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(Pocket-lint) - Seemingly coming from nowhere, the Nintendo 2DS XL took everyone by surprise when it was announced. It was widely thought that Nintendo's attention would be solely  on the Switch for the time being, with the existing handhelds more than capable of holding their own.

However, the Japanese gaming giant decided to shake things up, with a new version of its very popular portable console coming to stores on 28 July. And by all accounts it looks to be the model that gamers, hardcore and casual, would most like.

We put all the current versions of the Nintendo handheld system head-to-head to see which would suit you best.


Nintendo 2DS XL vs 2DS vs 3DS vs 3DS XL: Design

Since the original Nintendo DS, the company has essentially kept with a clamshell design - meaning it folds to protect the two screens at the top and bottom.

However, it did deviate from that formula with the Nintendo 2DS. This version of the handheld was designed for younger children primarily and as such is cased in a solid body rather than a foldable shell. The two screens are present but the device feels more solid - presumably to protect it more from drops and scrapes.

All four of the consoles - the 2DS, new 3DS, new 3DS XL and new 2DS XL - come with a stylus and the ability to add storage through a microSD card. This enables users to download games from the Nintendo eShop and store them directly on the machine.

A microSD card is included with each of the devices, with the 2DS and 3DS coming with a 2GB card, the 2DS XL and 3DS XL with a 4GB card.

Nintendo 2DS XL vs 2DS vs 3DS vs 3DS XL: Screens

All of the handhelds come with two screens: a top, non-touch display and a lower touchscreen. The top screen is always larger, but varies in size depending on the model.

The top screens on the 2DS and 3DS measure 3.53-inches, while the 2DS XL and 3DS XL both feature larger 4.88-inch displays. The resolution for the top screens on all devices is 400 x 240.

The 3DS and 3DS XL have stereoscopic, glasses-free 3D screens while the 2DS and 2DS XL are in 2D - the clues are in their names. That's the biggest difference between them.

The resolution of the lower touchscreens on all of the models is the same: 320 x 240. The XL models have 4.18-inch lower displays, the 2DS and 3DS gave 3.53-inch displays.

Nintendo 2DS XL vs 2DS vs 3DS vs 3DS XL: Hardware

The 2DS XL, most recent 3DS and 3DS XL models all feature the same internal tech. They run on an 804MHz quad-core + 134MHz single-core processing chipset, with 268MHz of graphics processing.

The 2DS has a 268MHz dual-core + 134MHz single-core processor - the same as the original 3DS and 3DS XL variants before Nintendo updated them.

The 2DS XL, 3DS and 3DS XL also have 256MB of storage built-in, while the 2DS has 128MB. All machines, as explained above, are capable of expansion through microSD.

All of the models have 0.3-megapixel cameras front and rear, with dual-lens 3D cameras on the back, even on the 2DS versions.

The 2DS is the only one of the four that doesn't come with Amiibo support built into the device. The rest work with Amiibos by tapping the connected toys to the lower screen.

Nintendo 2DS XL vs 2DS vs 3DS vs 3DS XL: Games

All of the models are compatible with all 3DS and DS games available in stores and the online Nintendo eShop. They will also all play the Virtual Console retro game releases from Nintendo.

They each have the same style cartridge slot.

Nintendo 2DS XL vs 2DS vs 3DS vs 3DS XL: Availability

The 3DS has been around since 2011 and the original 3DS XL since 2012. However, they were both effectively replaced (you can still buy the latter from some retailers) by what Nintendo calls the new 3DS and new 3DS XL two years ago. They are the models we've been focusing on in this comparison.

The 2DS was released in 2013.

All of the versions are readily available from numerous online and high street shops.

The 2DS XL will be released on 28 July 2017.

Nintendo 2DS XL vs 2DS vs 3DS vs 3DS XL: Price

Almost all of the consoles come with a game included, with the exception of the 2DS XL. Some stores might include it in a bundle from launch day, but the initial indications are that you'll need to buy a game separately.

Here are suggested prices and links where you can buy each of the consoles:

  • Nintendo 2DS (with New Super Mario Bros 2), around £74.99 from Amazon.co.uk, (with no game) about $116.17 from Amazon.com
  • New Nintendo 3DS (with Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer), around £159.99 from Nintendo.co.uk
  • New Nintendo 3DS XL, about £169 from Amazon.co.uk, around $243.99 from Amazon.com
  • New Nintendo 2DS XL, $149.99 in the US, UK price yet to be revealed

Nintendo 2DS XL vs 2DS vs 3DS vs 3DS XL: Conclusion

The 2DS XL is a compelling option. Even though we don't yet know the UK price point, it will clearly be cheaper than the currently available 3DS XL yet offers exactly the same experience save for the one feature many turn off anyway: 3D.

It also looks cool, in its black with turquoise trim or white with orange trim colour schemes. Younger children are still better off with the 2DS, thanks to its more robust build quality, but the 2DS XL breaths new life into the handheld family that we didn't see coming.

Writing by Rik Henderson. Originally published on 28 April 2017.