Which is better: the Retroid 3+ vs. ANBERNIC RG353M?

In recent years, the market for retro handheld gaming devices has expanded, bringing a plethora of choices for nostalgic gamers. Among these options, two devices have particularly stood out – the Retroid 3+ ($179) and the ANBERNIC RG353M ($159). Let’s dive deep and compare these two powerhouses.

What is the ANBERNIC RG353M?

The ANBERNIC RG353M, priced at $159.99, is an upgrade from the company’s first metal handheld, the RG350M, which was introduced in early 2020 and set a trend for many competitors, although most failed to replicate its success. The RG353M has been redesigned with a new look, advanced technology, and an upgraded chipset, marking a significant improvement after several disappointing launches by the company. The device’s aesthetics have undergone a transformation, with the most noticeable changes being the removal of the screen’s logo and a reduction in bezel size. The 3.5” display is now a touchscreen with a resolution of 640 x 480, making it ideal for retro games. The button layout remains the same, with minor changes to the action buttons, which are now colored and sit tighter to the shell. The device also features new hall joysticks, which use magnets to read the input, providing more precise feedback and extending the lifespan of the device. The start and select buttons are in the same position, but the outdated white text doesn’t quite match the minimal metal aesthetic.

The device is considerably thinner than its predecessor, resulting in a reduction in weight to just 232g, which is fairly light for a metal device. The shoulder buttons have been redesigned and are well-positioned, responsive, and curve around the corners for a good amount of touch points. The device also features a new function button, a DC in, HDMI out, on-the-go storage port, and a headphone jack. The RG353M is powered by a 1.8GHZ Quadcore RK3566 CPU and a Mali G52 GPU, with 2GB RAM. It also features a 3500MAH Battery and supports WIFI/Bluetooth. The device can run both Android and Linux, although the Android OS can be a bit cumbersome to use with the tiny 3.5” touchscreen. In terms of performance, the RG353M excels at emulating consoles like the Gameboy Advance, SEGA Mega Drive, Playstation 1, Nintendo 64, and Nintendo DS.

However, it struggles with more demanding games like God of War on PSP. The device shines when it comes to emulating Dreamcast games, making it one of the best pocket-friendly Dreamcast emulators on the market. The battery life varies depending on the consoles emulated, but tests have shown that the device can last for a solid 5 hours at high brightness. ANBERNIC has made significant improvements with the RG353M, making it a strong contender for the best retro handhelds of the year.

What is the Retroid 3+?

The Retroid Pocket 3+ (read our review here) is a handheld gaming device that has been garnering attention for its impressive performance and sleek design. The Retroid Pocket 3+ offers a 2.0ghz Octa-core Unisoc Tiger T618 CPU, a Mali G52 MC2 @850MHz GPU, 4GB RAM, 128GB storage, a 4.7″ touch-screen display, and a 4500mAh battery. It runs on Android 11 and has the same design, buttons, shell, and screen as the original Retroid Pocket 3. The main difference is the new T618 chip and the upgraded RAM, which allows for the emulation of more power-demanding games.

The device has been praised for its design, which is reminiscent of the Nintendo Switch. It’s not the smallest of handhelds, but it’s slim and features a bright touchscreen display. The buttons on the 3+ have been upgraded to provide more feedback than the original, a change that has been well received.

The Retroid Pocket 3+ can emulate Dreamcast, PSP at 2x native resolution, most Gamecube games, and a few smaller PS2 games. However, it struggles with larger PS2 games, so those looking for a device to play these games may want to wait for other options to come onto the market. The Retroid Pocket 3+ is a solid handheld gaming device. It offers high-quality emulation, a sleek design, and solid battery life, all for under $180. However, it’s recommended that those who already own the Retroid Pocket 3 do not upgrade to the Plus, as the improvements may not justify the additional cost.

1. Design and Build Quality:

  • Retroid 3+:
    The Retroid 3+ sports a modern, ergonomic design, ensuring prolonged gaming sessions remain comfortable. Its sturdy plastic build, combined with a compact form factor, makes it travel-friendly and resilient to wear and tear.
    ANBERNIC, known for its premium build quality, doesn’t disappoint with the RG353M. The device is encased in a metal shell, exuding a premium feel. The button layout is also intuitive, making it user-friendly for both new and seasoned gamers.


2. Display:

  • Retroid 3+:
    Boasting a vibrant screen, the Retroid 3+ ensures crisp visuals. The screen size is ample for retro gaming, providing clarity and sharpness for pixel-based games.
    The RG353M comes with an OCA laminated display, ensuring deeper blacks and more vibrant colors. The screen resolution provides a perfect blend of pixel density and retro authenticity.

Winner: Retroid 3+

3. Performance and Compatibility:

  • Retroid 3+:
    Equipped with decent internals, the Retroid 3+ handles most retro gaming ROMs with ease. From NES to certain PSP games, its performance remains consistent, with rare hiccups. The Retroid 3+ plus runs a Unisoc Tiger T618 octa-core processor with 2x A75 @2.0GHz and 6x A55 @2.0GHz core.
    Sporting a powerful chipset for its category, the RG353M seamlessly emulates a broad range of systems, including but not limited to SNES, PS1, and even some Dreamcast games. Its performance is arguably one of its standout features. This handheld runs the RK3566 Quad-Core 64-bit Cortex-A55 at speeds up to 1.8GHz.

Winner: Retroid 3+

4. Software and User Experience:

  • Retroid 3+:
    The Retroid OS is user-friendly and offers a dual-boot feature with Android, broadening the device’s capabilities. Its UI is intuitive, with the flexibility of Android adding a layer of customizability.
    Preloaded with OpenDingux, the RG353M ensures a vast array of emulator support. Its UI might have a steeper learning curve for newcomers, but once mastered, it offers a rich gaming experience. Many models include games built-in. The ANBERNIC runs a Linux-based OS and can dual-boot into Android.


5. Battery Life:

  • Retroid 3+:
    A 4500mAh battery ensures six hours of gaming. While intense gaming can reduce battery longevity, casual retro gaming ensures hours of uninterrupted fun.
    The RG353M offers comparable battery life but has a 3500mAh so your results may vary. Its power-efficient chipset, combined with software optimizations, ensures the device lasts through long journeys.

Winner: Retroid 3+

Which handheld should you buy?

Choosing between the Retroid 3+ and the ANBERNIC RG353M boils down to personal preference. If you’re looking for a more premium feel and slightly better performance, the RG353M might be your pick. On the other hand, if Android’s flexibility and modern design appeal to you, the Retroid 3+ stands as a worthy contender.

Both devices offer exceptional value for their price, ensuring a trip down memory lane filled with pixelated adventures.

Our choice? We prefer the power and compatibility of the Retroid 3+.

John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.

View all posts by John Biggs →

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