Retroid Pocket 2+ Review – A Superb Handheld Worth Snagging

retroid pocket 2+

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Retroid Pocket 2+

$99
9

The best retro handheld under $100

9.0/10

Pros

  • Pricing
  • Power
  • Portability

Cons

  • Analogue Slider
  • Screen Resolution

The Retroid Pocket 2+ is a newer and far more powerful upgrade to the original Retroid Pocket 2. It’s launching in February and moves affordable handheld emulation to the next level, away from the outdated RK3326 chips that we have been living with for years now.

The GoRetroid team has always gone against the grain in terms of pricing, and has caused other big names in the field to really think about how they price their products.

This time they have priced the Retroid Pocket 2+ at just $99 making it a perfect entry handheld and also the perfect handheld for veteran emulator enthusiasts looking for something new.

Could this be one of the best retro handhelds under $100? Let’s find out.

Retroid Pocket 2+ Specifications

  • Unisoc Quad-core Tiger T310 
  • 1 x A75 + 3 x A55 + PowerVR GE8300 
  • 2GB LPDDR4x + 32GB EMMC
  • Android 9
  • WiFi 2.4G/5G + BT 5.0
  • Battery 4000mAh
  • 3.5 inch 480p touch screen with aspect ratio of 4:3 
  • Integrated rumble motor for better gaming experience
  • Conductive rubber design for D-pad and face buttons
  • Left/Right Analog Joystick
  • Built-in official game launcher and frontend
  • Built-in official OTA support for incremental upgrading
retroid pocket 2+ handheld

First of all let’s quickly go over the specs. The Retroid Pocket 2+ is rocking a Unisoc Quad-Core CPU, a GE380 GPU, 2GB RAM, a 3.5” touch screen display with a resolution of 640 x 480, 4000mah of battery, WiFi, Bluetooth and Android 9.

For those like me that want that simplified, it’s basically more powerful than any other $99 handheld on the market. This thing packs a punch.

Before jumping into performance I want to talk about the design and a few things that surprised me when I first got it out of the box.

Retroid Pocket2+ Design

retroid pocket 2+ emulator

This thing feels nearly identical to that of the Retroid Pocket 2, and if you remember from our previous reviews we have mentioned how great the older version felt, and this new + model feels just as good.

What I love about this handheld is the fact that they’ve kept the 3.5” display alongside the slim, pocket friendly ergonomics.

Most upcoming handhelds out there are going for a “bigger is better approach” when in reality, a lot of us out there just want something that’s portable and powerful enough to emulate our favourite retro games, and that’s exactly what this does.

The size is somewhat perfect, and the amount of different colours you can choose from allows you to pick something that fits your style.

retroid pocket 2+ gameboy advance gameplay

The touchscreen is a lovely new addition to the series, making Android navigation and setup incredibly fluid, and if you’re lucky enough to get one you’ll see how easy it is to connect to WiFi and setup through the touchscreen.

This is due to the GoRetroid team setting up a custom launcher that takes you through step by step and even assists you by automatically downloading recommended applications for retro gaming.

This for me is huge because it allows newcomers to the scene to be greeted with an easy to use UI that somewhat does it all for you, the team should be proud of this simple feature.

The only downfall with the display is its small 4:3 resolution. I know you wont need a better resolution for retro games, but in the newer consoles and Android games it does help, especially when you’re playing 16:9 games.

Now moving around the handheld you have soft, slightly raised action buttons that feel different to the older version, two analogue sticks that unfortunately don’t have R3/L3 functionality. One sits higher out of the handheld than the other, so that your thumb doesn’t get in the way of the action buttons.

The DPAD has also been upgraded, it’s chunker, slightly higher and feels much higher quality. Then below that is your chin which features two speaker grills and your home, select and start buttons.

For me the Retroid Pocket 2+ features some of the best shoulder buttons on the market, they are well positioned, have soft, subtle feedback to them and flare out of the back of the handheld to keep your gaming experience as comfortable as can be.

retroid pocket 2+ shoulder buttons

Between them you will find your on/off button, volume buttons, your USB-C charging port and a micro hdmi out. On the bottom there is a SD card slot for loading ROMs and a headphone jack. On the back there’s nothing but minor branding, keeping it less cluttered and sleek.

Overall the build quality is great. Yes we would have liked R3/L3 functionality and maybe some smaller bezels but it’s hard not to love the look of this thing.

And in an age where every handheld coming out is the same size as Godzilla’s foot, it’s good to see one company trying to perfect the pocket friendly niche because as well know, it’s not about the size, it’s about how you use it, am i right fellas?

Comfortability wise it’s great too, hence why they have kept to the same design, all the buttons are easy to get to, battery life is strong, the screen bright enough for day time gaming and light enough to play on for hours.

retroid pocket 2+ dreamcast gameplay
dreamcast emulation

They’ve made a really great looking product here, and they even have a drop in upgrade for those of you that already have the older Retroid Pocket 2 and fancy saving a few bucks by doing it yourself.

This again shows you what matters to the Go Retroid team instead of forcing a whole new handheld down your through every couple of months…. *cough* ANBERNIC *cough* 

So Brandon, what can it emulate? Well, the Retroid Pocket 2+ can obviously emulate more than the original, an after testing it does just that, but some emulators require tinkering and if you’ve been subscribed to the channel for a while, you know I really dislike having to put hours into messing around with settings just to get games running fluidly.

So let’s start small.

What can the Retroid Pocket 2+ emulate?

Older consoles such as Gameboy, Neo Geo, SNES, NES and Game Gear will run well on here, and that’s quite normal nowadays, it has a wide amount of buttons to support fluid gameplay across these consoles too.

One of my favourites was playing a wide number of the best Pokemon games, all while going over to our sister-site known as Pokemon Helper for the best Pokemon guides around (yes this is a plug, go take a look at what we are building!).

Now when you move onto the newer consoles I found myself having to tweak settings and change things in order to get good quality gameplay out of this handheld.

retroid pocket 2+ gamecube emulation
Gamecube emulation

PSP and Dreamcast emulation is something we are seeing on handhelds around the $150 mark, but the Retroid Pocket 2+ after some tweaking emulates these games quite well, to a state where I am comfortable with the outcome.

Gamecube however is still a no go. It doesn’t perform well, and the small screen alongside the analogue slider just makes it a little awkward to play on. You can increase performance slightly but it will require hours of tweaking and siving through forums and spreadsheets to find the correct settings.

This is something the consumer shouldn’t be doing, and although some of you may want that, the performance from Gamecube games has made me decide to state that this cannot emulate Gamecube games well at all, it’s just not powerful enough.

retroid pocket 2+ ps2 emulation
PS2 EMULATION

The same goes for PS2 gameplay, yes it has a one of the best PS2 emulators in it (which might I add is still in development) but playing the best PS2 games on it is near impossible. Some users have managed to get a handful of games working but it requires you to change settings every time you to play different games, and that’s just a pain in the backside.

If you’re looking to pick one of these up and expect it to play PS2 and Gamecube games you will be in for a disappointing surprise.

But it will happily play your Dreamcast and PSP games, which when you think about it for $99 that’s an incredible achievement, something which hasn’t been done yet.

Overall Opinion

retroid pocket 2+ portable emulator

Overall the Retroid Pocket 2+ is by far the best retro handheld under $100 as of now. The build quality is great, it’s aesthetically nostalgic, has a nice little touch screen which makes the experience that little bit easier and enough power to play the retro games that you miss.

This is a genuinely good portable retro handheld and its a handheld that will be VERY hard to beat for under $100. 

The best thing about it is that the Go Retroid team has listened to their audience, they know how important an easy setup is, how useful a touchscreen would be and integrated Wifi that lets you update your console on the go. This feels close to perfect, even if the screen isn’t super crispy and nobody really likes the terrible analogue slider.

It’s definitely worth picking one up if you have a $100 budget.

If you you don’t want to wait almost 60 days for the Retroid Pocket 2+ then our good friends at Droix have some in stock, however they do come at a premium price, but rest assured they’ll ship it to you within a few days!

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