Retroid Pocket Flip Review: the clamshell handheld emulator that we need

The Retroid Pocket Flip is irresistible for anyone who love a Nintendo DS or Nintendo 3DS, that not many other retro handheld emulators offer today. The flip-style clamshell retro handheld is actually worth the higher price, thanks to its added features, but it is still barred with the limitation of its processor. Okay, let me introduce you to my Retroid Pocket Flip review.

Retroid Pocket Flip ranks B in my retro handheld emulator ranking list

Retroid Pocket Flip

A high-end clamshell retro handheld

The Retroid Pocket Flip is in the right direction. People who love the era of foldable Nintendo handhelds will be pleased with this retro handheld emulator.

Retroid starts the clamshell retro handheld competition between popular retro brands, and certainly the Retroid Pocket Flip is the most desired folded device for everyone. If only it is released later in waiting of a better processor.

Retroid Pocket Flip Review: Price

Key features

  • Commonly found at: $159
  • Costs 2.37 times the RG35XX

The Retroid Pocket Flip is a clamshell, foldable retro handheld that you normally doesn’t find out on market, except for the PowKiddy X18S. Its novelty will turn heads, but so will its higher price than an unit using the same processor, said the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus and Anbernic RG405V. It is the same as the Anbernic RG405M which I prefer with its 4:3 screen, but it really depends on your preference.

Retroid introduces the flip handheld to the retro handheld generation thanks to the concept of the previous PowKiddy X18 and GPD, but the Retroid Pocket Flip is a new level to remind us of the golden era of the Nintendo 3DS. This is certainly the hinge you enjoy from the New Nintendo 2DS XL, which is still the most favorite 3DS system for many people, thanks to its aesthetic.

Back to the price, the Retroid Pocket Flip costs $159, and the watermelon edition carries an even bigger price tag at $164. It is not cheap for a device using UNISOC T618 processor, especially when Retroid released a newer Retroid Pocket 2S that basically does the same job at only $99. Realists may oppose the idea of the Retroid Pocket Flip, while 3DS fans will greatly accept the unit in their collections.

Again, you can buy on Amazon for even higher price, or you can test your luck with AliExpress. Goretroid is another option for official Retroid products, and the website mostly delivers the cheapest price.

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Retroid Pocket Flip Review: Design and Build Quality

Retroid Pocket FlipFeatures
Dimensions139 mm x 82 mm x 25.4 mm
Weight270 grams
Screen4.7 inch IPS, 1334 x 750, 325 PPI, 16:9 aspect ratio
ColorsBlack, Indigo, Gray, Red, Watermelon
Speaker placementRear facing
StorageInternal 128 GB eMMC, External microSD
Audio output3.5mm headphone jack
Video outputMicro HDMI
Charge portUSB-C
Key features

  • A clamshell, pocketable handheld
  • Great buttons and hall sensor sticks
  • Copy the design of the New Nintendo 2DS
  • Overall a quality handheld

The Retroid Pocket Flip design makes it infinitely easier to pocket than a regular retro handheld that uses 4.7-inch screen (nearly the same as the Nintendo Switch Lite). Take a look at the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus and don’t tell me you force to put it into pocket. The feeling to hold is different from person to person, but it’s definitely easier for me.

Even if it’s far chunkier than your average retro handheld when folded in half, overall this is going to be a lot smaller than the RP3+. People who love Nintendo handhelds certainly know that the handheld copies the design of the famous New Nintendo 2DS XL, which is still the most favorite 3DS system of many ones.

There are differences of course, but first I must say the Retroid Pocket Flip is smaller and lighter than the New Nintendo 2DS. I never own a New 2DS because I can’t fathom the spiked price, but I remember how it is similar to my New Nintendo 3DS XL in size. And the Retroid Pocket Flip is both smaller and thinner when put side-by-side.

However, it is a common fear among users that the Retroid Pocket Flip will have broken hinge. It’s hard to prove but I also feel the hinge on the Retroid handheld is far more inferior than even the weakest New Nintendo 2DS. But I find someone who swear on the quality of the Retroid Pocket Flip. To be sure, you should not abuse the flip handheld, or it will have cracks soon.

The Retroid Pocket Flip has a 4.7 inch IPS screen and 16:9 aspect ratio, so it is quite good to try emulating the top screen of the Nintendo 3DS. The bottom half lacks the screen so you will feel it is quite empty. Sadly the design can only allow its users to use buttons from both edges of the bottom half, so the center will be left empty. Perhaps we would have a dual-screen retro handheld emulator in a near future, but at least we need a capable processor for emulating the big 3DS library first.

We have hall sensor analog slidepads, and analog triggers for the Retroid Pocket Flip, something that you don’t even have in the Steam Deck. Needless to say, the hall sensor sticks are drift-proof for a long time. Because drift is a normal issue for every handheld and controller, hall sensor sticks are must-have for future devices.

I also like the fact that Retroid makes slidepads instead of convex sticks, further copies the well-known Nintendo 3DS. To make the handheld compact, both sticks are pushed deeper into the center, thus using them are quite a challenge for small hands. At least I kudos the decision to place D-Pad buttons near the edge, because I use them more often than the left sticks for retro games.

However, the L2/R2 buttons are different from the 3DS. It depends on your preference, but in general people will like the way the Retroid Pocket Flip is.

Speaker location is on rear of the handheld, which is not good for user experience. I wish they can fill speaker holes on the blank space in the center of the bottom half, to make it front-facing. People will argue that it is the same as the New Nintendo 2DS and Nintendo Switch that’re available out there, but for me alone, it is not ideal in the case of the Retroid Pocket Flip.

As a Retroid handheld, the Retroid Pocket Flip 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.

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

Retroid Pocket Flip Review: Gaming Experience

Retroid Pocket FlipFeatures
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
Battery5000 mAh
ConnectivityWiFi 5, Bluetooth 5.0
Cooling systemVentilation cutouts, fan
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, PS1, N64 and Dreamcast work flawlessly, especially with 4:3 screen
  • Targeted game genres: all game genres

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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 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

It is not a surprise for the most expensive Retroid handheld to use the hot chip UNISOC T618, a dedicated processor with 8 cores: 2 cores of Cortex-A75, and 6 cores of Cortex-A55. The structure is quite similar to the Snapdragon 480 that is widely used in budget smartphones 3 years ago.

So to say, it’s on the same level as the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus, Anbernic RG405M and Anbernic RG405V. The chipset is still plenty fast for everything up to Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, and PlayStation Portable, so the Retroid Pocket Flip really covers lots of retro games for everyone. It is, however, not recommended especially for GameCube and Wii, unless you try some simple and not demanding games. PlayStation 2 will be hit-or-miss, and I don’t think 3DS run fine on this processor, though the current firmware update enables more 3DS gameplay.

There is an ultimate Retroid Pocket Flip’s compatibility list for everyone to check and try settings that are tested by many people. If you’re ready to overcome your laziness, you can play many GameCube and Wii games with these settings. Still, as a lazy handheld man, I don’t really recommend to push yourself too hard for too little result.

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Gaming session

Playing with the Retroid Pocket Flip is perfectly fine if you don’t think of this device as an overpriced one for not demanding systems. The 16:9 screen is actually great for emulating PlayStation Portable, which is a system with so many good games that you don’t want to skip.

It is, however, a problem when you want to try GameCube and Wii – not all games are playable on the Retroid Pocket Flip. If they are your targeted systems, you should wait for a future with better processor on low-end handhelds. I don’t recommend playing PlayStation 2 on the Retroid Pocket Flip. Honestly, the original homebrewed Switch can do a better job than most retro handhelds using UNISOC T618 processor.

While the experience with Android and Daijisho is okay in the Retroid Pocket Flip, as the unit runs Android 12 instead of Android 11 in the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus, the Retroid Pocket Flip doesn’t support better Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies for better connection. As a result, I don’t really think the Retroid Pocket Flip is an upgraded handheld from the rest of the competition.

Retroid knows that its handhelds are good for streaming, so you will see marketing materials about Moonlight – which is a popular Android streaming app to connect with NVIDIA GeForce Experience. The Retroid Pocket Flip offers concaved slidepads, and though it’s quite difficult to access with small hands, I still prefer them to common analog sticks. Only one thing, I don’t play PC games often to need a streaming controller like the Retroid Pocket Flip.

However, you will find home console emulators on the Retroid Pocket Flip to have black bars, most notably SNES, PlayStation One, Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast. The original home consoles use 4:3 CRT screen, so the 16:9 aspect ratio isn’t really native for them.

There are L3/R3 buttons, which you can use to assign for special buttons. The feature isn’t really what I care, but if you’re going to stream a lot with this Retroid Pocket Flip, perhaps you should know about it.

Battery life

The Retroid Pocket Flip battery life is lower than the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus, at only 5000 mAh capacity. However, it doesn’t really make significant differences in real life, even when comparing to the Retroid Pocket 2S that uses only 4000-mAh battery. If you use the handheld only for not demanding systems like SNES or GBA, the Retroid Pocket Flip can last for so long before you need to recharge it. Power users will struggle here.

You can use the normal USB-C cable for the Retroid Pocket Flip, 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
B for Gaming Experience.

My verdict

The Retroid Pocket Flip is another design concept towards the final product that we want for all retro games, and it has flaws for being unique. It is quite inevitable, and though the handheld does a good job at packing some strengths over its competitors, I still don’t recommend buying it. That is a claim for one who love the Nintendo 3DS.

For most use cases, the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus is overall a better product, and the Anbernic RG405M is my cup of tea for its 4:3 screen.

Get it if

  • You love clamshell handhelds
  • You want to use concave thumbsticks
  • You get a deal making the Retroid Pocket Flip cost the same as the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus
Don’t get it if