Well, this is ANBERNIC’s shot at dethroning their own metal brother and taking on the Retroid Pocket 2.
ANBERNIC only had one choice; to add the newer RK3326 chip instead of the previous JZ4770 in order for it to attempt N64, Dreamcast and even PSP games.
But what ANBERNIC didn’t know when making it is that they’ve just created the ultimate handheld for playing the best Gameboy Advance games.
But does it have what it takes to price itself at $100? Let’s find out.
- 3.5″ IPS Display (320 x 480)
- Quad Core 1.5GHZ CPU (RK3326)
- Mali-G31 MP2 GPU
- 1GB RAM
- Open Source Linux System
- 3500MAH Battery
- Vibration Pack
How Does The RG351P Feel?
The RG351P has a slightly different aesthetic to its brothers and has gone down the Gameboy Advance clone route with a purple edition, which we really dig.
The biggest changes are the shape of the handheld. ANBERNIC have removed the big chin, added a smaller logo and a smaller bezel, allowing them to make the handheld slightly smaller and more portable.
On the left you have the DPAD, select button, and an analogue stick that yes, has L3 capabilities. In the middle, there’s a stunning 3.5” IPS display with a resolution of 320 x 480.
The screen resolution has pixel-perfect scaling for Gameboy Advance games, hence why it’s now our favourite GBA handheld. It also has a glass screen, which is to be expected in a $100 handheld in all honesty!
On the right, you have your ABXY buttons, start button, and another analogue stick with R3. Press both L3 and R3 when in-game to access the emulator settings (save, load, fast forward, resolution, scaling etc).
On the top around the grey border like design, you will find four shoulder buttons, two USB-C ports, and a headphone jack.
Can companies please stop placing headphone jacks on the top of their handhelds?
Yes, for some reason it looks like it should be the correct place, but in reality, my headphone cable then has to come around, under the device, and then back up my arm/chest.
The bottom is where it’s meant to be!
The shoulder buttons are nice, clicky, and wrap slightly around the handheld. I’m being very picky here, but I’m allowed because ANBERNIC might read this.
I would have liked to see slightly larger L2/R2 triggers, ones that stick out more like on the RK2020, but this is a personal preference.
On the sides, there are only two buttons; the on/off and a volume wheel. On the bottom of the RG351P you will find your two speaker grills which are perfectly placed, a TF card slot, and a reset button.
For some reason, ANBERNIC has placed a sticker over every RG351P. I’m not sure why that is, perhaps to keep it more stable. But when removing the sd card you’ll need to prepare yourself for cleaning up the port because it becomes a sticky mess.
And finally, the back has their signature grips, which in all honesty don’t do much for me. The biggest pro of having these is that it stops it from sliding off tables when placed, though it does very little for my grip.
ANBERNIC are getting it right. Everything is placed where it should be (apart from the headphone jack). The buttons and analogue sticks used are very high quality, and the sticks are the same as the Nintendo Switch, might I add!
The shell itself has some slight gritty texture to it; it’s not smooth like their older handhelds. This might help with making scratches less visible, but it’s a barely noticeable change.
The only downfall is that the RG351 has white analogue sticks when all of their buttons and the “rib cage” is grey, so they look very out of place.
We’re unsure whether this was a mistake or a purpose-made design choice, but it does look odd.
I also noticed that the front shell has sharp squared edges, whereas the back shell is rounded, allowing for a more comfortable feel, but you do notice it when you have a close look at the handheld.
The RG351P is a great handheld ergonomically. The materials used alongside the lovely display makes it an absolute pleasure to play on, but I may be the only one that thinks it looks just like any other handheld?
This in no way affects the review score, but it’s more of a personal preference. It looks like a very generic handheld, nothing that screams ‘wow’ like the leaked Gameforce handheld we recently covered.
But, as I said, this is just personal preference. I just can’t stop thinking that if you lined up every single handheld that has come out of China over the years, you would not remember the RG351P.
What Consoles Can The RG351P Emulate?
Their listing mentions that it can play all of the below consoles. We have marked an X next to the ones that will need constant tinkering of settings or the ones that don’t play 3D games 100% effectively.
- PSP x
- NDS x
- N64 x
- DC x
- NEOGEO POCKET
- Capcom 1/2/3
The RG351P is a very capable handheld; it’s using the same chip as many others on the scene, so admittedly ANBERNIC isn’t really making waves here, but the company is putting the chip inside of an incredibly well-made shell.
For any handheld fact lovers out there, the chip is the same as the popular ODROID Go Advance.
The Quad-Core 1.5GHZ CPU packs a punch, and on paper, it should be able to run most N64 games.
After a lot of testing and messing around with settings it can emulate the best N64 games… but prepare to put in a lot of work.
Most of the larger N64 games struggle, and that’s because the RK3326 chip isn’t perfect; it’s just cheap, and that’s why every handheld company in China is using it.
Smaller consoles like SNES, NES, Game Gear, Gameboy, MAME, PS1 and Neo Geo will run flawlessly, without any problems. You’ll have silky smooth frame rates, perfect audio, and generally a pleasant gaming experience.
When we tested the N64, PSP and Dreamcast, we had to mix up the OS’s a bit, switching between EmuElec, RetroArena and the stock Ubuntu, and that was a pain in the backside. We, as a customer, shouldn’t be having to do that just to squeeze the last frame rate out of it.
The RK3326 chip is outdated; handhelds with this chip are in the double digits.
We need innovation. It all feels a little like the market is taking one step forward and two steps back.
But, if you go in solely wanting PS1 emulation and consoles below, then this is one of the best handhelds for you. And if we think of it in those terms, then yes, this is a superb handheld.
It’s just a shame that everyone now expects N64/DC emulation out of these things. It’s possible with the smaller games, but prepare to have to research for hours on end to get that one specific N64 game working, and that ain’t fun.
Out of the box functionality
It hurts me that we even have to make this a subject in our reviews nowadays. Many handhelds straight out of the box need a lot of work, but the RG351P impressed us.
From loading up, the Linux OS is stunning, easy to use, and the handheld itself came with thousands upon thousands of preloaded games.
It had all of my favourite games in it from all consoles; I literally didn’t have to load any of my own, which is the first time this has happened with any handheld I have reviewed.
All they need to do is add a small instruction booklet in English that tells you what buttons to press in order to get to the menus. For me, this was somewhat easy, but that’s only because I review these things every week. But for the average gamer, it would need a quick google search.
This is where the RG351P earns a lot of respect. It’s a great pick up and play handheld with the power to emulate up to PS1 and the odd N64 game.
This is the handheld we will be recommending for those of you buying for a friend, for a child, or for someone new to the retro handheld niche. It’s that easy.
It may be that you don’t really understand all of the menus, the OS, the firmware updates, and beyond. If that’s the case, then the RG351P will be a perfect entry handheld for anyone wanting to start their collection.
And that’s why we’ve given it such a high score.
This, alongside the build quality, the lovely screen, and a decent brand name behind it is why we love it.
Yes, their listing states PSP, DC, DS and N64 emulation, but can it do it?
… Not really.
Yes, they state it has 8 hours battery life, can it do it?
… Not really, more like 5 or 6 hours.
Will it take 4 weeks to arrive?
Yes, but will it be worth it, absolutely.
And for those of you wanting pixel perfect Gameboy Advance emulation, well, you’re in for a treat.
This is the best handheld for Gameboy Advance emulation we’ve ever reviewed.
Don’t get me wrong, the RG351P isn’t perfect. It’s above average, but it’s such a great handheld for the newcomers and the ones that can’t be bothered to mess around with settings should they be happy with PS1 emulation.
If you’re after a handheld for N64 or Dreamcast emulation under $100, then we suggest looking at the Retroid Pocket 2. It requires a lot of tweaking, but you can squeeze most N64 games out of it and even the larger 3D Dreamcast games at a push.