Introduction There have been several discussions on here about the different types of display panels used by Nintendo in different 3DS units, with some displays having better image presentation than others. Since this has been asked in multiple threads and there hasn't been a unified thread about it yet, I thought I'd write one here. 1. What are TN or IPS Displays? So far, Nintendo has used two different types of display panel between the 3DS (and N3DS): TN and IPS. Each works in slightly different ways and have their own merits. The most common one used is the TN (Twisted Nematic) display, which has faster pixel response times and is relatively cheaper to use. It also draws slightly less power, which in turn should allow for longer usage between charge cycles, though this largely depends on other factors such as types of games being played, 3D mode, wireless settings, and screen brightness. The main drawback is that TN displays have less-than-ideal contrast and colour reproduction. One of the most telltale signs of a TN display is having the screen colours appearing washed out, even inverted when viewed from very slanted angles. This is why players often prefer having an IPS display. Some newer units have been equipped with IPS (In-Plane Switching) top and/or bottom displays. These displays are more expensive, but produce better colours. Dark areas remain dark while colour saturation and contrast is more vivid than on TN counterparts. If you view the screen from a wide angle, the image remains as clear as if you were looking directly at a 90º angle. This comes at a cost of having higher power consumption, potential scanline effects, as well as a few milliseconds of pixel delay (though it shouldn't matter so much since pixel delay isn't the same as input lag, so it only affect the time it takes for a pixel to fully change colour). Even then, the milliseconds' difference is negligible to the human eye. Here's a more detailed guide to the different displays used in gaming monitors. 2. So which display does my 3DS have? If you have a working CFW or have access to homebrew, you can use 3DSident by Joel16 to identify which display hardware version you have. Otherwise, there's another easy way to check, and that's simply to turn on the 3DS and look at the screens from below at an angle. For consoles purchased before 2015, focus on the top screen only, as all lower screens would be TN. For consoles purchased during or after 2015, pay attention to both screens as some consoles have dual-IPS displays. If the dark areas start to look brighter and colours change, then you probably have a TN display. If not much changes in terms of colour, then it's likely an IPS display. The top display on the left is a TN model while the one on the right has an IPS top screen and TN lower screen According to threads on NeoGaf and Reddit, some models of the New 3DS XL have IPS display panels, although without any official word from Nintendo it's hard to eliminate the possibility that other models don't. The IPS N3DS XL models are apparently more common than TN models. Since 2015 however, there have been reports of either top and/or bottom displays having IPS panels for both N3DS and N3DS XL consoles. There was a claim on Reddit that you can tell which model yours is without powering it on by looking at how it's packaged; ones that slide out upwards from the box are supposedly TN while ones from the side are IPS. Again, this cannot be properly verified without official confirmation, which Nintendo probably isn't going to do. There also doesn't seem to be any consistent pattern in TN/IPS trends between the units. You can get either display regardless of region, serial number, time of purchase, or if the 3DS is a special limited edition model or not. Unfortunately this means that you won't be able to determine which display you have before purchase and that the most surefire way to tell is to unbox the console and look at it. 3. So what's the point? This is an interesting little find, since Nintendo never officially advertised IPS as a special feature of the 3DS. If I had to guess, I'd say that the rationale for Nintendo implementing IPS displays in New 3DS XL units would be so that people other than the player would be able to watch the game around the console due to the wider viewing angles. After all, having multiple spectators was one of the main things Nintendo mentioned when first introducing XL models with the DSi. Another reason for selecting XL models only might be because of the larger battery, since IPS displays consume more power and this would compensate for that. As for the N3DS XL models with TN displays, Nintendo could have leftover 4.88" TN display panels from O3DS XL manufacturing and this would be a way of using the remainder stock to minimise wastage of components. However, recent N3DS (small) consoles with IPS panels have been appearing too. Quite why Nintendo went with TN displays when the 3DS first launched is still a bit of a mystery though, since both the DS lite and DSi/XL got dual IPS displays (this may be incorrect, please disregard) so expense doesn't seem like a realistic reason. The only explanation I can think of is the power consumption, with the 3DS already having less-than-stellar battery performance, an IPS display might have made it even worse (especially in 3D mode, where the top screen is essentially acting as two separate displays). 4. Conclusion Whether the 3DS has an IPS display or not shouldn't be a vital issue, since most players won't be gaming with the 3DS at an extreme angle. It does affect the quality of the image, but not to a game-breaking extent. If the image quality does matter that much, Nintendo's fine with you returning your unit and replacing it with a new one as many times as you want so long as it's within your warranty period (some people have done this already) and fingers crossed, you'll get an IPS model instead.