Hardware Review: New Nintendo 3DS XL

February 16th, 2015 -

Nintendo is no stranger to doing multiple hardware revisions for its handheld devices. The original Gameboy had the Pocket and Color; the GBA saw the Micro and SP with back lighting; even the DS got the Lite,  DSi, and DSi XL. It’s no surprise the 3DS is getting another one too. After the 3DS XL and 2DS revisions however, the question remains: is this one worth the purchase?

There may be some of you still wondering what the “new” in New Nintendo 3DS is all about and that’s understandable. Working in retail myself, I often find that people’s eyes gloss over when I try and explain it. So I’ll try to make this as painless as possible.

New Features:

New buttons: The New 3DS has some new buttons. First we have the C-Stick, which acts as a second analog nub for easier camera control in most games. For games like Smash Bros. it’s used for easier smash attacks. In addition to that there are also two new shoulder buttons, ZR and ZL, which add additional control for games like Monster Hunter. You may already know about these buttons if you own a Circle Pad Pro for your 3DS – that’s because they are the same. What Nintendo has done is build them into the system for easier game control and it is definitely an improvement. Having easy camera control for games is always a good thing.

Super Stable 3D: The New 3DS has a better 3D effect now. Nintendo has added face tracking software when 3D is turned on. That means the the “sweet spot” from the older 3DS models is now practically non existent. This is one of the better improvements of New 3DS XL. I was blown away at how far I could tilt the system in every direction and still have a perfect 3D effect. I never used 3D on my normal 3DS XL, but since buying this New 3DS XL I’ve been using it a lot more, and unknowingly too. I actually catch myself saying “I don’t remember turning this on.” This really is what Nintendo should have had with when the original 3DS  launched in 2011.

NFC Support: Have Amiibo and Smash Bros. on 3DS? No problem with the New 3DS. It has NFC built right in for you to use with your figures. Smash Bros. is the only supported title at the moment, but more games with support are coming. Codename S.T.E.A.M. and Xenoblade Chronicles 3D are two titles I know of that will be receiving Amiibo support. Only planning on keeping your older 3DS model? Again, no sweat. Nintendo will be coming out with an adapter that will allow you to use Amiibo.

It’s Faster!: The New 3DS is faster. More processing power was added to beef up this device and it really does benefit from it. On my old XL when I would close Smash Bros., my system would have to do a soft reset to close out the game. With this new device the game does what any other game does and just closes out the the home menu. Downloads are also noticeably faster. Downloading Majora’s Mask took about ten to fifteen minutes, where on my old XL a game similar in size would take about twice that long.

Some Other Stuff: The New 3DS has also had some things moved. The game card slot is now on the bottom of the system, as is the power button. Start and select have moved to the right of the touch screen. The volume slider has been moved to the top screen, opposite the 3D slider. A new stylus is used and is now pulled from the bottom of the device. All in all it’s still very comfortable to use. The C-Stick is awesome as a second analog and makes camera control possible for more games to come. Nintendo has also added an auto-brightness feature to automatically adjust your system brightness when in certain lighting conditions. I ended up turning this off as it was more troublesome than helpful. A bigger battery is also used, giving you a half-hour longer to game.


The New 3DS XL will, like the DSi before it, feature system exclusive games that only work with it. So far Xenoblade Chronicles 3D is the only title announced that is only compatible with New 3DS XL. The reason for this is the extra processing power. The older members of the 3DS family simply can’t handle the game.

Some complaints:

No Customizing For You!: The New 3DS has two models in Japan and Europe. The standard New 3DS has the ability to swap its face plates giving you easy access to customize your system. The New XL does not have this perk. The North American region is not getting the standard New 3DS. So know that you will not be able to customize easily if you live in the States or Canada.

No Charging For You!: The New 3DS XL doesn’t include a charger in the box. Nintendo of America has made this decision based off the logic that most people buying this system will probably be people upgrading (like myself). It is sound logic; however, it still sucks having to tell people that they need to buy additional accessories with their purchase. It gives the impression of greediness.


-Better Controls
-Better 3D
-Faster system
-Built in Amiibo support
-Slightly longer battery life


-Lack of customizing face plates
-No charger in the box for newcomers

Final Verdicts:

If you already own a 3DS and are fine with it, this hardware revision will offer little for you and I would say pass.

However, if you are more inclined to have the latest and greatest or are new to the 3DS scene, hands down this would be a buy. If you are new though, don’t forget that charger!

The New Nintendo 3DS XL was made by Nintendo. The system was released on Friday February 13th, 2015 and is available in New Black ($199.99), New Red ($199.99), Majora’s Mask Limited Edition Gold/Black ($199.99), and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Limited Edition Silver/Black ($229.99). The system reviewed was not provided for us. If you would like more information on the New Nintendo 3DS XL, check out the official site.

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