The Best Retro Gaming Handheld in 2023

Retro gaming on a handheld? It's more likely than you think...

The Best Retro Gaming Handheld in 2023
The Best Retro Gaming Handheld in 2023

The handheld gaming emulator scene is booming at the moment, but what is the best retro gaming handheld, really? With new devices being released every couple of months, it is easy to become overwhelmed. So check out this list of DroiX’s favourite retro gaming handhelds to get you started on the purchase of your first (or next) device!

What is a Retro Gaming Handheld?

A retro gaming handheld is, as the name implies, a handheld device that is intended for retro gaming. Typically, these take the form of small SoC (System-on-a-chip) devices with a built in display and controls.

Often, these handhelds will run some form of open source operating system, such as EmuElec. This grants these handhelds the ability to play a huge variety retro games directly on the device (no fancy “cloud gaming” here!).

Why should I buy a retro gaming handheld when I have a mobile phone?

This is a question we often receive, and it is an reasonable one. With better versions of Android emulators being made every day, most people already pretty much have a portable gaming handheld in their pocket all the time.

While we can’t offer you one catch-all, “this is why” type of answer, we can provide a couple of arguments as to why you might buy a retro gaming handheld.

1. Keeping Things Separate

Some people simply like to keep their gear separate, and focused!

  • Maybe you don’t want to fill up your phone’s storage with ROMs
  • Maybe you want to save battery on your phone during the day.
  • Or maybe you see your phone as a communications device first and foremost, and don’t want to game on it.

2. Dislike of Phone Gaming

Gaming, particularly retro gaming on mobile phones can be uncomfortable at times. Retro games are not designed with the imprecision of touch screen controls in mind. Which can make more intensive games challenging, if not frustrating to play.

There are workarounds to this in the form of mobile-compatible gamepads. But some people might not like a peripheral being required.

3. They’re just… cool!

Plainly put, the idea of a gaming handheld that can play hundreds – if not thousands of games from all manner of retro platforms, all in the palm of your hand? Retro gaming handhelds are not unlike dreams many gamers have had as a kid.

“What if my Game Boy could play my PS1 games too?” – What we have here is an answer to that age-old question.

The Best Retro Gaming Handhelds of 2023

1. Miyoo Mini Plus+

Miyoo Mini Plus+ review video

The Miyoo Mini Plus+ is a retro gaming handheld that was released in early 2023. Though many had to wait a while to get one as it was at launch near impossible to buy due to demand. Thankfully DroiX has a large supply of Miyo Mini Plus+ available to buy right now! It is a small, pocket-sized device that is powered by an ARM Cortex-A7 dual-core processor and 128MB of RAM.

The Miyoo Mini Plus+ has a 3.5-inch IPS display with a resolution of 640×480 pixels. It also has a D-pad, four action buttons, two shoulder buttons, and a Start and Select button. The Miyoo Mini Plus supports a wide range of retro consoles, including the NES, SNES, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance, Sega Genesis, and Neo Geo Pocket Color. It also has built-in WiFi, which allows users to play compatible emulators cores with friends online.

The Miyoo Mini Plus+ portable gaming handheld has been well-received by critics and gamers alike. It has been praised for its small size, affordable price, and ability to play a wide range of retro games. The Miyoo Mini Plus+ is a popular choice for retro gaming enthusiasts and is a great option for those looking for a a cheaper and easy way to play their favorite classic games.

And not forgetting Onion OS which is a massive update to the original firmware. Everything is improved from the menu layout, to features such as Game Switch, auto saving, game scraping and more!

Read our in depth Miyoo Mini Plus+ review here.

What we like!

  • Great looking 3.5″ 640×480 4:3 aspect ratio display, perfect for retro gaming on
  • Great price
  • Built in WiFi
  • Supports the excellent Onion custom firmware
  • Supports a decent number of systems, more with custom fw

What we don’t like!

  • Maybe a little too small for some
  • Supplied OS and menu is a little basic

2. Anbernic RG35XX

Anbernic RG35XX review video

The Anbernic RG35XX was released in late 2022 so it is essentially a 2023 retro gaming handheld designed to play retro games. It is powered by an ARM Cortex-A9 quad-core processor and 256MB of RAM, and it has a 3.5-inch IPS display with a resolution of 640×480 pixels. The Anbernic RG35XX supports a wide range of retro consoles, including the NES, SNES, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance, Sega Genesis, Neo Geo Pocket Color, PlayStation 1, and some N64 games. It also has built-in WiFi, which allows users to play online with compatible emulators.

Like the Miyoo Mini Plus+ retro gaming handheld it does have a relatively basic OS and menu system compared to more expensive handhelds. But this can remedied with installing custom firmware such as Garlic OS which improves on all the features and includes more emulators.

The RG35XX vintage gaming handheld is a popular choice for retro gaming enthusiasts because it is small, affordable, and easy to use. It is also a great option for those who are looking for a cheap and simple way to play retro consoles.

Read our comprehensive RG35XX review here.

What we like!

  • The 3.5″ 640×480 4:3 aspect ratio display is perfect for retro gaming on
  • Great price
  • Supports the excellent Garlic custom firmware
  • Supports a decent number of systems, more with custom fw

What we don’t like!

  • Supplied OS and menu is a little basic

3. Retroid Pocket Flip

Retroid Pocket Flip review video

The Retroid Pocket Flip retro gaming handheld was released in mid 2023. It is a clamshell-style Android OS device that is powered by an Unisoc Tiger T618 octa-core processor and 4GB of RAM. The Retroid Pocket Flip has a 4.7-inch IPS display with a resolution of 750×1334 pixels. It also has a D-pad, four action buttons, shoulder, trigger and macro buttons, and a Start and Select button.

The Retroid Pocket Flip supports a wide range of retro consoles, including the NES, SNES, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance, Sega Genesis, Neo Geo Pocket Color, PlayStation 1, Dreamcast, and PSP. It also has built-in WiFi, which allows users to download games and firmware updates to the retro gaming handheld.

We liked the included software, Retroid Launcher is a good frontend for your emulators. There is also the built-in screen controller mapping which lets you play Android games with a controller if if they do not support it.

The clamshell design, its powerful processor, and its ability to play a wide range of retro games at a mid range price are what makes this retro handheld well worth considering.

Read our full Retroid Pocket Flip review here.

What we like!

  • Large 4.7″ display at 750×1334 looks great
  • Clamshell design available in multiple colours
  • WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0 supported
  • Android OS so easy to use.

What we don’t like!

  • Supplied OS and menu is a little basic

4. Anbernic RG505

Anbernic RG505 review video

The Anbernic RG505 is another retro gaming handheld released in late 2022 but qualifies as 2023. it is a powerful and portable handheld gaming console that allows you to play classic games from the 1970s to the 2000s. It is available in three colors: gray, turquoise, and yellow.

The Anbernic RG505 is powered by an Unisoc Tiger T618 octa-core processor and 4GB of RAM, which allows it to emulate a wide range of retro consoles, including the NES, SNES, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance, Sega Genesis, Neo Geo Pocket Color, PlayStation 1, and PSP. It also has a 4.95-inch OLED display with a resolution of 960×544 pixels, which provides clear and vibrant images. The RG505 portable retro gaming console also features hall effect sensor analogues, which provide more accurate and responsive controls than traditional controls.

The RG505 runs on Android 12, and also has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0, which allow you to connect to the internet and other devices wirelessly. The RG505 retro gaming handheld is powered by a 5000mAh rechargeable battery, which provides up to 8 hours of gameplay on a single charge.

The Anbernic RG505 is a great choice for retro gamers who are looking for a powerful and portable handheld gaming console. It is small, lightweight, and easy to carry around, and it supports a wide range of retro consoles. The RG505 also has a high-quality display and accurate controls, making it a great choice for playing classic games.

Read our deep dive review of the Anbernic RG505 here.

What we like!

  • Large 4.95 OLED display which looks amazing!
  • Fast Unisoc Tiger 1618 processor
  • Google Play Store included

What we don’t like!

  • Apps need a little setting up

5. Anbernic RG353M

Anbernic RG353M review video

The Anbernic RG353M is a powerful and portable handheld gaming console that allows you to play classic games from the 1970s to the present day. It is available in a stylish aluminum alloy case and measures only 5.07 x 2.7 x 0.62 inches and weighs 232 grams, making it extremely portable and easy to carry around.

The RG353M is powered by an RK3566 quad-core Cortex-A55 processor and 2GB of RAM, which allows it to emulate a wide range of retro consoles, including the NES, SNES, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance, Sega Genesis, Neo Geo Pocket Color, PlayStation 1, and many more. It also has a 3.5-inch IPS multi-touch screen with a resolution of 640×480 pixels, which provides clear and vibrant images. The RG353M retro gaming handheld also features dual analog sticks and gaming buttons for pixel-perfect precision and 3D accuracy.

The RG353M runs on Linux OS, which comes with a combination of Emulation Station and RetroArch emulators. This provides a wealth of gaming options on many classic game consoles from the 1970s to the present day. The RG353M also has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, which allow you to connect to the internet and other devices wirelessly. It also has a mini-HDMI output, which allows you to connect the classic gaming handheld to the TV and game on a larger screen.

The Anbernic RG353M is a great choice for retro gamers who are looking for a powerful and portable handheld gaming console. It is small, lightweight, and easy to carry around, and it supports a wide range of retro consoles. The RG353M also has a high-quality display and accurate controls, making it a great choice for playing classic games.

You can read our full Anbernic RG353M review here.

What we like!

  • Dual OS with Android 11 & Linux
  • Choice of two colours in a metal case
  • WiFi 5 & Bluetooth 4.2
  • 3.5″ touch screen, 640×480 resolution
  • HDMI output

What we don’t like!

  • No Google Play Store installed but there are workarounds.

Recap

Here is a comparison chart for the best retro gaming handhelds of 2023

MODELPROCESSORDISPLAYOSWHERE TO BUY
Miyoo Mini Plus+ARM Cortex-A7 dual core running up to 1.2GHz3.5″, 640×80LinuxBUY HERE
Anbernic RG35XXQuad-core ARM Cortex-A93.5-inch IPS, 640×480 LinuxBUY HERE
Retroid Pocket FlipUnisoc Tiger T618 octa-core processor 2x A75 @2.0GHz & 6x [email protected]4.7” touchscreen, 750×1334 Android 11BUY HERE
RG505Unisoc Tiger T618 64-bit octa-core – 2xA75 @2.0GHz & 6xA55 @2.0GHz4.95” OLED touchscreen, 960X544Dual Boot Android & LinuxBUY HERE
RG353MRK3566 Quad-Core 64 bit Cortex-A55, Main frequency up to 1.8GHz3.5-inch IPS touchscreen, 640×480Dual Boot Android & LinuxBUY HERE

The Best Retro Gaming Handhelds of 2022

We’ve gathered 5 of the best retro gaming handhelds in our list below. Check them out! First on the list is…

1. RG351MP

ANBERNIC RG351MP Mint Green colour frontal view

The RG351MP is the latest (at the time of publishing) retro gaming handheld from ANBERNIC, popular manufacturer of a variety of portable gaming devices.

The RG351MP can be considered the “ultimate” form of the RG351 family of retro gaming handhelds (which we like to refer to as the third generation). It combines various traits of the previous iterations into one “complete” device.

It features a 640x480p display with a 4:3 aspect ratio, making it ideal for many older titles that were designed with a 4:3 display in mind. 4:3 being the most common aspect ratio for televisions in the 90’s/early-00’s.

Present in the device is also a second microSD card slot. Allowing for the user to separate the operating system, emulators, and games collection onto different SD cards. Making them all much easier to manage (as you do not have to fiddle about with partitions).

To learn more about the RG351MP, you can check out our RG351MP review. You can also purchase an RG351MP of your very own at this link.

What we like!

  • A crisp, 4:3 display allows for pixel-perfect scaling of the vast majority of retro platforms.
  • Premium, weighty feeling metal shell.

What we don’t like!

  • No internal Wi-Fi means you will need a dongle.
  • It’s a little late – with the next “generation” of handhelds being just around the corner.

2. Miyoo Mini

The Miyoo Mini is a very portable handheld retro console that is low on price but big on features. It measures around 2.55 x 3.68 x 0.70 inches (6.5 x 9.35 x 1.8 cm) and weighs just 110 grams making it also one of the lightest retro handhelds.

The Miyoo Mini features an ARM Cortex-A7 dual core with a frequency up to 1.2GHz. 128MB RAM might not sound much, but it is enough to run the OS and emulators along with the games it supports. It has a great looking IPS display which 2.8″ in size with a a 640×480 resolution, it is great for playing your favourite retro consoles!

The OS it comes with does the job fine, it is easy to use and navigate. However to get the best performance and features from the gaming handheld we recommend installing the Onion OS CFW (Custom Firmware). It is a great replacement firmware with improvements including great PlayStation support and better menu visuals. The cost of the handheld is around less than half of other devices, so it is excellent value for money.

If our brief overview has you interested, you can learn more about the Miyoo Mini via our full Miyoo Mini review.

What we like!

  • Low cost, half that of some other devices
  • Very portable, small and light
  • Nice 2.8″ display
  • Easy to use Operating System
  • Replaceable rechargeable battery

What we dislike…

  • The official software could be improved upon. Need to install Onion OS to get the best out of the Miyoo Mini.

3. Gameforce Chi

Gameforce chi green colour frontal view

Unlike the other devices in this article. The Gameforce Chi does not come with much of a pedigree, being the brainchild of the startup Gameforce in mid-2021. The Gameforce Chi provides an alternative take on the idea of a retro gaming handheld.

Like the RG351MP (and it’s predecessors), the Gameforce Chi runs the same Rockchip SoC alongside 1GB of RAM. It also features built-in Wi-Fi and a single SD card design (meaning the OS, games, and emulators are all present on one chip).

The stand-out aspect of the Gameforce Chi lies in it’s physical design. Nowadays, the trend for retro gaming handhelds is to be in some form of horizontal “bar” shape”, with very few deviating from this norm in any meaningful way. The Gameforce Chi not only deviates, but “violates” this norm with it’s extremely chunky, playful form and bright colours (that are very remnicient of the Game Boy Advance).

One minor nitpick we do have however is the absence of L3/R3 buttons, but that is easily circumvented by use of the “Home” key in the centre of the device.

Not put off by the unusual appearance? Learn more about the Gameforce Chi in our Gameforce review, or buy a Gameforce Chi from DroiX.

What we like!

  • Unique, playful design.
  • High quality IPS display.
  • Backlit buttons!
  • Official EmuELEC Support

What we don’t like!

  • Lack of volume wheel/rocker.
  • No L3/R3
  • Doesn’t really do anything unique.

4. Retroid Pocket 2

The Retroid Pocket 2 is the current latest retro gaming handheld from Retroid, another specialist gaming handheld company. It is the successor to their original Retroid Pocket released in early 2020.

The Retroid Pocket 2 is set apart from it’s contemporaries by the fact that it runs an Android operating system, rather than a Linux-based distribution of some kind. It is also one of the rare retro gaming handhelds of its time to not feature a Rockchip SoC – instead, featuring a Cortex-A7. The overall performance is very similar to the Rockchip SoC though.

Running Android grants the Retroid 2 immediate access to a plethora of mature, optimized emulators, and you can even update the Retroid Pocket 2’s firmware to Android 8.1 for an overall smoother experience. It even comes with a special “Retroid OS” operating system that is useful for unfamiliar with emulation.

Want to know more about the Retroid Pocket 2 and it’s Android ability? Then check out our Retroid Pocket 2 review here.

What we like!

  • Can be upgraded to Android 8.1
  • HDMI Output
  • Bluetooth & Wi-Fi are built-in
  • Retroid OS is a nifty tool

What we don’t like!

  • Sluggish user interface
  • Buttons are too clicky for our tastes
  • Sliding-pad for the left “stick”.

5. RG351V

The RG351V is ANBERNIC’s attempt at a “vertically” oriented retro gaming handheld. With the controls for the device present below the screen, rather than on its sides.

This would be the first non-miniature vertical handheld ANBERNIC had released since the original RG300 back in late 2019, bearing an overall similar appearance (with a slim top half and bulkier bottom half).

The RG351V was the first ANBERNIC handheld since the RG300 to feature a 4:3 display as well. This meant that the screen would now scale near-perfectly with more retro games (as most were designed with a 4:3 aspect ratio in mind).

In terms of raw performance, it is the same as the other RG351 devices. Featuring the same RockChip SoC, granting it near-perfect performance in PS1 games and earlier, middling performance in N64 and PSP games, and is not capable of comfortably playing anything newer.

Interested? Buy an RG351V from DroiX, or check out our RG351V review first.

What we like!

  • Quirky wooden colour
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Beautiful 4:3 display
  • Two microSD card slots

What we don’t like!

  • Only one analogue stick
  • Inconveniently placed speaker

6. RG351P

ANBERNIC RG351 Purple Colour Frontal View

The RG351P is the poster child for the third generation of ANBERNIC retro gaming handhelds. Abandoning the Rockchip SoC of the old RG350 units, and moving onto a more powerful SoC (which also happened to be by Rockchip).

While the RG350 could comfortably play the vast majority of Playstation 1 games, as well as other 8-bit and 16-bit retro platforms; the RG351P gained the ability to play slightly more advanced platforms, such as the N64 and Playstation Portable. Although performance on these platforms does vary from game to game – some being fully playable, and others being virtually unplayable).

The 351P also introduced online functionality to the family of handhelds, being capable of scraping online databases for metadata (box art, descriptions, etc.) , and partaking in experimental online multiplayer for certain platforms through RetroArch.

While it is the oldest handheld of the third generation, the RG351P still has something to offer that no other model does – that being a 3:2 display in a plastic shell. It is also the most affordable of the bunch.

Want to know more? Check out our RG351P review, or buy an RG351P from DroiX here.

What we like!

  • Performance leap from earlier generation
  • Comfortable design
  • High build quality
  • Easy to use

What we don’t like!

  • Needs Wi-Fi Dongle
  • Only one microSD card
  • 3:2 display is only ideal for GBA games

Recap

We’ve provided a basic recap of the 5 devices featured in the 2022 list below. They’re all fairly similar on paper, so make sure to check out our reviews for more info!

ModelProcessorDisplayOperating SystemPurchase Link
ANBERNIC RG351MPRockChip RK3326; Quad-core @ 1.5GHz640x480p; 4:3; 3.5″EmuELEC (Custom)Buy Now
MIYOO MINIARM Cortex-A7 dual core @ 1.2GHz640x480p; 4:3; 2.8″Custom (Linux based)Buy Now
Gameforce Chi RockChip RK3326; Quad-core @ 1.5GHz 640x480p; 4:3; 3.45″EmuELEC (Official)Buy Now
Retroid Pocket 2 Cortex A7; Quad-core @ 1.5GHz 640x480p; 4:3; 3.5″Android 6 (8.1 Upgradable)Buy Now
ANBERNIC RG351V RockChip RK3326; Quad-core @ 1.5GHz 640x480p; 4:3; 3.5″ EmuELEC (Custom) Buy Now
ANBERNIC RG351P RockChip RK3326; Quad-core @ 1.5GHz 480×320; 3:2; 3.5″ EmuELEC (Custom) Buy Now
The Best Retro Gaming Handhelds – Table

We hope you’ve found this guide on retro gaming handhelds to be useful. As always, until next time!

Bringer of videos, text and images! AKA the social media guy at DroiX. Massive retro gaming fan and collector, with a far too large collection of consoles and computers from 1970's to modern.