Nintendo Switch vs Nintendo 3DS XL: We compare Nintendo’s two portable games consoles, the 3DS and the Switch, to see which is best for you. How does the new Switch stack up against the 3DS XL when it comes to battery life, multiplayer features, specs and the all-important games catalogue? Here’s everything you need to know.
Nintendo is causing quite the stir across the interwebs with its hybrid home and mobile console, dubbed the Nintendo Switch. We can already see its potential after our in-depth Switch hands-on session, especially as you can take your gaming on the go at any time.
But Nintendo already has a mobile console in the 3DS XL, so why release another?
The Nintendo Switch isn’t here to directly replace the 3DS XL – or so Nintendo claims – as it’s primarily a home console that can ‘switch’ out to be played on the move. The larger price tag of course reflects this. But if you can play home console games on the move, the question remains: why bother with more basic games, like those on the 3DS?
Well, there actually are a few reasons to stick with the 3DS, including battery life, asking price and the way you interact with the games.
But while you may not need to start using your 3DS XL as a pricey doorstop just yet, the Switch is definitely here to shake things up in the world of mobile gaming. Here’s our full Nintendo Switch vs 3DS XL comparison review, so you know which might be best for you.
Nintendo Switch vs. Nintendo 3DS XL: Price
One of the most major differentiators between Nintendo’s Switch and 3DS XL consoles is the price tag. The Nintendo 3DS XL will set you back £180 without any games, or can also be picked up in bundles with the likes of the new Pokemon games included.
Meanwhile the Switch will cost you a hundred pounds more, with an asking price of £280 without games.
While there is a one hundred pound premium for the Switch, that extra wedge gets you a lot more. After all, the Switch isn’t just a mobile console; you also get a home gaming machine that can be used to play the latest Nintendo titles on your TV. That’s something the 3DS XL can’t offer.
The Switch is a lot different from the 3DS in other ways too…
Nintendo Switch vs. Nintendo 3DS XL: Multiplayer
One of the really attractive features of the Switch is its multiplayer friendliness. Sure, it’ll let you connect up to eight consoles for instant multiplayer fun, much like the 3DS XL. But the Switch also allows for multiplayer gaming action with other people that don’t own the console.
Thanks to that smart Joy-Con controller which splits into two, you can enjoy two-player games with a mate on the move, using just the one Switch. The ingenious part is that the controller is already built into the device, so you don’t need to plan ahead by carrying more kit.
Meanwhile the kickstand on the console and the dual wireless controllers means the multiplayer experience is comfy too. Well, comfy for the winner at least.
Nintendo Switch vs. Nintendo 3DS XL: Battery life
One of the big factors for mobile gaming is battery life. Thankfully Nintendo knows this all too well, and so has made sure it squeezes out as much juice from its consoles as possible.
The Nintendo 3DS XL will last between 3.5 and 6.5 hours when playing 3DS games on the go, or between 6 and 10 hours for older DS games.
In comparison, the Nintendo Switch will reportedly last between 2.5 and 6 hours on a charge. Bearing in mind that the Switch packs a larger screen and far more processsor-intense gaming, that’s an impressive result indeed.
Also Nintendo has built a battery into the Switch that can be charged via USB as you play. So if you have a mobile charger on your person, you can keep going for even longer without battery worries.
Nintendo Switch vs. Nintendo 3DS XL: Screen and media
The difference in screen setup and quality across Nintendo’s two portable consoles is pretty vast.
For one thing, the 3DS XL has two of them. The top display is of course 3D capable, so you can enjoy your titles with an impressive depth of field – something not found on the Switch. Meanwhile the bottom panel is a touchscreen display, for showing additional info and interacting with menus. You get a bundled stylus for interacting with the screen in a more precise manner, but your finger also does the job if you poke hard enough.
Those 3DS screens are 4.88-inches and 4.18-inches in size, with the main 3D screen topping out at a basic 800×240 resolution.
In comparison, the Switch features a significantly larger 6.2-inch display, which should make it even more comfortable for gaming on the go. That display has a 720p resolution, so graphics will be sharper. And like the 3DS’ lower screen, you get touch functionality – although in the Switch’s case, it’s multi-touch compatible, like a smartphone screen.
There’s no stylus, but the Switch proves perfectly responsive to swipes and gestures with your fingers. That should make for some interesting interactions.
Nintendo Switch vs. Nintendo 3DS XL: Games
When it comes to sheer volume of games, the 3DS XL is easily the winner right now as it’s been around longer than the Switch. You already have a great selection of Mario, Zelda and Pokémon 3DS titles, specially developed for the system. Then, of course, there are all the older DS games that also work on the console for even more button-bashing brilliance.
While the Nintendo Switch might not have as many games, initially, it will be running full console quality titles. That not only means better graphics and gameplay, but also the fact that these games are being developed as flagship titles for Ninty. As a result you can expect an epic experience that surpasses the 3DS’ offerings.
Games on the 3DS are notoriously expensive, and Nintendo’s own titles don’t drop in value. As a result, you’ll still be paying £30 to £35 for the best titles. However, games on the Switch will launch at £50, so you’ll need to splash out even more to get your game on.
Read next: 6 things wrong with the Nintendo Switch
Nintendo Switch vs. Nintendo 3DS XL: Verdict
While the Nintendo Switch is one hundred pounds more expensive than the 3DS XL, it does offer many advantages.
For that money you get a similar battery life despite higher quality, console-level games. You also get the Joy-Con controller that allows you to enjoy two-player gaming on the move, with just the one device shared between you. Screen resolution is higher and the game quality should generally be better.
The 3DS XL might be a little more robust however, as the screen can be closed up and kept safe. The 3DS also has a lot more games available, initially at least.
The Nintendo Switch gives you a full console for TV gaming and mobile gaming on the move thanks to that hybrid build. It might not spell the end of 3DS XL gaming, but it’s certainly going to give us a damned good alternative.
Nintendo Switch UK release date
Check out our in-depth Nintendo Switch feature for news on the UK release date and more.