Ploylab, the sponsor of my website and YouTube channel, sent me the Powkiddy X17 to review. Prior to receiving it, I was a little confused as it’s listed as a new handheld, even though the X15 and X20 are already available from Powkiddy. So, I found it rather strange given the fact that the X17 sits between those two.
My first impression with X17 was that it felt light but not too light that would make you think there wasn’t anything inside the shell. The design is okay but a little bulky; you certainly can’t slip this into your pocket. However, the 7” screen is pretty decent, and I like how the buttons illuminate and the shell has a nice grip design. But wait, I’m totally jumping ahead with myself…
So, what is the Powkiddy X17? For a starters, it is an Android 7.0 handheld console with a 7 inch HD IPS screen. It has a resolution of 600*1024, which for a handheld of this type is fairly decent. I found image quality to be very good, bright and sharp, with great colour saturation. My only main criticism would be that it’s very reflective in the daylight, and if sat outside, you may struggle to get a decent viewing angle.
It has two speakers that provide a decent stereo sound, though they weren’t as loud as I would have expected. It has a 4,000 mAh rechargeable battery, which should provide around six hours of play time, but this will depend on what you are playing as Android games will draw more power.
The Powkiddy X17 has button controls, as well as touch. This is very handy when it comes to the Android side of gaming as many games can be used with the touch-sensitive screen. If you have an Android phone, then you may already have a number of games that are compatible with the X17.
Because it runs on Android 7.0, you can also use YouTube, Netflix and listen to music; the X17 is quite a versatile gaming handheld. You can download all of your favourite emulators and ROMs using apps such as APKpure and Aptoid.
The X17 I received did not come with any included micro SD card, meaning it had no emulators or games, which was a bit disappointing considering that people who buy these handsets expect games and emulators to be included. Most people forget that you’re actually paying for the handheld, not for the games and emulators, which you’re expected to provide yourself.
In terms of playability, the Powkiddy X17 is okay, and you can spend some long periods of time playing your favourite games thanks mainly to the comfortable design. The joystick works well and is similar to other handhelds; however, I did miss not having the right stick. This is going to prevent you from playing some Android games; however, you do still have touch screen control.
The D-pad and ‘A,B,X,Y’ buttons feel good to use, though they don’t have that ‘clicky’ feel to them, which I sort of missed. The X17 also has 2 shoulder buttons on either side, which do feel a little cheap compared to the rest of the buttons, but they work okay. A nice feature I did like were how the buttons illuminated, which very few handhelds have. I just thought it was a nice touch, and it made it easier when playing in the dark.
One thing I did have issues with, which I have contacted Powkiddy for some advice on, is the built-in button mapping. It is a neat touch to have this function, and when it works, it works great. However, when I attempted to map any buttons to the right side of the screen, I was unable to move them to the very edge. This prevented me from being able to play some platforms if it required the B button to be mapped or the R1 R2 buttons.
The Powkiddy X17 handles the majority of emulators and games fairly well; however, you will need to put some work into them at times to get them running smoothly. It comes pre-installed with Chrome and the Happy Chick app, as well as a few other Chinese apps, which I have no idea what they do.
I did end up downloading a few other apps, such as PRG (which works incredibly well) and RetroArch (which I did have issues with as it would not recognise the control scheme, so I couldn’t bind my buttons). When I downloaded standalone emulators, they did work better, but anything that required RetroArch to work in the background prevented any of the controls from working. And whilst I could use the built-in button mapping, the issue I had with the right side of the screen prevented me from mapping all of the buttons.
I found that whilst Happy Chick does not use up-to-date emulators, this and the PRG app were the two best ways for playing games (you can get the PRG app to read your own games straight from the SD card).
The MT8163 quad-core A53 64-bit processor, which runs at 1.3GHz, and the DDR3 2G Ram are a fairly reasonable set of specs that will allow you play most gaming platforms up to PS1. The X17 will still struggle to play some more intense games, which I particularly noticed on the N64 and PSP emulators, so don’t expect to play God of War on the go. Riptide GP2 worked extremely well with great HD visuals.
There are two USB ports for plugging in external controllers for multiplayer modes, and you can also hook up Bluetooth remotes for wireless play. There’s a headphone jack for when you don’t want to interrupt others, as well as an SD card slot for up to 128GB additional storage to the already 32GB built-in.
So overall, my time with the X17 was pleasant. It can do a multitude of things, but I’m still waiting for that one handheld of all handhelds, which the X17 is not. I’m hoping Powkiddy are able to assist with the button mapping issue, and I totally gave up on the RetroArch app, which is a shame as it is usually integral for smooth playing of retro games.
The X17 is a decent attempt at hybrid gaming, and I have played far worse in the past. It is lacking in some areas, but there are far worse gaming handhelds out there compared to the X17.