Retroid Pocket 4 Pro Review – The Best $199 Retro Handheld?

retroid pocket 4 pro

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I have reviewed a lot of handhelds over the last few years and GoRetroid is a company that keeps pushing the boundaries of affordable emulation in a form factor that’s comfortable, easy to use and pleasing to look at.

They have had a few hiccups in the past, some incredibly unprofessional for that matter, but over the last 6 – 12 months they’ve really up’ed their game, and their latest handheld which I have here is one of their best.

They’re calling it the Retroid Pocket 4 Pro, a $199 handheld that packs a serious punch and it’s forcing the market to innovate fast in order to keep up, for example ANBERNIC has recently launched their RG556 to directly compete with it.

This is great for us as consumers because it means the market has to make genuinely great products that we can afford in order to obtain us as customers, so I respect GoRetroid highly for that reason alone.

However, this is one of their most expensive products yet…

An Incredible Sub $200 Android Handheld
Emulation Performance9.5
User Experience9

Product Design

retroid pocket 4 pro vs retroid pocket 3+

You may be familiar with the design of this device, and that’s because GoRetroid have kept it as close as possible to their popular Retroid Pocket 3+, which as mentioned in previous reviews, is a very comfortable, unique looking device that’s easy to pick up and play.

That said, I would have liked to see some new modern touches here, for example, I don’t want to see large screen bezels on a $199 device in 2024… eww, and adding LED back lights to the hall joysticks would have added that extra premium touch to a device of this price. Even ANBERNIC has added that to their RG556 and that’s a little cheaper!

There are some new features to the Pocket 4, for example the menu buttons are now on the face of the device, making it easier to press and see without the need of having to search for them on the side.

retroid pocket 4 pro buttons

The shoulder buttons have a new textured touch to them too which is a nice addition even if it isn’t revolutionary and R2 and L2 are considerably bigger this time with more travel to them thanks to them now becoming analogue triggers. The top of the device has been cleaned up, with the addition of extra ventilation because of the active cooling inside too.

(I would like to mention that I have seen a few customers in the community notice issues with their shoulder buttons, GoRetroid has responded with a tweet stating they will send customers a new trigger to help with this, even though I believe they should send a new unit or fix it for the customer themselves, as this is a little bit of a copout. That said the shoulder buttons on our unit is fine).

The analogue sticks are still hall joysticks, but this time they are using concave grips instead, I actually prefer the previous Switch tops in all honesty and the action buttons are softer and have a bit more distance between the contacts.

On GoRetroid’s website, they are stating that this screen is actually brighter than the previous Pocket 3+, but in all honesty I can’t see the difference, I believe this is exactly the same display.

retroid pocket 4 pro vs anbernic rg556
rp4 pro vs rg556

It’s not a bad looking device at all, nor is it uncomfortable, and I don’t blame GoRetroid for keeping this design because it works well, I just wish they added some premium features to it, because it is starting to age, and nobody wants an aged looking handheld for $200, especially when you consider that this is incredibly powerful and likely a handheld many of us will keep for years, it will age… fast, but that might not be a problem for some of you.

All those design features aside, this is visually incredibly similar to the previous device, the big differences are internally.

There are two versions of this handheld, the normal version and the Pro version, with a $50 difference between them both. I have only tested the Pro version and it’s the device I am reviewing today.

Retroid Pocket 4 Pro Specs

  • Mediatek Dimensity 1100 CPU
  • Mali G77 MC9 GPU
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128GB Storage
  • 4.7” Touch Screen (750×1334 Resolution)
  • 5000MAH Battery
  • Hall Joy-Sticks + Analogue Triggers
  • Android 13

On paper, that’s some serious specs, and I agree. I was surprised at first to see GoRetroid venture into this area, because typically their products are limited to retro consoles, but with this chipset, it allows retro gamers to dive into consoles such as PS2, Gamecube and more with great quality all for sub $200.

Android OS & Setup

retroid pocket 4 pro user interface

If you are new to GoRetroid products you’ll be glad to know they are one of the easiest retro handhelds to setup, this is thanks to their custom built Android OS setup screens, they will literally install all of your emulator applications for you, and organise them in a clean user interface with the press of a few buttons.

This makes it great for newcomers, and easy for those that have a handheld addiction and want to speed through it. Again, because it’s running Android 13, you can switch between the simple Retroid Launcher or go directly to the Android Launcher so you can get to your Android Apps and Streaming apps for example.

Another neat Android feature is that you can access your handhelds performance settings by swiping down on the screen during gameplay, here you can change how hard you want to device to work, obviously this lowers the battery life depending on what consoles you are emulating but its a easy way to tweak your performance on the go, including the internal fan speed.

But unfortunately this will not open in the Retroid Launcher, I won’t be surprise if this is fixed in a future update though.

Android handhelds are very easy, and it opens up a lot of opportunities too, so i’m thankful GoRetroid keeps their products on Android, it makes the overall experience very fluid.

Emulation Performance

retroid pocket 4 pro ps2 gameplay

With these kind of specs we are walking into Gamecube and PS2 territory, which is incredible for a device of this size, and price.

A couple years ago, I would have dreamed of a retro handheld that can do what this can do for sub $200.

I was excited to jump into Playstation 2 emulation, because it’s one of the best consoles of our time, and I wasn’t disappointed, most games I threw at this ran really well, there were only a few that showed some signs of slowing but overall it has been a pleasant experience so far, even if some of the game text was a little small on this 4.7” display.

Gamecube also shows signs of good emulation, with respectable frame rates, comfortable controls, easy to understand emulation settings and just overall reliability.

So those two consoles alone, show great signs of emulation, yes it’s not perfect in some places but for $199 it’s impressive. You will notice however that the fan can be loud when emulating on these higher end consoles, this may annoy your partner in bed, or if they’re trying to watch a movie and you’re next to them… I speak from experience.

I did try testing some Nintendo Switch emulation and it’s certainly not going to be pleasurable to play on but this clip should show you just how powerful this handheld is, because it’s working… Switch emulation on a GoRetroid product… yeah.

retroid pocket 4 pro gamecube emulation
rp4 pro gamecube emulation

This excites me because just a year or so ago PS2 emulation showed these exact signs, now look, here we are, so I believe we could see incredibly powerful retro handhelds that eventually emulate Switch Emulation for under $200… this is a really good sign, even if it doesn’t work well.

Smaller consoles like Dreamcast and PSP work flawlessly, and PSP is incredibly fun to play on thanks to the 16:9 display and PS Vita like DPAD that feels great at 2x native resolution.

Gameboy, Wonderswan, SEGA Mega Drive, PS1 and Neo Geo again work great, the Retroid Pocket 4 Pro will have no issues running these consoles.

For those wanting more then retro emulation, you can download Android applications to play games which simply requires button mapping, and there’s the potential the stream games from your PC and home consoles too, this works well but the screen is just too small to see any kind of text using Xbox Game Pass for example, so it’s not the best device for this in my opinion, you have to see it as a bonus.

With all of this performance comes battery drainage, and the Pocket 4 Pro is packed with 5000MAH’s of battery, this is a good size for a handheld of this calibre but you because it packs some serious punch it will only last a few hours in “high performance mode”, so you won’t get great lifespan when emulating PS2 or Gamecube games for example, so take that into consideration.

Overall Opinion

retroid pocket 4 pro handheld

Overall, it’s a hard handheld to hate, GoRetroid have done an incredible job here. The minor upgrades to the hardware is welcomed and PS2 emulation works well if you’re happy to a bit of tinkering, all for $199.

It’s one of GoRetroid’s best handhelds yet… however I have noticed that I am wanting a larger screen when playing these later gen consoles. I do believe I would have a slightly better gaming experience with these specs on a screen closer to 6”, not only will that help with PS2 and Gamecube Emulation, but also cloud streaming too.

I believe GoRetroid will eventually go down this route, they’d be silly not too, I want to see a handheld from them that competes with the AYN Odin, because if they do build that, I believe they’ll see huge success.

If you’re looking for one of the best sub $200 Android handhelds on the market right now the Retroid Pocket 4 Pro is it.

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