Nintendo switch to inferior, likely cheaper screens in newer 3DS models?
We were originally planning to write up this article back in February, but we were sidetracked by Hyper Japan. The issue at hand relates to the screens of the newer 3DS models (A huge thanks goes to Rafael for helping us obtain the tangible photos you see here), and please note we have only observed European 3DSes for now.
To put any doubts over consistency to rest, both 3DSes pictured were left running off battery power, on brightness level 5 with power saver off (as shown on both lower screens), and the newer 3DS models we speak of which include the newer, inferior screens do not include unsold stock, shifted after the price cut as these would have been manufactured nearer to launch.
As such, weíre assuming affected models where both screens see diminished colour reproduction (to our human eye and whatís certainly visible in these photos) translate to certain 3DSes manufactured from September 2011 onwards, starting from the Flare Red model (we have definitely noticed the newer screen on Flare Red, Coral Pink and Ice White 3DSes).
So whatís different between the screens of a launch day 3DS and an affected new model? As you can see in the photos above and below, we saw (with our own eyes) that the upper/3D screen on affected models is more washed out and exhibits warmer colours (see the first photo above, which shows the launch day 3DS on the left and a brand new, affected 3DS to the right). The lower screens seem to exhibit the same effect.
Here's the 3DSes switched around so you can tell it's not the angle/lighting making causing the difference - click the image to view it in greater detail.
In addition, comparing our launch model to a newer affected model (starting with a flare red 3DS bought in September 2011), with both screens at brightness level 5, power saver off, the newer 3DS screens show more washed out colours which closely match the colours of what youíd see from the launch day model with power saver on.
As such, some of that definition is lost. Itís much harder to tell apart the greys and the whites in the home menu background, for example.
Of course, this sort of change to 3DS isnít really surprising Ė with a price cut that saw Nintendo slash a third off the original price for their 3D handheld and lose money on every unit sold, itís understandable that they would want to cut production costs as much as possible, and even we would settle for an inferior screen if it meant paying £100 less for our 3DS.
Or maybe the screens arenít the issue Ė since both screens are exhibiting these features, perhaps Nintendo changed the backlighting mechanism in newer models. Furthermore, itís common for manufacturers to source their screen panels from several suppliers, perhaps due to supply constraints from a particular supplier.
Nintendo could have just switched to different panel manufacturers for certain variations of the 3DS or for a certain amount of time, though this does go hand in hand with cost cutting measures due to the price drop.
3DS is expected to become a profitable platform again for Nintendo in September.