Nintendo has been milking its 3DS range of handheld consoles for a considerable while - after all, the first 3DS came out in 2011. The DS, on which it is based, came to the UK considerably earlier, in 2005.

It's no exaggeration therefore to say it's the most endearing console concept we've seen. And we're not about to see the back of it anytime soon.

Even though the Switch brings a new era of portable games consoles to the fray, the Nintendo 2DS XL proves there's still a valid reason to have a dedicated handheld.

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It is fast, well supported and, most importantly, light and easy to shove in a bag. It is smaller than the existing "new" 3DS XL, less weighty too, yet as powerful and will screens of an equivalent size. It also dispenses with the 3D option which, to be honest, many we've spoken to prefer, even when offered the option.

There are two colour schemes that will be available from launch - a white unit with orange trim and buttons, and a black version with blue trim. Both are identical save for the colour and both have a few refinements, even over their 3D stablemates.

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The cartridge slot is on the bottom left corner, as on the latest 3DS XL, but it's now secured by a flap to stop the game popping out when in a bag. Better still, the microSD card slot is under the same flap, so you can swap it out easily.

Having to unscrew the rear of the 3DS XL just to change over a microSD card was a real pain.

Cameras have been moved. The front-facing cam is now on the hinge, while the rear 3D cameras (yep, they can still take 3D images even considering the 2DS XL's 2D screen) are centrally located on the back these days.

The hinge also gets notifications lights, to tell you when you have StreetPass or SpotPass data to check out.

Other than those tweaks, everything is similar to the 3D model. The bezel around the screens are a tad smaller, making the whole unit smaller too, but you don't really notice unless both consoles are side-by-side.

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The upper screen is, obviously, 2D rather than autostereoscopic 3D like the other family members, but it's still 4.88-inches in size. It has a 400 x 240 pixel resolution, which is half the vertical resolution of the 3DS XL, but those extra pixels in that case are used to send light to different eyes, so in practical terms you do not notice the difference at all. The display looks very similar to a 3DS XL screen with the 3D switched off.

The lower touchscreen is identical: 4.18-inches with a pixel resolution of 320 x 240.

Behind the lower screen is an NFC reader for Amiibo interactivity, and the main thumbstick, mini thumbstick and extra shoulder buttons (ZL and ZR) are all present. The home button has been moved from the bottom of the lower screen to the left-hand side, but it makes little difference.

We're pleased that Nintendo is seeing sense this time around and including a power adapter in the box (it didn't with the 3DS model upgrades). Perhaps it feels the 2DS XL will be a jumping on point for many - after all, would you downscale your new 3DS XL to a 2DS XL version?

Naturally, this new handheld will work with all 3DS and DS games released over the years and those yet to come. It also has access to the Nintendo eShop for digital purchases and downloads.

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First Impressions

When we played on a new 2DS XL for the first time, our immediate impression was that it was light, much lighter than a 3DS XL. Holding one in each hand provided confirmation. It is much lighter, slightly sexier too, with the coloured trim and slightly mottled exterior.

It does feel slightly flimsier however, and definitely more so than the existing, unibody 2DS. That was designed to appeal to younger children, with a simpler shape to hold for smaller hands and robust build quality in case of spills.

The Nintendo 2DS XL doesn't feel like it's made for kids. We're not sure it'd last too many bounces off the floor, that's for sure.

Instead, we feel it is aimed at those attracted to the 3DS in recent times, through games like Pokemon Sun/Moon or Fire Emblem, but put off by the price of the 3DS XL.

We don't have a UK price for the new version yet, but it'll be $149.99 in the States (around £116 at the current exchange rate) so cheaper than the $240-plus heavier sibling. And who needs the 3D anyway?

The Nintendo 2DS XL will be available in numerous territories from 28 July. We'll be reviewing it in more depth closer to then.