In recent days a rumour, with no substantial source beyond hearsay, has been doing the rounds that the New Nintendo 3DS systems would be region free. We declined to report the rumour due to the lack of compelling proof, but nevertheless checked up in order to clarify the situation; as some may be contemplating pre-ordering a Japanese model in the hope it'll be region-free, it's worth confirming that the new systems will be region locked.
Nintendo UK has informed us as such, and it's no surprise; if it weren't for the rumours it wouldn't have necessarily been a particularly valid question. Due to Nintendo's adherence to the principle of region locking with the 3DS and Wii U, it would have been an unexpected turnaround for this hardware revision to be region free. Whether Nintendo re-considers the policy in future generations is something else entirely, but it was always a long-shot in this case.
So there you have it. The New 3DS will be region locked, just like its older sibling — don't pre-order a Japanese model unless you want to be limited to only playing Japanese games.