I think you have to reply XY because there are alot of things wrong people have complained about them besides how easy it is. You say SM were hand holding, but XY had plenty of that too. Its actually worse in XY since none of the kid characters were good characters. In SM you see Lillie and Hau grow as characters and are integral to the plot, but in XY none of the kids are integral at all and just feel like an annoying every time you see them. Theres also Team Flare and the overall plot just not that good.
SM is actually harder than XY if you did not use the EXP share. In SM I was struggling to have my team keep up with the trainer levels, while in XY I had no problem at all. If I remember correctly XY had a fix EXP system while SM went back to BW EXP system (higher level = less exp gained). I do miss Gyms however, Trials were a nice change of pace, but when you look at them they were all essentially "beat a few wild pokemon and then fight the totem boss".
I enjoyed mega evolutions as well, but Z moves are no where near as OP as some of the popular Mega Evolutions. That fact that Mega Pokemon aren't allowed in this year's VGC should tell you why. But the concept of Alolan Pokemon is much better than mega evolutions to me. Too bad they decided to Gen 1 pander them (XY also pander by having almost the entire Kanto dex in the region, charizard and mewtwo having two megas etc...)
I hope they fix some issues in USUM too. I always wanted B2W2 difficulty setting back, but they never brought it back. Hopefully this games fixes some of SM issues.