In a surprise announcement during a Japanese-exclusive Nintendo Direct, Nintendo stated their plans to release new 3DS hardware in Japan starting in October. Early indications are that this "New 3DS" will receive a significant power boost, with a CPU upgrade confirmed and rumored boosts to RAM and VRAM. That's not all though, because the New 3DS will also feature a small analog stick on the right side of the screen, removing the need for a bulky analog stick peripheral.
The handheld does have some smaller changes as well, featuring rearranged "Start" and "Select" buttons, built-in NFC which one would assume is just for Amiibo functionality, "new" 3D functionality and a pair of additional shoulder buttons. Screen size has also been boosted for the regular 3DS, with both screens jumping 1.2x in size. The New 3DS XL screens remain the same, however. Oh, and the quad-buttons on the right are now color-coded, for what it's worth.
One other big announcement also accompanied the new hardware reveal. Accompanying the launch of the New 3DS will be Xenoblade Chronicles, ported to the handheld and exclusive to the upgraded version of the 3DS. Let me reiterate that this handheld Xenoblade Chronicles will not work on any 3DS or 3DS XL (or 2DS either) other than this New 3DS. No other exclusive games have been announced, nor have plans for further exclusives been confirmed, so hopefully old 3DS handhelds won't become obsolete any time soon. Don't worry though, odds are Nintendo won't even localize the damn thing.
Plans for the new 3DS hardware coming westward are said to be in the works for 2015. Meanwhile, Japan will get the New 3DS starting October 11. Reasons. Just, uh, maybe reconsider picking up a new 3DS this holiday season.