It seems Nintendo may be redesigning it's Circle Pad for future iterations of the Nintendo 3DS. Nintendo has just been granted a 14 year patent for a new "ornament design" for it's 3DS circle pad. The included diagram shows a C-Pad that looks a bit like the Gamecube analogue on top. It should be noted that the diagram includes only one C-Pad. So either the next iteration of the 3DS still has a single C-Pad, or Nintendo sent in the old 3DS system design in order to avoid potential leaks since they were only aiming for a patent on the C-Pad and not on a dual analogued 3DS.
Nintendo Life said:
One of the first things we noticed when Satoru Iwata stood on stage at E3 2010 with a 3DS was the Circle Pad. Some called it a slider pad, others opted for analogue stick: whatever name you chose, it ultimately meant that Nintendo was giving us analogue control in its shiny new handheld. It's since given us the Circle Pad Pro to provide dual analogue controls, though its questionable appearance means it's not exactly a design flaunted with pride.
It seems that the standard Circle Pad may be due for a makeover, however, as Nintendo has just been granted a US patent, lasting 14 years, for the 'ornament design for an operating knob for portable electronic computer'. The accompanying images show a 3DS with a Circle Pad that seems to resemble the design of a GameCube analogue stick. For those who complain of their sweaty thumbs slipping off the current design, this could be the answer to those woes.
The patent and its drawings do specify 3DS, or portable electronic computer, so that may exclude the use of this design on the Wii U controller. For those suspicious that Nintendo's remodel of the 3DS is already on the way this will aid their cause — the patent was filed 6th December 2011 — though the images do show a system with a single Circle Pad, not the dual analogue controls that many anticipate. So, what do you think of the design? Is it an improvement on the original?
So either the next iteration of the 3DS still has a single C-Pad, or Nintendo sent in the old 3DS system design in order to avoid potential leaks since they were only aiming for a patent on the C-Pad and not on a dual analogued 3DS.
I think the second is much more likely, but then again this is Nintendo
There won't be a 3DS Lite in the sense that the system isn't going to get any smaller, because there's no need for that this time around. If anything, it'll get bigger to accommodate the added slide pad and shoulder buttons, should Nintendo decide to pursue them. But I don't think Nintendo sees any flaws in the 3DS, so I have a feeling there won't be a redesign for a while, and when it does happen, it'll be something more like the DSi than the DS Lite/GBA SP.
@sirmastersephiroth That'd be a bad placement for the right slide pad. People already complain about the D-pad being hard to use, imagine if the face buttons were also like that. Plus the second slide pad won't be used for much, so it doesn't need the prime spot.