Retroid Pocket 3 Plus Review: a remastered PSP emulator, but lacks 4:3 screen for retro consoles

Retroid Pocket 3 Plus remains as one of my personal best retro handheld emulator, despite of the appearance of the later Retroid Pocket 2S with 4:3 screen. Generally, the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus offers a remastered experience of PlayStation Portable handheld, with an upscaled 16:9 screen. In my Retroid Pocket 3+ review, I will share you everything you should need before buying this retro handheld.

Retroid Pocket 3+ ranks B in my retro handheld emulator ranking list

Retroid Pocket 3+

The Retroid flagship

The upgraded version of the Retroid Pocket 3, with the adding of Unisoc T618 chipset, which guarantees some decent emulations of GameCube, Wii and PlayStation 2.

Retroid raises to public’s attention with less devices than Anbernic, however the performance is similar at cheaper price. We’re looking at the Retroid flagship – the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus, that stays away from the retro-purist 4:3 screen. Instead, the handheld is in favor of emulating PlayStation Portable with its 16:9 screen.

Retroid Pocket 3 Plus Review: Price

Key features

  • Commonly found at: $149
  • Costs 2.22 times the RG35XX

The Retroid Pocket 3 Plus is an emphatic return to the tier that can emulate harder systems, most notable GameCube, Wii and of course, PlayStation 2. While the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus is certainly not your final product for this task (PS2 is still out of reach in this price range), it can somehow ease your desire of having a “pocket” retro handheld for some easier PS2 titles.

With the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus, I can try Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn perfectly on handheld mode. However, if I only want to play these games, I would prefer the Anbernic RG405V or Anbernic RG405M. The reason I want to test the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus is because it is actually a remastered PSP emulator. For such task alone, the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus has plenty of power.

This isn’t the newest retro handheld emulator from Retroid, as the follow-up in the name of Retroid Pocket 2S is released at a bit cheaper price. But if you still interested in 16:9 screen, the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus is nonetheless the most powerful retro option at the moment.

So at $149, do you choose the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus, or something like the Anbernic RG405V? Let’s find out. The Retroid Pocket 3 Plus is officially supplied by Moorechip, which has an official store on Amazon. You definitely want to buy one from Amazon, right?

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Retroid Pocket 3 Plus Review: Design and Build Quality

Retroid Pocket 3+Features
Dimensions184.65 mm x 81.38 mm x 24.23 mm
Weight230 grams
FormHorizontal
Screen4.7 inch IPS, 1334 x 750, 325 PPI, 16:9 aspect ratio
ColorsBlack, Indigo, Yellow/Orange, Retro Gray, 16 Bit Gray, Transparent Blue, Transparent Purple
Speaker placementBottom facing
StorageInternal 128 GB eMMC, External microSD
Audio output3.5mm headphone jack
Video outputMicro HDMI
Charge portUSB-C
Key features

  • Isn’t actually “pocket”
  • Improved D-Pad that matches PS Vita style
  • High PPI screen, with better color and saturation
  • 16:9 screen is suitable for PSP

The Retroid Pocket 3 Plus design belies its affordable price. You get the same build and feeling as on the Nintendo Switch Lite, though the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus is more on the “pocketable” side. It measures 184.65 mm x 81.38 mm x 24.23 mm and tips the scales at 230 grams, which means it’s shorter and smaller than the Switch Lite, by the gap of one Joy-Con.

Though the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus gives us a feeling of a Switch Lite, if you look closely, you will find out the button layout mimics the PlayStation Vita. The D-Pad buttons are separated, and dual analog sticks are placing lower. It makes perfect sense, because Retroid knows that you would use D-Pad more than the analog sticks for retro games.

Difference between Retroid Pocket 3 Plus and Anbernic RG405M

Such analog placement is also suitable for a remastered PlayStation Portable like the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus. You may wonder why I repeat this term consecutively. The Retroid Pocket 3 Plus is widely regarded as the best retro handheld emulator for running PSP titles, thanks to its 16:9 screen. Retroid ups its game with a bigger screen and higher resolution, so you can upscale PSP emulator pixel-perfectly. Many people will vow for the 16:9 screen, as they don’t mind the black bar surround the screen on retro games, and they mostly play PSP games.

Actually, one you go with the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus, it is really difficult to go back to your own PlayStation Portable. I must confess that, even when I only use original hardware for handheld consoles. However, used PSP consoles are sold at much cheaper price than the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus, at least where I live.

The handheld is available in seven colors, perhaps too many for you to decide, but I like both transparent editions. Especially the transparent blue one, as it is likely to be more appealing than solid versions.

One thing that many people will hate the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus is the placement of the START/SELECT buttons, which is on top of the handheld. Many people will think of them as the volume buttons (including me) and I hate that I can’t adapt quickly for this placement.

The volume rocker sits on the side, which is similar to modern smartphones. However, with my very, very bad experience with the Nintendo DSi XL that has volume buttons on side like that, I must warn you that you can accidentally increase or decrease the volume in intense game sessions.

The good news for those who like to play retro games on bigger TV is the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus includes a mini HDMI port. It is the staple video output for every Retroid model, so it isn’t a surprise for its fanbase, but if you’re new to this hobby, you should know Anbernic models don’t always come with this feature.

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

Retroid Pocket 3 Plus Review: Gaming Experience

Retroid Pocket 3+Features
CPUUNISOC Tiger T618 (2 cores Cortex-A75, 6 cores Cortex-A55), 8 cores 8 threads @ 2 GHz
GPUMali-G52 MP2 @ 850 MHz
Memory4 GB LPDDR4X
Battery5500 mAh
ConnectivityWiFi 5, Bluetooth 5.0
Cooling systemVentilation cutouts
Key features

  • Targeted system emulator: all systems below PlayStation 2
  • The best experience for PSP system
  • Have great performance for big GameCube and Wii titles
  • SNES and PS1 work flawlessly, though with black bars
  • Targeted game genres: all game genres

Related post: Best retro handheld emulator.

Performance

Tested games

  • 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
  • GameCube: Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
  • Wii: Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
  • PlayStation 2: God of War, God of War 2
🔵
A
🔵
A
🔵
A
🔵
A
🔵
A
🔵
A
🔵
A
🔵
A
🔵
A
🔵
A
🔵
A
🟡
C
🟡
C
🟡
C
🟡
C
🔴
F
🟠
D
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

Under the hood, the UNISOC Tiger T618 chipset sits at the heart of the Retroid Pocket 3+, and while it’s not the chip you want to boast about, it is currently the most powerful chipset for current low-end retro handheld emulator. If you want to up the game, you need to double the money for the Snapdragon 845 in the Ayn Odin.

The T618 is complimented by a decent slug of RAM as well, with 4 GB that meets the low requirements for even Wii and PlayStation 2. For a pure retro handheld emulator, the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus is able to deal with everything you can think of, from GB, GBC, GBA, NES, SNES, PSX, DS, N64, PSP to even harder systems like GameCube, Wii and even 3DS and PS2.

It can also play some Nintendo Switch games, but the list is so minor and isn’t worth the trouble to dump Switch games for ROM. I recommend this master Retroid Pocket 3 Plus’ compatibility list, so you will know which setting you need to play your games. For harder emulations like Wii, 3DS and PS2, I recommend to lower the resolution if you can’t play games properly.

In general, if you have the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus, you should try up to GameCube and Wii without any problems. The scene isn’t that good with PlayStation 2, which is a bit more difficult.

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Gaming session

While the design has a few flaws of its own, playing with the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus is really enjoyable. It is lighter than the Switch Lite, and I can play the Switch Lite for hours (if only I have time). Speaker isn’t really good, but it is actually the limitation of a portable handheld, not this Retroid Pocket 3+ only.

Like I said earlier, the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus is a remastered PlayStation Portable, and you can’t go wrong with emulating PSP on this handheld. The IPS screen has higher resolution, and its upscaling algorithm makes the graphics much better than original hardware. Then you have the famous separated D-Pad buttons which is actually my favorite type of D-Pad. I really enjoy the Retroid Pocket 3+ button placement, much more than the Retroid Pocket 2+ for playing the same game.

I am able to play many favorite GameCube and Wii titles on the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus without problems. I marks it as C for these systems, but honestly I can play so many games that I don’t care about the ones that I can’t play. If you’re looking to explore these systems, try the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus now.

However, it is not a great experience with PlayStation 2. While you can play a few titles, but the handheld becomes hot quickly that you won’t dare to continue. It takes a lot of tweaks for playing PS2 and I don’t think it’s worth the trouble.

For 3DS, the story is nothing better. You can play some games with a lot frameskips, and I don’t think I would like to play my most favorite system in such terrible experience. Moreover, while you can emulate dual-screen side-by-side with a big screen like the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus, it’s still not the same as the original hardware. Again, I always recommend to play Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS on original handhelds.

Moreover, you should ask yourself if you can bear the black bar. It’s not really my preference, so I would choose the Anbernic RG405M over the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus everytime.

Though I don’t need a streaming handheld, the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus is actually a great option with Moonlight, especially when it has a 16:9 screen. You should choose it over the Retroid Pocket 2S if you need this feature.

Battery life

The Retroid Pocket 3 Plus upgrades the battery from the predecessor, from 4000 to 4500 mAh. It can help the device last for up 8 hours, and that’s so long for a retro handheld. If you try to emulate harder systems like GameCube and Wii, the actual playtime will reduce to about 4-5 hours. Just remember to stay in airplane mode.

You can use the normal USB-C cable for the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus, 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.

Lazy handheld man’s choice
A for Gaming Experience.

My verdict

The Retroid Pocket 3 Plus is one of the first handhelds to implement the T618 chipset, and the same specifications are helping many people to enjoy retro games in a better way. Certainly it isn’t the perfect retro handheld for the price, but you still need to wait for a couple of years to get one like that.

At the moment, if you crave for GameCube and Wii emulators, let’s try Retroid Pocket 3 Plus. Yeah, there are frameskips but I think it is playable for these systems. However, continue to 3DS and PS2, and I recommend to get better hardware.

The Retroid Pocket 3 Plus shines as a remastered PlayStation Portable, and it can outdo even the original PSP and PlayStation Vita for this task. It has better display, working save states and retains the same magic of a PlayStation handheld – great D-Pad buttons. The only thing that I need is a set of PlayStation buttons for the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus, which you can find on Etsy.

Get it if

  • You want a horizontal handheld
  • You target to emulate PSP
  • You want a T618 handheld with mini HDMI port
  • You don’t care about metal shell
  • You want a streaming handheld
Don’t get it if

  • You want a vertical device: Get the RG405V
  • You want a 4:3 screen: Get the Anbernic RG405M or Retroid Pocket 2S
  • You want a cheaper model that can do about 70% job: Get the Retroid Pocket 2+