What’s the Difference Between the Nintendo 2DS XL and the Nintendo 3DS XL?

Difference between nintendo 2ds XL vs. nintendo 3ds XLSo, what’s the difference between the Nintendo 2DS XL and the Nintendo 3DS XL?

Recently I received the new Nintendo 2DS XL to review. Several years ago we received a Nintendo 3DS XL from Nintendo at launch for the same purpose.

This post contains all the information you need to know in order to make a decision on which one to buy for your gamer.

This post also contains affiliate links, I may receive a small amount of revenue, at no cost to you, should you choose to use my Amazon referral link.

The Nintendo 2DS, 2DS XL and Nintendo 3DS XL are portable, hand-held gaming devices. They are great for kids to use when traveling and gaming on-the-go. The newest choice is the Nintendo 2DS XL, which was released at the end of July in 2017.

So which one will best meet the needs of your child?

First, a little bit of Nintendo portable gaming history.

The oldest mNintendo 2dSember of the handheld family is the Nintendo 2DS. This gaming device is square shaped and includes 2 separate screens, one for the menu, another for gaming. A stylus is included for game play as well. It includes a camera for pictures and video. The 2DS can connect to the internet to watch movies, download games and play games with friends. The 2DS allows players to enjoy games in a standard, flat, 2 dimensional way, just like on a tablet or television. No need to worry though, it is compatible with all of the portable games, and it can play newer Nintendo 3DS games in 2D. It does not have the c-stick and ZR/ZL buttons or allow for amiibo play, like the more expensive 2DS and 3DS. Overall, the original 2DS is very cost-effective for younger gamers, and retails for $79.99. In August 2017, a red and white 2DS will be released with a pre-installed version of the new Super Mario Bros. 2.

The New NinNintendo 2DS XLtendo 2DS XL, is nothing like the original 2DS in shape, it is similar to the 3DS XL. The 2DS XL is a clamshell, hinged design and flips open. The Nintendo 2DS arrives with an adapter for charging in the box. It can play all Nintendo 3DS games, but in 2D. The new 2DS also supports amiibo play. Unlike the 3DS, which allows gamers to insert the game cartridge into the bottom of the device, where it can be seen, the 2DS XL has a hinged door that opens for cartridges.  Like the 3DS it has 2 cameras, 1 in the front and another in the rear. The 2DS supports browsing the internet and watching movies on downloadable subscription apps like Netflix and Hulu. In comparison to the original 2DS, the gaming screen of the 2DS XL is 82% larger. In comparison to the 3DS XL, it is the exact same size, but has less pixel resolution. It weighs 2 ounces less than the 3DS XL.  The new device retails for $149.99.

Nintendo 3DS XLThe Nintendo 3DS XL is a clamshell gaming system, too. Gaming with the 3DS allows players to enjoy games in 2D or 3D, without the need to wear special 3D glasses, with the simple slide of a switch on the side of the screen. The 3DS has face tracking abilities and 2 cameras, front and rear. The 3DS has more pixels in the graphic screen 800×240 (versus 400×240 on the 2DS XL). While the screen size is the same as the 2DS XL, the case of the 3DS XL makes it slightly larger and 2 ounces heavier. Wifi compatibility allows players to enjoy downloadable games and even subscription apps to watch movies, like Netflix and Hulu. The Nintendo 3DS is able to support amiiibo play. Some 3DS XL devices are not sold with a charging adapter, which must be purchased separately. It retails for $199.99.

Here’s an unboxing of the 3DS XL:

The biggest consideration when deciding between the 2, is that 3D game play is not recommended for kids under the age of 6, as it may cause vision damage. In all honesty, at almost 8 my son still prefers to game in 2D mode on his portable device. Every single one of these devices has parental controls that help parents limit and control access.

If you are looking to buy a younger child their first portable gaming device, save yourself the $50, and opt for the 2DS XL. Use the remaining money to buy an additional game or 2. Unless you tell them, a young child will not know the difference. Just be careful with inserting the games with the 2DS XL, given the hinged door, younger children might not be as careful with opening and closing it when changing a game.

An older tween, teenager or adult who is a more serious and dedicated gamer will appreciate the more expensive 3DS XL for it’s more complicated 3D gaming features.

Looking for more information, you can compare and contrast all 3 devices on Nintendo.com.

If you are continuing to look for a video game system the family will enjoy together, make sure to also consider the New Nintendo Switch and the WiiU.


Disclosure: I received a Nintendo 3DS XL and Nintendo 2DS XL to facilitate coverage, any opinions are my own.

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