In the past GoRetroid has crafted some of the best retro handhelds to date. They are known for their incredibly competitive pricing strategy and their well designed products all while keeping quality in mind instead of quantity.
This device here, has been in the making for a very long time, so long in fact that it was originally planned to launch with the Retroid Pocket 2+ over 6 months ago.
It’s likely that they came across problems and shortages which is why it was pushed back, and I for one am glad they did, because this could be one of my new favorite retro handhelds under $120.
Let’s take a look at why.
Retroid Pocket 3 Specifications
- Quad-core Unisoc T310 CPU
- 4.7″ Touch Screen Display (16:9 740 x 1334 @60fps)
- 32GB Storage
- 2GB/3GB RAM
- 4000MAH Battery Capacity
In terms of specs the new Retroid Pocket 3 is nearly identical to the 2+ and uses a Unisoc T310 Processor and 2GB’s of RAM which can be upgraded to 3GBs for an extra 10 buckaroonies (which i highly recommend). This will give you a small power bump, but nothing too noticeable.
How does the Retroid Pocket 3 Look & Feel?
In terms of design, GoRetroid went for simplicity, and I love that, many handhelds chuck as many buttons on the face as possible, which makes the device look cluttered, but the Retroid Pocket 3 went against the grain and the minimal look is right up my alley.
The first thing I noticed when I pulled this out of the box was just how thin the device is… actually no, that’s a lie, it was all of the added parts.
Each unit came with extra dome switches which is a little odd but once I started reviewing the Pocket 3 I did notice that the buttons were a little clicky, it’s something that I can live with but I know some of you like that soft touch experience.
Do I think it’s lazy that GoRetroid didn’t install them themselves, absolutely, I can imagine that they had to weigh up the costs of adding these new switches to every unit after production and came to the conclusion that.. Well they are lazy bastards.
But that said, I don’t mind the clicky-ness and I didn’t find the need to open up the device, risk breaking it, and adding in the switches. I was happy with the button quality straight out of the box, but that’s just a personal preference.
In hand the Pocket 3 fits perfectly, it’s a great size for adult hands, and the large 4.7” display pulls you in. The 16:9 screen is a great addition to a device of this celibre, it makes PSP emulation more immersive and with the possibilities of Android it makes games, apps and even PS5 Remote Play feel far more organic.
This is one of the main advantages of choosing it over the older 2+. The 16:9 HD screen opens up more advantages, especially for a newcomer to the scene who is familiar with Android.
The bezels around the screen are small, making it look more modern, the shoulder buttons are flared which adds extra comfort and the thinness of the device adds to the superb portability that the Pocket 3 has to offer.
It’s just a great looking, comfortable handheld with, I’m gonna say it, the perfect sized screen for playing retro games on the go. It’s big enough for those with poor eyesight and it’s small enough to take with you on long journeys.
All of the smaller buttons like volume, on/off, home and start/select have been nicely hidden around the device with small, but visible buttons, however i would have liked to see a LED light to indicate when its charging, or when its on low battery, I found myself plugging it into charge and worrying that is wasn’t connected correctly because of the lack of a small led light.
The Setup Process
When you turn on your handheld for the first time you will be greeted with an awesome launcher that takes you through the setup one step at a time. In fact, they’ve customized it to such a great standard that it can install recommended emulators for you automatically, straight out of the box.
These are the small things that make handhelds I review easier to recommend for newcomers to the scene. The setup process for many handhelds is a ball ache, but on the Pocket 3, it’s so easy I could give it to a young kid and trust they’d get it working within half an hour.
All you need to do is insert a SD card with ROM and bios on it to get going.
Once launched you can choose the Android homepage or GoRetroid’s own launcher that turns it into a Nintendo Switch look-alike.
The screen can register touches incredibly well, and the brightness goes very high, making it easily visible in daylight, or when you’re outside. Before launch there was rumors that the display had a bug below 20% battery, but after testing I didn’t experience this issue.
Retroid Pocket 3 Performance
As mentioned this is a $119 handheld with the same specs as the older Pocket 2+ which starts at $99. I have the 3GB versions in for review which makes it a $129 device.
As you can imagine, older retro games from the 8-bit age run perfectly fine here, and as soon as I started testing the Pocket 3, I noticed just how damn good the screen is in terms of colors, saturation, and how bright it gets. It’s an absolute pleasure to play on, and due to the brightness, it can be played outside in the sun too with good visibility.
Moving on, Gameboy Color, and Gameboy Advance games ran silky smooth on here with no problems at all, and if you’re into your Gameboy, I advise going for the DMG coloured pocket 3, it’s my personal favorite.
N64 works really well on here, just like the Pocket 2+, it will require some button mapping, but that’s all that’s needed to get this running well at native speeds and resolutions.
Playstation 1, is no longer a hard console to emulate, so as you can imagine it runs great!
Now moving onto the larger consoles, I tested Dreamcast on here, and it did pretty good, it can run about 90% of Dreamcast games including my favorite that is Crazy Taxi. I still cant get over how Dreamcast games are now running really well on $100 handhelds, it blows my mind.
Then finally, the last console that I would class as running well on here is PSP. Most of yourPSP games will run very well, but when testing larger games such as God of War, I did notice some slow down and audio stuttering. Games like this are just a little too much for the internals, which is fair enough seeing as it’s a budget handheld.
You can do some minor tweaking to increase quality, making it playable, but this is where the great performance stops.
Gamecube and beyond is not worth your time. You’ll experience low quality performance and decreased battery life.
You could stream from your PC using Moonlight, but a potato could also do that. Unfortunately I do not own a PC or an Xbox, but I do own a PS5, and after testing cloud gaming I was impressed to see how well it performed.
I’ll admit, it’s a little cramped, and hard to read the small text on certain games, but it works, the ergonomics and cracking placement of buttons makes it enjoyable to play on. This wasn’t really possible with the 2+ because of the screen, but now that we have a 16:9 display, it’s a new feature that I can’t help but love. The beautiful screen and the 7 hours of battery life also help with this.
You may be asking, Brandon, do I buy this over the 2+ and I would comfortably say yes. There’s only advantages to this upgrade, and all are worth the extra $30 in my personal opinion.
BUT if you already have a 2+ then i’d probably say no, forking out cash on another handheld when times are tough, and the fact that there’s so many new devices coming out this year Is what’s making me say hold fire if you have the 2+.
Which I surprise myself in saying because I absolutely love this thing, its my new favorite affordable retro handheld.
There’s very little wrong with the device. It’s powerful enough to play up to PSP games, it’s incredibly comfortable, well designed, lasts up to 7 hours on one charge, kids can easily set it up and it only costs $119.
This is peak affordable handheld gaming, and GoRetroid is showing the competition what to do… yet again.
The only thing I would say is to watch out for a customs fee. I ordered two different packages, one was charged a whopping $60 to get it to the UK and the other had no charge at all.
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.