The Anbernic RG353P redefines the budget segment with the new processor, something that is capable of covering most of the slightly demanding systems like Nintendo 64, Dreamcast and PlayStation Portable. This is the mid-range handheld that will bridge the gap between the baseline Anbernic RG35XX and the top-tier Anbernic RG405M.
Though the Anbernic RG353PS is out now, as a even more budget version of the Anbernic RG353P, I recommend to read through the whole Anbernic RG353P review to see which handheld is more suitable for your use cases.
Anbernic seems to make a decent product that asked around $100, especially when the company released the Anbernic RG35XX Plus that is technically the new baseline retro handheld emulator for everyone. The Anbernic RG353P also reminds us of the classic SNES controller that we used to love in the past.
Anbernic RG353P Review: Price
- Commonly found at: $104
- Costs 1.55 times the RG35XX
Anbernic had managed to create ripples in the retro handheld market with its sub $200 devices such as the RG350 series, RG351 series, and finally, the RG353 series. Even the more expensive handheld RG405M was lapped up by consumers with open arms. The Anbernic RG353P is the first of its line, designed as the replacement for the Anbernic RG351P.
Here is a device that rivals the Retroid Pocket 2 Plus with the capability of dual booting with both Android and Linux, which is quite impressive because not everyone is fond of Android system. Bringing back the idea of Linux, especially when you can install custom firmware on the Anbernic RG353P, is the reason why many people choose to pay more the handheld.
Yes, focus on the price, the Anbernic RG353P costs a little bit more than the Retroid Pocket 2 Plus, while its processor is even somehow not as good as the UNISOC T310 processor of the competitor. However, the Anbernic RG353P seems to have better build quality and I know many people are falling for Anbernic’s typical buttons, while no one really likes the RP2+.
Initially, you need to pay $145 for the Anbernic RG353P. However, if you occasionally visit my links, I’m sure you can get the Anbernic RG353P as low as $105. I don’t know but I can’t find the product on Ebay, so you must resort on the long shipping time of AliExpress. It will be more like a blind purchase than most other Anbernic products.
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Anbernic RG353P Review: Design and Build Quality
|190 mm x 84 mm x 20 mm
|3.5 inch IPS, 640 x 320, 228.57 PPI, 4:3 aspect ratio
|Gray, Transparent Black
|Internal 32 GB eMMC 5.1, Dual External MicroSD
|3.5mm headphone jack
- Quite big, even bigger than the RG405M
- 4:3 screen is quite staple for retro gaming
- Speaker placement is not good, but speakers are better than the RG351 series
- Build quality is decent
- Not really comfortable for long gaming sessions, unlike the RG353M
The Anbernic RG353P is designed to be similar to the SNES controller, specifically the Super Nintendo Entertainment System for North America region. You shouldn’t mistake it with the Super Famicom’s controller that has 4 different colors for ABXY buttons. Such thing is designed for the later Anbernic RG353PS.
It surely reminds us of a great era, especially when the SNES controller is iconic to easily tell it apart other designs. Usually when a new retro handheld comes out, its design should be the most attractive thing to motivate purchase intention. Anbernic knew that, because the company has been making retro handhelds since 2017, and the Anbernic RG353P delivers it quite well.
However, for such an iconic design, sadly it’s the size that suffers. To compensate for such a nostalgic design idea, the Anbernic RG353P is nearly the same size as the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus. That’s not what you want to scream for, until you know the RP3+ isn’t really a good example of pocketable handheld. Measuring at 190 mm x 84 mm x 20 mm, the Anbernic RG353P is a little bit smaller than Retroid handheld, though I don’t think I want to put it in the pocket.
More problem, the big size doesn’t mean big screen. The Anbernic RG353P keeps the same 3.5-inch IPS screen that’s quite popular in the world of retro handhelds. Keeping a bulky handheld with such small display isn’t ideal for many people, and the price of the Anbernic RG353P certainly drives more to get the Anbernic RG405M for a better display. Fortunately, Anbernic knew when to give discount for its products, and the Anbernic RG353P is still an okay purchase at its reduced price.
Back to the display, the Anbernic RG353P comes with 640 x 480 resolution that offers 228 PPI. Not a groundbreaking specification, as the same screen with 4:3 aspect ratio is being used by numerous retro handheld products. However, I find the Anbernic RG353P’s display with better sharpness and color production than the Retroid Pocket 2 Plus that’s released before it. On display protection, Anbernic uses the same tempered glass that is OCA laminated for better durability.
There is an “Anbernic” line in-between the black bars of the Anbernic RG353P, which is quite similar to the previous RG351 series. In the booming retro market, perhaps it’s best to keep the brand name right before the customer’s eyes. To be remembered is to stay longer in the competitive market.
In terms of buttons, Anbernic tends to have stiff buttons, the same as the Nintendo DS Lite. While it isn’t my most favorite to use, I personally prefer the Anbernic RG353P to the RP2+ for buttons’ smashing only.
Unlike the RG405M, the Anbernic RG353P uses standard shoulder buttons’ position, and it is more favorable by most people. Maybe Anbernic tries to recreate the same feeling from using the SNES controller, but with L2/R2 buttons.
There are L3/R3 buttons available in the Anbernic RG353P, though I never use it, I guess it could be another selling point for you.
Anbernic RG353P Review: Gaming Experience
|RockChip RK3566 (Cortex-A55), 4 cores 4 threads @ 1.8 GHz
|Mali-G52 2EE @ 850 MHz
|2 GB LPDDR4X
|Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2
- Targeted system emulator: SNES, PS1, N64, Dreamcast
- PSP works great, albeit different aspect ratio
- Targeted game genres: all game genres
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Anbernic RG353P is powered by the RockChip RK3566, which is the later quad-core processor with four Cortex-A55 cores. It has higher clock and better structure than the previous RockChip RK3326 featuring in the Anbernic RG351P and Anbernic RG351M, at 1.8 GHz. At its core, the RockChip RK3326 is slightly behind the UNISOC T310 chipset of the Retroid Pocket 2 Plus.
Giving it company is the Mali-G52 2EE GPU and 2 GB of RAM, using the later technology of LPDDR4X. Funny that the RockChip RK3566 has a much better GPU, which is quite similar to the more expensive Anbernic RG405M. Perhaps when the company can cut costs for upping more RAM into the unit, the next-gen RG353P can even run GameCube, Wii and PS2.
But at the moment, the Anbernic RG353P suffers from its performance, and can achieve better results on Nintendo 64, Dreamcast and PlayStation Portable. It can run a few GameCube titles, but honestly you shouldn’t bother to try. There is no public compatibility list for the series of RockChip RK3566 variants, so I will try to make a private list when I have free time. But for the best, the Anbernic RG353P will perform nearly the same as the Retroid Pocket 2 Plus, and I recommend to check its compatibility list for some ideas.
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On the software front, the Anbernic RG353P runs dual boot Android and Linux systems. By default, the OS of the Anbernic RG353P is purely Android 11, which seems to have 15% better performance than the previous Android 9 built for retro handheld emulators. You have the only option to install JELOS custom firmware for Linux base, because ArkOS is still missing on the RG353P and RG353PS only. For me, JELOS is still a better option, thanks to its EmulationStation frontend.
Not sure if I prefer Linux or Android over another, as both come with decent frontend that quickly allow me to enjoy games. Perhaps Android is somehow better with sleep function, but nonetheless, save states feature on retro games works flawlessly, so you shouldn’t worry about losing your precious saves.
Holding the Anbernic RG353P is a bit heavier than most retro handhelds, but its build quality is decent enough that I don’t feel hand fatigues on long gaming sessions. The 3.5-inch display is quite terrible for the handheld, mostly because it feels much smaller in hands. Still, that’s the same 3.5-inch display which is common in retro handheld world, so it’s just my imagination to think it’s worse than, said, the Miyoo Mini Plus.
Not to forget there are a plethora of themes available that help you customize the Daijisho frontend, if you’re going Android route. Whenever you’re tired of see the same Android lockscreen, Linux will back you up and adjust your mood perfectly.
I did not face any issues getting around with the games, mostly on Android because it’s still easier to get acquainted with the Android system. The 4:3 screen is golden for most retro home consoles, albeit the PlayStation Portable that uses 16:9 screen. It is able to run even most N64 and Dreamcast flawlessly, and I dare say the RockChip RK3566 will be perfect for next-gen budget emulators, thanks to its availability and low cost.
The Anbernic RG353P supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a mini HDMI video output for exporting videos to TV. You can try Moonlight on Android, in case you want a streaming handheld for your PC.
The Anbernic RG353P stands a bit lower than the competition with only a 3500-mAh battery capacity. Running Android and emulating more demanding systems require much more, and don’t surprise if your PSP sessions end up at only 3 hours. For not demanding systems like GBA or SNES, you can expect the handheld to pass the mark of 6 hours.
You can use the normal USB-C cable for the Anbernic RG353P, and it needs 3 hours to be fully charged. Don’t try fast charging for any RockChip handhelds, and the Anbernic RG353P isn’t out of this rule.
The Anbernic RG353P delivers a much better performance for the same asked price as the previous models, so we can expect a blissful future with, maybe, a RG405M at $100. However, back to the present, and we have the Anbernic RG353P that limits to N64, Dreamcast and PSP emulators.
It is really a good product for offering both Android and Linux, which is suitable for everyone’s taste. However, if you’re a pure lazy handheld man, you quickly grow bored of the dual boot, and stay with whatever is currently running on your handheld. So, at the end of the day, the Anbernic RG353P is still a more expensive, yet less powerful than the Retroid Pocket 2S. Also, my preference is toward the Retroid with its separated D-Pad buttons, so I don’t really recommend the Anbernic RG353P at the moment.
- It is around $100, and you want dual boot
- You want a horizontal device
- You target anything up to N64, Dreamcast and PSP
- You like the SNES controller design