The 3DSXL is an improvement, but it's not without its flaws

Nintendo's upgraded 3DS will hit shelves in a few weeks, with a larger screen, better battery-life, more memory, and sadly, a few minor design flaws.

The 3DSXL has landed at GameSpot and from the look of things, it's an improvement over the 3DS in almost every way. Beyond the increase in size, the improvements to ergonomics, screen glare, and battery life make the original model look quaint in comparison. There are a few minor issues that might bug perfectionists, but in all other regards, it's a solid handheld and a welcome upgrade all around.

The most notable improvement is the 90% increase in screen surface area. The actual unit is only 3/4" longer, and 1 3/8" wider, falling just shy of the DSiXL's girth. Thickness remains the same at 3/4" when closed. Here's a complete breakdown of the new dimensions

Model Length Width Height Top Screen (Diag.) Bottom Screen (Diag.) Weight
3DS 5.25" 2.875" 0.75" 3.5" 3" 8.3 oz
3DSXL 6" 3.5" 0.75" 4.875" 4.25" 11.5 oz

Now that edges and corners are rounded, and the entire chassis is more robust, the 3DSXL is much easier on the hands. Aesthetically speaking though, the original is shinier and more eye-catching compared to the subdued exterior and matte interior of the 3DSXL, but it's also better at picking up finger prints. This should go without saying, but the new matte finish also does away with the issue of universal glare, plaguing almost every surface of the 3DS.

The reported 30% reduction in on-screen glare, while difficult to measure, is immediately noticeable. Though a modest amount remains, it's much less common to slip out of focus, staring at yourself rather than gameplay. This, plus the larger screens, have seemingly increased the 3D sweet-spot as well, but keep in mind, this is a subjective analysis. Results are guaranteed to vary from person to person, so it may be best to try out an in-store demo unit before committing to the XL.

For those who felt the previous 3D slider was a little too loose, you'll be happy to know the revised slider snaps into the off position, preventing accidental activation.

Though the screens are larger, their resolution remains the same. Because of this, pixel density takes a hit, making every pixel and scan-line quite noticeable upon close examination. During gameplay however, at a natural distance, this is less of an issue. 3DS games look great, and now that the XL is on the market, it's fair to assume developers will begin designing with the increased real estate in mind. Lovers of DS games fear not: they suffer less than you might imagine, given the additional stretching, appearing clear and vibrant.

The extra weight on the 3DSXL is primarily due to a larger battery, which is now positioned in the center of the unit. You can expect a maximum of 6.5 hours of 3DS gameplay and 10 hours when playing DS games. In addition to dispersing weight in a more reasonable manner, the new position also allows the stylus to fit on the right-hand side, negating the need for the ole' 3DS stylus reach around. Nintendo also decided to ditch the telescopic design, opting instead for a static, single-length stylus, which falls just under a 1/4'' shy of the original in length.

They've gone ahead and relocated the SD slot as well, and this is where the XL begins to show its flaws. It's similar to the old style, but opening the new latch is notably difficult by comparison. The worst part is that it tends to lift up a section of the bottom panel. It's a step-down in terms of build quality, and the only saving grace is the fact that one rarely needs to change SD cards, if ever.

The only other obvious flaw would be the purportedly improved "Select", "Home", and "Start", buttons. It's nice that each button is physically independent now, but they are quite stiff and the tactile response feels mushy, at best. In other words, it feels like a step sideways, rather than forward.

The rest of the hardware is pretty much the same as the original 3DS. The speakers, camera, and buttons (outside of the home bar) are comparable. The only discernable differences are the increased grip of the Circle Pad and a slightly more concave D-Pad.

Unfortunately, transferring software between systems is not as simple as swapping SD cards. According to the manual, system data is transferred wirelessly between handhelds, using the "System Transfer" option in the "Other Settings" menu. The downside to the process is that you can only transfer your eShop account a total of 5 times.

Similarly disappointing, though not surprising, is the fact that the same software and eShop account can't live on two systems simultaneously. Essentially, you transfer your eShop account from one system to the other and swap SD cards to continue playing your games on the target system. If you want to recopy your data to the source system, you have to wait a full week to do so. That's pretty inconvenient and doesn't quite encourage ownership of multiple 3DS's. That may not be a problem for most people, but some customers might find it advantageous to own multiple form factors. The weeklong buffer is damning, but the data transfer limit seals that window of opportunity completely shut.

If you are an existing 3DS owner, you have a few things to consider before upgrading, namely, the associated costs and unfortunate burden that is your current 3DS. For anyone else, the difference of $30 nets a handheld with improved ergonomics, larger screens, and longer battery life than it's diminutive cousin. Until there's is a price drop on the original 3DS, picking up the 3DSXL instead should be a foregone conclusion for most consumers.

The 3DSXL from Nintendo ships August 19th with an MSRP of $199.99, and is available in either Blue or Red. The North American model ships with an AC adapter (unlike the European and Japanese versions), with all regions receiving a 4GB SDHC flash card pre-loaded in the system.

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Discussion

91 comments
River_Horse
River_Horse

So what are the flaws again? Apart from the clear flaw with the 90% bigger screen (same resolution) so the graphics might get worse. I just hope the left stick is abit better. My left thumb hurts after a while and it slipps off the stick.

diamondheart152
diamondheart152

Wow were lucky that that americans will recieve a ac adapter in the package! Poor Japan and Uk peeps.

DarkraiHunter
DarkraiHunter

For some odd reason, I still prefer the original 3DS over it. .-.

King-gamer
King-gamer

My DS Lite been around for 4 years I think. Its Battery is just horrible now. It lasts like 4/5 hours on lowest setting. Looks like its time to get the XL.

 

I still wish they come in Gold.

Yusuke420
Yusuke420

I'm interested, but saving up for the Halo console overrides this purchase at this time!

QOSMSTR
QOSMSTR

I might get this, but after they release some more colors.

SoraPR
SoraPR

Lovely nice music in the back :-P

sknight175216
sknight175216

About the not having a second circle pad, I wish more developers actually utilized the circle pad pro as an option as opposed to mapping the camera to the d-pad. Or at least Nintendo should make an app to be able to map the circle-pad plus controls to any any of the preexisting buttons. Then it could be used for games that didn't originally have support for them. Basically I want all games to be able to work without the circle-pad, but also be able to use the circle-pad if you have one. Nintendo did the right thing by not building a second analog into the 3DSXL and possibly alienating owners of the original who didn't have a circle-pad plus.

fleshandblood10
fleshandblood10

I have the XL ( In England) and before hand tried the previous 3DS version. Personally the quality of the 3D, the comfort of the console and the improved battery life are enough for me and its so lovely having the extra bit of screen. It feels more involving and is a beautiful design. I am hoping a few more 3ed party games make it through soon. I love mario and Zelda etc but some fully polished RPG's whould be nice.

metalkitten
metalkitten

I had the xl since launch date (in europe) They did throw in a charger free and a game for one 4th of the price when i bought it (i picked zelda since i had most already and im not really a first party nintendo player - people need to realize that nintendos handconsoles got soo many good third party!)I have the normal 3ds too so i can easily compare them. I will admit that i didnt really care and read up what the xl could do since i really wanted a bigger screen for drawing - since i use colors and in europe at least the xl was released the same day as the art academy game (there are 2 dsiware  of it long ago that i loved - soo all new materials and lessons were a must for me)I was not thrilled that there were no black cause i always pick that so i settled for silver - which i like since its pretty dark and half of it is black anyway - i mean when u play its just black - so its no distracting color around the screens - cause i hate that.But i REALLY like having a matte finish like the dsi - i know some think its luxurious looking with shiny handconsoles but after 2 sec its fingerprints all over and just look tacky (speaking for 3ds, lite, psp, vita)So that i really liked.I was surprised that it was as flat or flatter when i compared them.I also loved to finally have a real stylus and not a folding one and in the side like dsi and not on the back that i hated to have it.I never bought a 3ds for the 3d effect so i admit i rarely use it - i try it abit for each new game and some cartoon videos and thats it. I cant see any difference in the 3d between the xl and the normal 3ds. the latch however is soooo good cause in my bag or just randomly accidently touching it my 3d would constantly go on and that was so annoying - so just a small lil latch solved that.i tried colors, ff rhythm and some dsiware and they all look exactly the same - just bigger screen - which makes me very happy. I havent tried ds games yet but the article seems positive about it.I did read about the sd slot here and realized i never checked where it was - so i found it and opened it - took it out and put it back in - np - no idea about the whining there - also its a 4gb unlike the 2gb so im sure i wont run out of space anytime soon.It does still require to move it from the card to pc since its not attatched to facebook like dsi was. so ill see if its soo annoying to do that when i transfer drawings and pics.A huge worry of mine was that its too big for small girl hands like mine to play comfortable on - hence id use it for drawing - but since its flat and much nicer with round comfortable to hold - i gotta say so far its better to play on.I never bought a dsixl since i didnt see the point - nor do i think it had any upgrades except being bigger?But this one have small things that for ME means a lot.So for me it was a really good buy but it might not be for everyone.As for an extra circlepad... not so sure about that - i mean i got almost 20 3ds games (zelda and kid icarus and the free nintendogs being the only first party titles) and none of them need a second circle pad.I admit playing the resi demo i felt it was needed and i ended up not buying that game due to that but i dunno, i simply think its just not many titles who will use it. the ds didnt even have any and i have over 100 games for that one - at some points like the mario 64 port it was annoying to not have a circle pad/analog so i stopped playing that one (got it for free with console anyway) and some rpgs when u walk - but in general the second analog is used to control camera which i dont find that important on hand console games but vital on tv consoles.Ok that was just my opinion on the xl and i used it every day since i got it:DEven my bf who thought i was silly for buying another 3ds glares at it with envy and want one.So my advice would be - buy it if u want a 3ds and dont have any - since it is superior. (oh yeah i got no clue what theyre mentioning in the article about the home button etc - its just like normal 3ds just 3 in a row instead of pushing at the right place on a line - big deal... not)If u already got a 3ds u can depending on money think about trading it in or keep both - great for puzzles, coins and miiquest:PHaving the bigger screens makes it really hard to go back to the normal 3ds though:/ but due to it still being flat etc its np to have it in the handbag or carry it around - its lighter than i thought.It is way better than the normal one so its simply a matter of money to buy or not to buy or if u for some reason havent found any ds or 3ds games u like....then why bother?:PBut i think u havent looked enough then:P 

Tylendal
Tylendal

I don't see what the fuss is.  The 3DSXL is just a 3DS for old people with bad eyesight.  The point of a portable is that it's supposed to fit in a pocket easily.

I've always wondered why I see kids playing with those stupid DSi XL monstrosities... I just figured the parent was too dumb to realize the difference... it's pretty inconvenient when a handheld can't fit in your average pants pocket easily.

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

Meh i can't say i am impressed.The only reason they didn't add a second analog stick was because they wanted sales off people buying a 3DS XL and a Circle Pad Pro XL.If they had added the second analog for the XL(like they should) original 3Ds owners would buy the Circle Pad Pro to make sure to be able to do dual analog games.

 

This way even if they have the original circle pad pro they have to buy another pro(XL) in order to utilize dual analog functions on the XL they just bought later down the line.

 

It is a money scheme that is all.Speaking that is an extra 40 dollars(both pros) plus the XL price that is quite a bit of money. The actual profit margin however is closer to a different number.Lets see what it is.

 

The original 3DS when at 250 had a 150 dollar profit margin(and no i am not kidding). When they switched to 179.99 for the price drop they still were making about 80 dollars per 3DS(still not bad at all considering it is a handheld). The attachment's profit margin is about 15 dollars if i am not mistaken.So with that it was 95 dollars per handheld+pro.

 

Now making an average guess at this the total for 3DS XL+Pro XL will be about 95+20.So that is about a 115 dollar profit margin together.

 

I may hate Nintendo these days, but they aren't stupid about making money off gamers in the handheld market.

sasami_adachi
sasami_adachi

Peter Brown: Great job on the video! Aside from your soothing delivery, the video is informative, has great pacing, and features a tune that fits in perfectly with the Nintendo motif. The Street Fighter arcade in the background is a nice distraction too. ^_^

 

As already mentioned by lots of users, I wish the new unit would come with the second analogue circle pad integrated. I know it is not a necessity, but it certainly beats having to buy 3DS XL Circle Pad Pro separately and plug that into what is already a fairly bulky unit. A faster CPU and/or graphics processor would have been nice too, as I noticed some of the games I own occasionally have frame-rate issues, but that would have been a stretch goal.

 

Having said that, I will definitely be picking up the new 3DSXL. The bigger screen and the longer battery life alone are reasons enough for me to upgrade.

MiasmaRising
MiasmaRising

On the front page it says: The 3DSXL is an improvement, but it's not "wiothout" its flaws. Just throwing that out there.

kiramasaki
kiramasaki

Ill get this at some point, but the vita will probably be first purchase before this.

blaznwiipspman1
blaznwiipspman1

a dual analogue is not needed..have people forgotten the n64 and its single analogue stick plus 4 c - buttons for strafing in FPS games?  That setup didn't make golden eye any less fun, in fact it was the bomb.

dnguyen3
dnguyen3

Jeez I bought my DSi XL on sale for $150 a year ago, Wal-mart has it regular priced at $110. $199.99 for a 3DSXL? Well my guess is that Christmas sales are going to make this a hot item, but I still have to wait on the games though.

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

What is the point of buying Nintendo portables anymore since they keep updating their systems?  What, in 6 more months they'll release an XLi version?  And making it larger?  I thought the purpose of upgrading is to make it more convienient?  Kinda defeats the purpose to make a portable system less portable.

 

I'll stick to my Iphone N, you've lost a potential customer...again.

gargungulunk
gargungulunk

Good info...

If this is what the XL was to the DS, in terms of "stretch", I'll be picking one up this year.

After actually /playing/ an XL, there was no going back, I trust this will be the similar.

 

thom_maytees
thom_maytees

Even with the minor flaws, I expect that Nintendo in the future be able to address them in the next revision of the 3DS in the next few years.

obsequies
obsequies

I don't see how stretching the screen and pixelating the graphics from using old resolutions is a good thing..this is a complete waste of money...if you can see scan lines then nintendo should have thought about stretching the resolution when they designed the first 3ds and made it higher.

Chronosknight
Chronosknight

Is that the blue 3DS XL that North America is getting? If so, it looks a lot better than any pictures I've seen so far for it. Fingers crossed as that's the one I pre-ordered.

Branmuffin316
Branmuffin316

If they would have made the buttons bigger I might care about this more.

mrintro
mrintro

the bigger screen is all I need to justify a purchase, that was my biggest complaint about the original. telling people they shouldn't get it is not very objective journalism. on top of that, saying "sadly, a few minor design flaws" kinda underscores what you're trying to say. how can something be so sad if it's minor? the writing on this site baffles me

surppo
surppo

man an xtra stick woulda made this the perfect 2nd controller for da wii u. i luv nintendo but all i can see is a missed opportunity.

TheZeroPercent
TheZeroPercent

i own a 3ds

not super excited about this model

the bigger screen does seem pretty awesome

if you havent bought a 3ds yet,get this one

BrunoBRS
BrunoBRS

the most important thing i got from this preview is that the blue 3DS XL doesn't look bad like i thought it would :P

SoraPR
SoraPR

 @metalkitten Dude I don't get the last part so plz write everything again for me :-P

metalkitten
metalkitten

argh i hate when my text goes together like that!

 

so basically i see a lot of negative comments and none of u actually got it nor tried it right?

 

do that and then come back and comment!

 

and it does fit perfectly in bags etc and i got perfect eye site thank u!:P

 

LanceCypher
LanceCypher

 @Tylendal You have a point about the portability... I guess. Still, Nintendo went to some great lengths to prevent it getting too much bigger, though, so it's less than an inch wider and longer than the original. Unless you can just barely fit the normal 3DS in your pocket, you're probably OK. I can fit the original in my pockets with about 2.5 inches to spare, but I don't know. Maybe you're a skinny-jeans guy.

Wild_Card
Wild_Card

 @Tylendalno its not just for old people with bad eyes, try and be less ignorant and narrow minded. or not, no skin off my teeth. But some people might want a largerscreen, with better sweet spot for the 3d,less screen glare,more comfy for there hands, "not every one has little 12 year old girl hands, some of us have full sized man hands ;P". As for portabilty, not every one needs or wants to carry there syatem in there pocket, maybe they carry it in a purse"if a girl ....i hope".back pack,brief case, or just keep in there car or suite case on trips.sure haveing it fit in your pockets is def a nice feature but not the end all be all.

 

gargungulunk
gargungulunk

 @WolfGrey I like to think of it as a 1 time investment...I know it's a bit of money up front, yet try converting dollars to hours...

 

If there are 200 hours worth of games out there, that's only a buck an hour worth of engagement.  A  hard sell at the beginning of a systems lifespan, yet the DS has provided /at least/ three times that in my personal gameplay.

That is only on a time/money scale...while other values supersede the price of admission altogether. 

 

 

Just saying, the 1 time price will one day be worth saving up for, and the CP-pro can wait a bit longer.

...Plus they'll probably drop the price after the new-year.

Tylendal
Tylendal

 @WolfGrey Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the Circle Pad Pro only packaged with 3rd party games?

 

Nintendo isn't so lazy and uninspired as to make games that require a clunky and awkward hardware add-on.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

 @Sevenizz If you're going to "stick with" your iPhone over a dedicated handheld, you weren't going to be a customer in the first place.

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

 @Sevenizz 

Only the DS has seen a lot of revisions but even that one was spaced out at least 2 years between each iteration  (except the XL) but that's because of the introduction of an online shop that the original DS was painfully lacking. There's really nothing else they can do with the 3DS without upgrading the hardware, in which case it'll be a next generation handheld. No 2nd circle pad either because it'll alienate current users. 

 

As for the size, most people carry around bags nowadays so it really shouldn't be a problem carrying it around.

obsequies
obsequies

 @lionheartssj1 if I get a new handheld it would be a vita....playstation mobile SDK is great..if it was going to be a nintendo product it would be a 3ds

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

 @rgrambo 

Why? The original 3DS is still amazing, just a smaller version. I have no problems with the screen size and the 3D effect (while great when used properly) doesn't really sell me on a game. You can still experience the same great games.

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

 @Branmuffin316 

They did, the circle pad, D-pad and face buttons have been enlarged, it's just hard to judge by pictures.

LanceCypher
LanceCypher

 @FroggyMcnasty Since when did putting things in your pocket become a stereotypical thing for kids to do? Where do you keep your pocket-sized items?

Tylendal
Tylendal

 @FroggyMcnasty Yeah I put it in my pocket.  Whenever I'm not playing it, I listen to music on it.  It's great to pull out for a ten minute bus trip.

 

Also, "12 year old girl hands"?  I can reach an octave and a half on a piano.

obsequies
obsequies

 @rgrambo I don't have a vita or a 3ds but i seriously would rather get the normal 3ds over this..I cherish quality over quantity 

obsequies
obsequies

 @rgrambo how does he effect improve..its only taking a set resolution and ripping it..that's disgusting and very cheap