped one of the four bars of battery. It seems like something Nintendo definitely could have improved.


The New Nintendo 2DS XL is a great pick if you are looking to pick up a new handheld. Losing the 3D has helped slim the system down which makes it less bulky and more compact. Getting rid of the 3D functionality is no real loss and the sleek new design looks great. The system hardware is starting to look dated, and while DS games do have a forgiving art style in this regard, it is disappointing that despite the outdated visuals the battery life isn’t better.

If you have a 2DS or older model 3DS it is a good upgrade, and certainly recommended if you are buying a Nintendo hand held for the first time. It has a great library of games already, plus it is cheaper than the New 3DS XL and at half the price of the Nintendo Switch, it is a good hand held option if you are not ready to commit to Nintendo’s hybrid system. If you are looking for something more advanced you may want to keep saving for the Switch.

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