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New 3DS XL review - Nintendo's biggest, newest handheld

Katharine Byrne
6 Feb 2015
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
180
inc VAT

The larger screens are great for certain games, but the New 3DS XL's glossy chassis isn't as comfortable to hold as the smaller New 3DS

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Specifications

CPU: 532MHz dual-core ARM 11, GPU: 266MHz DMP PICA200, Dimensions (WxDxH): 160x93x21.5mm, Analogue sticks: 2, D-pads: 1, Controller power: N/A, Video outputs: N/A, Networking: 802.11b/g

In the mists of time Nintendo handhelds came in one size only. Then the Game Boy Micro appeared in 2005, squeezing the Game Boy Advance down to truly miniscule proportions, and was quickly followed by no less than four different-sized variations of the Nintendo DS. The current 3DS family is no different, as gamers currently have a choice between the standard 3DS, the 3DS XL and the more child-friendly 2DS.

Now, the 3DS and 3DS XL are being replaced by the New 3DS and New 3DS XL. These both have upgraded processors and GPUs, allowing you to play more advanced games, enhanced head-tracking technology to widen its 3D viewing angles and built-in NFC so you can use Nintendo's amiibo figures with compatible titles - all of which you can read more about in our full in-depth New 3DS review. Here, we'll be concentrating on the main differences between the two new 3DS consoles, namely the New 3DS XL's larger screens and revamped design.

The new C Stick on the New 3DS XL gives you much more flexible camera controls in Monster Hunter 4 and Majora's Mask 3D

Unlike its smaller cousin, the New 3DS XL has a glossy front and rear with matt plastic on the inside and top edge. This may look more attractive straight out of the box, but it wasn't long before its shiny, reflective surface was spoiled by our smeary fingerprints, leaving the console looking perpetually grubby no matter how many times we tried to clean it. It certainly doesn't look as classy as the matt-finish New 3DS, and we also found the added gloss gave the console an inherent oiliness that made it feel quite slippery in the hand, which isn't great news when you're scrapping with a Great Jaggi in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.

Need some games for your New 3DS XL? Here's our pick of the best 3DS games for 2015

A bigger console also means a heavier one to hold and carry around with you. This isn't really a problem if you're chucking it in a backpack or playing games in the car, but it may start to weigh down your coat pocket if you're walking round with it for long periods of time. It shouldn't give you aching wrists, though. At 329g, the New 3DS XL only weighs around 80g more than the New 3DS and we didn't really notice a big difference when playing each one on the morning commute.

Naturally, the New 3DS XL is a better fit for those with larger hands. During our time with the console, we felt it was just a fraction too big for us to comfortably reach the C Stick and shoulder buttons while still being able to grip the console securely. As a result, we much preferred the more compact size of the New 3DS XL's little brother, but larger members of the office definitely appreciated the extra room.

The extra ZR and ZL buttons on the rear of the console means the cartridge slot has been relocated to the bottom of the console

It's a real shame Nintendo's not making any interchangeable face plates for the New 3DS XL, though, as we think this is one of the most appealing parts of Nintendo's new handheld. Sadly, they're only compatible with the smaller New 3DS, so you'll have to make do with the standard metallic blue or black colours available at launch instead, although we're sure there will be plenty of special New 3DS XL editions available in the future to help give it a bit more personality.

Indeed, if future special editions are anything like the beautiful (though sadly now sold-out) Majora's Mask 3D or Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate consoles, then we're sure there will be plenty of great designs to choose from when you come to buy one. Of course, you'll still be stuck with that particular model, unlike the New 3DS's face plates which you can swap out as often as you like and cost around £11-13 for each pair.