We begin with the most obvious one...
Both screens 90% bigger
The XL in the system's name isn't for aesthetic reasons - the system is extra large to support the new, extra large screens. They're 90% larger than the ones found on the puny 3DS sitting on your desk. The top screen moves to a full 4.88 inches, up from the 3.53 inch display that shipped with the original system. But despite the increase in screen size, the resolution is the same, meaning your games won't look any different on the big screen than they did on the small screen. Well, besides being larger, that is.
Tweaked design on the outside...
It's not just bigger than the original 3DS, there are a few general layout changes as well. The headphone jack has been moved from front and center to the left, presumably to keep cords out of your way. The Select, Home and Start buttons are now more pronounced, not sunken like on the old model. It also has more rounded edges. There are some other aesthetic adjustments, like the look of the speakers and the shape of the Power button, but the XL is basically a bigger, slicker 3DS.
Same hardward inside
As the name suggests, the 3DS XL is bigger than its older brother, but inside, it's just the same. No faster processor, no extra memory. Upgrading the hardware in the middle of the system's life cycle isn't exactly feasible. Two 3DS's with different hardware specs would be a developer nightmare. The beauty of developing for a system like the 3DS is knowing that all your users will have the exact same hardware. So if you're wondering why Nintendo didn't slap a second slide pad on this baby, you have your answer.
Longer battery life
The least interesting, but most important upgrade to the 3DS XL comes with the inclusion of a lengthier battery life. Many have considered the 3DS's short battery to be the console's Achilles' heel. While the original had you crawling towards an AC adapter after three to five hours, this larger system will allow you to play for a bit longer. The upgraded tech boasts a slightly more impressive 3.5 to 6.5 hours for 3DS games and six to ten hours for original DS games, allowing the system to potentially work for a long-distance flight without dying.
AC adapter included (but not in Europe or Japan)
When you purchase a new handheld system, you expect an included power supply to charge it, right? We know we do, so we thought it was simply a given to get a new AC adapter with a 3DS XL. In the US it's true the charger will be packed in, but European and Japanese buyers aren't so lucky. Under the assumption that people that buy an XL will own the original 3DS, no AC adapter will be included. You can still buy one separately, but this seems pretty strange to us.
Release date August 19 in US, July 28 in Europe
Unlike the Wii U, when the XL was announced, Nintendo was very clear on the details all consumers should know, starting with launch date. The XL goes on sale August 19 in the US, which is the same day Nintendo is launching New Super Mario Bros 2. Europe gets it a little earlier, July 28 to be precise, which is the same day it launches in Japan.
Yep, two hundred bucks in North America, which is a $30 bump from the standard $170 3DS price point. Not too bad for a massive increase in screen size, better battery life and a 4GB memory card right in the box. The news isn't as concrete in Europe. It's rumored that English retailers will be pricing it from 179.99 to 199.99. Japanese gamers will be paying the most, their 3DS XL will go for 18,900, about $234.
It launches in two colors
Nintendo fans are used to a rainbow of console colors, but in the US at least, early 3DS XL buyers will have to settle for two colors. Instead of the Aqua Blue and Cosmo Black that launched the original 3DS, it will launch in blue and red in the US. Europe gets a third choice in the form of a silver system, but we'd say there's good odds that that color (or others) will be in the US in time for the holidays.
Will you buy one?
Still interested in 3DS? You should read our lists of the best 3DS games and 11 reasons Nintendo had a better E3 2012 showing than it seemed.