Anbernic RG353VS Review: don’t mistake the RG353V for this handheld

The Anbernic RG353VS is certainly a fine handheld, because we all know that the device is a trial for the release of the Anbernic RG353PS later. However, if you’re going to buy one RG353V second-hand, please make sure you don’t mistake with this Anbernic RG353VS. Why? These handhelds are basically using the same shell, and reading this Anbernic RG353VS review can somehow help you tell them apart.

Anbernic RG353VS ranks B in my retro handheld emulator ranking list

anbernic rg353vs review
Anbernic RG353VS

Don’t mistake the RG353V with this handheld

The Anbernic RG353VS is using the same exterior shell as its more expensive brother, and the cost reduction lies in the internal specifications. Still, the cheaper RG353VS can target the same emulators.

Anbernic releases the Anbernic RG353VS as an experiment to dedicated Linux users who want to explore the newer RockChip 3556 processor.

Anbernic RG353VS Review: Price

Key features

  • Commonly found at: $89
  • Costs 1.48 times the RG35XX

On paper, the Anbernic RG353VS is a fine retro handheld emulator with the newer RockChip RK3566 chipset, which is commonly considered as a weaker processor in compared to the UNISOC T310 of the Retroid Pocket 2 Plus. Knowing that the handheld can push as far as GameCube and Wii, by reducing some manufacturing cost of the RG353V, we will have the Anbernic RG353VS.

Of course, the reduce in its cost leads to a reduction in overall price. The Anbernic RG353VS costs only $89, which is about $20 cheaper than the RG353V, depending on the time. The launch price is not as high as the previous Anbernic RG351V, certainly because it has the updated specifications, but the Anbernic RG353VS can guarantee some serious gameplays for Nintendo 64, Dreamcast and PlayStation Portable.

This is purportedly the budget member of the RG353 range, both because of its form factor and a reduction in RAM, at a lower asking price that average users likely won’t notice. However, because the handheld uses exactly the same shell as its more expensive brother, I hope that you don’t mistake getting this RG353VS while selecting the RG353V.

But with the appearance of the newer Retroid Pocket 2S and PowKiddy RGB30, the only reason to buy the Anbernic RG353V is its form factor. Even when I’m a fan of Game Boy copies, I don’t think anything beyond the Anbernic RG35XX Plus and Miyoo Mini Plus is necessary.

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Anbernic RG353VS Review: Design and Build Quality

Anbernic RG353VSFeatures
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
ColorsTransparent Black, Gray
Speaker placementFront facing
StorageDual External MicroSD
Audio output3.5mm headphone jack
Video outputMini HDMI
Charge portUSB-C
Key features

  • The transparent black version is exactly the same as the RG353V
  • 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

You’d be forgiven for confusing the Anbernic RG353VS with its more expensive, Android-running RG353V. In fact, if you come across the transparent black and gray versions, you should be extra cautious if you’re buying the RG353V, because you can end up buying the RG353VS instead. More reason to buy the Anbernic RG353VS right off the bat, because no one will mistake selling you the RG353V instead.

That’s right, the Anbernic RG353VS is just the RG353V with a few downgrades in its internal specifications. So basically anyone who has read my RG353V review can skip the whole design section.

For others who come to my website for the first time, you can think of the Anbernic RG353VS as a reminder of the famous Game Boy, with dual analog sticks for newer systems. It is necessary to have these thumbsticks, because it differs itself from the Anbernic RG35XX Plus which is a pure carbon copy of the Game Boy Pocket.

However, the analog sticks affect the pocketability of the Anbernic RG353VS, because it will be often stuck to your slim fit jeans’ pockets. Make sure you don’t abuse the handheld, because the common sticks will easily be prone to drifting.

3.5-inch screen is again the current trend for making a retro handheld emulator. I still enjoy the 4-inch screen of the Anbernic RG405V, but hey, it is $50 more to ask. For a 480p resolution and 4:3 aspect ratio, the current Anbernic RG353VS is fine to get. It is big enough to enjoy everything up to Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast, though it is not optimal to play PlayStation Portable.

Though it is a cheaper option of the RG353V, it features the same L3/R3 for its analog sticks, so you can map these buttons to other RetroArch features.

As a portrait retro handheld, the Anbernic RG353VS has only one mono speaker. Luckily, it will put the speaker front-facing, which is similar to the Game Boy Advance SP, which is loud enough for most gaming sessions. You can still use headphones for stereo audio.

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

Anbernic RG353VS Review: Gaming Experience

Anbernic RG353VSFeatures
CPURockChip RK3566 (Cortex-A55), 4 cores 4 threads @ 1.8 GHz
GPUMali-G52 2EE @ 850 MHz
Memory1 GB LPDDR4
Battery3200 mAh
ConnectivityWi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2
Cooling systemβœ—
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

πŸ”΅
A
πŸ”΅
A
πŸ”΅
A
πŸ”΅
A
πŸ”΅
A
πŸ”΅
A
πŸ”΅
A
🟒
B
🟒
B
🟒
B
🟑
C
🟠
D
πŸ”΄
F
πŸ”΄
F
πŸ”΄
F
πŸ”΄
F
πŸ”΄
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

I wouldn’t be surprised if the usage of the RockChip RK3566 processor can continue to 2024, as the chipset is more than enough for most Linux systems that mainly target up to Nintendo 64, Dreamcast and PlayStation Portable.

Because the system doesn’t need to do multi-tasking, it doesn’t need up to 2 GB of RAM, that’s why we have only 1 GB of RAM in the RG353VS. It is the main difference between the budget handheld with its brother – the RG353V. Still, the CPU and GPU is okay enough to get most games in the library run without frameskips.

Though GameCube system only needs 1 GB of RAM for its emulator, it seems the culprit is the RockChip processor that can’t extend its power to GameCube system. It’s sad because the Retroid Pocket 2 Plus can touch quite easily, and if you’re looking at the Retroid Pocket 2S, you get serious performance for the price.

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Gaming session

The lacking of Android system isn’t truly a problem for a lazy handheld man like me, because I use my handhelds mainly for gaming. And I must admit playing with the RG353VS is really good, thanks to its small but comfortable form factor. You can try either ArkOS or JELOS custom firmware on this handheld, and I highly recommend JELOS for an easier experience.

However, if you’re new to this hobby, you must know the lack of Android resulting in no proper sleeping function, which is a very important feature for a handheld in my opinion. The Anbernic RG353V can wake up much better while not draining its battery as much as the RG353VS.

Most home consoles use 4:3 aspect ratio by default, so the screen of the Anbernic RG353VS seems to be the most popular. Many people will argue that the 16:9 screen is better with its higher resolution, however I am not a fan of upscaling retro games to HD definition, and I don’t really want black bars from both sides. So, the Anbernic RG353VS is the standard for me.

Finally, it’s the same gaming experience as the RG353V, so if you want a cheaper version, get the Anbernic RG353VS.

Battery life

The Anbernic RG353VS uses the same 3200-mAh battery capacity, and the battery life isn’t as good as the RG351V, but it can help you enjoy games for more than 6 hours, providing that you emulate the easier systems like NES or GBA. If you want to emulate harder systems, the battery life will be shorter.

You can use the normal USB-C cable for the Anbernic RG353VS, and it needs 3 hours to be fully charged. The Anbernic RG353VS doesn’t support fast charging, because it uses Linux system.

Lazy handheld man’s choice
B for Gaming Experience.

My verdict

The Anbernic RG353VS is a cheaper alternative to the RG353V, and I recommend getting this handheld for every lazy handheld fellow who needs a vertical retro handheld emulator with thumbsticks. I don’t think Android system is necessary for a device using the RockChip RK3566 chipset, and perhaps that’s why newer handhelds only run Linux system.

Get it if

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