Nintendo 3DS XL vs. DSi XL

The 3DS XL is the latest version of Nintendo’s famous handheld and the company’s answer to Sony’s PS Vita. Before it hits US shores on August 19 let us take a sneak peek at this “big boy” and how it compares to another “big”, the DSi XL. These two have three years between them so the 3DS XL should be the better machine. But for curiosity’s sake, let us do the comparison anyway.

Body and Screen Size

The 3DS XL and DSi XL have almost the same body size. The DSi XL is slightly wider (161 mm vs. 156 mm) but is slightly shorter from the top (91 mm vs. 93 mm).  They have the same thinness when closed at 22 mm. The 3DS XL is slightly heavier at 336 g compared to 314 g of DSi XL.

From left: Original DS, DSi XL, 3DS, 3DS XL (Photo from The Verge)

While they are about the same size, you wouldn’t find trouble identifying which is which. The 3DS XL has both larger upper and lower screens. The 3DS XL’s upper screen is 124 mm wide while its bottom screen is 106 mm wide, for those keeping numbers. The screens on the DSi XL (both 85.34 mm wide) are dwarfs in comparison.

(Photo from The Verge)

Along with the increase in screen size is an increase in resolution. You can enjoy 400 by 240 of pixel resolution on the 3DS XL compared to only 256 by 192 pixels on the DSi XL. While this sounds good, there are some flaws to it. When playing a game from a smaller to a larger screen, you will easily notice individual pixels especially when you hold the 3DS XL closer to your face. The DSi XL handled 2D games beautifully because such games can be rendered on a larger scale. What the DSi XL can’t obviously do is play 3D games and here is where the 3DS XL shines. Nintendo made the right move as increasing the screen size really improved the 3D gaming experience.

 

Design

The one thing I really hate about previous DS models is the wide bezel. Because of the larger screen, the 3DS XL has none of that. But that’s not the only reason why the 3DS XL is better looking than its predecessors including the DSi XL. Lines are much cleaner and the tapers and curves are implemented much better. The matte finish lets you say goodbye to the slippery exterior (and fingerprint magnet!) of the DSi XL while also giving the console a sturdier feel.

US gamers will only get their hands on Blue and Black models upon release while most of the world can enjoy Red, Silver and Black. As usual, only Japan will have an all-white model.

 

Hardware

Controls are just the same as the original 3DS: there’s the D-pad and Circle Pad (a.k.a. analog stick) on the left, four buttons on the right and the L and R buttons on the shoulder.  Non-physical controls include three-axis accelerometer and gyroscope which are old news for 3DS users (but not for DSi XL users). Unlike the PS Vita, there is no second analog stick and the Circle Pad Pro for the 3DS XL is not yet in existence. Nintendo said that adding a second Circle Pad could only mean two things: make the 3DS XL even larger or use a shorter-capacity battery. Any of these would make the 3DS XL less handheldy.

The Start and Select buttons are the ones who have been constantly improved. In the DSi XL, they were at the right side just below the Y,X,B,A buttons. On the 3DS, they were right below the bottom screen disguising themselves as membranes along with the Home button. Now on the 3DS XL, the Start and Select buttons are buttons again although they are still located directly below the bottom screen.

The stylus also welcomed some changes. Gone is the retractable one that is featured on the 3DS and hides vertically next to the game card. The 3DS XL can be accessed on the right side and is now stored horizontally. This is good since you can now access the stylus much quicker than usual. I still favour the one on the DSi XL though since it really felt like the pen I use in the office. Other relocations include the headphone jack (from under the bottom screen to the lower left) and the SD card slot (from left side to right side).

 

Battery Performance

It would be unfair to compare these two in terms of battery performance since the 3DS XL is better equipped. Running games made for 3DS make the XL last between 3.5 to 6.5 hours with 3.5 the likely figure when the device is stressed (full brightness, wireless on, etc.). When playing non-3D games, the 3DS XL would stay on for six to ten hours.  On the other hand, the DSi XL can last 5 hours at most with heavy use. This just shows how much better the battery on the 3DS XL is.

 

Prices

Nintendo DSi XL

MerchantProductPriceBuy Now
AmazonNintendo DSi XL Bronze

Too Low to Display

used from: 78.99

Go to Store
Product prices and availability are accurate as of Apr 23 2:58:16 UTC but are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the merchant site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

 

Nintendo 3DS XL

MerchantProductPriceBuy Now
AmazonNintendo 3DS - Cosmo Black

Too Low to Display

used from: 110.00

Go to Store
Product prices and availability are accurate as of Apr 23 2:58:16 UTC but are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the merchant site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

 

Summary of Specs

3DS XLDSi XL
Dimensions (closed), Weight156 mm. long, 93 mm. wide, 22 mm tall, 336 g161 mm. long, 91.4 mm. wide, 21.2 mm. tall, 314 g
Screen124 mm. wide upper, 106 mm. wide lower, 400 x 240 pixels85.3 mm. wide upper, 85.3 mm. wide lower, 256 x 192 pixels
Battery Life3.5 to 6.5 hours for 3D games, 6 to 10 hours for non-3D games5 to 10 hours
Storage, Game MediaSD Card up to 32 GB, DS/3DS Game CardsSD Card up to 32 GB, DS Game Cards
Camera0.3 MP front, 2 x 0.3 MP rear0.3 MP front, 0.3 MP rear
Available Colors- Red + Black (Worldwide)
- Blue + Black (Europe, Australia and North America)
- Silver + Black (Europe, Australia and Japan)
- White (Japan)
- Bronze (Dark Brown in Japan)
- Burgundy (Wine Red in Japan)
- Midnight Blue (Japan and North America)
- Natural White (Japan)
- Yellow (Japan)
- Green (Japan)
- Bright Red (Mario 25th Anniversary)

 

Conclusion

Is bigger really better? In this case, it really is. While the 3DS XL will have a harder time fitting in your pocket than the original 3DS and is heavier than the DSi XL, it certainly brings more to the table. 3D games are now better not only because of the wider screen but also because of the longer battery life. The matte finish is also a very good change especially for those who love to eat while playing (like me).  I think the better matchup for the 3DS XL would be the PS Vita. Stay tuned for that in the coming days.

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