Purely in terms of how the consoles look, the two new models, one black & blue and the other white & orange, are very impressive. Both of these handheld systems look smart and we think they're very presentable, and the colours worked well together. The fact that the white and orange model is very reminiscent of the old Nintendo Game and Watch really took our fancy. The black handheld does show fingerprints and marks a little more, while the white model also shows the occasional grubby mark, mainly down to each having a glossy finish. The colours are certainly striking enough, and something which has no doubt been considered to appeal to kids as well some older players. It can't hurt to look smart.
When holding the console in your hands it feels weighty, there's a nice heft to it, but not uncomfortably so, and this remains true even after several hours of use. The smoothed edges on the sides of the unit mean that it's pretty easy to grip, with no uncomfortable edges digging into the palms of your hands, and all of the buttons you'll need are in easy reaching distance of your fingers and feel satisfying to press. The stylus, an essential part of any DS system, slides in neatly into the bottom of the unit, and becomes indistinguishable from the rest of the design when tucked away.
One problem with the stylus, though, is its tiny size. The pint-sized design might be fine for little people, but any adult (especially one with less-than-agile digits) using it for prolonged periods of time may find it a little uncomfortable. Elsewhere on the extremity of the device, all of the buttons around the edge, including the power button, don't feel in the way, and there's also a convenient headphone port underneath too, as well as the slots for MicroSD cards (which no longer needs a screwdriver) and game cartridges.
The one thing we did notice, however, is that with a big top screen there's a bit of movement when the console is open. The flip screen moves back and forwards a touch (only a few millimetres, but it is noticeable), especially if/when you shake it. On the other hand, though, the hinge is pretty sizeable, meaning that we can't see this coming detached very easily, although it does protrude a little bit when closed (although to be fair, this isn't something we had an issue with). When closed the console is slightly smaller than the New 3DS XL and is now the perfect shape and size to slip into your pocket, something that always helps with a handheld.
In terms of the buttons, their placement will obviously come as second nature to users of other 3DS models, as the main buttons are all in the same place as they are on the Nintendo 3DS XL, but there are also some new features, such as the c-stick in the top right of the bottom panel as well as four triggers on the shoulders. Here, though, we found the ZL/ZR buttons a little annoying to access (the shoulder buttons furthest from the edges), as you had to reach a little awkwardly to press them, but it's good that there are extra buttons which games can make use of.
The New 2DS XL is, however, a massive improvement from the 2DS; both top and bottom screens are now double the size, being 4.88 inches diagonally for the upper screen, 4.18 diagonally on the lower, and now match that of the New 3DS XL, albeit without the 3D mode. The RAM and processing power has also increased in line with the New 3DS XL. This upgrade in power does mean that it's quicker opening apps and browsing the main menu, as well as playing the newer games more smoothly than the original 2DS.
The battery life isn't the greatest and is dependant on screen brightness, touch screen use, wireless connections, and the games you choose to boot up. However, for casual play, we never found this to be a problem and we only plugged it in to charge when at home. The wireless connectivity works well and we utilised the three Wi-Fi connections, one at home, another at work, with the third being tethered to a phone if we needed online gaming on the go. The New 2DS XL also has the same NFC built in as the New 3DS XL, so Amiibos can be used with the handheld as well as the ability to transfer Miis from Tomodachi Life (in the case of Miitopia), meaning that you don't have to start completely fresh when buying the console.
In short, the New Nintendo 2DS XL offers a comfortable experience, and we can forgive the small things like a slight movement on the top screen and shoulder button placements. It's a handheld that definitely benefits from having bigger screens, and you can play not only 3DS games but also DS, 3DS and New 3DS software as well (although obviously in 2D), giving you a vast catalogue of games to choose from. So, if you are still using the 2DS or haven't managed to pick up the New 3DS XL, but don't mind skipping the 3D functionality, this may well be handheld for you. The only question mark that remains comes down to the longevity of the DS platform, but with Nintendo committing to supporting the handheld through 2018 and beyond, and considering the size of the back catalogue of games that players can choose from, there still appears to be enough life in the system to make this latest upgrade worth considering.