People who don’t like Android as the retro handheld system, and also want a common 4:3 “retro-purist” screen can opt-in for the Anbernic RG353PS, which is currently on sale for around $100. It is currently one of the best retro handheld emulators that I collected, although I prefer the PowKiddy RGB30 a tad bit more. Let’s find out in my Anbernic RG353PS review today.
Anbernic is carefully master the formula for a $99 retro handheld, to see whether its customers reach out for an Android or Linux device. It’s clearly that an Android retro handheld is easier to approach better emulators, but many people desire the fast and simple interface of Linux. The Anbernic RG353PS is for anyone who only cares for Linux OS.
Anbernic RG353PS Review: Price
- Commonly found at: $99
- Costs 1.48 times the RG35XX
The Anbernic RG353PS certainly isn’t going to disappoint you when you consider the amount of money you’ll have to exchange for it. Perhaps the Retroid Pocket 2S will deliver more for the same price, and the PowKiddy RGB30 is also a great alternative with its HD screen; but hey, if you want a 4:3 Linux retro handheld, the Anbernic RG353PS is your best bet at the moment.
If you don’t specifically need both of these criteria when buying a retro handheld emulator, the Anbernic RG353PS is still a good option at only $99. It can go as far as $89 if you buy it from my link, and for that, the handheld is only 1.3 times the baseline RG35XX. Not too shabby.
For the price you pay, you get the current best RockChip processor for any handheld around $99. It is even used in the Anbernic RG353M that is $50 more expensive, and I must emphasize that the performance is similar in both cases. It arrives into a market that’s more competitive than ever down at this price point, but any pure Linux users can swear for their RG353PS.
I actually prefer the Anbernic RG353PS over its brother – the RG353P, because it is more affordable and actually has transparent editions. I recommend to buy the handheld on AliExpress because it is usually sold at $150 on Amazon, which is not a great place to buy Anbernic products.
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Anbernic RG353PS 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 Purple, Transparent Clear
|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
Again, it’s quite difficult to repeat the same things that I previously said in the Anbernic RG353P review. Both the Anbernic RG353PS and RG353P are sharing the same SNES-controller design, and basically the only thing you can tell apart is their different color options.
That’s not really a big thing in retro handheld emulator world, the similar design always hint at the same shell-making procedure from the manufacturer. As a result, buying the Anbernic RG353PS would prove to be a better investment, as you get the same quality for less money.
So I will skip the part that tells you how much I remember the SNES era when using the Anbernic RG353PS. It happened before with the RG353P, so I don’t think I will say big words for the design. The only thing you will want to know is the size of the Anbernic RG353PS, which is bigger than even the RG405M. It isn’t a great pocketable design, as the handheld is equal the size of the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus that I never want to put in the pocket.
3.5-inch IPS screen is still the staple option for current retro handheld emulators, with the only exception being the PowKiddy RGB30. I think everyone will agree that the bigger screen the better, and even when I’m content with the Retroid Pocket 2S, I still love the RG405M with its bigger screen back then.
However, one thing that is up to your preference is the aspect ratio. I mentioned many times in my reviews, and I read a lot of arguments about which is the best screen for everything related retro games. 4:3 screen is usually my go-to option because I only emulating home console systems, for example NES, SNES, N64 and PS1 – which all use the same 4:3 aspect ratio. The only 16:9 that you would like to emulate is PlayStation Portable – which can run perfectly on a native PSP and PS Vita. As a result, I don’t see my need to have a “handheld” emulator for PSP system.
Again, I must remind you the Anbernic RG353PS is a better product than the RG353P because of its transparent editions. I’m addictive to all transparent, clear handhelds available, and I can’t tell you how I disappointed with previous Anbernic models. Thankfully, it seems Anbernic focuses on making more clear editions after that, with the RG353V, RG35XX Plus and RG405V all have at least one transparent version.
Anbernic RG353PS Review: Gaming Experience
|RockChip RK3566 (Cortex-A55), 4 cores 4 threads @ 1.8 GHz
|Mali-G52 2EE @ 850 MHz
|1 GB LPDDR4
|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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The Anbernic RG353PS is basically the same model as the previous RG353P with only 1 GB of RAM less. For its targeted systems and the seamless Linux experience, the RockChip RK3566 and 1 GB of RAM is more than enough for most games.
Still, the lack of 1 GB of RAM affects a few games in demanding systems like Nintendo 64 and especially PlayStation Portable. While the Anbernic RG353PS is capable of running almost all of N64 games, there are moments that I feel it has more hiccups than the previous RG353P. Also, the Anbernic RG353PS is not completely capable of running PSP. For that reason, you should look for the Retroid Pocket 2 Plus or Retroid Pocket 2S instead, unless you don’t like Android.
Being a Linux retro handheld, the Anbernic RG353PS can’t properly use its potential for GameCube or Wii games, and aethersx2 is still not recommended for Linux users. So, you can try a few GameCube games at best, but don’t push it harder.
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The Anbernic RG353PS can run JELOS – which is a Linux operating system for retro handheld emulators. JELOS is quite good with its UI, thanks to the EmulationStation frontend, and I don’t miss the lack of ArkOS support. Setting up JELOS on the Anbernic RG353PS is quite simple and quick, and the system receives regular updates from its developers, which is nice.
Sadly, the Anbernic RG353PS isn’t the most comfortable handheld to hold with its size and shape. It affects your gaming experience quite a lot when you can’t properly hold and reach out all buttons. Also, I feel the 3.5-inch display of the Anbernic RG353PS is even smaller than its should be, perhaps because of its design. If you feel the same way as me, then you don’t like the Anbernic RG353PS for certain.
Other than that, the Anbernic RG353PS provides plenty power for its targeted systems, and you can safely buy the handheld for its performance. It can’t play as many systems as the RG353P, but honestly the RG353P doesn’t play that good for demanding systems, so don’t bother paying more for a mediocre gameplay.
The Anbernic RG353PS supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a mini HDMI video output for exporting videos to TV. They are a few advantages of having a retro handheld, and luckily Anbernic doesn’t remove them to cut cost.
The Anbernic RG353PS is common with its 3500-mAh battery capacity, the same as its brother. Linux doesn’t come with much features, but it doesn’t manage battery as good as Android, so in the end, your Anbernic RG353PS will have the same battery life as the RG353P.
So you can expect to use the handheld for at least 4-6 hours, depending on the systems you usually use. If you only emulate easy systems like GBC, GBA or NES, you can expect the handheld to hold up a little longer.
You can use the normal USB-C cable for the Anbernic RG353PS, and it needs 3 hours to be fully charged. Don’t try fast charging for any RockChip handhelds, and the Anbernic RG353PS isn’t out of this rule.
Actually, you’re paying less to get nearly the same device as the RG353P, with the lack of Android only. As a lazy handheld man who don’t care about the gimmick of dual boot, as I only want to get handhelds for playing games, then Linux is more than fine. You will lack the access to some seriously-demanding systems like PlayStation 2, but don’t feel missing out, because any Mali GPUs are not powerful enough to do the bare minimum of PS2.
I still recommend the Retroid Pocket 2S for common retro gamers, because its performance outperforms every competitor in the same price bracket. Also, the hall-sensor sticks are better to use, and the design is also easier to handle than the RG353PS.
- You want a horizontal device
- You target anything up to N64, Dreamcast and PSP
- You like the SNES controller design
- You want an Anbernic stuff