At recent events in New York City and London we got to spend some time with Nintendo’s newly announced New 2DS XL. The announcement came as a surprise, as many were expecting Nintendo to let the 3DS go quietly into the night as the Switch came to replace it, putting to an end the company’s days of manufacturing separate home and portable consoles.
The New Nintendo 2DS XL’s design borrows from the 3DS line, eschewing the wedge found in the regular 2DS for the clamshell style that has defined the DS line since its inception. The most noticeable difference between the New 2DS XL and the other members of the 3DS family is the look of the top of the device. It has a ribbed design surrounded by a bumper of sorts made of colourful blue plastic, in a way that’s somewhat reminiscent of the design of the Wii mini. We here at Nintendo Life are divided on the design, but your humble scribe did think it looked quite striking in person.
On the other side of that clamshell is the 2DS XL’s new display, which is much larger than that found on the 2DS. It’s a nice-looking screen, with decent brightness and colour. In fact, it even stood up quite well to our Switch’s display, which is no slouch. The bezel surrounding the display is also featureless, which is a good thing. There are no speaker grilles or sliders to speak of, thus removing all distractions from the action on-screen. It looks a bit like a smartphone turned on its side; it’s one of the nicest pieces of design we’ve seen in a Nintendo console to date.
The lower half of the New 2DS XL is made of what feels to be a soft-touch plastic. It isn’t quite rubberized, but doesn’t feel slick or slippery and feels more comfortable in the hand than the 3DS XL - that said, the black finish does appear to collect fingerprints quite easily, something the white version coming to Japan and PAL territories likely won't have an issue with. The buttons and sticks are exactly the same as those found on the more expensive New 3DS XL, but with a splash of colour to match the New 2DS XL’s new aesthetic.
The gentle curves of the body make for a console that feels like it’ll be comfortable for extended play sessions, and the whole thing feels to be significantly lighter than a New 3DS XL despite packing the same hardware under the hood. There’s seemingly no sacrifice being made to get the console this light, either; Nintendo’s signature build quality is alive and well with the New 2DS XL. The units we tested all felt rigid and sturdy, never once giving the impression that any design concessions were made.
Nintendo also took this opportunity to make some design changes to the 3DS formula, giving the New 2DS XL some tweaks that would be welcome on its more expensive brother as well. For starters, the micro SD card slot has been moved to the front of the console, removing the need for a screwdriver when you need to change your memory card. The game card slot is right next to it, but now Nintendo has thrown a cover on it that we’re not totally sold on. In the short time we had with the console the cover felt a little difficult to remove, though this writer has a similar gripe with the Switch as well. It does, however, make for a nice clean presentation when the cover is on as the black finish is uninterrupted by a stark white card being in the console.
Next to the card slot are the stylus and headphone jack, both of which feel well placed. The volume slider, on the other hand, has been moved to the left-hand side of the console’s lower portion. For some that could be a problem as we see the potential for unintended volume adjustments during tense gaming sessions.
We only had the opportunity to play Nintendo’s New 2DS XL for a short while, but we liked what we saw. The screen is a stand-out, even standing up well when compared to the New 3DS XL and the Switch. The changes made to the design seem thoughtful, and while we pointed out some potential pitfalls, we didn’t personally experience them in our short hands-on experience. We’ll need more time with the New 2DS XL before we can formally recommend it, but what we can tell you is that it looks to be a worthy addition to the 3DS lineup.