As you may have noticed, the crew here at Retro Dodo are quite the fans of retro gaming consoles. It’s kind of our bread and butter. It’s a big part of our brand.
And generally speaking, most of the best retro handheld game consoles in the last two or three years have been Linux based operating systems.
But we have seen an overwhelming wave of new consoles that run on an Android operating system, opening up many new opportunities for gamers.
When you run a retro game console on Android, it is literally the same operating system that some of us use on our cell phones.
So let’s take a look at the best Android Handheld Games consoles of the year!
1. AYN Odin Pro
Let’s just get the most obvious one out of the way first.
The AYN Odin handheld console is one of our absolute favorites to come out in the year.
It’s a super capable console that can run both Windows and Android operating systems. Oh, and it’s also super cool looking and incredibly comfortable in the hands. So.. kinda perfect?
The Qualcomm Snapdragon SD845 CPU, Ardeno 630 GPU, and 8GB RAM means you can emulate up to the 128-bit era of games consoles.
Yeah, it’s gonna start to reach into PS2 and GameCube emulation.. something we have been hungry for in a handheld game console for the past few years.
The console comes with a gorgeous 6″ LCD Touchscreen Display running at 1920 x 1080…
So both Windows and Android are gonna be awesome with standard button navigation, or just tapping and swiping your way around the OS.
Using Android based emulation programs and even streaming higher end games… this thing is an absolute dream.
Coming in at just under $300, it’s actually quite astonishing what you can do with this thing… and we have been in love with the AYN Odin since it hit our desk earlier this year.
We’ve said it a hundred times now, and this won’t be the last…
We highly recommend the Odin for [insert any reason you want here], and it’s an obvious addition to our list of best Android handheld games consoles of 2023.
Don’t be surprised if you see it in the top 3 of the year.
2. Retroid Pocket 2S
One of the best retro handhelds under $100. It can emulate most of your retro games up to and including Gamecube games, with great build quality all while running on Android 11.
- Up To Gamecube Emulation
- Easy To Setup
- Great Build Quality & Comfortability
- Big Screen Bezels
Even though visually it hasn’t changed much, when you look closer it’s basically a whole new handheld, and one that’s really impressed us.
It features a 3.5″ Touch Screen Display, with a T610 CPU, 4GB RAM, 4000MAH Battery and runs on Android 11.
Some of the biggest changes are the new welcome hall joysticks, analogue shoulder buttons, start/select buttons and a PS-VITA like DPAD, adding to the retro feel of the device.
It’s incredibly easy to setup using GoRetroid’s custom installer, even installing all of the need emulators for you straight off the bat!
We tested a wide range of different games, from Gameboy, NES, Playstation 1, PSP, Nintendo DS, Dreamcast and even Gamecube games, all working really well.
That’s right, if you buy the 4GB RAM version at $119, this thing will run Gamecube games very well.
It starts to struggle with large Nintendo Wii games and Playstation 2 games, so we don’t reccomend this for anyone wanting PS2 emulation, you’ll need more power for that.
Overall, this is a superb handheld, and it’s starting price is just $99, making it one of the best affordable handhelds of 2023.
GoRetroid have been nailing it this year, and you’ll see more of their products on this list for a reason!
3. ANBERNIC RG405M
The RG405M is one of ANBERNIC’s best handhelds to date, combining a high quality metal body with great specs that allow you to play most of your retro games in style.
It features a 4″ touch screen display (640 x 480), Unisoc T618 2GHZ CPU, 4GB RAM, 4500MAH battery and Android 12.
It’s a flawless machine, priced at $169 respectfully. The metal frame gives it durability, making it a reliable handheld to take with you on long adventures.
The 4″ screen is a nice addition, making larger consoles such as PSP, Dreamcast and Gamecube games look that little bit better.
Performance wise, it’s pretty good too, we tried testing a wide range of PS2 games and was surprised to say that some worked really well, but it’s once you start playing larger PS2 games that this thing starts to struggle.
But that said, this is currently the best handheld to run Gamecube games well if you want build quality as your top priority, combined with Android 12 it can play a host of your favourite android games too!
But be warned, once you go metal, it’s hard to go back!
4. AYANEO Pocket Air
As of updating this article the AYANEO Pocket Air is not yet released, but is soon to be going live on Indiegogo using a crowdfunding campaign.
AYANEO are well known for creating high-end portable gaming PC’s, for example we have reviewd the AYANEO 2 and it’s phenomenal, however it’s a little overkill for Android Gaming, especially the price.
But AYANEO are currently diving into Android Gaming, creating the Pocket AIR to please retro gaming fans.
They are using the same design, and shell as the original AYANEO Air which we have also reviewed, so we know exactly how this will feel in the hand and we can confirm that’s incredible comfortable.
This time, they’re adding a MediaTek Dimensity 1200 CPU, a bunch of RAM, a 5.5″ 1080p AMOLED display, hall joysticks, a cooling system, 7350MAH Battery and the latest version of Android.
It’s going to be an absolute powerhouse, all crammed into a modern, sleek and light formfactor that you can play on for hours on end.
It’s one to keep an eye out for, trust us!
5. Retroid Pocket Flip
The Retroid Pocket Flip was a concept that we quickly hopped on board for when it started being teased by GoRetroid in 2022.
Clamshell emulation devices have been attempted in the past (such as the last device on this list). But none quite matched the nostalgic feeling of a Game Boy SP or Nintendo DS in your hands. Something that felt like a Nintendo handheld.
Well we are happy to say that GoRetroid has nearly reached that level of instant nostalgic happiness in a handheld with their Pocket Flip.
The internal hardware of the Retroid Pocket Flip is identical to the Retroid Pocket 3+. Which means it’s rocking a T618 CPU that can play everything up to Game Cube and PS2.
It also features the same 4.7 inch Touch Screen. Except it is now protected during travel by that awesome clamshell design.
Admittedly, a lot of us who picked up the Flip didn’t quite love the stoppers used to prevent the clamshell from opening up all the way. And these do tend to suffer some cracking if you are rough on the device.
But that’s a weird complaint to have about a device you spent $160 on. You should be a little more delicate with it, even if it does look like a child’s toy. So that’s on us.
Overall, in the Retroid Pocket Flip, you’re gonna get the familiar feeling of a GoRetroid device with a few adjustments to the configuration to deliver a unique clamshell emulator.
And while we do have our complaints, this is easily one of our most played handhelds of 2023, and will definitely be near the top of our list for the year.
6. Logitech G Cloud
The Logitech G Cloud is Logitech’s first attempt at securing cloud gamers in handheld form using a custom version of Android OS.
Although we were hesitant to review it because of the cloud based nature of the device, it surprised us and we ranked it 7/10 in our full review.
Cloud gaming worked flawlessly on it, from testing Steam Link to smashing out Halo on Xbox Cloud Gaming it was a pleasant experience that allowed me to jump in a game within seconds of pulling it out of the box.
The large 7″ screen was a delight to plan on, and matched with the high build quality an impeccable 9 hour of battery life, it really is a unique handheld that impressed me.
It can even emulate your best PS2 games, Nintendo Wii games and PSP games in 16:9 incredibly well. However Gamecube games do struggle on this.
If you’re looking for a Android handheld that uses cloud gaming as it’s primary selling point with a dash of emulation then this maybe for you.
But just remember, you will need a good internet connection to get good quality from cloud gaming services.
7. Razer Edge
The Razer Edge came to us in 2023 with a surprising amount of power for a device we thought was simply another controller attachment for a phone.
This Android-based handheld was actually an entirely custom unit that does feature a removable Kishi V2 Pro controller. But don’t let that fool you; this thing was made to game!
The Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 CPU means that this is a device that can comfortably play up to Game Cube and PS2 on a beautiful 6.8-inch 144Hz AMOLED display.
The Edge also competes well with cloud-based handhelds, and will easily deliver current gen content from Steam Link, Playstation Plus, and Xbox Cloud Gaming.
With a starting price of $399, this is incredibly cheap for a “cell phone”, but a little more than some of the competing devices like the Logitech G Cloud.
But if the concept of a removable controller to allow for the Edge to double as a home tablet is interesting to you, this handheld’s power more than makes up for the slight price premium.
8. MOQI i7s
Have you guys ever heard of the MOQI i7s? No? To be fair, we hadn’t either until researching for this article.
One of the reasons we hadn’t heard of it is because it actually came out way back in 2019, when retro game consoles and Android gaming consoles were sort of in their infancy.
And that is part of what makes the i7s so incredible. It was one of the earliest examples of a super high end device that was made specifically for mobile gaming.
With stats like the Qualcomm SDM710 Snapdragon 710, Octa-core (2×2.2 GHz Kryo 360 Gold & 6×1.7 GHz Kryo 360 Silver) paired with Adreno 616 CPU running on Android 8…
It all sounds a bit under powered if we compare it to other devices on this list.
But it’s important to remember that this handheld was released in 2019, so those stats were pretty great at the time.
And the MOQI i7s is quite beautiful!
Sharing DNA with both modern cell phones and handheld game consoles, the i7s is a high end device made with aesthetics in mind.
Both packaging and the device itself were on par with the best cell phones to be released at that time. But this one was made with gaming in mind!
We can only speculate its gaming capabilities were it to be used today, but it would be safe to say it can handle all of the retro game emulation up to the 32-bit era easily, and a lot of great Android mobile games that were available a couple years ago.
It was really awesome to discover this early Android gaming device that could still easily be used today for some awesome retro game play, if you can get your hands on one.
9. Retroid Pocket 2+
The Retroid Pocket 2 was our number one favorite gaming console of 2020, topping our list of the best consoles of the year.
So when we heard news of the Retroid Pocket 2+, we were quite impressed with what Retroid gave to the gaming community:
Take an already incredible console… beef up its performance, and address all of the requests from users of the previous iteration.
They totally reworked the internal board of the console, upgrading to the much more powerful Unisoc Quad-core Tiger T310 chipset.
Needless to say, this boosted emulation performance quite a bit, so Dreamcast and PSP game play is gonna be super silky smooth.
And of course, we finally got a touch-screen on the Retroid Pocket (it felt like an obvious miss in the previous iteration of the Retroid Pocket 2).
So any shortcomings of the original Retroid Pocket 2 console (all of which we could easily look past) were totally eliminated in the new version.
And all of this and still a $99 price tag.
There’s a reason Retroid is one of our absolute favorite console makers in 2023… quality product, fair price model, and it feels like they are listening to the community and addressing their wants.
So we are happy to show them support and include them on our list of the best Android handheld games consoles. We imagine they will likely be on most of our lists in the coming years.
Anbernic’s latest console offering comes literally weeks after their previous one (with another one incoming any day now).
The Chinese console manufacturer has moved away from their previous reputation for quality, and has gone to the dark side: focusing on quantity and dollars.
While we have been quite vocal about our complaints on the new direction of the company we used to think of as the best in the scene…
We can’t deny that their new RG353P is actually a pretty decent console.
In fact, if it didn’t have the Anbernic logo on it, we would probably give it even more credit.
If you can look past the fact that this new console is basically their upgraded concept of the PocketGO S30 from 2021 (literally copying the box design and all)… what exactly do we have in the RG353P?
Well.. you got a pretty capable retro console that is inspired by the SNES home console controller.
The RG353 comes with a 3.5” IPS 640 x 480 touch-screen display. So we finally have a touch-screen Anbernic console, which pairs perfectly with the Android operating system.
To answer your question: Yes… that means you can play Fruit Ninja on it.
And finally finally finally.. we are seeing the trend moving away from the all too familiar RK3326 chipset, and we are getting the more powerful RK3566 Quad-core 1.8ghz CPU chip.
With the community driven improvements to the software, we now see emulation performance mostly on par with the RG353P’s closest competition, the Retroid Pocket 2+.
So if these are the two consoles you have been considering for your collection, the choice perhaps could come down to the $40 price difference and aesthetics.
We want to hate on Anbernic until they give us what we want in the Vertical Series (a dang metal shell RG351V)…
But we do have to admit that the RG353P could be considered a positive on their overall scorecard, or at worst a neutral offering.
We could also recommend the RG552… but we don’t wanna. There you have it, the best Android Handheld Games Consoles of 2023!
11. Powkiddy X18S
The Powkiddy X18S is one of the more unique console designs to make an appearance on this list. (It’s also the only one that didn’t come in black.)
The X18S has clear influences from 2000s-era device aesthetics… such as the Game Boy Advance SP, and even classic cell phones and personal digital assistant devices.
While the externals could be thought of as “old”, the internal are anything but.
With a 2GHZ Unisoc T618 8-Core Processor, Mali G52 MPG PU, 4GB RAM, and a giant 5.5″ 720P Touch Screen IPS Display… this thing packs some impressive tech.
All of that means near flawless Dreamcast, N64 and PSP emulation on Android 11, making the X18S a worthy option in the world of Android gaming devices.
If you’re a fan of that oldschool 2000s aesthetic, and want a device that can handle all of your retro emulation needs up to the 64-bit era… the Powkiddy X18S has got you.
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Anthony has been a video game lover ever since he can remember. He became a fulltime nomad in 2018, living throughout most of Asia. He focused his passion in retro gaming and began creating a game for the Game Boy Color while living in Nara, Japan during the 2020 pandemic. He is now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he spends most of his time gaming, going on long walks and meeting as many stray dogs as possible.