If the Nintendo 3DS XL 2015 directional pad is malfunctioning or not working at all, this replacement guide will help you fix the problem.

Ensure your device is powered off before proceeding. Failure to do so may result in electrical shock or damage to the device.
  • Ensure your device is powered off before proceeding. Failure to do so may result in electrical shock or damage to the device.

  • Place the 3DS upside down. Remove the game card, headphones, charging cable, stylus, or anything else that may be connected to the device.

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Using a JIS #0 screwdriver, loosen the two black screws on the back.
  • Using a JIS #0 screwdriver, loosen the two black screws on the back.

    • The screws are held in place by captive washers and should not be completely removed.

My experience indicates that a JIS #1 is more appropriate here.

John Menden - Reply

  • Once the screws are loosened, pry open the back cover.

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  • The battery is located on the left hand side of the 3DS - to remove, use the small gap located at the top-middle and pull up with a pointed tool.

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  • Using a JIS #000 screwdriver, remove the six 6mm screws around the edges of the secondary cover.

I used a #00 instead it works better for a model form 2016

matthewmccreary10 - Reply

  • Using tweezers, carefully pop out the rubber bumpers located at the top side of the 3DS. Removing them will reveal another two 6mm screws. Remove these screws using a JIS #000 as well.

Can the rubber bumpers be replaced once you reassemble the 3DS? I'd really hate to have to take them out and never be able to put them back in, if I'm honest...

Taylor Prince - Reply

Yep, we were able to put them back in quite easily after repeated teardowns! If they ever refused to stay in for some reason, you could always put a little bit of something sticky on them. (I use scrapbooking tape on my laptop's bumpers.)

Zoe Cagle -

What happens if I strip one of these screws? How hard would into be to remove them?

Thomas Ciavattone - Reply

very hard. i stripped 4 screws on my new 3ds xl and i haven’t been able to get them out. i even bought the precision screw extrator set and nothing the set sucked.

marco martinez - Reply

  • To separate the cover, carefully lift it up and away from the hinges (in order to clear the headphone port), then pivot it towards the hinges to expose the circuit boards.

    • Don't fully remove the cover yet, or you may damage the delicate ribbon cable that still connects it to the motherboard.

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  • Use a pair of tweezers to lift away the two plugs that latch the L/R/ZL/ZR button ribbons to the motherboard. You can now remove the back cover completely and set it aside.

I discovered that there is enough clearance to slide the Game Cartridge Slot assembly out without removing the motherboard. Just remove the two connectors going to the Cartridge Slot assembly and take out the 3 screws holding it down. There were two screws that look like they are holding the assembly down, but they are only holes through the assembly and don’t actually hold it down. At least on the Pokemon version, New 3DS XL that I had.

Reed Deemer - Reply

  • Using tweezers, gently pull the gray clamp underneath the circle pad ribbon connector upwards from the right side. Then slide the ribbon out of the ZIF connector.

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  • Using a JIS #000 screwdriver, remove the two 8 mm screws securing the circle pad.

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  • Lift the circle pad casing upward to remove it. There will be some friction, but it should not require excessive force.

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  • Locate the gold terminal plug with a red cable at the top left of the motherboard. Using your fingers, carefully pull the plug straight upward to remove.

  • Use a pair of tweezers to disconnect the single ribbon connector.

  • Don't do what we did -- be very careful not to pull on the red cable.

MDR j'avais vu cette erreur il y a un petit moment... et vous pouvez ajouter, ne pas casser le connecteur comme sur la photo !

Sylvain Delreux - Reply

Use a spudger to remove the red cable plug.

Luis Leon - Reply

  • Using tweezers, gently pull the five marked ribbons out of the ZIF connectors along the sides of the motherboard.

    • Note that these ZIF connectors are held in place by friction and do not have locks -- lifting the flaps on these connectors will break them!

  • Three of the ribbon connectors have plastic clamping flaps that cover the ribbon to prevent slippage. Use the tweezers to flip them up before ribbon removal.

  • When reassembling the device, be sure to flip the ZIF clamps back down.

  • While the SD card reader is shown as removed in this photo, it is optional for the removal of the motherboard.


Can you pls inform me the purpose of the topmost red marked ZIF transparent flex cable, I wish to repair my N3DS XL but I am missing this flex cable (for which part is this cable relevant).


Khusro - Reply

I don't have the model on me for reference, but if I remember correctly, it's for the bottom screen.

Zoe Cagle -

I think it should be noted that the upper most ZIF is incorrectly labelled here as one to remove with tweezers and not to try to open the clamp. I did this recently and have now broken my brand new 3ds. This cable is for the digitizer at the front of the bottom screen. So my touch screen no longer works. I now need to carry out a further repair. Just a heads up.

Simon Lyell - Reply

Accurate. I have to purchase a new digitizer because of this. I tore the conductors in the cable removing it from the ZIF connector. And I’m really very angry that no correction has been made in the almost 9 months since you posted.

Sabs Like Labs -

Sabs Like Labs, can you please share a picture of your connector ? last time I dismounted one I had no problems with this connector but maby there are different versions ?

Guillaume Blas -

Zoe, I don’t suppose you would know what part to search for to replace one of these lock-less friction connectors? Before this article posted I partially broke one of mine thinking it had a lock and would like to replace it. The old one still works but I have to fiddle with it to get a good connection now. The one I broke is nearest to the cartridge socket.

Arie Beugelsdijk - Reply

&&^& all those tutoriel now is just break my new 3ds &&^& you internet

xavier delfini - Reply

I broke my connectors the little gray pieces broke not the touch screen and the joy stick are broken.

mcoughlin625 - Reply

Wish I’d read the comments first, messed up this connection pretty bad too.

bajah - Reply

  • Using a JIS #000 screwdriver, remove six 4mm screws along the edges of the motherboard.

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  • Carefully pivot the motherboard 90 degrees toward the hinges to reveal two more ZIF connectors on the underside of the motherboard.

  • Both have latches that must be flipped up. The left, longer latch is black; the right, shorter one is white. Flip up the flaps, slide the ribbons out and remove the motherboard.

    • Note which way the ribbons slide into their connectors carefully, as they are different.

9-15 aren't necessary at all. Its a super easy fix step 16 is sufficient.

Javier Rodriguez - Reply

I think you might be confused; this is a guide for replacing the motherboard, not the entire bottom half of the unit.

Zoe Cagle -

The top says this is a guide for the directional pad though

Jimmy -

Oh! Apologies; I didn't realize iFixit duplicated comments for duplicate steps. The message alert directed me to the motherboard replacement guide. Whoops.

Anyway, as I recall, the card reader was more safely and easily removed once the motherboard was out of the way. But I agree that it was likely doable without. Thank you for the input!

Zoe Cagle -

What does changing the motherboard do, is it if u like bricked your system or what?

Josh TRW - Reply

  • Remove five 5mm screws from the game card reader panel using a JIS #000 screwdriver.

  • The game card reader can now be removed and replaced.

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  • Using the JIS #000, remove four 3mm screws from the square panel.

  • Remove the panel by lifting it upward.

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  • Pry off the gray rubber covering.

  • Take out the directional pad using tweezers and replace.

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To reassemble your device, follow these instructions in reverse order.

3 other people completed this guide.

Thomas Cho

Member since: 04/02/2015

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Cal Poly, Team 24-4, Lancaster Spring 2015 Member of Cal Poly, Team 24-4, Lancaster Spring 2015


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FYI: Under Tools you state a Philips #000 is needed but in the instructions you have JIS #000.

Austin Merkes - Reply

Submitted an edit! I corrected some of the bit sizes in the instructions as well (in our repair, a #00 was never used).

Zoe Cagle -

FYI: Under Step 13, you missed 1 ribbon cable that also needs to be detached in order for the motherboard to be separated. It is the tiny IC housed in a small PCB near the bottom left of the C-Stick. In fact, this little ribbon gets separated and reattached throughout your guide pictures starting with step 8. Here is a link to the ribbon in question (Note: Pic borrwed from Step 12 which highlights the red cable. Look for my lighter arrow which shows the missing ribbon):

Joe - Reply

Thanks for the tip! The ribbon cable has been added to Step 12. Feel free to edit it to add anything specific about the procedure.

Geoff Wacker -

Total lack of information in these fix instructions about the new black zif connectors. The ones we have all be used to for years are mention in detail (eg. the one for the toddle stick). But nothing about the new ones that supply the home button, mic etc. I have today totally wrecked a customer’s new 3DS XL as a direct result of following this guide. As these new zifs were not mentioned I thought (stupidly) they should just be flipped up but obviously this destroys them. Whoever makes these guides would know these clips to be a problem but neglected to warn would be fixers about them (was it deliberate as I cannot think why you would neglect such a crucial fact). I am still not sure how they operate -. Yours felling stupid for trusting ifix and also very let down.

esmall23 - Reply

Apologies; I'm neither an iFixit employee nor do I usually fiddle with circuitboards.

That said, you'll notice that there was a warning about these ZIF connectors on step 13. I've moved the warning to the topmost bullet and added more detailed information concerning the connectors. Let me know if you have any questions!

Zoe Cagle -

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