The RG353P is here and its ANBERNIC’s chance to take on the popular PocketGO S30 that was launched back in early 2021, they have used the extra year to really work out the kinks and add a completely new chip in hopes it brings old RK3326 customers back to their library of upcoming consoles.
It’s likely we’ll see more of this chip in future affordable handhelds as it does add an extra performance bump which many of you may be wanting especially if you’re still sitting on the best retro handhelds from 2020 and beyond.
You may also be wondering why I haven’t reviewed the RG503, ANBERNIC’s previous handheld, well, to be completely honest it was beyond terrible and on top of that I have been stacked with writing for our new upcoming book A Handheld History, which is still available to pre-order by the way, it launches in August.
I really wanted to hate the RG353P because of ANBERNIC’s recent history of black-listing creators and the expensive $140 price tag, but I just can’t. Let’s take a look at why this could be a nice little snag for those in love with the handheld’s design.
First of all, it looks as if ANBERNIC has upgraded their packaging, they now have full coloured boxes, along with detailed information regarding the specs and some much needed padding around the console inside.
Nice work ANBERNIC!
When I pulled the device out of the packaging I was surprised at how hefty it was. I originally thought they would use the same mould as the Pocket S30 with some minor adjustments but I was wrong, this is a completely new look and is slightly bigger than the S30 overall.
The handheld gets noticeably bigger towards the top of the shell, allowing for larger battery capacity, bigger shoulder buttons and a mini HDMI port. I will say that its very thick at the top, but the added weight does add to the comfortability when holding it… somehow?
As you can see (from the video above) the bottom is much thinner, allowing space for perfectly located speakers, a headphone jack, and two SD card slots, one for firmware and one for your ROMs. Even though it does thin out towards the bottom I do need to add that this is a thicker than usual handheld, it’s in no way “slim lined”.
On the face you are greeted with a classic SNES aesthetic, not only because of the shell design which replicated the controller, but also the colouring of the buttons and the etched design behind them.
The screen is a 3.5” IPS 640 x 480 touch-screen display, you heard that right, it is infact touch-screen which is a new addition to ANBERNIC’s handhelds, a lovely feature which only seems to work when you’ve loaded up via Android.
The screen itself is bright, highly sensitive to touch which is good, I can’t stand these cheap screens that can’t recognise touch, and it’s the perfect resolution for playing retro games.
This could be the screen we see on future affordable handhelds, if they manage to get it to work on a LinuxOS straight out of the box.
Around the screen you have a wide number of buttons which have been nicely located. For example, the function and power on/off button is on the face, allowing you to quickly get to emulator settings and to put it into sleep mode when you’re not using it.
On the RG353P you’ll also find two analogue sticks, identical to that of the Nintendo Switch in a grey colour that matches the high quality, firm D-PAD.
Overall, I think the design looks nice, it’s nothing revolutionary and there’s little to no innovation involved because it’s been done before, but that doesn’t mean I can’t like it. Due to it’s large, weighty nature it feels great in adults hands, everything is easy to get to and I can play on it for hours on end. However, if you’re buying it for a kid, it may be a little overwhelming and a bit too big.
Then finally on the back you have the infamous ANBERNIC grips on the back to add to its comfortability and to stop it from sliding off desks, it’s a nice feature.
So Brandon, what’s the specs.
- 3.5″ IPS touchscreen display (640 x 480)
- RK3566 Quad-core 1.8ghz CPU
- 2GB RAM
- 3500MAH Battery
- Android 11 or Linux Dual Boot OS
- 5G WiFi
- Bluetooth 4.2
- Stereo Dual Speakers
Well, you’ll be glad to know that this is rocking the new 1.8Ghz quad-core RK3566 chipset which slightly outperforms the old RK3326 chip that we are all so familiar with.
It also packs a hefty 2GB RAM, you can dual boot Android and Linux, it has WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2 plus a 3500mah battery that lasts around about 4 – 5 hours on a single charge depending on what consoles that you are emulating.
So on paper, it’s actually better than most of ANBERNIC’s affordable handheld devices and with the added touch screen display, it seems like a nice step in the right direction.
I personally prefer using the Linux OS without the touchscreen, only because I find the User Interface far more silky and easy to navigate. Don’t get me wrong, Android is great, and you can use the touchscreen, customise the look but in reality I don’t actually use the touchscreen… like at all.
I know a lot of you will but for me, as much as I thought I needed it, when I eventually got a small handheld with a touchscreen I found myself using the buttons anyway, this may be because that’s how I’ve naturally played with consoles over the year, but for me, it feels a little overkill on these small handhelds, especially when it pumps up the price per unit significantly.
But that’s just a personal preference. So, now let’s take a look at gameplay quality. Because it’s my first time reviewing a handheld with this new RK3566 chip I was excited to see what it could do, and as mentioned with previous RK3326 handheld the emulation quality kind of peaks at PS1 and small N64 Games.
But I am happy to confirm that this chipset can in fact play PS1, N64, PSP and most Dreamcast games really well!
This is the chip we needed about 18 months ago in all honesty, but it’s better late than never, right?
N64 ran incredibly well with little to no hiccups and I noticed a big difference between quality compared to the average RK3326 handheld. I then tested some of the best Dreamcast games and went all in with Crazy Taxi 2, in no way did it perform flawlessly and I noticed some slight drops in frame rates but it was still a pleasure to play on.
So I think larger Dreamcast games is the limit for this device seeing as there were minor hiccups. Which to be honest is what I expected from this chip.
All of that power inside this little device is great, as the years go on these smaller handhelds will grow in power which excites me because it’s 2022 and I can play Dreamcast games on a device that fits in my back pocket comfortably.
For your smaller the games the 4:3 display is an absolute pleasure to play on, and I experienced very little problems with crashes, audio bugs or screen tearing.
One of the coolest features when using the Android port is the fact the Nintendo DS games work with the touchscreen, allowing you to use the second screen naturally by using the RG353P’s touch screen capabilities.
This is a huge reason to use Android over Linux, I didn’t even have to set it up, the emulator worked straight out of the box with the touchscreen which I was surprised about because typically these handhelds need a bit of tinkering to work but the RG353P came pre-loaded and key mapped straight out of the box making it very easy to give it as a gift to your friends or family who may be wanting to get hold of a new retro handheld.
Your older games like Gameboy, NES, PS1 and other will work well on here too, it has plenty of RAM to power through older emulation, even PS1 and PSP work well so it makes this handheld a reliable purchase for those that want N64 and Dreamcast emulation without having to tinker around with settings.
The Linux OS is even easier to understand too should you want to give this to a child or someone who perhaps doesn’t want to mess around with the Android UI.
At $140 it is slightly more expensive than your currently RK3326 handhelds, and seeing as the build quality in par, but has the addition of a new touchscreen I do think it’s priced reasonably, which I was surprised with because as mentioned before ANBERNIC has had a bad few months with product launches.
I recommend the RG353P for those that have a RK3326 handheld and want a little power bump with a cool new shell.
Should you buy this primarily for the touchscreen? No, absolutely not I barely use it even if it is a niche feature.
They’ve also designed the product well too, packaging up good build quality, with great comfortability, average battery life and new processor that can handle N64 and most Dreamcast games.
Not bad ANBERNIC, it’s definitely not your best product but you pulled it out of the bag, which is needed because the community and myself thought the death of ANBERNIC was just around the corner.
You saved yourself with the RG353P… for now.
A 29 year old fella that’s had a Gameboy addiction ever since he was a child. Brandon is the founder of RetroDodo and created a YouTube channel with 240,000 subscribers dedicated to retro gaming products. He now wants to create the No.1 site to showcase the latest retro products from around the globe.