76

Bigger is better, but it's still not quite enough

76

After playing with the 3DS XL, we returned to the original only to find it difficult and awkward to use in comparison. The new size is an improvement in so many ways, including ergonomics and playability. The bigger screen makes 3D gaming less tiring, and offers a larger sweet spot for Nintendo's all-important gaming effect, while the curved edges simply fit your hands better. Competition remains tough, however. The Vita remains clearly ahead technically, while Nintendo banks on its strong in-house software team to bring in the customers. Pitch Resident Evil: Revelations against Uncharted, or Super Street Fighter IV 3D against Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, and it's clear to see on those big portable screens which has the most potent hardware. But if you've been waiting out for a 3DS Lite before taking the plunge into 3D waters, then we can't help but recommend Nintendo's latest. We just hope the company can give its online content offering a shot in the arm soon, as it's really starting to age the hardware.

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Critic reviews

7.8
26 reviews
  • Game library
    8.1
  • Graphics
    7.7
  • Battery life
    7.5
  • Portability (size / weight)
    7.6
  • Durability
    8.0

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User reviews

8.1
32 reviews
7.0
Engadget Jul 10, 2012

The new size is an improvement in so many ways, including ergonomics and playability. The bigger screen makes 3D gaming less tiring, and offers a larger sweet spot for Nintendo's all-important gaming effect, while the curved edges simply fit your hands better.

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9.0
Wired Aug 15, 2012

The anemic content library slated for the rest of the year shows that 3DS still has a ways to go before it’s where it should be. More comfortable and convenient to play in the home, 3DS XL is a big step along that journey.

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8.0
Wired Jul 12, 2012

The 3DS XL is a good update of the original design. It seems to have been created with a few cost cutting measures in mind, but this doesn’t detract from the benefit of those beautiful bigger screens and extended battery life.

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8.0
PC Mag Aug 8, 2012

The Nintendo 3DS XL is a large, fun handheld with a big backwards-compatible game library and a bigger screen, but if you're upgrading from an original 3DS, you'll have to leave your downloaded games behind.

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8.0
Ars Technica Aug 17, 2012

As far as we're concerned, the 3DS XL should now be considered the definitive version of the system. It vastly improves on the aesthetics and ergonomics of the original while providing a much larger viewing and touchscreen area without sacrificing too much portability.

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8.0
AllThingsD Oct 25, 2012

If you’re looking to level up your game play beyond what’s offered by your smartphone, the Nintendo 3DS XL makes a fun companion.

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8.0
CNET Feb 21, 2014

Three years in, the Nintendo 3DS handheld has become a seriously good game device -- especially for fans of Nintendo's classic gaming franchises -- and the XL is the one you should buy.

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7.0
CNET Jul 30, 2012

While the 3DS XL is the better of the two, the omission of a right circle pad is really a missed opportunity. ALthough game selection is still relatively scarce, the 3DS is a solid portable gaming device but is probably not worth upgrading if you own the original.

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7.0
Gizmodo Sep 18, 2012

Should You Buy This? It depends. If you've already got a 3DS, maybe not. But if you're looking at the current generation of handhelds, the 3DS XL is definitely the Nintendo device to get.

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9.0
Kotaku Aug 19, 2012

The 3DS XL is a good size. It plays great games. Its battery lasts a cross-country flight. What's not to like? Avoid the system only if you can't deal with graphics meant for a 90% smaller screen being blown up, though, in my experience, that's an issue you forget as the games suck you in.

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8.0
The Guardian Jul 6, 2012

It's a straightforward upgrade, one that doesn't provide enough of a leap in form and function for the average 3DS player ... For newcomers ... it's the system to go for, adding battery life, screen size and a seasoning of style to a handheld that is arguably still yet to truly find its identity.

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8.0
Pocket-Lint Jul 10, 2012

It’s the spate of new games that really makes the 3DS XL a fun handheld console. It may not have the charm or iconic design of the original Gameboy from all those years ago, but the 3DS XL makes more sense than the original 3DS ever did thanks to the available content.

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8.0
SlashGear Aug 1, 2012

If you own a 3DS that’s starting to look a little old, then it’s worth jumping up to the 3DS XL for the better screens and battery life. If you’re on one of Nintendo’s older handhelds and have been hesitant ... the 3DS XL proves that the water is fine and that it’s time to jump in.

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7.0
Eurogamer Jul 6, 2012

This enlarged system is the clear choice if you've yet to dip your toe into the waters of glasses-free 3D gaming, but we're not entirely sure it offers enough benefits over the previous hardware model to justify the making the transition.

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7.0
Wired UK Jul 9, 2012

For first-time buyers of Nintendo's 3D experiment, the XL is definitely the way to go. For owners of the current model ... ask yourself this: how often do you actually use your 3DS? ... If you answered "quite often" and "a reasonable amount", then it's worth considering the upgrade for sure.

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7.0
Time Aug 24, 2012

If you have $200 to burn, don’t already own a 3DS or have yet to play the platform’s better-than-average fare like Mario Kart 7, Super Mario 3D Land, Kid Icarus: Uprising or Resident Evil: Revelations, then spring for the 3DS XL. It’s officially the 3DS to beat.

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6.0
CNET UK Jul 9, 2012

The larger screen is very welcome but can show up graphical flaws, while the increased weight could become a burden. More expensive than the original but with no charger in the box, potential buyers should still consider opting for the regular 3DS.

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9.0
1UP Jul 12, 2012

Despite ... minor concerns -- and the lack of a second stick, of course! -- we're impressed by the XL. You could argue that the XL is coming about a year and a half later than it should have, but we're happy to have it, late or not.

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9.0
Penny Arcade Aug 13, 2012

It’s hard to go back to the “classic” 3DS after playing the XL. The larger screen, comfortable ergonomics, improved 3D implementation, and longer battery life make this the definitive way to play 3DS games.

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8.0
TrustedReviews Jul 6, 2012

This is a better version of an already fine handheld with a good and growing line-up of software, but in some respects it’s still something of a missed opportunity. It’s the best 3DS so far, but maybe not the definitive version.

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8.0
T3 Jul 6, 2012

A portable gaming professional with much to recommend about it, a whopping great screen and a decent raft of games being high among them. While smartphones reign the masses, the 3DS has proven there is still a market for dedicated gaming handhelds for at least the near future.

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8.0
TechRadar Jul 28, 2012

For existing 3DS owners looking for an upgrade there are plenty of reasons to trade in for the XL; it's more comfortable over long periods and increased battery life means it lasts for hours or even days in Street Pass sleep mode.

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8.0
The Telegraph Jul 20, 2012

The 3DS XL is more comfortable, sturdier and classier than its older brother. As such, while it's difficult to recommend unconditionally for 3DS owners looking to upgrade, if you are looking at buying a 3DS in the near-future, the XL should be your preferred choice.

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8.0
Destructoid Jul 27, 2012

Those with money to burn and a willingness to purchase multiple iterations of the same system will likely be rewarded for doubling their 3DS purchases here. It really is a neat little improvement.

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8.0
Stuff Jul 4, 2012

For those who already own a 3DS, though, the lack of an extra stick does make the XL a tough sell. For those wondering whether to take the plunge with Nintendo's 3D handheld, the XL may just be enough to persuade you.

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6.0
theEDJ theEDJ

In certain aspects, the 3D is pretty neat. However, movement hurts the 3D effect, and holding a handheld perfectly steady rarely happens. The game library sells the 3DS being backwards compatible with the original DS cartridges, and there's ton of value there. Adding the Nintendo Shop helps, but...

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8.0
DoctorThe DoctorThe

The 3DS XL is one of my favorite portable devices, and always will be. Great Battery life, Huge variety of games and 3D visuals!

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8.0
fwn fwn

Overall, I'm very satisfied with the purchase from a hardware perspective - It's a substantial upgrade over my NDS Lite, and in my opinion it looks and feels better than the regular 3DS.

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10
kamranm1000 kamranm1000

The 3DS XL is an amazing handheld gaming console. It's much better than the original Nintendo 3DS, and that's because the 3DS XL has a bigger screen, better battery life, a constantly expanding 3DS game library, and many more improvements. But what makes it amazing you ask? Well, keep reading and...

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6.0
13xforever 13xforever

Honestly, I held onto buying this console for all this time, and only bought it to play Bravely Default, which is exclusive to this platform. Overall, I don't like the specs and feel of this console at all. It is cheap, bulky, heavy, with mediocre low-res displays, not very responsive, uses...

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9.0
alejo0121 alejo0121

LIKE: -Screen: The big screen really makes a difference compared to the original 3DS -Matte finish: this one is not a fingerprint magnet, and looks beautiful to my eyes -Backwards compatibility: Nintendo decided to keep DS backwards compatibility in this revision, which means there is a huge (and...

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10
Permanganate Permanganate

This is a sophisticated piece of hardware with a lot of potential that is finally now being tapped into by an onslaught of great first party and third party titles. Old franchises such as Zelda, Fire Emblem, Pokemon, Animal Crossing, and Shin Megami Tensai have new titles on this system that are...

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9.0
PCTechnologist PCTechnologist

After having a PS Vita for the last few month with no games to play I finally put my own money down on a 3DS XL. I used my brothers 3DS for about a month and enjoyed the games, but this new screen sealed the deal for me. I would like to see a higher resolution and better viewing angles but the...

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8.0
b0r3dguy b0r3dguy

Decent portable gaming system with a nice-sized screen. Graphics could be improved because it's definitely behind the PS Vita.

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