2023 has been a very interesting year for the handheld emulation scene. We have seen some of the major names like Miyoo, Anbernic and Powkiddy release some pretty incredible devices.
Though, we would also say that it has been a particularly slow year for those companies.
This year has also been slightly frustrating, as we have seen a lot of devices from major and minor names in the emulation scene that offer little to no innovation. A lot of reused design concepts and hardware configurations.
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With the emulation device market showing a lot of financial promise and profit only to be made from the hardware itself, there are plenty of companies hoping to jump into the market. And some of the major players doing everything they can to stay relevant.
All of these companies have an obligation to keep releasing devices, even if it’s nothing new.
Inspiration is nothing unfamiliar to the handheld scene. And neither is straight up copying. Many of these companies are making their version of a device from their competitors.
But the latest batch of devices coming from one anonymous clone maker are very obvious duplication of existing devices. And this is done for one reason only – to steal money from the companies who spent time and money to develop the original device.
We have not previously posted about these devices because we do not want to give them exposure, nor do we recommend that you buy them.
But with the rate of their release, we feel like it might be the right time to address their existence.
Powkiddy RGB20s – VS – R35S (clone)
Of all of the clone devices to come from this anonymous maker, it is the R35S that has gotten the most exposure.
And sadly for the device that is copies, the Powkiddy RGB20S, the clone actually makes an improvement on the original product.
While the two are nearly identical in outer appearances as well as performance, it is in the actual feel and build quality where the clone would win most votes.
Both make use of the ever so popular RK3326 chipset, which will be a theme for this clone maker. It appears to be the only chipset they are able to make use of.
Which might also be their downfall, because it has made their identity easier to track down for the companies hoping to take legal action against them. But that is still to be seen.
Powkiddy has been in the slow process of developing a successor to the RGB20S, but unfortunately they missed the window and somebody else stepped in.
Obviously, we would like to see Powkiddy deliver a strong response with a much better offering for long time fans of the wildly successful RGB20s.
And thankfully, Powkiddy was able to make enough noise to stop production on this clone. Though, many are still out there on reseller listings.
Anbernic RG353v – VS – R36S (clone)
After getting some legitimate pressure from Powkiddy themselves, the anonymous clone pusher decided to make some modifications to their R35S.
However, the company made no effort to take their design in a more original form. They just decided to recreate another popular device.
This time the target of the cloning would be the Anbernic RG353V, a very beautiful and well built emulation machine.
In this particular case, I do not think anybody would say that this clone bests the original in build quality, design, or performance.
The RG353V has the more powerful RK3566 CPU, it has a more appealing design, and you are guaranteed the impeccable Anbernic build quality.
The one and only reason to choose this clone over the original is due to the price tag. But is a $20 savings really worth supporting this kind of thievery? I vote no, and I am encouraging you to think that way as well.
Miyoo Mini Plus – VS – R33S (clone)
A new clone device that has not yet hit the public sales listing is the new R33S, which makes no effort to hide that it is a clone of the ever popular Miyoo Mini Plus.
A video of the device can be viewed on this Reddit post. You can see that there have been very few changes to the original design. The exact same button size, placement, angle, everything.
However, unlike the first two examples, this new clone will be the first to actually make an upgrade to the performance.
Once again, using the RK3266 chip, which is significantly more powerful than the chip used in the Miyoo Mini Plus. Though, with the button configuration, it is not a performance increase one would really need.
This change in the CPU will be the main selling point for this Miyoo clone, if there is a selling point.
But we are hoping to offer a moral justification for you to not support this kind of cloning.
We have no reason to believe that clone devices will slow down anytime soon. Unless, of course, some of these companies see serious legal action against them. But there will probably just be another waiting in line behind them to do the same.
But if the buyers take a look at what is happening – there are a couple key takeaways from the current state of device cloning.
The first and most important is that choosing to support these devices is supporting stealing at the base level.
Saving $20 to support an obvious copy is not the best thing for our scene. The best thing we can do is not buy these clone devices so there is no reward for the effort of doing so.
But on the other hand, you can’t deny that some of these “copies” are objectively and subjectively better than the device that they clone. And there are arguments that could be made for progressing the scene and creating competitive pricing.
But at the end of the day, you would be supporting obvious theft of somebody’s design for the sake of trying to take a piece of the income that company could make.
And what we want to support is innovation and creativity in this niche scene. As fans of retro handhelds and gaming devices, we would like to encourage you to support the companies who create something innovative or original.
So that means even staying away from devices from the bigger companies that are not giving us anything innovative or useful to the scene.
You ultimately show your support with your wallet, so we encourage you to think in those terms when choosing to purchase your next emulation handheld.
We know that not every consumer has the inside knowledge of what happens with these companies, where designs come from, and the entirety of the scene.
But the educated readers who follow this scene can make an impact on the future of emulation handhelds by supporting the creative and innovative products and ignoring the ones we do not want to see more of.
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Anthony has been a video game lover ever since he can remember. He became a fulltime nomad in 2018, living throughout most of Asia. He focused his passion in retro gaming and began creating a game for the Game Boy Color while living in Nara, Japan during the 2020 pandemic. He is now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he spends most of his time gaming, going on long walks and meeting as many stray dogs as possible.