After the successful launch of the Miyoo Mini, Anbernic tried to make a similar retro handheld emulator that surpass the mini Miyoo device in every aspect, thus the release of the Anbernic RG35XX. In this RG35XX review, I will try to capture the most essential parts of the handheld, and explain why I choose this as the baseline for every retro handheld emulator. If you’re looking for the a handheld emulator to reignite your retro gaming scenes, don’t forget this RG35XX.
Anbernic makes such an awesome Anbernic RG35XX, something that’s so great that we can’t expect a better retro handheld emulator at the same price anymore. Given the rumor of the upgraded version of the RG35XX Plus, the original Anbernic RG35XX is still the best handheld for value out there.
Anbernic RG35XX Review: Price
- Current price: $67
- My starter point for retro handheld gaming
If you think the price of the Anbernic RG35XX is already low for a capable retro handheld console, the handheld itself can go even lower sometimes. In subreddit Anbernic, people shared sweet RG35XX deals for as low as $35, though it was for a limited time.
At such a cheap price, the RG35XX can emulate many systems, have a mini HDMI output, overclock CPU and have a hidden GPU. Everything for a lower price than the Miyoo Mini, while being more comfortable to use. It isn’t a surprise that Miyoo needs a quick response to the popular RG35XX, thus the release of the Miyoo Mini Plus.
Still, if you try to lower the cost of the RG35XX, you will only have a cheap system that can’t properly and accurately emulate Game Boy Advance, not to mention fourth-gen consoles like SNES or SEGA Genesis. At its full price, the RG35XX is capable of emulating even fifth-gen console like the PlayStation 1, and by overclocking it can tackle even 64-bit era, like NDS and N64. So, it’s safe to assume the Anbernic RG35XX as the baseline for today retro handheld emulator, that provides enough emulators at a very low cost. Whenever you look at a random retro handheld and find it cost many times more than the RG35XX, but doesn’t properly emulate more systems, then you should avoid.
I know there are handhelds out there using the Rockchip RK3326 at RG35XX’s price, like the newer R35S. As a result, these handhelds have as much powerful internal hardware as the Anbernic RG351P, which is more expensive than the RG35XX. If you don’t mind tinkering with the system of something new like the R35S or R36S, they have a bit more value than our today Anbernic RG35XX.
You can get the RG35XX officially from Ebay, which is my most recommended way to get the handheld system. You can try to order the RG35XX from AliExpress, but it would take a longer time for the device to arrive. Amazon is also a great place to order the RG35XX, as you can return it if you find it faulty. Remember that Anbernic is no way the best customer service in the world, so don’t expect higher price equals better support.
Related post: Best handheld gaming console.
Anbernic RG35XX Review: Design and Build Quality
|Dimensions||81 mm x 117 mm x 20 mm|
|Screen||3.5 inch IPS, 640 x 480, 228.57 PPI, 4:3 aspect ratio|
|Colors||Gray, Transparent White, Transparent Purple|
|Speaker placement||Front facing|
|Audio output||3.5mm headphone jack|
|Video output||Mini HDMI|
- Still pocketable, bigger enough to hold firmly
- Suitable for both one-handed and two-handed plays
- Screen is mostly suitable for GB and GBC games, and okay for GBA games
- Screen is retro-purist, meaning NES, SNES and PSX games have good scaling
- Build quality is decent
Actually the Anbernic RG35XX isn’t the first vertical retro handheld emulator of this brand, we saw the previous RG300 with a nearly identical size and shape, and the RG280V. Though Anbernic has made handheld units since 2017, it was not until the release of the Miyoo Mini that the company steered in the right direction.
So we have the Anbernic RG35XX, which is a very small and lightweight vertical retro handheld emulator, but not so small that you can’t play it with both hands. It still borrows the same design of the Game Boy Pocket of Nintendo, one iconic device in the history of handheld gaming.
With better form, the RG35XX does everything the Miyoo Mini is capable of, and gives better gaming experience. Certainly the Miyoo Mini is cute, but the RG35XX makes playing action-adventure games possible in vertical shape. Its size and weight are meant to be pocketable, too, and you can bring it anywhere for quick and short gaming sessions.
But I must remind you that even the RG35XX can bring hand fatigue after a while, especially when you’re in intense battle. That is quite inevitable for a vertical retro handheld using the same design as the old Game Boy, but with L1/R1 buttons position down to bottom of the screen. It is quite similar to the Game Boy Advance SP, but I believe the lighter weight and longer body of the GBA SP make it more comfortable to hold for a long time.
So, there is no way you can be certain whether you will have hand fatigue with any retro handheld emulator. It happened to me with the RG35XX, as well as other vertical retro handheld emulator in games that require extensive uses of L1/R1 buttons. Talking about the trigger buttons, the Anbernic RG35XX positions all of them in the same row. It isn’t really a problem, but using the same trigger buttons in the Miyoo Mini Plus feels better, as the L2/R2 are positioning a bit higher than the L1/R1.
The RG35XX shares the same long D-Pad as the Miyoo Mini, which I don’t really like at first, but I get used to it nonetheless. I feel the D-Pad buttons of the RG35XX isn’t as good as the Miyoo Mini Plus, though I must confess that’s really subjective. Other than that, it just copies the competitor, and its D-Pad buttons will remind you of the SNES era.
As its name implies, the RG35XX has a 3.5-inch screen, which is an upgrade from the RG300 and RG280V. Bigger screen plays an important part in making the device popular, and the IPS screen is kind of acceptable. Using the same settings, I still feel the Miyoo Mini Plus’s screen to be better, but perhaps its infinity edge tricks my eyes. Other specs remain the same in both handheld devices.
There are many color options to choose for this RG35XX, which is truly a surprise considering its low price point. You can choose from gray, transparent purple or transparent white; which resembles color variants of the Miyoo Mini. Well, a transparent device is always a gamer’s preference, so having one is okay.
The RG35XX has a mono speaker, using the same 6 parallel speaker lines to match the design of the original Game Boy. Clearly, Anbernic does its best at capturing the pure nostalgic retro feeling. Still, I recommend to use headphone for better audio quality.
A screen with resolution of 640 x 480 pixels and aspect ratio 4:3 is perfect for scaling most retro games, especially in console games that use CRT monitor in the past, like NES, SNES or PlayStation 1 systems. 4:3 isn’t pixel-perfect for emulating GBA, but the RG35XX can add more contrast and color to Game Boy Advance game, and it is nearly identical to the original GBA aspect ratio. So far, I don’t recall myself hate the display of the RG35XX.
There are two SD card slots inside the RG35XX, which is more customized to tailor its owner’s needs. You can separate your system files from your ROM files, and reduce the risk of losing data, or you can experience multiple systems of the RG35XX without adding the same game. How cool is that?
The build quality of the Anbernic RG35XX is reported to be better than its competitors: the Miyoo Mini and Miyoo Mini Plus. But that doesn’t mean you can abuse the handheld device, as it is still a plastic and lightweight device.
Anbernic RG35XX Review: Gaming Experience
|CPU||ATM7039S (Cortex-A9), 4 cores 4 threads @ 1.6 GHz|
|GPU||PowerVR SGX544MP @ 450 MHz|
|Memory||256 MB DDR3|
- Targeted system emulator: GBA, SNES and PS1
- Targeted game genres: all game genres
- Can unlock hidden GPU for NDS emulation
Related post: Best retro handheld emulator.
The Anbernic RG35XX upgrades over its predecessor with an ARM9 chipset, with 4 cores and 4 threads. However, such upgrades don’t instantly make its performance better, because by default the manufacturer will lock the GPU of the device. As a result, the RG35XX performs the same way as the Miyoo Mini that doesn’t have a GPU, and consists only CPU of 2 cores.
The chipset is also released for a long time, as the Actions Semiconductor ATM7039S CPU of the RG35XX was dated back in 2013. That’s why I prefer the chipset from the Miyoo Mini Plus to the RG35XX, because the chipset was released only in 2021, and it tends to have better performance per core and require less power.
If you like me and don’t want to read the whole history of the processor’s performance, I will sum up quickly: the RG35XX does the same job for everything up to Game Boy Advance as perfectly as the Miyoo Mini, does almost all SNES titles great (except ones using FX chip), and does lag in the same scene in PlayStation 1 games.
However, the more powerful hardware of the RG35XX, the better chance someone will unlock its potential. At the moment, people can overclock RG35XX’s CPU to 1900 MHz without problem, and unlock RG35XX’s GPU to enable NDS and N64 emulation. Giving enough time, we can expect the Anbernic RG35XX to emulate NDS more properly than how the Miyoo Mini play NDS. I recommend you to check this NDS compatibility list before trying, which is written for the Miyoo Mini Plus but is also applicable to the RG35XX.
And for the price point, I can’t believe Anbernic is able to pack such serious internal hardware into this RG35XX. Nothing can beat the RG35XX in terms of value, and nothing can have such hidden potential like this retro handheld emulator. I dare call it the baseline of every retro handheld emulator, because its performance is so well that you need to compare others with the RG35XX.
There is an article which I wrote fully of what systems can RG35XX play. You should check it out.
Are you a patient gamer? If you can wait for the community to unlock all of the RG35XX’s performance, you will have the handheld with the greatest value.
Related post: Best handheld gaming PC.
Both the design and power indicates the RG35XX to be a good GBA emulator, however its screen isn’t the pixel-perfect one as the Anbernic RG351P or RG351M. It tries to be a jack-of-all-trade that can play even SNES and PSX games, and its power is good to emulate at full speed. However, I must remind you that action games suffer quite badly on such a compact device. While I can easily rest my index fingers in New 3DS’s trigger buttons in the same row, I can’t say the same with the RG35XX. As a result, the design is a hindrance for the RG35XX to be the perfect retro handheld emulator.
Though I can praise a lot for the RG35XX’s potential, I must emphasize that it’s still its hidden potential that isn’t unlocked fully. It feels like the RG35XX can achieve its Super Saiyan 3 form, but not quite. And without support from community as good as the Miyoo Mini Plus, a lazy handheld man like me will always choose the Miyoo handheld.
I mean, dual boot is fine, but what if the RG35XX has an ultimate OS system? Two SD card slots are more than fine, but newbies will be scared away for trying new installation method. You can check my blog’s sidebar, and you can see a lot of RG35XX tutorial. Which is quite intimidating for a lazy person, right?
From Garlic, MinUI, MuOS and Koriki, perhaps Koriki will be the future of the RG35XX. This system will unlock all of the device’s potential, and if the community is interested, I believe we will have such feats similar to Onion of the Miyoo Mini Plus. At the moment, I recommend to install Garlic on RG35XX for a stable system. If you are on adventurer side, you should read my in-depth RG35XX custom firmware comparison, which helps you understands strengths and weaknesses of different custom firmware for the RG35XX.
System aside, playing the RG35XX is decent for the most part. Unless you want to try some fighting games or action games that require a lot of trigger buttons, the RG35XX will bring good gaming sessions. There are inevitable hand fatigues after long gaming sessions, but I believe such handheld is suitable for short sessions anyway, like when you’re waiting in line.
There is no connectivity available on the Anbernic RG35XX, so you can’t connect to the Wi-Fi like the Miyoo Mini Plus. You can use the mini HDMI to play co-op with others, by using the RG35XX as a second controller, Again, you can’t get achievements online, and I know many people can’t live without achieving something.
Sadly, this is the weakness of the Anbernic RG35XX, as it equips with an only 2600 mAh battery. It would last shorter than the Miyoo Mini Plus, especially when you try to push its performance a bit harder. Problem is, the RG35XX is a bit heavier than its competitor, and modding a bigger battery will be a problem.
With brightness about 5/10, I believe the Anbernic RG35XX can play for shorter than 4 hours. You can increase the battery life for a bit if you reduce volume as low as possible, and don’t tinker with the processor. Playing not demanding games like Game Boy or NES will drain the battery less, and you can expect the RG35XX to last a bit more.
It also uses common USB type C charger port, which is common at the moment. I recommend to use a 5V 1A charger with an USB A-to-C cable, as it is better for your handheld’s battery life. Normally, it takes 3 hours and a half to fully charge the device from low battery, the same as the small Miyoo Mini.
Anbernic has made a brilliant retro handheld emulator, which has one of the highest values for your money. Koriki is out now, so you can expect the RG35XX to unleash its full potential. However, I found a lot of people trying to resell the RG35XX to compensate money, as they feel the device quite not newbie-friendly to use. Not to mention that you don’t see great photos of the RG35XX, the same as the Miyoo Mini Plus.
In my opinion, the Miyoo Mini Plus is truly what you should buy for the same tasks, because the screen feels better, the size is more compact and the community is also more active to support. Otherwise, perhaps the Miyoo Mini will be dead against the RG35XX.
But if you want to save a bit money, get the RG35XX, and be happy with a system with many power. Don’t push it too hard thinking it would do everything well, because it is just a starter handheld.
- You want a vertical handheld
- You want a GBA, SNES and PSX handheld with great performance
- You want a smaller ‘mini’ handheld: Get the Miyoo Mini or Miyoo Mini Plus
- You want Wi-Fi or swappable battery, or both: Get the Miyoo Mini Plus
- You want a stable system: Get the Miyoo Mini Plus
- You want a horizontal handheld: Get the Anbernic RG353PS
- You want to play N64 or more: At least get the Anbernic RG353M