Anbernic RG353VS Written Review

Is the cheap Anbernic RG353VS competitive? We find out in here!

Anbernic trims the fat.

The under $100 price point for handhelds is a battleground. With the Miyoo Mini and the RG300X available, it’s very competitive indeed.

If you squint, it looks like a handheld

To yet again add to an already oversaturated market (Anbernic is a key contributer), they’ve essentially taken their RG353V, given it 1GB whilst removing the touchscreen and Android capability.

Before raising our voice, we need to remember that up until this point Anbernic have been extremely poor at rolling out Android. One key component of the OS is to have Google Play, and having that not available renders the inclusion of Android pointless to most consumers. Bringing this back to only Linux is a welcome move, especially as Anbernic have dominated in this area in the past.

We opted to go for the single 16GB MicroSD model, that only included the Operating System. To play games we used a computer, but there are options for an extra 64GB and larger, that have many games on. Even if you feel tempted, we do not recommend the extra microSD cards as they usually include a generic microSD prone to corruption.

Even when the shell looks as boring as it does, this system feels to be somewhat the successor to the original RG351V. The RG351V is roughly the same size as the original Gameboy DMG. The RG353VS can be seen as similar size to the Gameboy Pocket. Smaller, and this time, with TWO analogue sticks. Where can we use these? …. Uh.. PS1?

You know, the RG353VS looks like a Gameboy Pocket… But ugly!

DPAD, and buttons are very “Anbernic”, modelled on the classic Super Nintendo design giving us good controls well suited to RPG games. Regarding fighting games where we need to use diagonals however, the dpad is not optimal, so Street Fighter and King of Fighter fans may want to think about another unit in order to throw out a wave of hadoukens. – It IS possible though 🙂

Classic “Anbernic” nipples… Uh, controls

The 3.5″ IPS screen is a nice “retro-friendly” resolution of 640×480, and it does get quite bright.

The speaker is bang in the center of the handheld, it fires at your face. Very different to many other handhelds, that have inconsistent sound as speakers may point down at your hands, or away on the back of the device- looking at you Odroid Ultra Go! With the 353VS, your ears are in direct firing line. We get a consistent sound, but as the speaker points straight at you, it may feel that there’s a slight lack of bass.

Performance is actually very comparable to the RG353 series. Amiga, SNES, N64, PS1, FBA, MAME (no heavy games like Killer Instinct or Tekken, sorry!), are all here. It plays Dreamcast games very well, including Sega Naomi, which didn’t run too well in the past for the 351 series. Capcom Vs SNK 2 on this little unit plays great! At the under $100 bracket, this unit DOMINATES in performance.

DANDORY! Capcom Vs SNK2 on Naomi FTW!

The only place the 1GB memory (vs the 2GB in the RG353V) shows slowdown is with PSP emulation. The 353V does perform better, but the 4:3 screen is not ideal for PSP. We get a postage stamp of a screen, and PSP games don’t play smoothly unless we use frameskip.

It’s a bit of a “Wipeout” when it comes to PSP… Okay, it works, just with frameskip 1, unbuffered settings

If you’re in the market to get a device for under $100, then the RG353VS should definitely be considered. While it doesn’t charm like the Miyoo Mini or even the RG300X, the RG353VS knocks them dead when it comes to what it can play.

Pros: Value, comfort, portable, 4:3 Display, Retro Games
Cons: Boring shell design

Rating 4/5

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If you’d like to see more on the RG353VS, please check our video review:

Gameplay, and the real steak n’ kidney pie

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