Retroid has done it again. It’s managed to conquer the tricky low-end retro handheld emulator market with a successor in a more suitable form factor. The Retroid Pocket 2 is still a great buy for anyone who wants a retro handheld emulator at low budget. In my Retroid Pocket 2 review, I want to introduce a better alternative to most RK3326 variants you can find at its price point.
Retroid owns a few devices in its collection, but the company knows how to draw out the full potential to compete with many devices from PowKiddy and Anbernic. And the Retroid Pocket 2, despite of its age, is still a good buy for the money.
Retroid Pocket 2 Review: Price
- Commonly found at: $80
- Costs 1.19 times the RG35XX
The price tag on the Retroid Pocket 2 remains well below that of the retro handhelds it’s aiming to rival – the likes of the Anbernic RG351P, PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 and PowKiddy RGB10S. With it now costing around $80, after receiving a price drop, the Retroid Pocket 2 doesn’t cost much from even the Anbernic RG35XX, which I deem as the baseline for retro handheld emulators.
It includes Android system, and different people will prefer either Android or Linux for their retro handhelds. I am not the type of person who love tinkering with retro handhelds, I just seek a convenient handheld to enjoy retro games. As a result, Android or Linux doesn’t matter.
At this price you can find some PowKiddy handhelds using the RockChip RK3566 chipset that has a slightly better performance, like the RK2023 or PowKiddy RGB30, which has had some price cuts of its own. There is a new Anbernic RG35XX Plus which I want to play for a few more days before writing a proper review.
The Retroid Pocket 2 is still cheaper than the Retroid Pocket 2 Plus and Retroid Pocket 2S, so it isn’t a dead handheld on its own. If you’re only want a handheld for anything up to Nintendo DS, the Retroid Pocket 2 can do the job pretty easily. A quick flick through the spec sheet and you’ll likely be impressed with the bang for your buck offered by the Retroid Pocket 2.
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Retroid Pocket 2 Review: Design and Build Quality
|Retroid Pocket 2
|150 mm x 81 mm x 17 mm
|3.5 inch IPS, 640 x 480, 228 PPI, 4:3 aspect ratio
|Black, Light Blue, Pink, Yellow, DMG Gray, SNES UK, GBA Indigo, Funtastic N64 colors
|Internal 8 GB eMMC, External microSD
|3.5mm headphone jack
- A pocketable handheld
- Front facing speakers are actually better
- 4:3 retro-purist screen
- Only 8 GB of internal storage, so you can’t upgrade Android system
- The right slidepad is digital instead of analog
I forgave the Retroid Pocket’s vertical form factor as it was the first handheld from the startup, and the price tag isn’t that good for its performance. This time around though the market is expecting more, and Retroid has delivered.
The Retroid Pocket 2 features a brand new form factor, which is more suitable for its power. An analog stick can help you in Nintendo 64, Dreamcast and PlayStation Portable emulation. While I don’t have trouble using the left thumbstick of the old Retroid Pocket, the Retroid Pocket 2 certainly has better stick in my opinion.
However, the right stick is only a slidepad, which remains true in the upgraded Retroid Pocket 2 Plus. Problem is the right stick is considered to be digital, rather than analog. Its input has lags sometimes, and many people complained about the precision of the right stick. For me, right stick is never used in the gameplay of the Retroid Pocket 2, because its targeted systems don’t need such thing, so I don’t care. But if you care, you should stay away from the Retroid Pocket 2.
What I should care is the lower placement of its D-Pad buttons, and considering that the Retroid Pocket 2 has a “pocketable” size, it really gives me hand fatigue if I try to use D-Pad for a longer session. One more culprit is metal dome switches being used under the D-Pad, making the retro buttons hard to use.
For most of major reviewers you are reading or watching out there, they must use the Retroid Pocket 2 a long time ago. I only use the handheld this year, right after trying the Plus model that has upgraded PCB, so I’m quite surprise that both these models share the same shell. It is very hard to tell one from another, and sometimes I pick the wrong handheld when putting them side-by-side.
The screen is the same between both models, and it is also the standard 3.5-inch IPS screen that is widely used in low-end retro handheld emulators at the moment. For me, it is quite suitable for a pocketable handheld, but I still want the 4-inch display of the Anbernic RG405M or Anbernic RG405V more.
The Retroid Pocket 2 uses front-facing speakers, which are more to my liking than anything in RG351 series of Anbernic. The speakers are nothing fancy, but I don’t think you would expect such thing in a small single-board computer. If you care about audio quality, you should use headphones instead.
As a Retroid handheld, the Retroid Pocket 2 has both USB-C and mini HDMI ports for exporting images to TV. It would be a plus for many people, but not me. I only use handhelds exclusively in handheld mode.
Retroid Pocket 2 Review: Gaming Experience
|Retroid Pocket 2
|MediaTek MT6580A (Cortex-A7), 4 cores 4 threads @ 1.3 GHz
|Mali-400 MP2 @ 500 MHz
|1 GB DDR3
- Targeted system emulator: all systems up to N64
- Can play a few Dreamcast and PSP titles
- SNES and PS1 work flawlessly, especially with 4:3 screen
- Targeted game genres: all game genres
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- SNES: Star Fox! Starwing
- PS1: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Metal Slug X, Bloody Roar 2
- N64: New Super Mario Bros
- PSP: God of War: Ghost of Sparta
The Retroid Pocket 2 reuses the same chipset from the first Retroid Pocket, so we have a MediaTek MT6580A which is a Cortex-A7 quad-core processor at 1.3 GHz, though it seems Retroid uses an overclocking CPU to boost the clock to 1.5 GHz.
According to AnTuTu benchmark, the MediaTek MT6580A doesn’t have as good score as the RockChip RK3326, which are widely used at the moment. The chipset is mostly used in low-end Chinese rugged smartphones, for example Doogee, Ulefone and Blackview. As a result, the chipset enables Android system by default, which opens a wider gate for retro games emulation.
In short, you can run a handful list of NDS and N64 systems, which don’t require much of GPU. I think Android is truly a better way of utilizing the weak chipset into emulating not demanding systems. It can run a few Dreamcast and PSP titles, and I highly recommend to check the Retroid Pocket 2’s compatibility list, which will tell you the necessary settings to run your game on the Retroid Pocket 2.
I also recommend to read the RG351’s PSP compatibility list, which you can try to apply the same settings to run PSP on the Retroid Pocket 2. I know that it is not trial and error, but I have a good experience with this list.
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The Retroid Pocket 2 is meant to be the competitor of the Anbernic RG351 series, but it actually buffs serious power to even match the Anbernic RG353 series. Perhaps Android system is the reason to boost this performance, because emulating harder systems on Android is usually better than Linux.
I found the Retroid Pocket 2 to do N64 job a little better than the Anbernic RG351M which costs a bit higher than the Retroid at the moment. It isn’t a surprise to see retro handhelds with RockChip RK3326 chipset at $50 price point now. The Retroid Pocket 2 is worth the upgraded money from the Anbernic RG35XX.
It doesn’t have an actual analog right stick, but you won’t need the right stick for N64, Dreamcast and PSP emulations anyway. The right thumbstick is a wasted feature, so being digital or analog doesn’t mean anything.
The holding experience of the Retroid Pocket 2 is pretty much similar to the Retroid Pocket 2 Plus, though I don’t like the D-Pad buttons of the original second version, which are hard and cheap to use. If you like the design concept, perhaps you should aim for the Retroid Pocket 2S for a much better retro gaming sessions.
The Retroid Pocket 2 has a battery capacity of 4000 mAh, boasting a larger battery than the first Retroid Pocket. In fact, it has a very big juice pack that Retroid doesn’t bother to upgrade the battery life in later models.
You can use the normal USB-C cable for the Retroid Pocket 2, and it needs 3 hours to be fully charged. Fast charging can speed up the charging process, but it will degrade your battery. Also, fast charging isn’t recommended by the manufacturer.
One main problem for Android retro handheld emulators is that if you try fast charging, your handheld can experience bad things like ghost touching, which is really, really annoying.
At its current price, the Retroid Pocket 2 seems to be a good starter retro handheld. It is only a bit more expensive than the Miyoo Mini Plus, and Android makes it not as complicated as other Linux-based handhelds with no custom firmware. The capability to emulate up to N64, Dreamcast and PlayStation Portable makes the handheld competitive in this price range, as it is somehow better than most handhelds using the RockChip RK3326 processor out there.
- You want a cheaper Retroid handheld
- You want a handheld with mini HDMI port
- You want a vertical device: Get the RG353V or Retroid Pocket
- You want a better PSP emulator: Get the Retroid Pocket 3
- You want a better value: Get the Retroid Pocket 2S