ANBERNIC has been on a roll this year, throwing more handhelds out the door than I have had hot dinners.
The first of the year was the original RG35XX, a handheld that I personally didn’t like too much due to its average performance and terrible shoulder buttons.
However, almost 12 months later ANBERNIC revisited this device and created the ANBERNIC RG35XX Plus which I am reviewing today.
This device focuses on more power and better shoulder buttons with the same overall design… it’s as if ANBERNIC are listening…
This is a device that I find hard to hate, at just $65 it’s positioned competitively against many other devices on the market such as the Powkiddy RGB30 and I would say even the Retroid Pocket 2S which is $30 more expensive.
This is a pocket friendly device built for newcomers to the scene who don’t want to faff around with setup, and those who want Dreamcast performance for under $70.
It’s impressive, I’m not going to lie.
Table of Contents
Design & Portability
The ANBERNIC RG35XX Plus is a great size, and fits in the palm of my hand perfectly. It can fit in your pocket for sure, but you may get some funny looks as it’s much thicker than a typical smartphone.
The handheld has been designed to look like a mini version of the original Game Boy, with focus on the grey shell, purple buttons, subtle blue text and the infamous slanted speaker grill at the bottom right corner which I adore.
They do offer other colours such as transparent black and white should the grey not tickle your fancy.
Half of the face is taken up by the 3.5” IPS display that has a resolution of 640 x 480, making it perfect for retro games, and they’ve even kept the bezels small to keep it sleek and modern… nobody likes bezels in 2023, right?
Althought it’s not touchscreen, buts thats not needed in a device like this, and that would have jacked up the price considerably!
The screen is beautiful, there’s no denying it, the viewing angles are great, the brightness strong enough to play comfortably outside and the colours are incredibly vibrant, it’s a great screen that ANBERNIC use in many of their recent devices.
Below that you will find your buttons. At the top you have your MENU button that quickly pops up the main retroarch menu in game, allowing you to save your game, load states, change settings and simply organize your games or get back to the main console menu.
This makes it very easy for newcomers to get to grips with.
The D-PAD used is one of the best on the market, if you’ve read our other ANBERNIC reviews you’ll know that I am a big fan of this D-PAD, it’s strong, reliable and flexible enough for fighting games.
The action buttons are fairly small, and high gloss which I don’t like. I respect this as a personal preference, it just means I can’t snack and play or it’s like playing with butter.
The start and select buttons are at the bottom, again just like the original Game Boy. These are not rubber, they are in fact plastic and sit nicely out of the shell making them easy to press unlike some handhelds on the market that make it near impossible to press easily.
The speaker volume is nothing to shout about and is slightly obstructed, but enough to get you by. I guess this is the repercussions of following the Game Boy design closely.
At the top you have LED lights to indicate battery life, and a mini HDMI out that allows you to connect to a TV, and because it has bluetooth you can actually pair up a wireless controller to, allowing it to act as a portable retro console, even if it is cumbersome to set up and some controllers require a lot of initial setup/mapping.
At the sides you will find your on/off button, a reset button, two SD card slots, a headphone jack, a USB-C port for charging and your volume buttons.
On the back your four “new” shoulder buttons. They say new, but in reality it’s just different moulds. They are a little thicker than the previous ones and far more comfortable, so it’s a welcome upgrade and a much needed one at that.
You can now get to the battery compartment too, should you want to change out the 3300MAH battery. The battery life is great on this device and can last up to 7 hours on one charge, however the sleep mode doesn’t work as well as I’d like and drains a fair amount overnight, so I recommend turning it off completely when you’re done with it.
All of that is wrapped up in a great quality shell, with no loose components so it feels sturdy in the hand and strong enough to take drops and scuffs when transporting it.
Size wise it anything smaller and it would become a little uncomfortable for long periods of time, and any bigger it wouldn’t be pocketable, so in my opinions it’s a perfect sized vertical pocket friendly handheld.
ANBERNIC RG35XX Plus Specifications
- 1.5Ghz H700 Quad-Core ARM Cortext-A52
- Dual-Core G31 MP2 CPU
- 1GB RAM
- 3.5” IPS Display (640 x 480)
- 3300 MAH Battery
- 5G Wifi & Bluetooth
- HDMI Out
The extra CPU power, 4 x the RAM and more battery life is a much welcomed upgrade to this pocketable and affordable device.
But what does that mean in terms of performance? The selling point for this is that it was rumored to play Dreamcast games at great frame rates, and I am happy to confirm that this is true.
This can play Dreamcast games incredibly well with very little hiccups, which is great because that’s typically my limit on a 3.5” screen, any console newer and you’re going to want a 16:9 screen at atleast 5” in size otherwise you’re restricting gameplay quality.
I tested PSP emulation which is typically on the same level as Dreamcast, but those types of games require a much bigger screen and I found through my testing that the larger PSP games did not perform flawlessly, there was a little bit of slow down, and audio cracking which is a shame as it could of rounded of the performance nicely, but on most PSP games you can get a pleasant experience, it’s whether or not you can live with a little slow down that’s all.
Nintendo DS works well if you’re happy to switch between screens, Gameboy Advance is perfect on a device like this, Playstation 1 works really well on a 3.5” screen combined with a thick D-PAD. SEGA’s consoles such as the Game Gear and Mega Drive look stunning thanks to the colorful display which rounds it off with a bunch of incredible consoles in the palm of your hand with great emulation quality.
However, my issue is getting into those games. The front end installed here is down right terrible and devalues the whole console.
ANBERNIC are renowned for being lazy with the software that they install on their devices, and this is a prime example. They expect the retro gaming community to do their dirty work and this is why many prefer GoRetroid’s products, as they pre-build their Android OS for newcomers whereas ANBERNIC does not.
Don’t get me wrong the front end is incredibly easy to navigate, but it’s boring, looks outdated and is incredibly basic. Basic is not a word ANBERNIC wants associated with this device as it’s superb in every other field.
They made a smart decision to use RetroArch, but ruined the gaming experience with a basic UI. ANBERNIC should be disappointed with themselves here and I hope they do better in the future.
In terms of adding your own ROM’s it’s fairly easy, there’s an extra SD Card for you to use, so use that for your files, and then jump into retroarch to find your ROMs.
But, I will admit, my units came pre-loaded with thousands of games. It is not guaranteed ANBERNIC will ship yours with ROMs, it’s typically hit and miss.
Syncing up bluetooth and Wifi is just as easy, a press of the menu button when on the homepage will allow you to set that up.
The ANBERNIC RG35XX Plus is one of the best handhelds they have released all year.
It matches power, with portability at a price tag that not many competitors can copy, making it a super retro gaming gift for yourself our friends that are new to the scene.
The crispy screen with small bezels looks stunning and even though the user interface is a shambles, it’s easy to navigate allowing you to jump into games quickly.
PSP emulation is hit an miss, but Dreamcast and below is close to flawless on this thing which is incredible seeing as its just $65.
If you’re looking for one of the best retro handhelds of the year… this is it.
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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.