Today's Nintendo Direct had a very pleasant surprise in the form of refreshed 3DS hardware. These new models, which are coming to Japan on October 11th and other territories later (probably early 2015), are a top-down refit of both the original 3DS and its bigger brother, the 3DS XL.
The control interface has been overhauled, with new colored buttons, two new shoulder triggers, and a smaller second analog circle pad. The game card slot has been moved to the bottom of the unit, and the slimmer form factor means the console exclusively uses Micro SD cards now.
More importantly, the console now has NFC (Near Field Communication) built in, without the need of the previously announced wireless dongle for talking to the Amiibo figurines. The hardware has also seen an upgrade in speed and power, and to demonstrate this, Nintendo is porting the popular (and difficult to find) Xenoblade Chronicles exclusively to the new 3DS--it won't run on the older models.
I'm a little frosted that my 3DS XL is obsolete now, but these are exciting times to be a Nintendo fan. Thanks to Nintendolife for the story and the media!