Nintendo have confirmed that they are in the midst of developing / publishing a brand new model of their Nintendo 3DS console line, serving as a successor to the original and XL units. This model will feature a wealth of new buttons including a mini-analog stick to the right hand side of the touchscreen (Putting it in line with most console controllers), the remodelling of A/B/X/Y buttons to be coloured like the SNES console and new shoulder buttons.
There is one issue that may be frustrating to some, reminiscent of the jump from Gameboy to Gameboy Advance. Despite being pretty much the same console, Nintendo have decided to give the new 3DS models a CPU boost which should speed things up at least slightly. This means that there will be at least a few major games (Eg. A port of Xenoblade Chronicles) which will not be able to support earlier models. Meaning if you want to play these games, you will have to once again fork out 100’s of dollars to run them. The console will also feature built in NFC to support the upcoming launch of amiibo figures which were first unveiled at E3 2014.
No international release date has been confirmed, but the New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS LL models will be available in Japan from October 2014. Region free? I think it is best to doubt it will ever happen…. unless Nintendo have decided to be incredibly generous like Sony and Microsoft have been in the past.