There are certainly some gamers in North America that only plan to pick up a New Nintendo 3DS when the smaller model is available, as only two variations of the XL iteration are currently available in the region. That limited release was a contentious decision from Nintendo of America, with the smaller model's charms - including interchangeable cover plates - current eluding the hugely valuable NA market.
For a small number of committed gamers happy to enjoy an offline existence but play games on the smaller model, there's now an exploit that supports the smaller Japanese New Nintendo 3DS systems and makes them region-free. It makes use of the exploit previously used for a homebrew channel in utilising physical or eShop copies of Cubic Ninja; the difference compared to other workarounds is that this does not allow any illegal copies or ROMS to be used, simply allowing NA or EU cartridge games to be played on a Japanese unit. The only additional mod is an ability to take screenshots, but aside from that this doesn't support any non-legitimate games.
Of course, making a Japanese New Nintendo 3DS region-free is also breaking the rules, yet this exploit is ultimately a limited workaround for only the most committed. It's limited to Japanese units, and in addition to requiring a copy of Cubic Ninja it'll only supports out-of-date firmware 8.1.0 / 9.1.0 / 9.2.0; no online gaming or eShop access is possible due to the need to avoid system updates.
This workaround should nevertheless prove popular with a small number of gamers - particularly in North America - that have imported a Japanese New Nintendo 3DS. It'll be of no use to the majority, but shows the ongoing desire among some to enjoy the smaller model and, in addition, get around region locking.
Thanks to Ryan Millar for the heads up.