PowKiddy RGB10S Review: a 2-year late device that asked less money

A revamped model of the original PowKiddy RGB10, the PowKiddy RGB10S is supposed to fill in the gap year that doesn’t have new processor for retro handhelds, due to COVID-19 pandemic. It is late for a device that only resembles the performance of a 2-year-old product, which is a long time in technology world. Therefore, don’t expect the PowKiddy RGB10S to do magic, and in this honest PowKiddy RGB10S review, I want to help you compare it with other RockChip RK3326 devices.

PowKiddy RGB10S ranks D in my retro handheld emulator ranking list

powkiddy rgb10s review
PowKiddy RGB10S

Cheaper than the Anbernic RG351P

The original retro handheld that uses Rockchip RK3326 processor – the PowKiddy RGB10 is superseded by so many models in the same family. It is still the most compact version to put in your pocket, along with the RGB10S.

PowKiddy is quite late with the PowKiddy RGB10S revision of the original handheld. The year the company released the PowKiddy RGB10S, its strongest competitor was using the next-gen chipset for new retro handhelds. As a result, the PowKiddy RGB10S asks for less money, and though it could be a little cheaper, I still see the reason to get one RGB10S at the moment.

PowKiddy RGB10S Review: Price

Key features

  • MSRP: $70
  • Costs 1.04 times the RG35XX

The PowKiddy RGB10S has a good price to start with a RockChip RK3326 device, only at $70. It is about $20 cheaper than the PowKiddy RGB10 at launch, but I still hope it could go a bit less. Overall, the device often goes on sale throughout the year, so I suggest you to check my deal, which set the PowKiddy RGB10S to less than $63. At that price, the PowKiddy RGB10S is effectively the same price as the RG35XX, making it a more versatile handheld that can touch even the Nintendo 64 system.

It’s worth noting also that at that price, the PowKiddy RGB10S is the most powerful retro handheld you can get. It does change the design of the original PowKiddy RGB10, and we will discuss whether changes are better or not.

You should be aware of other PowKiddy handhelds using the same chipset, most notably the PowKiddy RGB10 Max and PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 that targets at PSP emulation with their 16:9 screens. The PowKiddy RGB20S is also another revamp for the classic PowKiddy RGB20, just like how the RGB10S did to the RGB10. Anbernic counterparts should be mentioned are the RG351P, RG351M and RG351MP.

Do you feel the urge to upgrade, then the PowKiddy RGB30 and RK2023 are the direct upgrades for the PowKiddy RGB10S, with more powerful internal hardware. Anbernic gets more market share for releasing the RG353P and RG353M before PowKiddy, and they are using Android as the main operating system.

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PowKiddy RGB10S Review: Design and Build Quality

PowKiddy RGB10SFeatures
Dimensions144 mm x 63.8 mm x 16 mm
Weight143 grams
Screen3.5 inch IPS, 480 x 320, 164.83 PPI, 3:2 aspect ratio
ColorsWhite, Carbon Fiber Black
Speaker placementFront facing
StorageExternal microSD
Audio output3.5mm headphone jack
Video output
Charge portUSB-C
Key features

  • Smaller and lighter than the RG351P, definitely pocketable
  • Screen is only suitable for GBA system
  • It’s easy to block the speaker
  • D-Pad buttons’ position aren’t suitable for retro games

Like the original, the PowKiddy RGB10S tends to be a small, compact and pocketable handheld in horizontal form factor. It is even a little bit smaller than the PowKiddy RGB10, perhaps because the curves from both bottom sides make me think that. Overall, it is significant smaller and lighter than the Anbernic RG351P. And it doesn’t feel as cheap as the RGB10, for an unknown reason, but I think the build quality is the same as Anbernic lineup.

However, people hate the PowKiddy RGB10S for being curved in bottom corners, because they feel uncomfortable with playing the PowKiddy RGB10S for a long time. It makes me really curious, because the design is bad from the original, and sharing nearly a same design certainly makes the PowKiddy RGB10S clumsy to hold. And quick reminder, I have small to average hands.

Perhaps the design is more suitable for children than adults, sadly my daughters didn’t really like video games, so I can’t tell. But for my readers that are usually lazy handheld men, I think it would hurt your hands after long gaming sessions. But again, who have enough time to play a handheld for that long?

So build quality of the PowKiddy RGB10S is better than the original, the design is still as bad as the RGB10. If you plan to use it in flight, make sure you use the analog stick more than D-Pad buttons. Also, it seems the PowKiddy RGB10S emphasizes on the stick, by moving it above D-Pad. It is reasonable for PowKiddy to try new design when the retro handheld market is just premature.

Talking about button position, I don’t really like to use the PowKiddy RGB10S subjectively, as I always prefer D-Pad buttons in upper placement for retro games. If you use the PowKiddy RGB10S mainly for Dreamcast emulation, perhaps you will like this handheld’s D-Pad position, which somehow resembles the SEGA Dreamcast controller.

Screen is still the same 3:2 screen from the original, so don’t expect any praise for the PowKiddy RGB10S. After all, we are using retro handheld emulators to upscale the resolution from old gaming consoles, so at least give me a 4:3 screen. It seems both Anbernic and PowKiddy learnt from the hard truth, and I don’t see any new device with 3:2 screen at the moment.

The speaker is now front facing, and it will improve the overall sound quality if (and a big if) the device is a little bit bigger. You can’t help blocking the speaker holes, and reduce the audio volume. If you’re using a PlayStation Vita, you will find a lot of people hating the speaker location on this device, which is quite the same as this situation of the PowKiddy RGB10S.

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

PowKiddy RGB10S Review: Gaming Experience

PowKiddy RGB10Features
CPURockChip RK3326 (Cortex-A35), 4 cores 4 threads @ 1.5 GHz
GPUMali-G31 MP2 @ 650 MHz
Memory1 GB DDR3
Battery3000 mAh
Cooling system
Key features

  • Targeted system emulator: GBA
  • SNES and PS1 work flawlessly, albeit different aspect ratio
  • Can play some PSP games well
  • Targeted game genres: all game genres

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Tested games

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 PowKiddy RGB10S is essentially the original PowKiddy RGB10, making me question the decision to sell it 2 years later. Perhaps the reason is to reuse the leftover RockChip RK3326 in stock before moving on to the new chipset. With its RockChip RK3326 chipset (Cortex-A35) using Mali-G31 MP2 GPU and 1 GB of RAM, the PowKiddy RGB10S emulates anything up to Nintendo 64, Dreamcast and PlayStation Portable. Again, it requires heavy tinkering with settings, which is unfit for a lazy handheld man.

I recommend to read the RG351’s PSP compatibility list and 351elec RG351’s N64 compatibility list, which are applicable to the PowKiddy RGB10S. Remember that the PowKiddy RGB10S’ processor is even weaker than a 2017 budget mobile phone’s one, we can’t expect it to do magic with 64-bit games. Anything up to GBA, SNES and PlayStation 1 will be handled like a champ in the PowKiddy RGB10S.

The PowKiddy RGB10S can play NDS system decently and without frameskip. With a huge game library of Nintendo DS, the capability to emulate NDS is really a plus for a budget retro handheld emulator like the PowKiddy RGB10S.

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Gaming session

Again, the PowKiddy RGB10S doesn’t improve gaming experience with its new design. Especially when PowKiddy released the PowKiddy RGB10S after the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2, which is a great handheld with its 16:9 screen. Even a standard Game Boy Advance is taller than the RGB10S, and I believe it would be a lot more comfortable to hold the GBA than the PowKiddy RGB10S.

Trying to be objective, at least I would praise the new locations for START and SELECT buttons of the PowKiddy RGB10S. It makes sense to use them than the PowKiddy RGB10, that is usually a device that I avoid using. However, PowKiddy swaps the positions of D-Pad buttons and thumbstick, and it is up to your preference. I mainly use D-Pad buttons for retro games, so I don’t personally like the PowKiddy RGB10S’s button placement.

If you ask me which system that the PowKiddy RGB10S should target, sadly it is only the Game Boy Advance. It is quite a waste, because even the PowKiddy Q90 (that somehow shares the same compact design as the original RGB10) can do the task well enough at much lower price. When emulating SNES or PlayStation 1, the PowKiddy RGB10S doesn’t feel as good as a RG35XX, again at cheaper price, because of its screen.

Although the raw power of the PowKiddy RGB10S works decently with PSP system, it doesn’t have the same screen as the PowKiddy RGB10 Max or RGB10 Max 2, which I really like as a PSP emulator. The clumsy design is also not working for a system that offer too many action and fighting games that needs better grip.

The performance of the PowKiddy RGB10S on NDS system is okay to start with, as most games are playable without frameskip. However, swap screens is not truly a great experience with a 3.5-inch screen, and there isn’t any touchscreen on the PowKiddy RGB10S. I don’t recommend to use PowKiddy RGB10S for NDS, but if you happen to own one and want to play NDS anyway, you should look for games that require mainly one screen.

There is Wi-Fi switcher in the PowKiddy RGB10S, which I believe to be the reason to pick the PowKiddy RGB10S over the RG351P. It allows multiplayer and online retro achievements on your handheld, which is awesome to have at cheaper price than the RG351. Also, Wi-Fi capability can help you update custom firmware, successfully avoid the risk of damaging your SD card upon removal.

Still, at its current price, the PowKiddy RGB10S offers a lot of power to start with. If you’re happy with a bit tinkering, it is just $10 to enjoy a much more powerful handheld than the baseline RG35XX.

Battery life

PowKiddy RGB10S manages to snug a battery with bigger capacity than the original, without adding more weight. My average play time before I need to charge the PowKiddy RGB10S is about 3-4 hours, which is decent for a handheld. If I mainly use the retro handheld for easy-to-emulate systems, perhaps the battery life can extend to 5 hours.

You can use the normal USB-C cable for the PowKiddy RGB10S, and it needs 3 hours to be fully charged. Fast charging can speed up the charging process, but it will degrade your battery.

Lazy handheld man’s choice
C for Gaming Experience.

My verdict

The PowKiddy RGB10S is late for the handheld competition, but it also asks for less money. Even at the moment, the PowKiddy RGB10S deserves to get, because it is only $10 more than the RG35XX, while holding more value. As a trade off, the device still keeps the same 3:2 screen from the original, which isn’t the most proper screen for retro gaming. Many people won’t like the compact design, but if you find the original PowKiddy RGB10 okay to hold and play, you won’t have any trouble with the newer PowKiddy RGB10S.

Get it if

  • You want more power than the RG35XX, at the cheapest cost
  • You really ask for a 3:2 screen for GBA
Don’t get it if

  • You want a smaller ‘mini’ handheld for GBA: Get the RG35XX or Miyoo Mini Plus
  • You want vertical form: Get the PowKiddy RGB20S, or RG353V
  • You want a PSP emulator: Get the PowKiddy X55
  • You want an overall better device: Get the RG353PS, RK2023