When Nintendo first launched the 3DS, it came under fire for variety of reasons – price being the biggest of them all. Fast forward 17 months later and gamers have just welcomed the first design change to the once struggling handheld. With every console revamp, potential consumers and current format owners alike are curious as to whether or not the updated system is worth their hard-earned money, and that’s no different with the 3DS XL.

Is the upgraded device worth a purchase or should gamers save their dollars?

A 4GB memory card comes packaged with every unit, and there are two colors available in North America. Consumers have the option to choose between a ‘Blue and Black’ or ‘Red and Black’ 3DS XL, while other areas (more specifically Japan and Europe) offer White and Silver variants. These do look a lot more fashionable than what’s currently available in N.A., but it should be noted that neither of these country’s bundles come packaged with a charger for the 3DS XL.

The 3DS XL’s biggest improvement comes in the form of significantly larger screens — 90% larger to be exact — and having these makes playing games a lot more immersive than they ever were before. Nearly doubling the screen size of the original 3DS, anyone looking for a larger format to enjoy their current lineup of games will find enough reason to purchase the device with that upgrade alone. That being said, the larger screens provide a number of shortcomings.

Nintendo 3DS XL Colors

* Silver 3DS XL not available in North America... yet.

The most obvious fault is that the portable isn’t so portable anymore. Those who have become addicted to StreetPass will need some pretty deep pockets to carry this beast, because the 3DS XL is roughly an inch longer and 3/4 of an inch wider than the original model. A bulkier unit was expected — ‘XL’ is in the title, after all — so its size is just more of an occasional inconvenience than any real problem.

On top of that, some games look slightly blockier on the 3DS XL, but these effects are minimal. Other titles, however, end up looking better than they ever have before (i.e. Kid Icarus: Uprising), so it’s another hardly existent speed bump for fans. Overall, the larger display and beefy touchscreen positively impact the experience of playing on a 3DS, and there’s no questioning how the super-sized screens create a much more engaging experience.

One of the biggest criticisms the 3DS received (and still does receive), is that the 3D’s “sweet spot” was too small. Fortunately enough for gamers who encountered this problem, the 3DS XL does offer a mild solution. By providing players with an ample amount of screen, the 3D has been improved significantly. There’s so much more depth on-screen now, and games that utilize the feature really do shine on this heftier handheld.


Nintendo‘s extra large rendition of the Nintendo 3DS totes many improvements over its predecessor that go beyond just an increase in screen size. For starters, the layout has been changed ever so slightly to better suit the masses. The buttons aren’t as slippery as its predecessor, and the ‘Start’, ‘Select’, and ‘Home’ buttons are now much easier to press — thanks in large part to an increase in size and tactility.

Aside from the button adjustments, the entirety of the 3DS XL is also covered in a matte finish. This will be one of the biggest turn-ons for consumers who are on a tirade to keep their electronics fingerprint-free. It should also be noted that the stylus has been moved to the right-hand side of the handheld, making it much easier to access than the pre-existing model that housed the pen-like stick at the back of the unit.

That pesky squeaky hinge has also been addressed in this redesign, and the screen can lock into two different positions depending on how the XL is being played. Opening the portable halfway will lock the display into its first position, and this makes it prime for playing games while resting the device on the arm of a couch or a table. The second position opens up the screen all the way, allowing gamers on the go to comfortably hold the 3DS XL in their hands.

3DS XL Size Comparison

Speaking of comfort, Nintendo’s extra large take on the 3DS is unbelievably more comfortable than the original. Holding the other device for too long was a rather irritating venture, and that can largely be contributed to the system’s brick-esque appearance. The house of Mario must have been listening to their fans’ pleas on this particular manner, because the 3DS XL fits comfortably in the hands of almost anyone.

It’s a good thing the handheld is so much nicer to hold too, because gamers will now be able to play their games a lot longer — thanks to the increased battery life. Coming in at nearly six hours of battery life, the 3DS XL doubles that of the 3DS’ measly three hour life span. Six hours may not be as long as many would prefer the XL’s battery life to last, but it’s an improvement that many long-time 3DS users will notice and appreciate.

The 3DS XL improves upon almost every feature that its predecessor established. Anyone who’s hoping to enjoy their games on a bigger screen for a longer period of time can comfortably pickup a 3DS XL. That being said, there are still a handful of issues that may turn off consumers. First and foremost, the handheld is sans a second circle pad, and even though Nintendo has confirmed that a Circle Pad Pro is en route for the XL, it’s a feature that we expected. There’s also no cradle included with the XL, so it’s going to cost buyers even more money on top of the system’s $199.99 price tag.

Nintendo’s 3DS XL is still a much better version of the original 3DS, and anyone who’s looking for an upgrade will get exactly that. Those hoping for a plethora of new features won’t find much within the confines of this super-sized hardware upgrade, but they will get a much better device that improves upon almost every pre-existing feature that is currently found on the older model.

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tags: 3DS, Nintendo