I’ve reviewed a few ‘mini retro handhelds’ of late, which have all been fairly decent and ideal for slipping into your pocket for pickup and play sessions. The Anbernic RG35XX is yet another of these ‘mini’ handhelds hoping to take another slice of the market.
I’d like to thank Gogamegeek for sending me the transparent white version, with a 128GB SD card included with a ton of games. Whilst Gogamegeek have provided the RG35XX for free, they do not get to see the review until it’s published and have no input on the content.
Anbernic have priced the RG35XX at a really tempting price point, and the one I received from Gogamegeek is priced at $85.79. This makes it an extremely good deal when you look at how well it performs….do not expect anything above PS1 though, you will need to look elsewhere for that.
When I first unboxed the RG35XX, I was really surprised by the weight of it, as well as its size considering it’s aimed at the mini market. Build quality is really good, as you’d expect from Anbernic. And it really doesn’t feel like a cheap handheld, considering the price point. I found it to be similar in size to the RG351V, which I reviewed some time ago.
Compared to the Miyoo Mini, there really is no comparison in size though. This is not a ‘mini’ at all, even though it could still be put into your trouser pocket. It would have been nice had Anbernic attempted to reduce it a little more in the size category. However, for those that really don’t like a small sized screen, as the Miyoo has, then they should be happy with the RG35XX.
ANBERNIC RG35XX Specs:
- CPU: quad-core ARM Cortex-A9.
- GPU: Quad-core Power-VR SGX544MP GPU.
- RAM: DDR3 256MB.
- Screen: 3.5-inch IPS 640×480.
- OS: Linux.
- Battery: 2100 mAh around 5 hours.
- Charging: USB-C 5V/1.5A, support C2C charging.
- Connectivity: 2.4G wireless/wired gamepad connection, HDMI for TV output.
- Console Size: Length 11.7cm x Width 8.1cm x Height 2.0cm.
- Console Weight: 0.165 kg.
- Colours: Clear, Gray and Transparent Purple,
Design & Build Quality
If we look at the design, it’s very similar to the old Game Boy classic handheld, except for the missing joystick, though the RG35XX is somewhat smaller in size.
The large 3.5” glass screen with its small bezels takes up quite a bit of the available space and is significantly larger than other ‘mini’ handhelds. Now, I actually like this as I did find that the screens on all of the ‘mini’ handhelds I’ve reviewed so far are a little bit too small for my liking, but that is purely down to preference, not because those screens were bad in any way.
I was really impressed with the image quality of the RG35XX, it’s sharp, bright with great colours, and because of the 4:3 aspect and resolution, the likes of Game Boy Advance games really do look great.
The DPAD is what you would expect from Anbernic: firm and easy to press, with a soft feel due to the rubber membrane. You really can’t fault Anbernic when it comes to the quality of their buttons.
On the right side of the handheld, you will find the glossy action buttons, which again feel really nice, though I would have preferred something more non-glossy or with a bit more grip as they can become a little slippery after a long gaming session. But overall, they do the job well.
You will then find the Start/Select buttons in the middle just below everything else, along with the small Menu button, which will take you to the emulator settings when pressed. The RG35XX really does look very similar to a Game Boy, and I really liked the design.
Down each side you will find the volume buttons, On/Off, Reset and two SD card slots, one for the operating system and one for the games. There is also an HDMI out, as well as a headphone socket on the top and bottom.
The 2100 mAh battery is held at the bottom of the handheld, so whilst it’s thicker, this lends a nice weight to it and helps it set well in your hand. This also allows the shoulder buttons to be located on the back, just in the right place for your fingers to rest on when playing.
Speaking of the shoulder buttons, I wish they had been stacked instead of being stepped next to each other. This can make it a little uncomfortable if you need to use them, but luckily, not many gaming platforms require them to be used. They also feel very clicky to use and just don’t come across as premium as the rest of the handheld.
The operating system is very underwhelming when you first switch on the RG35XX, and there is no Wi-Fi on this handheld, so any updates will need to be downloaded onto a computer and flashed to the SD card. This is probably the most disappointing part of the RG35XX.
For newcomers who just want a pick-up and play handheld, the RG35XX is ideal though. Everything just works straight out of the box, which is what I prefer myself. The one I received from Gogamegeek came supplied with thousands of games, and everything just worked. This handheld is a no brainer for newbies who want a decent quality pick-up and go handheld that will allow you to literally start playing a game within seconds of switching it on.
You can use a 3rd party OS called Garlic OS, which will provide you with more options to tinker and more gaming platforms to use, but for me the RG35XX does exactly what I want it to do out of the box, and that is to just play the games that it came with and no need to worry about any setting up or hassles.
The OS really is simple, it literally organises all of the console’s games available for you, just click on the one you want to play, and it opens up the loaded ROM titles and images for each one. Click the game you want, and that’s it. It’s nothing exciting, but it’s just so easy to use.
Whilst in a game, pressing the Menu button will bring up a few options, such as save game, load game and go back to the main menu; it’s so easy to understand. Give the RG35XX to someone who has never played a gaming handheld and they will still be up and playing within seconds.
The RG35XX isn’t the most powerful of handhelds though and will only emulate games up to and including PS1. You won’t find the likes of Dreamcast or PSP on the RG35XX as the CPU and 256MB of RAM just aren’t powerful enough to handle anything like them. But if you are okay with that, then this handheld is still great for everything else, particularly at this price point.
When playing Game Boy Advance games, as well as the likes of SNES, Neo Geo, NES and Game Gear, because of the great screen quality, lack of frame-rate issues, and the decent sound, it was a joy to revisit some of my favourite games from the past. Advance Wars on the GBA looked and played great.
The PS1 games included, I think, may have needed curating to make the most from the specs of the RG35XX as everything worked really well, other than some small text in games, everything just worked great, with no slow down, frame rate issues, etc.
Anbernic have created a decent handheld, though whether it could be classed as a true ‘mini’ is debatable. It’s not the most powerful handheld out there, but what it does come with plays very well indeed.
The number of pre-loaded games the RG35XX comes with (at least from Gogamegeek) is enough to keep you busy and occupied for quite some time, with some great gaming titles included. The 3.5” screen is very good, verging on excellent for this price range, though the OS could have been a bit more interesting. But for pick-up and play value, the RG35XX is highly recommended for those with no intention of playing anything overly complicated.