Anbernic RG353P Review

Anbernic RG353P: Android Meets Linux

 

The Anbernic RG353P is the upgrade to the popular PocketGo S30 that was released in early 2021, making some improvements as well as adding an upgraded chip. So, when Gogamegeek offered to send me the RG353P for review purposes, I was interested to see how it compared with other Anbernic products.

First off, I wanted to mention the packaging as for an Anbernic product, the box looks rather ‘grown up’ and colourful compared to the previous bland packaging they have used. It now looks a little more premium, which is nice to see.

When you first hold the RG353P, you will notice now premium it feels, with a nice weight to it. Compared to the PocketGo S30, this is an overall improvement, and with the slightly larger design, I really like how it feels to hold.

The RG353P’s design allows it to have a larger battery, as well as bigger shoulder buttons that feel great for prolonged gaming periods. It also has a mini-HDMI port, allowing console gaming, which is especially useful when away. This also helps with the weight of the handheld, and it certainly does not feel cheap when using it.

At the bottom of the RG353P, you will find perfectly located speakers, a headphone jack, and two SD card slots, one used for the firmware and one for the ROMs. Everything is perfectly situated and works well.

On the face of the handheld, you get the classic SNES aesthetic (though I chose the transparent version, which loses a bit of the nostalgia). It looks very similar to the shell design of the original SNES controller.

The screen on offer is a 3.5” IPS 640 x 480 touch-screen display, which looks absolutely awesome. The touch-screen comes into play when you boot up the Android side of the OS (simply remove the OS SD card).

The screen itself is bright and sharp with excellent colour reproduction. It’s also highly responsive to the touch, which is good, and playing both retro games and Android is a joy.

Around the screen you get the usual buttons, all of which are well located. The power on/off buttons are both on the face, making it very easy and quick to get to the emulator settings.

The RG353P has two analogue sticks, the same used on the Nintendo Switch, which worked well and had good positioning, making the handheld comfortable to use.

Overall, the design looks great and really provides a retro feel. It feels weighty and fits nicely in the hand, allowing you to play for extended periods of times, which not all devices allow. The back also has the rubber grips that we now expect to find on an Anbernic device.

 

RG353P Specifications

  • 3.5″ IPS touch-screen display (640 x 480)
  • RK3566 Quad-core 1.8ghz CPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 3500MAH Battery
  • Android 11 or Linux Dual Boot OS
  • 5G WiFi
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • Stereo Dual Speakers

The RG353P comes with the new 1.8Ghz quad-core RK3566 chipset, which offers a slight performance improvement compared to the now aged RK3326 chip that we have seen in many handhelds of late.

One other improvement is the addition of 2GB RAM, as well as the dual boot Android and Linux OS. It also comes with 5G Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2, plus a 3500mah battery that will get you around 4–5 hours on a single charge. The 5G Wi-Fi will allow you to stream games from your PC.

The new chipset can play PS1, PSP and N64 games very well, and that also includes most of the Dreamcast games. However, I did have issues with Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, which played terribly. On the other hand, when using the standalone emulator through the Android OS, it worked really well.

Crazy Taxi 2 on the Dreamcast also worked really well, with only a few hiccups here and there, but overall, it was an enjoyment to play. I know a lot of people will be saying that I should use a different OS, such as JELos. However, I always do my reviews based on ‘out of the box’ experiences for those people who do not want to mess around with additional OS.

When playing games, the 4:3 display looks fantastic and is the perfect size for DS, Game Boy and Game Gear. Everything looked nice and sharp, and the additional touch-screen worked great, particularly for DS stuff.

Android touch-screen worked out of the box for the DS emulator, meaning there was no set-up at all. This was a great addition for anyone wanting to play DS games without having to mess around with the emulator settings.

With the additional RAM to power older emulations, the likes of PS1, PSP and Dreamcast all work really well, with little to no changes needed to the emulators out of the box. So, I’m excited to see what comes next with different OS, once they are released and stable.

At $140 the RG353P is reasonably priced, considering how well everything works. Yes, you can buy slightly cheaper handhelds, but they will have less power, and the addition of the great touch-screen is the icing on top.

I totally recommend the RG353P as it’s a very capable handheld, and at a decent price, you won’t be disappointed by what it can handle. The nice design, decent build-quality, and good controls including the touch-screen just add it to the list of ‘must have’ handhelds, in my opinion.

 

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