The handheld gaming market is seriously starting to pop, but what are the best retro handhelds?
This is a question we get asked a lot, so we’ve put together a list showing off our favourite consoles that fit in the palm of your hand.
Now before we go anywhere, the handhelds we are talking about are emulators. That means handheld consoles that use ROMS to emulate old retro games, so there’s no 3DS or PSP being featured here.
Why are people interested in the best retro handhelds? Well, it’s simple. Retro gaming enthusiasts want more old games in their pocket, and they don’t want the hassle of having to buy them.
After all, who wants to take extra cartridges around with them or wait 20 minutes in a coffee shop for games to download?
We’ve all purchased numerous copies of Pokemon Red, so why should we buy it again? You may even still have the cartridge but don’t want to carry around your giant Gameboy DMG everywhere with you to play it!
So here is the ultimate list showcasing the best retro handhelds so that you can get your dosage of nostalgia whenever and wherever you please.
The Steam Deck is an all-round gaming behemoth, with the ability to emulate almost every retro console of the past.
The RG353M is one of the best affordable handhelds on the market, with a metal shell and the ability to play Dreamcast games, it’s an absolute juggernaut.
By far the best portable handheld on the market, and it’s priced under $70 which is impressive because it can emulate Playstation 1 games too.
1. Miyoo Mini
Miyoo Mini is a new mini handheld that was released towards the tail end of 2021, and we managed to receive ours in January 2022.
As soon as we pulled the handheld out of the box it felt as if it was meant to be in our best retro handhelds list. The small nature of it, alongside the subtle Gameboy DMG features makes it feel like a genuine Nintendo Gameboy Mini.
The Miyo Mini features a 1.2GHZ CPU, 128MB RAM, a 2.8″ IPS display (640 x 480) and 1900mah’s of battery. On paper this is nothing special, but its a modern chip inside which allows this little thing to emulate Playstation games fairly well!
On the back it features four mini flared shoulder buttons that work well, and the screen is incredibly crispy due to the high resolution, but do take into consideration that the screen has a hazy look to it, but doesn’t really affect gameplay at all.
The firmware is a little basic but it’s incredibly easy to use, so easy in fact that we are certain you could give this to a kid and they would understand how to quickly get into games and tweak settings on the fly.
Overall it’s one of the best mini handhelds on our list, it packs a punch, looks like a mini Gameboy and is built to last. It’s one of Miyoo’s first branded handhelds, which could make them a brand to keep an eye on in the future, for example the rumoured Miyoo P60 that they may launch this year.
Update: As of mid May 2022 they have released Version 2 which comes with a couple of small upgrades. This has also increased demand, making it harder to find in stock.
ANBERNIC are renowned for creating high end affordable handhelds, and even though they had a rough time launching big selling devices throughout 2022, their latest handheld the RG353M has been one of their best handhelds to date.
A metal shell meets the RK3566 CPU, a chipset that can emulate Dreamcast games, and that’s exactly what this device can do.
The RG353M runs on either the Android or Linux operating system, featuring 2GB’s RAM, a 1.8GHZ processor, a 3.5″ touchscreen display teamed up with a 3500MAH battery that lasts above 5 hours.
What impressed us the most is not only the incredible build quality, because it has been crafted by a block of metal, but also the fact that it can play all Dreamcast games flawlessly.
It can also emulate Gameboy Advance, N64, PS1, and most PSP games. The limit here is high-end, large PSP games, that’s when it starts to struggle.
That power wrapped in metal, with a lovely crispy screen, an easy to understand Linux OS and new hall joysticks that feel great, it’s one of the best retro handhelds out there.
Read our full written review: ANBERNIC RG353M Review
Watch our video review: RG353M video review on YouTube
3. Steam Deck
Although many would deem the Steam Deck one of the best portable gaming PC’s, i can’t not feature it in this article because it’s simply the best retro handheld emulator… period.
The sheer power this device has for just $399 is like nothing on the market, it outperforms $1000 gaming PC handhelds, and because it has a community of millions willing to help those interested in using it for emulation, it again opens it up to a much broader audience.
Steam offers frequent updates, ships products instantly, have a massive customer service team and the product is close to flawless, even if it feels like you’re playing with King Kong’s big toe.
Yes it’s big, and the battery life… pretty terrible, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun emulating your retro games. It’s as easy as installing EmuDeck and adding your ROMs.
Once that’s done you can emulate a wide number of retro consoles including Dreamcast, Gamecube and most PS2 games, making it an all round gaming behemoth when you combine it with your Steam Library.
And that’s where the magic lies. It’s an all round flawless gaming machine. It can play the latest AAA games and your harder to emulate retro consoles from the past in a semi-portable form factor.
It’s the device that will last for years to come and one many flock to for ease of use thanks to the never ending plethora of guides and community content.
If you want a handheld that can do everything the Steam Deck is the one to go to, just take into consideration the size, weight and battery life as that’s its only current limitation.
4. Retroid Pocket 3+
The Retroid Pocket 3+ is a newer, updated and slightly larger version of the older Retroid Pocket 3 that was previously one of our favourite retro handheld of 2021.
It’s high on this list for many reasons, but the biggest reason is because of its small $149 price tag and the fact it can emulate most retro games up to and including Gamecube.
This time the GoRetroid team went for more power, and added a Octa-core T618 CPU with 4GB’s of RAM and a stunning 4.7″ touch-screen display.
Those impressive specs matched with the slim, comfortable aesthetic is what makes its on of the best affordable retro handhelds on the market.
Straight out of the box its easy to use, and comes with a simple launcher that installs all of the emulators needed with one simple click, making it an easy product to recommend for those that have never touched a retro handheld before.
Simply add your ROMs and you’re ready to go. It also requires very little tinkering in regards to emulator settings to get things working. This will handle most of your retro games as soon as you get it out of the box, just remember that it’s capped at Gamecube games!
GoRetroid made some unethical marketing decisions when launching this handheld. They launched the original 3 in June/July, and then just two months later revealed a better, newer handheld, leaving older customers in the dust feeling like they have been taken advantage of.
This isn’t something we respect, and you can read our official thoughts in the Retroid Pocket 3+ full review.
5. Analogue Pocket
The Analogue Pocket has to be 2021’s most anticipated handheld, even beating the OLED Switch. This is quite literally the modern day Gameboy with a twist.
Analogue are renowned for creating high end products such as the Super Nt, but this time they’re moving into the handheld scene using FPGA technology, not emulation.
FPGA is simply a technology that tries to be as identical as possible to the original hardware, that’s its only purpose, making the gameplay flawless unlike traditional emulation that may have problems.
The build quality is superb, it has 3.5″ LCD display with a PPI of 615, covered in Gorilla glass and some superb buttons that feel responsive and durable to with it.
Inserting old cartridges into a brand new handheld does feel weird at first, but give it some time and it will come naturally. The screen is so stunning and when you dive into the new AnalogueOS you can cruise through the menus and tweak settings on the fly in just a few seconds.
Analogue have really made a superb product, even if they struggled to please customers during the pre-order process, but for $219, in my personal opinion, it’s one of the best retro gaming products of 2021.
Yes, it is slightly limited to Gameboy games, but with some of their adapters you can play the best SEGA Game Gear games, Atari Lynx and Neo Geo games, all from the Analogue Pocket.
If you want a deeper look into our opinions about this handheld, be sure to check our out Analogue Pocket Review, you don’t want to miss it.
6. AYN Odin Pro
The AYN Odin handheld is a new handheld released in early 2022 that was originally launched on Kickstarter and managed to smash its target by being over funded to well over $1,000,000.
Thankfully for us we were one of the lucky few to back this project as early as possible meaning we got our hands on it before most.
It’s an Android based handheld with a Snapdragon SD845 processor, with a Ardeno 630 GPU and 7GB’s or RAM, so on paper, it’s a very powerful handheld, and due to the incredible specs it can emulate Gamecube, PSP, Dreamcast and even Playstation 2 games very well.
After testing it for a couple of weeks we were blown away with the sheer performance of the AYN Odin. We didn’t have to tweak any of our settings to get PS2 games running on this thing, a simple press of the “high performance” button and it will happily run it at 40+ FPS.
Because it uses Android 11 the setup was incredibly easy, and this feature helped it to the top of our list because traditionally retro handhelds can be a pain to setup, but not the AYN Odin.
Simply login to your Google account, download your favourite emulators from the Play Store, install ROM’s on an external SD Card slot and then you’re ready to rock and roll.
This will handle all of your favourite retro games from Crash Bandicoot on PS2, to Zelda on the Gamecube to your best Sega Saturn games.
This is an absolute beast, and it’s under $300 which is why it’s number one as the best “mid range” retro handheld out there. This handheld has completely changed up the market and other manufacturers like ANBERNIC, Powkiddy and GoRetroid should be worries.
You may have seen it in our best handheld gaming PC’s article too because you can load Windows on it to completely chance the experience!
Read our full review here: Ayn Odin Handheld Review
We have been testing the PlayDate for some time now, and we were lucky enough to be one of the first gaming websites to get their hands on one.
It’s one of the most unique handhelds that we have ever tested and it’s the first handheld in the world to use a crank as a part of the gaming experience… that’s right a crank.
It is built for gamers wanting to explore games in different ways, allowing new and old indie games developers to get involved with the release of weekly games on release day of the PlayDate.
It has a lightweight but durable shell and a small super reflective (not backlit) black and white screen that reminds us of the Gameboy DMG era where you try and get the sun or any form of light to reflect off the screen in order to see it.
To some this may feel annoying, but for us it adds to the nostalgic factor of the handheld.
The games are where the magic happens, and it’s a new way to discover indie games that you have never heard of. The lineup is great, and each week two new games drop, giving you up to 24 games being download to your PlayDate (via WiFi) after the release day.
We fell in love with lots of the games that the PlayDate has to offer. It’s certainly not a handheld that you can play on for hours on end due to the form factor, and the not so comfortable crank, but it’s one we keep going back to when rendering videos, or between writing articles or even on the short bus ride into town.
This is an awesome handheld, and it’s companies like Panic that keep pushing the handheld industry forward, so for that, they have our upmost respect.
8. Funkey S
The Funkey S was featured in last years best retro handheld video, and again this year, because… quite simply, I love it and I want to see more of these miniature handhelds on the market next year.
For those that have never heard of the handheld it’s basically the world’s smallest clamshell handheld, designed by a small team of passionate handheld fans.
At just €65 it makes a great gift or a small treat for yourself this Christmas. You’re probably wondering what it can do, right?
Well, to our surprise it can emulate most of your retro games up to and including Playstation 1, allowing you to play Crash Bandicoot on your keychain, something I didn’t think i’d ever say.
The team have even crafted their own operating system, allowing you to get around the menus with ease, save states with the press of a button and load up your game art to make it easier for you to manage.
It’s certainly not a device you can play on for hours on end, but it’s my go to when I need to wait around at a bus stop, or at a train station for 20 minutes or so.
It’s been built with care and quality in mind, so it’s not going to snap when you sneeze while playing and the super bright display helps with viewing the tiny 1.5” display.
More companies like this need to appear and start crafting the best mini retro handhelds. Companies that have a genuine passion for handhelds, that helps the customer when needed and supplies a great quality product swiftly.
It’s an adorable handheld with plenty of colours to choose from, and I am hoping the Funkey Team starts launching different consoles soon. Perhaps a mini Gameboy Advance next? Pretty please?
Read our full review here: Funkey S Review
9. Evercade EXP
The Evercade EXP was launched in late 2022, and I was delighted to see that it has improved greatly since the first Evercade handheld launched in early 2020.
This device uses cartridges instead of emulation applications. The Evercade takes a step back to the good old days when you could collect games, trade them with friends, read manuals and blow the dust out of cartridges.
They have a library of over 300 games to discover, from well known developers such as Bandai Namco, Capcom, ATARI, Intellivision and more, allowing you to explore old games in an authentic way without the trouble of feeling naughty when you download ROMs from random websites… not that we do that….
The build quality is great, with a impeccable D-PAD perfect for old school fighters, it even has two action buttons below that so you can play in TATE mode, something which many handhelds can’t do.
Your library of games will be presented in a stunning user interface, with pre-loaded Capcom games available on all Ever EXP’s.
The shoulder buttons and the rounded, long aesthetic make the handheld a pleasure to play on for long periods of time, and although there’s not every retro game to choose from because of decline licensing agreements, there’s still many to choose from to keep you occupied.
It’s a great handheld for those wanting a nostalgic touch, and to be able to collect and trade cartridges with friends like the good old days, all while supporting retro developers in an organic and official way.
The Evercade team have made an awesome handheld.
Read our full review here: Evercade EXP Review
10. Miyoo Mini +
The Miyoo Mini + is a new handheld that release in March 2023, and is the big brother of the original Miyoo Mini which is number one on this list.
This device has the same specs as its little brother too, but due to man wanting a larger variant, Miyoo listened and created a device with a slightly larger 3.5″ screen that sticks to the retro 4:3 aspect ratio.
They have even upgraded the shoulder buttons to add extra comfortability as many customers complained about the shoulder buttons last time.
It features a dual-core 1.2ghz CPU, 128MB or RAM and a 3000mah battery allowing for up to 6 hours of game time (more like 5 when we tested it).
There’s a big issue with this handheld however, and that’s the stock levels. Miyoo have had a terrible history not making enough handhelds, meaning this device and the original Miyoo Mini are continuously out of stock, and when they add na extra 500 units to their online store, scalpers and customers take them within minutes.
Which makes it hard to recommend if our readers can’t actually buy it…
But that aside its a great little pocketable handheld that can emulate all of your retro games up to and including Playstation 1.
This is a handheld that has been teased for many months, and lucky for us the creator behind this device sent us out an early development sample to share with you in this article and let’s just say I’m impressed!
The KT-R1 features a MediaTek G99 processor, a CPU typically seen in high-end smartphones, up to 8GB’s RAM, a 4.5” IPS display with a resolution of 1620 x 1080 and 5000MAH’s of battery.
On paper it’s a beast and in the hand… it’s a beast. This is still in production, but I was told editions will range from $169 to $259 with a metal shell adding approximately $50 to the price tag.
In terms of design the handheld feels a delight to play on, especially the metal editions. It adds weight, durability and gives it a premium touch. The team behind the device is also giving the customer a choice on where they prefer the DPAD to be located, making two variations of each device, which isn’t something I have seen before.
In terms of power, it runs on Android 12, and thanks to the impressive specs it can run most consoles up to and including Gamecube and PS2 games, even God of War works well! It’s an insight into what 2023 will bring.
Yes this handheld isn’t perfect, and i’ll likely explain that in an article as this is a pre-production sample so I can’t properly review it.
But nonetheless, it’s in this video to give you an insight into what’s to come and to keep an eye out for the KT-R1, it’s an impressive device.
12. Retroid Pocket 2+
The Retroid Pocket 2+ is a newer, updated and far more powerful version of the original Retroid Pocket 2.
As of now, this is one of the best retro handhelds for under $100. It’s priced at just $99 and has moved away from the typical RK3326 chips that flooded 2021.
It was released in February 2022 and featured some pretty impressive specs. For example, it has a Unisoc Quad-Core T320 CPU, GE8300 GBPU, 2GB RAM, a 3.5″ touchscreen (640 x 480) and a 4000MAH battery capacity.
Straight out of the box the Retroid Pocket 2+ is fluid to setup because the GoRetroid team created their own launcher, taking you step by step through the handheld while using the touchscreen. They even install retro gaming emulators for you when setting up, this level of help is what helps us advise this to anyone.
The handheld is so powerful it can emulate the best Dreamcast games and the best PSP games very well, making it the next step in affordable retro handheld emulation.
For those wanting Gamecube emulation, PS2 emulation or Nintendo Wii emulation, it’s a no go, it will not emulate those consoles well, it just doesn’t have the power to do so.
But just take that in for a minute, a $99 handheld, can emulate most retro games up to and including Dreamcast! N64, PSP, PS1, Gameboy Advance, the best Sega Saturn games and more, for just $99!
That in itself is an incredible achievement and this handheld alone excites me because it’s a step in the right direction for affordable handheld emulation.
While every handheld is the size of Godzilla’s foot and needs giant biceps to even hold for more than a few minutes, the Retroid Pocket 2+ is trying to perfect a niche that will make it an incredibly popular handheld throughout 2022.
Read our full review here: Retroid Pocket 2+ Review
13. Powkiddy Max 2
The Powkiddy Max 2 is a handheld that has really surprised us, not only because the original “Max” came out just a few months before, but because we really enjoy playing on it… yes, we enjoy playing on a Powkiddy product.
Typically, we don’t really like Powkiddy products, but this one here is the outcast of the bunch. It has a new ergonomic design which feels incredibly comfortable and it’s teamed up with a large, bright, saturated 5″ display.
It features a RK3326 chip, which is a little old, but it does that job and can emulate most retro consoles up to PS1 and a few N64 games should you like to tinker with the settings.
It feels like a Nintendo Switch Lite, but has the power to hold thousands upon thousands of your retro games in a clean UI with a big screen, good battery life and a well designed shell.
The new shell makes it feel far more premium as it has this tough plastic matte finish alongside perfect button placement and some of the best triggers we’ve seen on sub $130 handhelds.
If you’re looking for an affordable retro handheld with a big screen, this is the one to go for.
The RG351V was released in March of 2021, and is ANBERNIC’s best “vertical” handheld on the market currently.
The RG351V has a 3.5″ display that fits most retro games in its native resolution as it has a crisp, detailed 4:3 ratio display which is why many retro gamers absolutely love this device, even if it does look a little plain.
It comes with the RK3326 1.5GHZ Chip, and 1GB RAM meaning it can emulate everything up to N64 very smoothly, and with the large 3900MAH battery you can get a good 5 hours gameplay out of it.
What’s even better is that this console comes preloaded out of the box with thousands of games, and has Emulation Station already installed so you don’t have to setup anything.
Everything is ready out of the box, no mapping of keys, no installing firmware. Just pick up and play. It’s incredible and we love playing our rare PS1 games on it with no frame rate drops.
The RG351P is by far one of the best retro handhelds on the market. It’s the intersection of superb build quality, a trusted name and power.
It’s the newer version of the RG350P, which you will see is 3rd in our list. The RG351P was released in October 2020 and can power everything up to your average N64 game. We say average because we start to see a dip in performance when we play large N64 games like GoldenEye etc.
ANBERNIC are known for their build quality. The shell is strong, the analogue sticks used are identical to that of the Nintendo Switch, and the bright 3.5″ IPS display is gorgeous.
The main reason the RG351P is ranked so high in our list is due to the pick-up and play factor. Some handhelds on this list require lots of work. By work we mean, changing the settings to find the best quality gameplay, having to update firmware, and even installing your own ROMs.
The RG351P comes with thousands of games pre-loaded straight out of the box. The firmware doesn’t need updating, the UI is stunning, and all of the buttons are mapped already for each emulator.
So, it’s the ultimate handheld to recommend to newcomers into the scene who have no experience with handheld emulators. Heck, we would even recommend it to kids because it’s that easy to play on.
We love it, and although it can’t play Dreamcast or PSP very well, everything else is a pleasure to play on.
A worthy pick up, for sure.
The RG353V was released in September 2022 and uses the same internals as the RG353V except it has a new vertical form factor, more analogue sticks and a better price tag.
It comes in two editions, the “VS” version which is Linux only and comes with 1GB RAM, but the best of the bunch is the original “RG353V” which features Linux/Android OS, 2GB’s RAM and a touch screen display.
Priced at just $119 it’s trying to compete with the Retroid Pocket 3. Although it’s not as good it’s still a great new vertical form factor for those that want a great looking handheld with dual analogue sticks and enough power to play all of your retro games up to and including PSP.
It can tackle a handful of Dreamcast games, but it will require some tinkering.
Overall, the new form factor is welcome, and it’s one of ANBERNIC’s best handheld of the year… which isn’t hard as most of them this year have been terrible but it’s a great step forward and we always welcome new vertical handhelds to the scene.
Just watch out for the awful shoulder buttons!
Released in May 2020, this is one of the most unique handhelds on our list. The Evercade is a cartridge-based retro handheld that’s designed to bring back the nostalgic feel of buying cartridges.
At just £49.99 in the UK, the Evercade is priced nicely and the average cartridge comes with 10 – 20 games. Each cartridge comes in at about £19.99.
The Evercade team use the real ROM files from the developers. Popular games such as Pac Man, Earthworm Jim and Centipede are amongst the few that have been chosen for the handheld.
Admittedly, the lineup isn’t perfect. We’d certainly like to see some SEGA and Nintendo games amongst the collection, but that will never happen as they all have their own handhelds and licenses,
But what is good is that Evercade is continuously launching new cartridges, so your collection can keep growing and growing.
18. ANBERNIC RG35XX
The ANBERNIC RG35XX is a handheld that was released in December 2022 to take on the best mini retro handhelds of the year.
Albeit, this is larger than most on that list, and I personally think it’s “normal” sized rather than mini, but with the competitive $55 price tag, it’s put itself on our radar.
It features a 3.5″ IPS display with a resolution of 640 x 480, making it close to pixel perfect when playing old retro games like the NES, SNES and Gameboy Advance.
Due to the quad core processor and small 256MB’s of RAM, this can only emulate up to and including Playstation 1 games, but that’s all you need on a device of this size, especially when you consider it doesn’t have an analogue stick.
It has a very bad operating system, terrible shoulder buttons and high gloss action buttons, but on the good side, the screen is great, the price is great and its very easy to understand, making it great for begginers.
19. Powkiddy RGB10 Max
The RGB10 Max is Powkiddy’s first dive into an affordable handheld featuring a larger 5.5″ display. In the past Powkiddy has been known for making pretty average products, but this one has suprised us.
The shell used has this rubberized matte finish to it which adds a premium feel to it, the large 5.5″ display is welcomed, even if most games don’t use its normal aspect ratio.
Around the screen Powkiddy has decided to remove its logo on the face and add very thin bezels around the edge to create a modern form factor. The analogues sticks are identical to that of a Nintendo switch, the action and DPAD buttons are bouncy, and it genuinly feels like a sturdy handheld.
Our only downfall with this handheld’s design is that the screen used is dimmer than most we are used to, and the shoulder buttons are very poor quality. They’re made of thin plastic, have very little feedback, and are just awful to use.
In terms of emulation this is using a RK3326 chip, the exact same as what many of the best retro handhelds on this list are using. It has a quad core 1.5GHZ processor, 1GB RAM, a Mali 31 GPU and 4200 MAH battery capacity.
It can emulate everything up to N64 flawlessly, with little hiccups. it’s once you start trying to emulate large N64 games, Dreamcast and PSP games when things start to get a little choppy.
This handheld. isfor those of you that want to a larger screen for older retro consoles, yes it can play Mario Kart 64, but anything heavier than that and the gaming experience gets a little unpleasant.
The RG353P was released in June 2022, and took a lot of its inspiration from the very successful PocketGO S30 which launched in early 2021.
This device from ANBERNIC looks like a SNES controller that features a large 3.5″ touch screen in the middle of it and can use Android or Linux as its operating system.
Unfortunately the touchscreen only works within the Android port, but it;s enough to play the best Nintendo DS games using the touchscreen for the second screen in game, which is a first in affordable handhelds like these.
And because of CPU power and large 2GB’s RAM it can play a handful of your Dreamcast games too! The device gets larger towards the back, allowing for more room for the 3500MAH battery and ports! There’s even a mini-hdmi out port too!
It’s not the most innovative handheld out there, but for SNES lovers and those wanting to take a look at what is the best RK3566 ANBERNIC handheld on the market at this moment in time.
The RG350P is in our best retro handheld for a wide number of reasons. Coming in at $80 it’s one of the more affordable consoles on our list and it’s certainly worth every single dime.
The RG350 was released in October 2019 and received most of its attention for the ability to play PS1 ROMs near perfectly all while having superb build quality.
But now, 9 months later they released this new handheld, with a few minor updates. These minor updates from the original RG350 makes this handheld feel incredibly polished.
The handheld feels great in the hand and comes in a wide number of different variants. It has not one but two (Nintendo Switch) analogue sticks and a large 3.5″ display that’s bright, saturated and made of glass. The screen resolution is 320 x 240.
This is the alpha male of the retro handheld world. You can just tell that ANBERNIC has invested money and time into this handheld, and that’s exactly what you want when you spend $80 on a Chinese handheld.
This product shows just how much this niche market demands a decent handheld, and their sales are going through the roof, for good reason. You can probably find it cheaper nowadays too, as the newer version the RG351P has now been released.
For those of you that want something a bit more premium, as of February 2020, the new RG350M, a metal variant of the RG350 was released. It is now, officially, our favourite Chinese handheld EVER.
It starts at $129.99 which is a little more expensive than the plastic version. But boy oh boy, does this thing feel good.
It also has a higher resolution screen of 640 x 480 making it even crispier than the RG350P. The internals are the same, so this will still be able to emulate all of your retro games up to Playstation 1 by installing your ROMS.
The metal case makes it feel as if Nintendo themselves have made it. There are grips on the back for extra comfort and the added weight makes it feel far more premium than anything else on this list.
This is our favourite handheld yet. Once you get metal, you won’t go back to plastic.
The RG280V is a new “vertical” handheld that was released in November 2020 by ANBERNIC. It was a handheld we thought we’d really dislike, but it seriously surprised us.
The RG280V has a dual core 1.0GHZ processor with 512MB RAM and a 2100MAH battery. Basically that means it can emulate everything very well up to PS1.
What makes the RG280V so great is the small, portable form factor teamed up with a large 2.8″ display with a glass cover.
ANBERNIC are renowned for doing a great job with the build quality of their products and this handheld follows suit. This is a handheld that will last for years to come and will happily take bumps and scratches along the way.
Why you’d choose this over any of the bigger ones is simply, it’s cheaper and far more portable making it a superb gameboy emulator, or for those that don’t mind playing on small handhelds.
Heck’ it’s even great for kids as the sturdy build quality will last for years, and the easy user interface is simple for them to understand. The RG280V is a great pick up for the younger retro gamers out there. For us oldies, the screen may be a little small for the tiny text in some games.
23. PocketGo S30
The PocketGO S30 was released in December 2020, rounding off the year with a new “affordable” handheld that can emulate everything up to PS1 and a bit of PSP.
What makes the PocketGo S30 so popular is simply that price tag, coming in at just $59.99. This combined with a 1.2GHZ processor makes it “on paper” a good bang for your buck handheld.
It’s designed to look like an original SNES controller and even a member of the 8BitDo team got involved with the design, hence naming it after their “SN30+” controller.
It houses a 2600 MAH battery which can last up to 5 hours of gameplay, and it has flared trigger buttons which are a bit different compared to others on the list, but nonetheless great.
It works well straight out of the box, and that’s why we like it. The menus are ready, games are preloaded, and the buttons are already mapped for you, meaning you can play with it as soon as you unbox it.
The 3.5″ IPS display is large, making it good for all ages and although it may look a little washed out the gameplay is fluid too. You can save games, load games, add your own ROMs, you name it.
This is the best handheld under $60 as of now, and we respect the small price tag because it opens up the best retro handhelds for an audience that perhaps can’t afford to pay $100+ for one.
24. Powkiddy RGB20S
The Powkiddy RGB20S is the bigger brother of the RGB20 (below), and instead of it being a compact square design, they’ve extended the height by adding more buttons, an additional analogue stick alongside more comfortable shoulder buttons.
At just $80 this handheld really surprised me. The vertical form factor is always welcome in the Retro Dodo HQ.
It features a RK3326 1.5GHZ Quad-Core CPU with 1GB RAM and a really bright, colourful 3.5″ IPS Display.
I will admit, the handheld is very crowded, and they cut corners when it comes to the quality of plastic used but overall it performs well (up to PS1) and feels very comfortable to play on.
Because it’s quite a small handheld it feels more compact, and more portable even if the analogue sticks protrude more than they should.
It’s not perfect, but it’s a comfortable handheld that works straight out of the box with naughty pre-loaded ROMs.
25. Powkiddy RGB20
The Powkiddy RGB20 is the latest handheld on the list, being launched towards the tail end of November 2020.
We are surpised to put Powkiddy so high in our list, we’ve had a bad history with their handhelds but it looks as if they’re starting to learn from their mistakes as the RGB20 is a powerful pocket handheld.
When we say pocket, we actually mean backpack as this thing is quite large, and to hold in one hand needs a pretty stretched grasp, but nonetheless it’s a beef cake handheld for sure.
On paper it is powerful, with a 1.5GHZ CPU, 1GB RAM, a 3.5″ Display and 300MAH battery capacity. Put simply, this thing can play Dreamcast, N64 and even PSP games well.
The large 3.5″ Display is stunning, it has nice viewing angles and it may take up most of the handheld but that’s because it’s meant to. This is one of the first vertical handhelds to feature an analogue stick too!
Once you go from the RGB20 to number 6 on our list, you’ll soon realise how much you need a decent analogue stick to get decent game time. It might not be able to play your best Nintendo DS games well, but it can do everything older than that.
The build quality is a little sub par, it lacks volume buttons and the shoulder buttons are pretty cramped, but the power, and display somewhat makes up for that. We really like it.
26. Powkiddy X18S
The Powkiddy X18S is a newer upgrade to the X18, which is an Android based clamshell handheld on a budget.
What makes the Powkiddy X18S so wanted is the fact that it’s a clamshell Android handheld with a large screen and the ability to emulate Dreamcast and PSP games flawlessly.
We’ve tested this to the core and internally it’s an impressive handheld, especially for just $179, because it can play your favourite N64 games, Dreamcast, Gameboy, PSP and more, all in a pocket friendly Android based system.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows because the build quality is a little sub-par and the operating system used is incredibly poor, to a point where it reminded us of Windows 98.
Yes, you can modify this yourself and load up a different version of Android but for an average consumer this thing is still a little clunky and needs some TLC.
But if you’re into your Android based handhelds and don’t mind tinkering then this could be for you, just watch out for the back of the clamshell as we’ve cut our fingers open on it before.
27. PiBoy DMG
The PiBoy DMG by ExperimentalPi is one of the best retro handhelds due to its sheer power. Inside is a new Raspberry Pi4 with up to 8GB RAM capable of powering Dreamcast and beyond.
You can either buy the DIY kit to make it yourself if you have a spare Pi3 or Pi4 lying around, or you can go fully assembled like we did that comes pre-built and pre-installed with retropie.
This makes its playable straight out of the box, but be warned this is an expensive handheld, because well… there’s basically a small PC inside. The DIY kit starts at $89.95 but you’ll need to supply everything, and the assembled kit costs $179.95.
Because it’s packed with power, it can handle anything you chuck at it. PSP, N64, Dreamcast; no problem. It even has WiFi and Bluetooth, allowing you to connect to the internet or even stream games from your PC directly to the PiBoy DMG.
This is a handheld for those of you with no budget and for those of you that like tinkering around with RetroPie.
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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.