A Japanese magazine has reported that a slimmer version of the Nintendo 3DS could be on shelves by the end of the year.
Speculation about a new version of the handheld formed part of Nikkei Trendy's 2012 preview feature, listed under 'spring' according to Kotaku.
"To increase the 3DS' install base, there's a possibility for a lighter version that address the handheld's weak points, the thickness and the battery life," the magazine reported.
Any new models of the 3DS may also come with a second analogue stick built in, catering for games that are compatible with the Circle Pad Pro - which is due out in the UK on January 27th.
There is historical precedence that supports these rumours. The DS Lite was released in Japan in 2006, a year-and-a-half after the original DS' launch in 2004. 3DS will have been available in Japan for one year in February, making a 2012 3DS Lite perfectly viable.
Last year, Nintendo insisted that there were no plans for a 3DS Lite, assuring consumers that the handheld was "fully packed from the start".