Home » Opinions » Nintendo 2DS vs 3DS vs 3DS XL

Nintendo 2DS vs 3DS vs 3DS XL

by | Go to comments


The Nintendo 2DS is available now and makes the perfect Christmas gift. But is it worth getting, or are the 3DS and 3DS XL simply a lot better?

Let’s compare the three handheld consoles currently available from Nintendo. 


Screen size and construction

The Nintendo 2DS and 3DS have the same size screens. You get a 3.53-inch screen up top and a slightly smaller 3.02-inch screen below.

However, the 2DS screens are actually part of a single, flat screen unit that’s simply partitioned by the plastic screen surround of the console. It makes the 2DS cheaper and simpler to produce. This isn’t possible in the 3DS and 3DS XL because of the hinge mechanism, and 3D top screen.

The Nintendo 3DS XL has much larger screens. They’re 4.88 inches and 4.18 inches respectively. Just like the previous-gen DSi XL, though, you don’t get a real increase in image quality – just image size.

The screens all use the same effective resolution – 400 x 240 pixels for the top screen and 320 x 240 for the bottom one.

However, in the 3DS and 3DS XL, the top screen has double this max resolution to 800 x 240 pixels in order to offer 3D.
3DS vs 2DS

Blips 7

3D – which has it, which doesn’t

As their names suggest, the 3DS and 3DS XL have a 3D top screens, while the 2DS has no 3D whatsoever. It’s another factor that dramatically reduces the production costs of that lower-end console.

Both the 3DS and 3DS XL have little sliders on the side of their screens, letting you choose the power of the 3DS effect. You can also turn it off completely.

The type of 3D used in these consoles is called autostereoscopic 3D. It is a glasses-free technology that requires you keep your head still. It causes eye discomfort and headaches in some people, which is another reason for Nintendo to produce the 2DS – especially given the appeal it has for young kids.
3DS 2

Blips 6

The 2DS can take more punishment from young ‘uns

There is a benefit to the flat construction of the 2DS other than price reduction. It makes the handheld console much less easy to destroy – the hinge of the 3DS and 3DS XL is an obvious point where the handheld may fail.

That’s not to say that the 2DS is better-constructed than its more expensive brothers, though. It feels a bit more like a children’s toy – but a rugged one that’s made of tough plastic.

Blips 5

The 2DS is less portable

Not having a hinge increases durability, but reduces portability in the 2DS. When closed, the 3DS and 3DS XL are both significantly smaller than the 2DS.

The 3DS is 74mm ‘high’, the 3DS XL 93mm and the 2DS 127mm. It’s much less easy to stash away in a bag and pretty much impossible to fit in most pockets.

Just as important, the clamshell style protects the screens of the 3DS and 3DS XL from scratches while the consoles are in a bag – the 2DS is much more vulnerable in this respect.

The 3DS XL is the heaviest of the bunch at 336g but – perhaps surprisingly, the 3DS is the lightest. It weighs 235g, the 2DS 260g. 3DS

Blips 4

Battery life 3DS XL > 2DS > 3DS

Battery stamina is different across the three consoles. The 3DS XL lasts for between 3.5 and 6.5 hours when playing games. The 3DS last for 3-5 hours and the 2DS between 3.5 and 5.5 hours. Although the 3DS is the ‘loser’ here, we also need to consider that the 3D function itself uses extra power.

Blips 3

All games are supported by all consoles

There are no game support issues with the Nintendo 2DS – it’s only a ‘cut-down’ console in some respects. All 3DS games will work with the 2DS, and all DS games will also work with all three consoles.

How come? 3D is an optional extra in every 3DS game, and all three consoles have the same processor and the same array of sensors. Each has a motion sensor, a gyroscope and a microphone. They can all do the same thing, more or less. 3DS 3

Blips 2

Sound quality – 2DS loses out

One of the most significant differences for more discerning games between the handhelds is sound quality. The 3DS and 3DS XL have stereo speakers, which are quite effective as there fire directly at your ears, from each side of the screen.

The 2DS has a similar speaker, but there’s just the one – which sits to the left of the screen. It’s not a major concern if you’re going to use headphones as the 2DS still outputs stereo through the 3.5mm jack. But when using the internal speakers it makes for a less immersive experience.

Blips 1

A note on prices

When the 2DS first launched, we were concerned that it wouldn’t be cheap enough to justify the cuts in the lower-cost console. However, there’s now a pretty clear pricing structure from UK retailers.

The 2DS costs around £99.99. The 3DS is available for £139.99 and the 3DS XL for around £180 – although there are regular deals that see the price dropped to around £150.


For younger gamers, the 2DS seems like a sensible buy – especially if he/she isn’t going to be too concerned by the lack of 3D. It is also more fool-proof than the hinged models, as there are less hardware elements to break. For older and more experienced gamers who can afford the extra cash, we recommend sticking to the 3DS and 3DS XL.

Next, read our full Nintendo 2DS review


Go to comments
comments powered by Disqus