This is the RG353PS, ANBERNIC’s new budget retro handheld that’s sub $100 and targets those that want comfortability, a handheld that kinda looks like a SNES controller and the ability to play retro games up to the best Dreamcast games.
They released the “RG353P” version a year ago, but have now upgraded it to the “S” model with a little bit more power and a slightly more compelling $85 price tag.
But is it just another long named handheld that you’ll forget in two weeks, or is worth picking up?
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First of all, I like to take a look at the design, and at first glimpse you’ll be very familiar with how it looks if you’re a retro gamer, as it takes inspiration from the original SNES controller and rumours have it that a member from the 8BITDO design team worked on the previous model design… which I can absolutely see now.
The bottom of the RG353PS is slightly slimmer than the top, adding a natural slant to the device when playing which is very welcome, this also allows for larger than usual shoulder buttons to accompany the rounded design, making it an incredibly comfortable device to play on for long periods of time.
On the face you will find a very bright 3.5” IPS display with a resolution of 640 x 480, perfect for retro gaming, this grey version hides the bezels very well as the glass display features the classic DMG graphics.
The screen is so bright that I found myself using it outdoors, which isn’t something I can say about all of my handhelds. There’s really not much to dislike about this screen, apart from the fact it’s not touchscreen but that’s much of an issue as its using a custom Linux OS and not Android which kinda requires it.
Surrounding the screen, you will find your well located, thick buttons which again, help with comfortability. On the left you will find ANBERNIC’s signature D-PAD which is one of the best on the field right now, it’s large, has good direction, and is visually pleasing.
You’ll also find your select button, and your function button, this function button acts as a quick menu so you can jump into emulation settings easily, allowing you to save games, change games and tweak your performance.
Then on each side you have your analogue sticks, which sit slightly inside of the shell to help with portability, and to place it into your pocket without snagging. These are nice sticks, but they decided not to make them hall joysticks like the RG405M because they likely wanted to cut back costs to keep this under $100.
The ABXY buttons are some of my favourites too, they’re thick, feature nice large lettering, and sit on comfortable bouncy membranes.
The colouring is perfect too, matching the whole Gameboy vibe, i believe this is the best colourway of the bunch, it’s a great looking handhelds, there’s no denying it.
On top you will be greeted with your long shoulder buttons, this press down, instead going back like traditional flared shoulder buttons, and are very comfortable to rest your fingers on.
Between that you have two USB-C ports, a reset button, your mini-HDMI out and volume. buttons. At the bottom, two SD-card slots, one for the OS and one for your ROM’s, a perfectly placed headphone jack and dual stereo speakers on each side, away from your hands.
When you flip over the handheld you will find two rubber pads that stop your device from sliding off tables, and to give you some ezra grip when playing, even though only one of my fingers actually touches it when holding the device.
Overall, it’s a very good looking device, and it does catch your eye when next to most other retro handhelds on the market, as it has that rounded approach when everything else has stayed traditional, it’s also one of the most comfortable small handhelds to play on too, it sits naturally in your palms, almost like it was designed just for my hands.
When you turn on the RG353PS you will be greeted with the standard, and very basic Linux OS, here you can glide through the consoles, and select which ROM files you wan to play on, and it will automatically load up the emulator for you, with already mapped out keys, allowing you to play games straight out of the box.
This ease of use, combined with the affordable price tag and comfortability straight out of the box is what makes it a great choice for newcomers to the scene, or as a gift to a friend that wants to play their old games, and that’s where ANBERNIC wants to situate this device, and it makes more sense when you look at the specs.
- 1.8GHZ RK3566 Quad-core CPU
- Mali-G52 MP2 GPU
- 1GB RAM
- 3500MAH Battery
If that sounds a little complicated, it means that this can emulate most of your retro games up to and including Dreamcast games with little issues and you can do that for up to 5 hours on a single charge thanks to the 3500MAH battery.
Because it has a 4:3 display, many of your classics will look stunning on this thing, and the bright screen gives them new life.
But where I find the RG353PS to perform at its best is Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast games, this is why you would buy this device. Paying $85 for this amount of power, in a comfortable and high quality build quality is why I would recommend this device.
It runs these games so well, with no emulation hiccups, great audio quality and on a super bright screen that you can use outside.
You can even dabble into some Nintendo DS games too, should you not mind switching between the single screens every minute or so.
It’s a hard handheld to hate.
There is plenty of competition on the market, but typically they are more expensive, the closest is the Retroid Pocket 3+, which does have a bit more power, a bigger screen and better battery life, but you’re paying extra for that.
Then next is the new Miyoo Mini+ coming in at the same price, but with less power and a totally different design, so the RG353PS is currently playing in its own field at this moment in time which makes it desirable for many handheld collectors.
But that said, there’s nothing innovative about this product, it’s the same as before with just a little spec bump, and because there’s so much competition to choose from i think ANBERNIC are going to struggle to find an audience for this because its likely that you and others already have something in your collection that can emulate N64 and Dreamcast games well.
If you are new to the scene and want one of the best retro handhelds under $100 this is certainly in the top 5 and you won’t regret snagging one, however, if you already have something that can emulate those games, I do not recommend picking it up, or maybe wait a few months to see if the price reduces in an upcoming sale.
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A 31 year old British fella that’s had a Gameboy ever since he was a child. Brandon is the founder of RetroDodo and has created a YouTube channel with 260,000 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.