Yesterday in the mail I received my *new* Nintendo 3DS (standard, white), imported from Australia. I’m writing this blog to clear up some questions people may have about the new model, as well as about importing a foreign system.

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1: Hardware

Dimensions wise, the *new* 3DS is roughly the same size as the standard 3DS. I imagine that the XL model (which is the only model that we in America will get) is also the same size as the current XLs. It has a matte finish, so fingerprints everywhere aren’t an issue.

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Some of the ports are now in different places. The card slot has moved to the front of the system, as has the power button and stylus slot. The charge port is in the middle of the back, and the charm / strap holes are in their old position on the back instead of on the front corners. Also, the start and select buttons are placed like the DSi, below the ABXY buttons. The circle pad and d-pad stayed put. Volume is now on the lid, opposite the 3D slider.

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Of course the biggest additions are the new little circle pad above ABXY and the extra shoulder buttons. The mini circle pad is much like the trackpad on an old laptop; it’s a small, stiff nub. I have sadly been unable to test that yet, as I don’t have any games that support it, such as Super Smash Brothers 4. There’s an indent in the hinge above said nub, so it’s comfortable for your thumb to rest there.

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The ZL and ZR shoulder buttons do feel awkwardly placed, right next to the L and R buttons. For someone like me with teeny tiny hands, they are hard to reach without removing my thumbs from the controls. It is also hard to press them without also pressing L and R along with them. This will likely be very problematic for me later on.

2: Faceplates and SD cards

The snazziest part of the *new* 3DS to me is those swappable faceplates. The bottom one is attached by two screws that you need to loosen in order to take it off. This is also how you access the SD card slot. The top faceplate just snaps right on. I heard of some people saying they were troublesome to take on and off, but I found it super easy. Just be gentle, especially with the top plate.

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The *new* 3DS now takes microSDs instead of SD cards.

3: Firmware

So what about this promised faster processing speed? Well, I can attest to the fact that the e-shop does indeed load and download faster. Especially considering what crappy wireless I have. I also noticed that Pokémon OmegaRuby does seem to load and save more quickly. Again, I cannot test SSB at this time, but I have heard it is a much improved experience.

Super stable 3D? Alas! Another aspect I cannot test, as I am within the 10% of people who cannot see glasses-free 3D. My 3DSs have always had 3D turned off. I have heard it’s better because of the camera tracking your face, but that it still falls apart at certain angles.

I’m a big fan of the new backlight, though. You can still set your preferred brightness under the home menu settings like before, but now you also have the option of letting the 3DS detect light levels in the room and adjust screen brightness accordingly, just like your smartphone. I really love this, as I found it irritating to constantly have to pause games and adjust brightness as I moved around.

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The home menu and user interface are the same as the current 3DS. You can download menu themes as before, and as far as I know, there are none exclusive to the new model.

Since it’s now a bit of a pain to get the microSD out, you can back up your 3DS’s data to a PC via wireless internet. But it will ONLY work on windows 7 or 8. Us mac users and those who use linux are out of luck (although I imagine it will work on a partitioned computer running said Windows OS. I don’t know that for sure, though).

Supposedly the camera is also improved, but I haven’t tested that yet.

4: Matters of import

So how well does a foreign 3DS function here in the USA? As you may already know, the *new* 3DS does not come with a charger. In fact, my Australian model didn’t even come with a charging dock. This wasn’t a problem for me as I already have a charger (it takes the same charger as the DSi, DsiXL, 3DS, 3DSXL, and 2DS). American chargers do work perfectly fine on the foreign hardware.

The 3DSs are of course, region locked. This hasn’t changed any. You cannot use any game card from North America in a PAL region (Europe and Australia) 3DS. You cannot transfer games from an American DSi or 3DS to a PAL 3DS. I imported a French copy of Pokémon OmegaRuby to be my *new* 3DS’s sole physical game. HOWEVER normal DS games (that do not have the little tab and work in the DS, DSlite, DSi, and DSiXL) are NOT region locked. You can play any of those games from any region on any DS or 3DS model. I have quite a few European and Japanese DS games, and can play all of them with no issues.

Now for the e-shop. This, for me, is the biggest issue with importing. I heard that the Australian e-shop is pretty sparse, so when setting up my *new* 3DS, I set my region to UK: England. This gave me England’s e-shop (you cannot select USA on a PAL 3DS) I did not set up an NNID for it, which is required for miiverse, demos, and other free apps, so I don’t know how that would work.

You may want to be very aware that UK prices are much higher on downloads than US ones. The current conversion rate for £ -> $ is roughly £1 = $1.60. So if a game like SSB4 costs £39.99 in the e-shop (which it does) you’re actually paying $60+ for it. Ouch. Which will make waiting and hoping for sales and markdowns that much more important. Not all the games are quite as eye-wateringly expensive, but it is an important note to make. Also, there are some games available in Europe that you can’t get here (at least not yet) and vice versa. But those little VC and DSiWare games are not really worth importing a console for.

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Your American credit card will most likely work in the e-shop, provided it’s a Visa or MasterCard (I’m not sure what happens if it’s not). I also ran into the issue of my bank locking down my credit card minutes after adding some money to the e-shop, as they saw it as a suspicious charge. I needed to call them and let them know it was legitimate, and then wait some hours for my card to function again.

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And so concludes my review! If you have any questions, or wish to provide information I could not, please feel free to comment!