Nintendo’s New 3DS XL releases in the U.S. on February 13 alongside Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D. The promise of improved 3D and the analog nub may convince people to spend $199.99 per system, but unless they read up on the handheld, some consumers will be in for two surprises. First, there’s no AC adapter inside the box. Second, the New 3DS XL takes microSD and microSDHC cards, not the SD cards we’ve used with the 3DS since it debuted in 2011. Yup, you have to buy something else. 

Well maybe. The unit comes with a 4GB card nestled snugly within its microSD slot, but if you have thoughts of downloading retail 3DS games from the eShop, this free space will quickly disappear. 

Thankfully, buying a microSDHC card is the easy part. In fact, the New 3DS XL will accept up to a 32GB microSDHC card, which is the ideal size for digital download crusaders. Inserting it into the system, however, is the trickier part. 

Unlike the 3DS and 3DS XL, this new model does not have an easily accessible card slot on the outside. The port is on the bottom, hidden beneath a thin plastic shell held in place with two tiny screws.  

It’s different and unlike anything we’ve seen on a video game console or handheld device, but don’t worry. After viewing these steps, you’ll realize the process is fairly simple. 

WARNING: Turn off the New 3DS XL before removing its plastic cover and microSD card.  To be on the safe side, unplug the system from the AC adapter. 

Step 1: Place your New 3DS XL upside down and locate the two screws 

A clean kitchen counter or desk will do. If you want to be extra careful, place a soft towel beneath the system to avoid scratching it. 

The screws keep the plastic firmly in place, helping prevent both the microSDHC card and battery from falling out. 

Step 2: Get the appropriately sized Phillips head screwdriver 

The average Phillips head screwdriver won’t cut it here. You’ll need something much smaller, likely in the 0-1 range. Gently turn the screwdriver counterclockwise (to the left) to begin loosening the screw, and then repeat the process for the other one. 

Make sure the screwdriver comfortably fits, and avoid stripping the screw, which will make it somewhat tougher to loosen and tighten later. 

Turn each screw several times to loosen it. There’s no such thing as loosening too much, since you cannot remove these screws from the plastic. 

Note: a Frearson head screwdriver may also work, but use a Phillips head. Chances are you already have one somewhere.

Step 3: Gently pop open the plastic cover 

With the screws loosened, make note of the grooves next to each screw on the left and right sides of the New 3DS XL. 

In the manual, Nintendo suggests using the New 3DS XL stylus to lift the plastic cover upwards. You can do that, but keep two things in mind: 

  • Make sure you wedge the stylus all the way into the groove before lifting. Otherwise you may slightly damage the plastic cover. 
  • If that doesn’t sound appealing, use your index fingers. Place one finger into each groove and gently lift the plastic cover upwards, applying equal amounts of force per finger. 

When the plastic cover pops upwards, slowly remove it by sliding down. The cover should completely disengage from the New 3DS XL. 

Check out the two washers holding each screw in place. These little guys will prevent those screws from falling out. 

Now put the cover someplace safe. 

Step 4: Locate the microSD card slot 

Should be easy enough, considering you can see the very top of the 4GB card and, well, the slot says microSD. Convenient! 

While you’re here, make note of the battery. It’s doubtful you’ll ever need to remove and replace it. Leave it alone for now.

To remove the microSD card, place an index finger on top of the card and push it downwards. Doing this disengages the card from the slot. Now gently place a fingernail into the groove on top of the card and slide it out. 

With the 4GB card removed, insert the new card text side up and then gently push it into the slot. You’ll hear a tiny click. This locks the card in place. 

Step 5: Reattach the plastic cover 

There are two ways to do this. 

With the first method, begin attaching the plastic cover by aligning the bottom portion with the game card slot, headphone jack, stylus and power button. From there, slide the cover upwards and the screws will fit into their grooves. 

Now for the second method. First place the screws into their slots.  Now place both your thumbs on the bottom portion of the cover (one thumb on each side) and gently push downwards. 

Keep in mind that when reapplying the plastic cover, there’s a chance you will inadvertently press the power button, thereby turning on the New 3DS XL. Based on our tests, this happened more using the second method. 

With the plastic cover in place, use the screwdriver to tighten the screws by turning each one clockwise (to the right). After a few turns they will stop moving. When that happens remove the screwdriver and focus on the remaining screw. 

Do not overturn! Otherwise you risk damaging the screw. 

All done! Not too difficult, right?