So I know Devo was thinking "ugh now the New 3DS Regular is out and that's the one with customizable face plates" and of course Nintendo didn't release that here last year. But then they did. For me, the face plates weren't so much what I was after, but I thought the regular size might show less individual pixels and look sharper than the New 3DS XL, which has the same resolution but on a larger screen.
Now, the main thing to remember here is that previous to me buying a New 3DS XL on release date, I only had a Nintendo DS original before that. So for me, I skipped the Lite, DSi, and 3DS altogether. I had nothing really to compare it to and my eyes weren't used to constantly looking at a regular 3DS screen all the time to know that going to an XL size might be absolutely horrible.
The good news was...it wasn't. I think I fired it up, went "ah, yep I can see some individual pixels if I look closely" for like 2 seconds, and then never thought about it again and had an absolute blast with the games I've played (Mario Kart 7, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Smash 3DS, Link Between Worlds, and Tri Force Heroes). They're all amazing and look fantastic on the XL size, and honestly, I think I prefer having the bigger screen because they were surprisingly immersive for a handheld and lots of fun.
Now again, I never had a first gen 3DS, so I have no idea how the speed compares. But the loading times aren't bad at all, and time to switch between apps seems quite reasonable, so processing power is clearly quite nice. The other thing I noticed was that the face tracking to keep the 3D aligned with your vision is actually really nice. I did try Devo's 3DS original a couple times before jumping on the 3DS bandwagon, and I noticed right away that wow, I really need to be looking at that thing dead on and holding it still. With the New 3DS XL, it's extremely flexible to be holding it at almost any angle I want, making it extremely easy to play sitting or lying down, and if I look away for a few moments and look back, it locks on to your eyes and adjusts surprisingly fast, very fast. One feature I have yet to use though...is the C stick. It's there, but I don't think I've actually used it in a game once.