Review cover Anbernic RG353P (Hardware)
Official GBAtemp Review

What if your SNES controller had a screen and could play SNES games as well as PS1, PSP, Dreamcast and boot Android on top? Well, you’d have the Anbernic RG353P which launched recently and we’ll take a closer look at it in this review.

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Anbernic’s latest retro handheld is the RG353P, equipped with the same Rockchip RK3566 chip found in their RG503 handheld and a very familiar design among retro gaming enthusiasts. Starting at $140 on the official Anbernic website and AliExpress store (if you want an additional SD card or a carrying case, the price goes up), you’ll find the following items out of the box:

  • Anbernic RG353P console
  • USB-C charging cable
  • Screen protector
  • User manual

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Specs details of the handheld can be found below:

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Image courtesy of Anbernic

The most striking visual feature of the RG353P is likely its design that is unashamedly inspired by the classic SNES controller. And it’s not just the design but also the colour palette of the casing and buttons. While it might be seen as a Frankenstein monster-esque replica of an SNES controller, I don’t think there’s a better way to echo nostalgia than a retro controller inspired handheld emulation console. In fact, Anbernic isn’t the first one to do so as we’ve seen the likes of the SupaBoy and, more recently, the BittBoy PocketGo S30

Anbernic’s RG353P is closer to the latter in terms of design and layout but packs wholly better hardware as is expected from the company. No rattling or internal wobbling to be seen and there are two down-facing speakers for a more balanced soundscape. There are also two analogue sticks instead of one, allowing for additional button mapping based on your preference. The weight of the internals is also well distributed, making the device feel good in the hands. Anbernic also included two rubber pads at the back of the device which adds to the overall nice feeling of holding the device as well as provides some extra grip. As for the overall build, it feels sturdy and of high quality. 

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As is characteristic of Anbernic’s devices, the face buttons feel great, with the membrane underneath delivering satisfying feedback while making button presses smooth. A striking feature of the RG353P is the inclusion of stacked shoulder buttons, making this device the first from Anbernic to adopt this layout. The device’s shape and thickness allow for such an inclusion and it is very much a welcome one; the L1/L2 and R1/R2 buttons are large and easily accessible and I hope the company sticks to this layout from now on.

Also new regarding button layout is the location of a Function button and the power button on the front of the device, next to the D-pad and A/B/X/Y buttons respectively--these are easily reachable with the thumbs. The top of the device bears a reset button (handy to go back to the main emulationstation menu in Linux OS) and a volume rocker. I found the volume rocker to require some reach to access and would prefer if it were located on the side of the casing, but it’s a minor inconvenience rather than a deal-breaker.

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Unlike the OLED RG503 which features the same RK3566 processor as the RG353P, the latter’s display is a smaller, 3.5 inch IPS display with a 4:3 aspect ratio. Nevertheless, images are still crisp, with vibrant colour output and I like that the display is flush with the device’s body, unlike the RG503’ recessed screen. In addition, the RG353P’s display supports multi-touch input which is handy when navigating Android OS (touch control isn’t available on the Linux side). 

Yes, unlike the RG503, this device has 2GB of RAM and supports dual boot (Android and Linux). It’s a welcome feature if you prefer the UI of certain Android emulators or even want to play certain Android games on the system or access cloud gaming. However, given that this is a 3.5” screen, it is not totally appropriate for games that warrant more immersion through a larger screen like PS2 titles or Android games like Genshin Impact. Other titles like Dead Cells on Android could fare better but I found that the menu and text aren’t very legible. In addition, Dead Cells wouldn’t recognise the physical controls for some unknown reason. As for Android games that don’t natively support physical controls, Anbernic has a handy mapping tool that comes pre-loaded in the RG353P’s Android 11 version. On the downside, Google Play isn’t accessible out of the box on the device but there is a workaround to root it and install the store.

Given that the device runs on Android 11, it can also run the PS2 emulator, AetherSX2. In fact, this emulator comes preloaded on the device but don’t expect the RK3566 chip to do wonders on PS2 emulation front. Shadow of the Colossus runs around 12fps with stuttering audio. It surely runs but isn't really playable. Given the screen size and the processor, I don’t think the RG353P is the best way to play Android games or to emulate PS2, but it’s more appropriate to play N64 or even Dreamcast, and of course, SNES. For this reason, I’ve stuck with the Linux OS on this device.

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Luckily, the Linux OS has more support from the community and within a day of the device’s release, custom firmwares were already available. This is because of the fact that the RG353P uses the same chip as the RG503 for which custom firmware was already developed. I’m using JELOS and it offers a much better UI than the stock firmware as well as improves the performance of some emulators. It also offers online updates and tools like box art scrapping which are nice to have on the device itself rather than doing so manually. There is some learning curve with the controls, especially the hotkeys to access menus but that’s practically expected with these emulation devices.

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The RG353P’s 4:3 aspect ratio and 3.5” display makes it perfect for emulating older systems without a hitch such as NES, GameBoy and SNES. Also well playable are N64 games and Dreamcast titles. F-Zero X and Star Fox 64 on the N64 would both play at a steady 60 fps while the Dreamcast’s Crazy Taxi 2 would perform at 40-50 fps and Soul Calibur at 60 fps. 

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Beefier systems like the PSP and DS are also playable but the performance will depend on the title. For PSP, I would get Tekken 6 to play at 30fps and GTA Vice City Stories 15fps. As for the Nintendo DS, Aliens Infestation 35fps but with crackling audio. This might be addressed in future firmware updates but emulating DS and PSP games feel restrictive on the RG353P’s 3.5” screen and I wouldn’t recommend getting the device solely for playing those systems’ games as they should mostly be considered as nice-to-haves. If you want to play PSP or DS games in addition to other retro systems, you might as well consider getting an actual PSP or DS and mod them to emulate older consoles.

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What the RG353P has going for it though is its ability to play systems up to N64 and Dreamcast titles while bearing a nostalgic design with a quality build. It’s a worthwhile upgrade if your last device was a JZ4770-based device like the excellent RG350M, but this would depend on your needs and preferences.

Given the nomenclature of the RG353P (paying attention to the P suffix), I am even hoping that Anbernic releases an M or metal shell version of the device. And if they do, I hope they offer an option that bears a compact, rectangular form factor like the JZ4770 devices as their pocketable aspect was really a highlight and I also hope they stick with the stacked shoulder buttons. But if they decide to keep the larger form factor, I hope that they move towards adopting an asymmetrical layout of the joysticks which would make for a more ergonomic use of the sticks.

Purchase link

If you’re looking for an RG353P of your own, you can purchase one via the following links:

Official Anbernic AliExpress Store 

Official Anbernic Online Store

Verdict

What We Liked ...
  • Hardware quality
  • Custom firmware available for better performance and UI
  • Dual OS support
  • Buttons mapping feature on Android
What We Didn't Like ...
  • No Google Play store installed on stock Android firmware
  • 3.5” screen isn’t very suitable for PSP and DS emulation
  • RK3566 chip struggles with beefier systems
7.5
out of 10

Overall

While the RK3566 processor won't blow your socks off, the RG353P from Anbernic is still a decent emulation device with a decidedly nostalgic appeal and quality hardware build.
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I'm absolutely dying from reading this! xD
The description is accurate, this design is erotic.

Anyway, this micro console is extremely good out of the box, gets even better once you flash the Jelos distro on it.

Anbernic always mess up on something for every single products they pull out. That's not happened this time.
 
Honestly the idea of a retro emulation machine that plays up to 64-bit games really doesn't amaze me like it once did. $150 feels like a big ask for something like this, like I feel like the modded 3DS would probably be better, or yeah, an Android and a controller.

Also, those look like just Switch Joy-Con analogue sticks. Are they gonna drift on me?
 
Add this to the Cons: 2 GB of RAM are not enough for a good gaming experience, doubling it might help a bit. (Please take note Anbernic).
 
I really like this. ~$140 is a really good price, and even if it can't beat a used Android phone in terms of specs, it definitely wins on form factor. Personally, I've never been able to enjoy those controller clips for phones, but maybe I'm in the minority there.

Also...why are they calling the packaging a "gift box"?
 
Add this to the Cons: 2 GB of RAM are not enough for a good gaming experience, doubling it might help a bit. (Please take note Anbernic).
What makes you say that? As far as emulation goes, I would think CPU speed would be more important than extra RAM.
 
I saw a couple of YT videos reviewing this handheld, but I'm only speaking for myself when I say it's not my cup of tea. It can emulate consoles up to the GameCube (via Dolphin) on a Linux distro, but not that good though.
 
It would be a nice feature to be able to use it as a (bluetooth)controller for a switch etc, I could fondle the shit out of it.
 
This would be amazing if I didnt have a hacked 3DS/PSV/Switch already.

I still secretly want one though, I'm a junkie :psp:
 
i feel like,,the portable emulationfor n64 and ps2 is still a very long way,..
Don't those run well enough on the Steam Deck? And the Switch already does "portable emulation for n64", so I have no idea why you would say it is "a very long way". (I mean, there are already those portable units made by Ben Heckendorn and so on that use authentic N64 hardware.)
 
Tbf, the steam deck ruined my interest in any other emulation device. I just can't be interested when I can run them on the deck with all the nice filters and extras that pc emulators have nowadays.
 
Tbf, the steam deck ruined my interest in any other emulation device. I just can't be interested when I can run them on the deck with all the nice filters and extras that pc emulators have nowadays.
lol, you're comparing this to the SteamDeck?

What makes you say that? As far as emulation goes, I would think CPU speed would be more important than extra RAM.

Yeah but they mean Gaming, like Eldin Ring, or some Android games... you know Gaming.

Might as well just buy a high quality Android phone, a controller, and you've got a superior handheld.

So many of you are missing the point of a device like this. You are all younger than 30 am I right?

I ordered the black version, and I love it! It handles GBC, GBA, NES all so beautiful. And it's a great solid feeling device. Had they put a Nintendo logo on the bottom of the screen no one would have noticed. Get yourself a 256 gb card, up to PSX all smooth, some PSP games thrown in. Thousands of hours and hours of gameplay.
 
So many of you are missing the point of a device like this. You are all younger than 30 am I right?

I ordered the black version, and I love it! It handles GBC, GBA, NES all so beautiful. And it's a great solid feeling device. Had they put a Nintendo logo on the bottom of the screen no one would have noticed. Get yourself a 256 gb card, up to PSX all smooth, some PSP games thrown in. Thousands of hours and hours of gameplay.

No, I get it, it's a cool looking design, but ultimately it's just an Android system under the hood so people are paying for the SNES look than anything else.
 
No, I get it, it's a cool looking design, but ultimately it's just an Android system under the hood so people are paying for the SNES look than anything else.
No? It runs Linux firmware just fine. Android is just icing on the cake.
 
Yeah but they mean Gaming, like Eldin Ring, or some Android games... you know Gaming.
Except just adding more RAM isn't going to make this thing any more capable of running an OS to which Elden Ring has been ported?

Are there a lot of Android games these days that require more than 2 GB of RAM?
 
Oh boy, another android handheld emulator..

I personally just dislike the idea of dedicated android emulators. Especially because most modern phones can run emulators and actually be used as a phone. They can also, y'know, RUN THE OS!!

People buying handheld emulator most likely already have a phone that can run emulators better than said handheld emulator.

Its nice to have a built in controller, but I'd rather just get a controller grip. Having a built in controller also means that if a button or joystick breaks, you have to tear it apart to repair it, which a lot of people don't want to do. Plus, I can just carry my n3ds around which already runs everything I want + the entire gba/ds/3ds library PERFECTLY. (Injecting gba games and playing them runs full speed. The o3ds could natively run gba games and Nintendo only used it for the ambassador program.) I know it can't run genshin, but I see genshin as more of a sit down and play at home type of game, not "Oh boy, I have a 5 minute break, time to play an open world mmorpg!" But to be completely honest, there are only a few mobile games that I actively enjoy for more than a few minutes at a time.

I know everybody has their own tastes, but I'm never gonna buy what is essentially a upper range budget phone with a built in controller.
 
What makes you say that? As far as emulation goes, I would think CPU speed would be more important than extra RAM.
Precisely because its an emulation machine it needs extra RAM. You can have an 8 core CPU at 3 GHz (just an example), but without enough RAM there will be a bottleneck, and your experience will get affected.
 
I really like this. ~$140 is a really good price, and even if it can't beat a used Android phone in terms of specs, it definitely wins on form factor. Personally, I've never been able to enjoy those controller clips for phones, but maybe I'm in the minority there.

Also...why are they calling the packaging a "gift box"?
Because it's china, bro...
 
Precisely because its an emulation machine it needs extra RAM. You can have an 8 core CPU at 3 GHz (just an example), but without enough RAM there will be a bottleneck, and your experience will get affected.
That doesn't really explain anything..? Obviously emulating a system requires more resources than would be required by the original native hardware, but the systems being talked about here have much, much less than 2 GB of RAM, so how could RAM be a bottleneck?
 
That doesn't really explain anything..? Obviously emulating a system requires more resources than would be required by the original native hardware, but the systems being talked about here have much, much less than 2 GB of RAM, so how could RAM be a bottleneck?
emulating systems take far more than X amount the power , you're gonna have the emulator trying to translate the stuffs to play the games , with the extra functions , depending on the emulator used , the amount of extra functions , the way the emulators is doing its emulation , then the os running in background , maybe other programs , services , time ,wifi , bluetooth . i could keep on going ....... if you take an snes , exemple , it got many controllers and chips inside taht do "hardware" work that need to be translated and emulated wich goes beyond the hardware "power"
 
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if you take an snes , exemple , it got many controllers and chips inside taht do "hardware" work that need to be translated and emulated wich goes beyond the hardware "power"
Yes, you're very clever, but that does not answer the question. You probably could write a SNES emulator that requires 2 GB of RAM, but why would that emulator suddenly run better if you had 4 GB of RAM?
 
Yes, you're very clever, but that does not answer the question. You probably could write a SNES emulator that requires 2 GB of RAM, but why would that emulator suddenly run better if you had 4 GB of RAM?
there is already some , it just limit advance use of the system , the execution here is just okish , could be better , not saying anything is bad per say .

and saying you could write an emulator is always an option , but this is not really something you just ask and get , someone need to want to do it , seeing there is people interessed in the linux part is already great

my first open handled was the dingoo wich abernic seems to have the "updated " version, the dingoo never had good hardware but had a scene with people itneressed in devloping for it therefore made emualtor specially for the system wich run better than it ever could on the hardware of the device . this is a good exemple of what can be done , but i think the device here is just a little bit overprice for what it offer . but i have a feeling that the shortage of component is for something here anyway . the prices of everything is getting all over the place.
 
lol, you're comparing this to the SteamDeck?

I'm not comparing it, just saying that I don't have any use for devices like these.
I didn't have much need before since both the 3DS and PSP were useful enough for that, but now with the Steam Deck, I really don't have any interest in any of these.

Besides, it's not that cheap for an emulation device.
 
I'm not comparing it, just saying that I don't have any use for devices like these.
I didn't have much need before since both the 3DS and PSP were useful enough for that, but now with the Steam Deck, I really don't have any interest in any of these.

Besides, it's not that cheap for an emulation device.

I'm not going to find the dimensions of both this and the steam deck. Have fun playing GBC on your aircraft carrier. For 2 hours.
 
I'm not going to find the dimensions of both this and the steam deck. Have fun playing GBC on your aircraft carrier. For 2 hours.
I've played GBA on it for over 2h with no issues. It's surprisingly light and comfortable to hold (and I have small hands).
 
A PS Vita can do this and a lot more. Just custom paint the SNES colors on it and you have a far superior device from 11 years ago.
 
This would be amazing if I didnt have a hacked 3DS/PSV/Switch already.

I still secretly want one though, I'm a junkie :psp:
I think the same buuuuuuuut... the idea of having a console that can emulate everything instead of having to jump between 3 is also really.
I also the those three hacked but I'm just not too much of a fan of the idea of not settling with just one, the RG353p miiiiight just be the answer as of now.

A PS Vita can do this and a lot more. Just custom paint the SNES colors on it and you have a far superior device from 11 years ago.
I don't see the Vita emulating Saturn, DC, SNES, GBA and N64 as good as this Anbernic...
 
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I think the same buuuuuuuut... the idea of having a console that can emulate everything instead of having to jump between 3 is also really.
I also the those three hacked but I'm just not too much of a fan of the idea of not settling with just one, the RG353p miiiiight just be the answer as of now.
It's pragmatic to have a universal console b/c when truly playing portable you obviously can't always bring 3 systems. But here's the thing, it's very unlikely anything will be able to emulate a 3DS unless 3D devices make a comeback; and even then it would need 2 screens to play most DS games and some 3DS games. Which the 3DS does of course natively and pretty good at emulating GBA. Which makes the 3DS indispensable, but it can't really emulate much else (well) other than some older systems. So I'm already gonna need at least 2 systems. Then you have the PS Vita which can natively play Vita of course and PSX and can emulate some systems, but def not Switch games. So now I still need a Switch, which can emulate PSX but (maybe someday with vita2hos) currently cannot play Vita and that makes me wonder if the RG353p could emulate Switch games (well). If not I'd still need 3 systems :lol:
 
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    Midwest weathers been like 90 all week
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