Anbernic RG353V Review: better stay with the RG353VS

The Anbernic RG353V is a dainty yet powerful vertical retro handheld at the moment. However, it is not really an upgrade from the Anbernic RG353VS that is released in the same day with the RG353V. In my Anbernic RG353V review, I will try my best to reason why you’d better stay with the RG353VS instead of this handheld.

Anbernic RG353V ranks B in my retro handheld emulator ranking list

Anbernic RG353V

The vertical retro handheld of the series

The Anbernic RG353V is basically the vertical, portrait form factor of the RG353P that was released 3 months ago. It features dual analog sticks as it is ready to work as a streaming handheld.

As tradition goes on, Anbernic releases the Anbernic RG353V as the portrait mode of the RG353P. It depends on different preferences, and Anbernic wants to meet all the demands.

Anbernic RG353V Review: Price

Key features

  • Commonly found at: $119
  • Costs 1.78 times the RG35XX

The Anbernic RG353V is the vertical retro handheld emulator made by Anbernic, although it is not the best portrait handheld you can get in terms of specs, the Anbernic RG405V secures that spot. Still, it is truly the pocketable portrait retro handheld emulator that you’re going to buy.

People who love the portability of the RG35XX are in luck, because the Anbernic RG353V delivers a very good size and form out of the box. However, if it’s what you demand, the Anbernic RG353VS that is basically released in the same day as the RG353V, shares the same size and dimensions.

For some upgrades on both software and hardware sides, the Anbernic RG353V costs around $119 if you get it through a deal from my review. It is effectively $20 higher than the RG353VS, and you should read this review to decide whether it’s worth the upgrade or not.

Again, I’m going to recommend to buy from either Ebay or Amazon for a better return process, in case you find anything wrong with your shipment. On AliExpress, the price is usually cheaper, but it takes longer to deliver to your door.

Related post: Best handheld gaming console.

Anbernic RG353V Review: Design and Build Quality

Anbernic RG353VFeatures
Dimensions83 mm x 126 mm x 21 mm
Weight180 grams
FormVertical
Screen3.5 inch IPS, 640 x 320, 228.57 PPI, 4:3 aspect ratio
ColorsWhite, Transparent Black, Transparent Purple, Gray
Speaker placementFront facing
StorageInternal 32 GB eMMC 5.1, Dual External MicroSD
Audio output3.5mm headphone jack
Video outputMini HDMI
Charge portUSB-C
Key features

  • A lot smaller and thinner than the RG351V
  • 4:3 screen is quite staple for retro gaming
  • Better build quality than most cheaper RK3326 variants you can buy
  • Actually the better design for a vertical handheld with analog sticks

The Anbernic RG353V is built to be cheaper, but has a portrait form factor that may be suitable for one part of the market. It’s design for those who remember the Game Boy era, and want such a portable and pocketable handheld.

It features a 3.5-inch screen – and not to be a spoiler anymore – is the staple screen for the lowest-end budget at the moment. Everything you can find for under $150 is using the same IPS screen at 640 x 480, with aspect ratio 4:3. You will find some black sheep like the PowKiddy RGB30 that dares to try a new design, and don’t forget the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 as a cheaper PSP emulator.

The retro handheld emulator sits comfortably in the hand, as it is way smaller than the previous RG351V. I think Anbernic wants to make a handheld that is easy to use single-handedly, just the same as the Anbernic RG35XX and it latest successor, the Anbernic RG35XX Plus. Still, with dual analog sticks, the Anbernic RG353V is still a handheld to be played with two hands.

Talking about the right analog stick – it is the same as the left analog stick, with L3/R3 integration. While the Anbernic RG353V is still not a proper handheld for more demanding systems that need dual thumbsticks like GameCube (more on this later), being an Android device means it can be a streaming handheld, and the right analog stick is very important.

So far, the handheld is well designed, and it is pocketable so you can easily bring it anywhere, anytime. Think of a handheld that can keep you busy while you’re in a queue? The Anbernic RG353V is one of them, just like its brother – the Anbernic RG353VS.

I mean, both the Anbernic RG353V is so look-alike that you may mistake one with another, especially when they both share the same color options: Transparent Black and Gray. Unless you’re looking for the White or Transparent Purple, there is no way you can differentiate these two handheld consoles by online images. If you’re going to buy second-hand handheld, I recommend to select the latter versions, as they’re unique to the Anbernic RG353V.

As a portrait retro handheld, the Anbernic RG353V has only one mono speaker. Luckily, it will put the speaker front-facing, which is similar to the Game Boy Advance SP, and I just want it that way.

Lazy handheld man’s choice
A for Design & Feel.

Anbernic RG353V Review: Gaming Experience

Anbernic RG353VFeatures
CPURockChip RK3566 (Cortex-A55), 4 cores 4 threads @ 1.8 GHz
GPUMali-G52 2EE @ 850 MHz
Memory2 GB LPDDR4X
Battery3200 mAh
ConnectivityWi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2
Cooling system
Key features

  • Targeted system emulator: SNES, PS1, N64, Dreamcast
  • PSP works great, albeit different aspect ratio
  • Targeted game genres: all game genres

Related post: Best retro handheld emulator.

Performance

Tested games

🔵
A
🔵
A
🔵
A
🔵
A
🔵
A
🔵
A
🔵
A
🟢
B
🟢
B
🟢
B
🟡
C
🟠
D
🔴
F
🔴
F
🔴
F
🔴
F
🔴
F
A means all games are playable, B means most games are playable with a few exceptions, C means most games are only playable with frameskip, D means only the easiest games are playable, F means all games are unplayable

The Anbernic RG353V features the RockChip RK3566 chipset – which is a decent processor accompanied by the Mali-G52 2EE GPU @ 850 MHz and 2 GB of LPDDR4 RAM. That’s the same processor as other RG353 handhelds, and I’ve found it to be plenty powerful for anything up to GBA, SNES and PS1.

However, the same thing can be said about the RG35XX that is way cheaper than the Anbernic RG353V. You can target up to Nintendo 64, Dreamcast and PlayStation Portable with many playable games. The chipset is technically only behind the T610 chipset of the Retroid Pocket 2S, so a few exceptions from these systems will have frameskips.

I don’t recommend to try GameCube or Wii on the Anbernic RG353V. Perhaps there is a problem with the RockChip RK3566 that doesn’t allow it to enable games on Dolphin emulator, while the Retroid Pocket 2 Plus can touch quite easily.

Related post: Best handheld gaming PC.

Gaming session

As a typical handheld in the same RG353 family, the Anbernic RG353V shares the same experience as the RG353P or RG353M. You can try either ArkOS or JELOS if you want to try Linux on the handheld, however, if it’s the operating system that you want to use, you should buy the RG353VS instead.

On Android side, the Anbernic RG353V is quite similar to any other handhelds. You run a version of Android 11, and if you don’t get used to it (I’m talking to iPhone users), you can try bringing back the 3-button navigation of the previous Android 9. I don’t really want to use gestures on such a small 3.5-inch screen, so 3-button navigation are much better for me.

As a lazy handheld man, I don’t try to put myself into testing many things outside of retro games. You should use Daijisho as the frontend of Android, as it is really convenient to arrange games in the correct systems, as well as scrape box arts automatically. Most initial setups took me only 20-30 minutes then I can enjoy my games, which is super great for a lazy gamer.

The Anbernic RG353V is certainly a proper way to enjoy GBA games, though you don’t need two sticks after all. As a result, if you’re into GBA games, you will want a RG35XX Plus or Miyoo Mini Plus more than the Anbernic RG353V. No stick means nothing touching your pocket, and you can easily bring it anywhere.

If you’re going to use the Anbernic RG353V, you may want to try to use it as a streaming handheld, by using Moonlight. I personally don’t do that, because the 4:3 screen isn’t really suitable for streaming PC games, that normally run at 16:9 or 16:10 aspect ratio. You can also export video on your TV with the mini HDMI cable, which is similar to the RG35XX.

Battery life

The Anbernic RG353V has an only 3200-mAh battery capacity, which is reasonable because the handheld is much smaller than the RG351V. The cut in battery means you get fewer minutes for playing games, but not really something that you can realize when playing games. I recorded to play around 5-6 hours when emulating not demanding systems (anything up to SNES), and much less for PlayStation Portable (about 3-4 hours).

You can use the normal USB-C cable for the Anbernic RG353V, 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.

Lazy handheld man’s choice
B for Gaming Experience.

My verdict

The Anbernic RG353V is a lot cheaper than the RG405V, and it is not much higher than the previous Anbernic RG351V at much better specifications. If you’re going to stick with Anbernic brand, and you love the portrait form factor, I believe the Anbernic RG353V would be a great retro handheld that can emulate everything up to Nintendo 64, Dreamcast and PlayStation Portable decently.

However, I still think the RG353VS is a better option for playing retro games only. It is cheaper, and the only thing you miss is 1 GB of RAM that does not prove anything better, and no Android 11 system and touchscreen. I experience a few occasions of ghost touching with retro handheld emulators that use touchscreen, so I prefer everything without it.

Get it if

  • You want a pocketable, portrait retro handheld
  • You need analog stick to target N64 or PSP
Don’t get it if