A Round Up Of Currently Available Handhelds

It’s been a good few years since I did this, and a few people have asked. Below is a table of some of the more obscure handhelds that are currently available. I’m sure this list isn’t exhaustive, indeed I have purposely left out all of the Famiclone style devices and some of the older machines that have since had successors (even if the predecessor is still available).

The PocketChip didn’t make it, due to the lack of gaming controls, and I left out the Raspberry Pi based machines as they probably deserve a post of their own. I struggled to leave out the Revo K101+, it was a somewhat ground breaking device but it can now only be found 2nd hand or for a ridiculous cost – so it stays out of the list too.

HandheldOSCPULCD Size (In)ResolutionLinkPrice
RetroGame RS-97RetroFWIngenic JZ4760B3320x480⁽⁰⁾aliexpress.com<$50
LDK GameRetroFWIngenic JZ4760B2.6320x240aliexpress.com~$54
GPD XD+AndroidMT81765720paliexpress.com~$200
Digi RetroBoyProprietaryProprietary⁽³⁾3320x480⁽¹⁾digitopz.com$121.90⁽⁵⁾
New BittBoy V2Custom (OOB)⁽²⁾AllWinner F1C500S2.4320x240retromimi.com$39.20⁽⁶⁾
ArduboyCustom (OOB)ATmega32u4Small128x64⁽⁴⁾arduboy.com$49 +P&P
Clockwork GameshellCustom (OOB)AllWinner R16-J2.7320x240clockworkpi.com~$150
Gamebuino METACustom (OOB)ATSAMD211.880x64gamebuino.com83.25 EUR
GPD Win 2Windows 10Intel Core M3-7Y306720paliexpress.com<$800
Odroid GoCustom (OOB)ESP322.4320x240hardkernel.com$32 +P&P
PAP KIII Plus / SCustom (Hack)Ingenic JZ47604.3480x272aliexpress.com<$50
PocketSpriteCustom (OOB)ESP32Small96x64pocketsprite.com$69.95 +P&P
PowKiddy X18AndroidMT81635.5720paliexpress.com~$120
Retro Arcade Mini RS-12Custom (Hack)Ingenic JZ4725B3320x240aliexpress.com~$30
Retro Arcade RS-07Custom (Hack)Ingenic JZ4760B4.3480x272aliexpress.com~$65
RetroMini RS-90ProprietaryIngenic JZ4725B2240x160aliexpress.com~$30

The below Pros and Cons are purely subjective and I’m sure people will disagree with me on some points, but this is my perspective – and bear in mind that some of these opinions are formed from what I’ve seen and read online as I have not owned all of these consoles. In fact it might be better if you ignored the pros and cons altogether 😉

HandheldProsCons
RetroGame RS-97Cheap / Open Source OSMany confusing hw revisions / Exposed LCD
LDK GameCheap / Open Source OSStrange shoulder button placement
GPD XD+Well built / Powerful / Custom ROMsExpensive
Digi RetroBoyFaithful GBA hardwareCase molding / Cheap feeling
New BittBoy V2Cheap / Community OSNo shoulder buttons / Button rollover issues
ArduboyProgrammable / Very PocketableUnder powered / Low res
Clockwork GameshellWell supported / ModularNo proper shoulder buttons / Expensive
Gamebuino METAProgrammableUnder powered / Low res
GPD Win 2Powerful / Windows gamesExpensive⁽⁸⁾
Odroid GoCheap / Programmable / Well SupportedNo shoulder buttons / Under powered
PAP KIII Plus / SCheap / Community OSLDK and Retrogame have better support
PocketSpriteProgrammableUnder powered / Low res / Tiny
PowKiddy X18Cheaper than GPD XD+Button mapping in hardware
Retro Arcade Mini RS-12Cheap / Community OSNot pocketable / Low end hardware
Retro Arcade RS-07Cheap / Community OSNot pocketable
RetroMini RS-90CheapLow end hardware / Bad emulation⁽⁷⁾

⁽⁰⁾ Plus model not as well supported (do not buy). Non standard pixel arrangement.
⁽¹⁾ Non standard pixel arrangement.
⁽²⁾ From some retailers it may still ship with the factory firmware.
⁽³⁾ Reverse engineered GBA hardware.
⁽⁴⁾ Monochrome.
⁽⁵⁾ UK buyers may find it cheaper from Amazon.
⁽⁶⁾ With discount ‘happy2019’.
⁽⁷⁾ Custom Linux based OS in the works.
⁽⁸⁾ GPD Win1 may still be available at some retailers for less.

Having said that, my favourite machines are in the first 5 rows. It’s no surprise that the two consoles running the beautiful, deeply flexible and actively developed RetroFW are in positions 1 and 2. This firmware represents everything that’s great about this community and contributes hugely to keeping this niche (and this website!) alive. The machines listed after the top 5 are not in rank order (they’re alphabetically listed).

I am eager to see what the RetroPlus (aka RetroMini 2.0) brings, if only because the shell is one of the best portrait mode shells I’ve ever used (currently available housing the shitty RetroMax). There’s also the possibility of a custom firmware for the RetroMini on the horizon, which is great to see. Not to mention Steward’s RetroV3S which looks like it might be bringing another RetroFW variant to ARM in the near future. 2019 is shaping up to be an interesting year for obscure handheld gaming, stay tuned!

Edit June 2019: This post seems to get a lot of views, and due to the nature of blogging it’s going to become outdated and lose visibility with time. For that reason I’ve created this page which is also linked on the left side of the homepage (on desktop). I’ll keep this page updated and you use it as a reference to see what’s currently available at any given time.

23 thoughts on “A Round Up Of Currently Available Handhelds”

  1. Thanks for this. Could you make a post like this for the upcoming handhelds that have been announced? I’m looking forward to the Bittboy V3 (landscape version) supposedly out in June. I’d love to have something that has the form factor and slimness of the Dingoo A320 but is powerful enough to run any SNES game smoothly, let me know if you know of something like that. Gameboy Null 2 also looks good but is a Retropie build kit, not sure when that’s coming out.

  2. I absolutely LOVE my LDK. Playstation, NeoGeo, GBA, and on the way down all while remaining incredibly customizable and with such a wonderful dpad and buttons. It’s such a a great package, even though I wish the form factor were a bit different. Can’t wait to see what the RetroPlus and RetroV3S can do!

  3. I got my LDK and it’s great for GBC and GBA. Something about the screen fits it right and it’s easily slipped into your pocket. I have other ways to play GBA (vita, 3ds, psp, etc) but the LDK just feels right.

  4. Seems that the less-than-or-equal charater cut my comment.
    I was saying that it is a shame to me that screens are always less-than-or-equal to 3”, or wide. I would prefer so much a handheld with a 3.5”~4” screen, still 4:3 ratio, like the bottom screen of the 3DSXL. Wouldn’t you ?

    • Yup, remember the letcool n350? It had a 3.5″ screen and it was great. I wish we’d see some more like that, and with a resolution that’s good GBA scaling.

  5. So , now that I have come in from the dark side ( light hurts) what is the game quality like on the RS-97. I am a RPG maniac. Tried downloading from suspect sites, that did not work out, wife did not appreciate the virus that she got on her company’s laptop. No sense of humor

    • Can you make a post like this of the upcoming handhelds coming out soon? I’m looking forward to the Bittboy V3 (the landscape version) or any similar handhelds, essentially I want something with the form factor/slimness of a Dingoo A320 but powerful enough to run any SNES game. Gameboy Null 2 also looks nice, but is a raspberry pi build.

  6. I sold my dingoo a320 a long time ago since I couldn’t stand the small screen, do you think getting the LDK would be a waste of money for me? which one would you recommend? I would like one that is small enough to pass unnoticed in my pocket so I could use it while on break at work. I have the og GPD XD but of course that one is huge 😛

    • The Dingoo A320 was 2.8″ according to the internet. If it was really that bad, I don’t think a 3″ screen is going to be much better for you. Unfortunately all of the big screen devices don’t tend to run anything other than Android – and it looks like you’re already sorted in that department! If screen size wasn’t an issue I’d say go for the RetroGame RS-97 or LDK – but if 3″ is too small I’d maybe look at the 3DS/Vita with CFW.

      • I guess I’ll try the LDK since I already have a CFW 3DS xl and is pretty much the same size as the GPD and I don’t like the exposed lcd on the RS-97, thank you and keep up the great work with the website, I’m a long time reader 🙂

  7. Great list, that being said, is it wrong for me to ask, which ones have pre-loaded roms ( I am lazy) and not 100 copies of Super Mario in Chinese and the like.
    I have looked at some that claim to have thousands of games, but no list or answer to my query.the decisions in life that say go “ask the experts”. Are these games considered public domain as the publishers no longer support them. Imho
    P.s. like what you have done with this site over the years, I was just lurking in the shadows

    Bruce

    • Hey man, thanks for emerging from the shadows! I wouldn’t consider it wrong to ask such a question at all 🙂 None of the consoles listed come with those repeated lists of ROM hacks and other rubbish – but most of them come with nothing at all. For what it’s worth the LDK, Bittboy and RS-97 come with ROMs pre-loaded, but you would need to back them up before upgrading the firmware. After that you can copy the ROMs back on to the device and carry on where you left off.

      The RetroMini also comes pre-loaded and currently there’s no custom firmware to worry about – but don’t rely on it if you’re into fast paced games.I have had a perfectly good go of Fire Emblem on that thing though!

    • Hmmm, I could – but I am lazy. The search bar should bring back anything you need if I’ve covered it on this site 🙂

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