What We Know About the KT R1

The KT R1 handheld is one in a long line of upcoming devices that promise to break through the performance barriers imposed by the RK3326. It’s been a very rocky road for the KT R1, and it’s certainly not out of the woods yet. But the specs have changed, and they’re apparently finalised now. So let’s have a look at what we’re being promised.

It started back in November over on the Chinese forums. A user named niluanxy posted a long preamble about a device he was working on called the R1. Over the course of a few posts, we learned that this handheld is going to be quite different from anything currently available.

It’s planned that there will be a few versions of the R1 to cater for different budgets. As far as I can tell the majority of the configuration is the same between them, with the main differences being RAM and storage size. It was once due to have an optional sim card slot too, but that is missing from the latest specs released today.

HARDWARE

Unfortunately niluanxy has had some serious obstacles to overcome in the development of this machine. Originally intended to contain an AmLogic S922X, this was later switched out for the UniSoc T618 due to availability issues. The latest update from the man himself has this chip switched out yet again for a Snapdragon 845. According to his one of his recent posts, he was actually working with multiple chip suppliers simultaneously, hoping one would pay off. It looks as though the Snapdragon solution is the one that found its feet.

The Snapdragon 845 is an octa-core processor from the start of 2018. It featuring 4x Kryo 385 Gold CPUs at 2.8GHz and 4x Kryo 385 Silver CPUs at 1.8GHz. A 650MHz Adreno 630 GPU takes care of the graphics acceleration, and for what it’s worth this chip overall is more powerful than either of the two prior considerations.

LCD

The original choice of LCD has also had to be swapped out. Originally a 4″ 800×600 display, testing in January apparently revealed poor viewing angles and a high defective rate. The LCD is now a 3:2 4.5″ OCA panel with a resolution of 1620×1080. This panel has the same unfortunate aspect ratio as the Odroid-Go and clones. The super high resolution will help massivelyt with any scaling issues apparent on lower resolution screens though.

CONTROLS AND I/O

There are various renders doing the rounds with the positioning of the left analog stick and d-pad in switched positions. It seems to be that the final design will have the d-pad at the top which is likely to cause the least amount of complaints. However it was once said by niluanxy that the left side of the device may be modular. After market custom face plates may allow customers to swap out the configuration. Whether this is still the plan seems unlikely, but I haven’t seen anything to the contrary yet.

Video output will be taken care of via a USB-C port. The R1 contains dual analog sticks, D-Pad, ABXY and an extra four face buttons. On the top edge of the device you’ll see stacked shoulder buttons for R1/R2/L1/L2. This is also where the volume rocker and power button can be found. Bear in mind though that these renders are now a few months old and lots has changed in the meantime. It’s possible that the design has also been updated, but as yet there are no new renders available.

The internal storage is taken care of via a UFS 2.1 enabled NAND with a choice of 64, 128 and 256GB potentially being available. Additional storage is taken care of via a microSD card slot. There will be WiFi5 and Bluetooth 5.0 onboard, a 5000-6000mAh battery with 9v 3a fast charge and dual rumble motors too.

KT R1 Shoulder Buttons

OPERATING SYSTEM

The KT R1 handheld will run Android 10 out of the box. I believe it has been heavily customised for the handheld form factor, however the R1 does also have a touchscreen.

Previously it was stated that the bootloader will be unlocked, and the device will support different OSs depending on what devs decide to port to it. There was also due to be an option to boot from the MicroSD card, with a hardware switch on the shell which tells the machine which system to boot from when turned on. Whether this is still the case is unclear at this point.

PERFORMANCE

The SD845 is a fairly powerful chip, and we can expect to see much better performance in the systems already supported by RK3326 handhelds. In addition, it’s possible we’ll see some Saturn, GameCube and Wii emulation made possible too.

KT R1 White Plastic Shell

To get an idea of performance, take a look at the Samsung Galaxy S9 or another mobile phone that contains this chip. It’s possible that this chip will be overlocked to 3GHz in the KT R1 handheld. Niluanxy is also considering whether or not active cooling may be required.

AVAILABILITY AND PRICE

It seems that the KT R1 handheld is the dream of one talented man working with a factory in China to get this device brought to life. Although this is his first foray into handheld manufacture, he does have a project under his belt already. The GPD Win2 aftermarket cooler was engineered and manufactured by him, and successfully funded on IndieGoGo last year.

Niluanxy has stated that he will receive a real protoype of the R1 in January, after which time an IndieGoGo campaign will be started. Shipping of the final devices is due to begin in Q1 2021.

There are going to be various hardware configurations of this handheld, and the pricing hasn’t been finalised. It’s been said that $200 will be the maximum, but things have changed so it could be higher. Colours are due to be Retro Grey, Pikachu Yellow, Plain White and Pink.

KT R1 Metal Shell

THOUGHTS

It seems strange to me that it takes a one-man-band operation like niluanxy’s to bring real innovation to this market. We have companies like Anbernic, Bittboy and Retroid who must already have stacks of cash behind them. I do wonder why are they not already blazing the trail with cutting edge devices. Obviously GPD are doing their thing, but their machines are out of reach for a lot of folk.

But before we get too carried away, this device doesn’t appear to be much closer to market than it was months ago. I understand it must be incredibly difficult to do this almost on your own, so I’m definitely willing to cut him slack. But at the same time, I’m not holding my breath.

The KT R1 moniker may not be final, and could change before it goes up for pre-order. I wish niluanxy all the best with his endeavour, and I’ll be keeping my eyes open for the IndieGoGo campaign next year.

Full specs below.

KT R1 Specs 
SoCSnapdragon 845
RAM4GB/6GB/8GB (LPDDR4)
Storage64GB/128GB/256GB (UFS2.1)
WirelessWiFi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0
OS64-bit Android 10 (Customised)
ScreenOCA 4.5-inch 1620*1080 3:2 touchscreen
Battery5000-6000mAh with 9V 3A fast charge
ExpansionUp to 512GB MicroSD card
HandleFull Dual Analog with 4 Shoulder Buttons
RumbleDual Linear Actuators
SpeakersStereo
MicrophoneDual Mic Array with Noise Reduction
OutputUSB-C Video Output
SizeTentatively 160*77*18mm
Heat dissipationActive or Passive
CaseTentatively Retro Grey, Pikachu Yellow, Plain White, Pink

51 thoughts on “What We Know About the KT R1”

  1. Wish he sticked to the more traditional D-pad, looking promising however and I might be holding off on the purchase of RG351p now

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  2. If the emulators runs like on the Beelink GT King then shut up and take my money!
    In my opinion Google play store is needed for the buy of Redream (for upscale). If the play store is not on the device it must have the possility to install it (with root because the bootloader is unlocked)?.
    And maybe there will be custom Android roms.
    But there is one thing that i am still missing. A second USB port for the rom collections (but the thing with the SD card is also an solution). I hope, the shipped Android ROM will have NTFS support.

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    • I’m starting to wish me a 5″ 4:3 screen. 🙂
      And 150 – 200 is for me a acceptable price range. I have paid the same for a RPI 3 Gameboy.

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  3. This is great! The S922X is a great chipset! The specs look promising. My only gripe is that they need to round off the edges and add more grip to the back. Right now this handheld and the Powkiddy X18S are the Handhelds to look out for in 2021. I hope this won’t be another Retroid Pocket 2. The D-pad and Face Buttons were too stiff and the Android implementation was terrible. I hope this Handheld fulfills all my expectations. Keep up the good work!

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  4. What are the main benefits of getting this vs. installing Retroarch on an Android phone with 6.x” AMOLED screen and something like a Razer Kishi? If you already have the phone, then you’d be paying $50-80 only for the gamepad dock.

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    • People ask this all the time about various things. Why buy an MP3 player when you can use your phone. Why buy a PC when you can use a console. Why buy a kettle when you can use a saucepan. For me, a phone is a tool that I rely on to work for at least 24 hours per day. If I started using it for emulation I’d then need to be tethered to a charger. Either that or buy another phone for the kishi. At that point, might as well buy the handheld. And yes, I own an MP3 player

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  5. This system almost got there. It has just one failing, the screen. 4:3 aspect ratio? No thank you. Especially for the potential price. Now if you change it to 1024×600, ok that’s good. They got so close…

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      • Oh? What about PSP? Gamecube/Wii? Yes, those are widescreen systems, are they not? The AmLogic S922X is capable of running emulation for those systems. On top of that this system will be running Android 9 so standard Android gaming is also a thing as well as being able to play video’s and web content, so why not a 16:9 screen? Hmmm? 4:3 makes no sense…

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  6. Many devices below $100 can emulate N64 and Dreamcast in a playable way. Also many people already have those devices. Having better Dreamcast and N64 performance and maybe some SEGA Saturn for me personally is no reason to switch devices. For someone looking for his first device it could be the best choice.

    Years ago, in the era between the JXD S7800 and the GPD XD we had the same development. Several new devices, different price, performance and build quaility and sometimes the device considered the best one was replaced by a new contender. But all in all there was little to no progress and everything could play more or less the same games.

    Then after the GPD XD we had two directions. The GPD Win with a much higher price and more capabilities and the GCW Zero as a smaller, cheaper device, which could not provide what was promised. Than came the RS97 and soon this marked developed up until where we are now.

    But now we are again at PSP, Dreamcast and N64. This time for a smaller prices and with more pocket friendly devices.

    The RG 350M was best in build quality but for its price tag too underpowered. The RG 351P has a weird aspect ratio. The RP2 is good but doesn’t have the build quality of the 350M and also Android as well es the form factor isn’t for everyone. Having no ultimate handheld in this performance range in my opinion leads to again several handheld competing in being the ultimate device up until the mentioned performance level.

    Instead I would wish that the development would focus on taking new directions. This would mean that one company manages to develop such an ultimate handheld and the community focussing on that one so the developers can’t make a profit in “only” providing another handheld for Dreamcast, PSP and N64 and instead would try to develop handhelds with the capability of emulating Dreamcast, Wii and PS2 below the price range of the GPD Win.

    Reply
    • What are those many devices that can emulate N64 and Dreamcast well? I can only think of three and they don’t apply. OGA and clones don’t emulate them well, just some games. Retroid 2 emulates N64 quite well but not Dreamcast. And Powkiddy x15 can emulate them quite well but has some other flaws. But they are not many…

      Reply
      • I never said that many device can play them well. I even used ‘playable’ as well es described in my whole post, that I am aware of the fact that most of those device don’t deliver good/great/perfect emulation of both N64 and Dreamcast.

        My point is that even tough we didn’t achieve perfect emulation of Dreamcast and N64 and especially not in combination within a device that also has no other flaws, for nearly a decade (The JXD device came in 2012 as the first okay ones, but even before that we had Yinlips…) we have emulation that reaches up until N64/Dreamcast and no development beyond that (not regarding the GPD Win, because it is in a much higher price range) border.

        I wanted to express that I hope that we finally go beyond N64/Dreamcast (and sometimes Saturn) and finally are able to include PS2/Gamecube/Wii with those emulation handhelds, since we achieved N64/Dreamcast so many years ago but than had ‘only’ improvement.

        Reply
    • Well said!!!!!!!??as I own them all. Gpd xd and plus, rg300,rg350,rg341p, gpdq9 PSV,rp2, rgb10, pi4b, pi3b in gameboy custom case custom build, q90, v90, PSP, vita, PSP go, all game boys 2ds, 3ds, dsi, etc. Many more even the singularity monster tegra..lol.

      Reply
      • It would take a serious effort to compile(and recompile) code for the SOC that will be in this system. Technically it is possible(as it’s already been done for similar SOCs), but it’s not very likely unless the firmware for this device can be directly accessed and it becomes very popular, which isn’t very likely in it’s current configuration.

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        • EmuELEC is already available for s922x but yes more work will be needed to accommodate the LCD and controls. It seems that the maker is open to any new OS being developed so I imagine with his input (if needed) it’ll definitely happen.

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  7. Love the look of the KT R1! This KT R1 almost looks like a Retroid Pocket 2! I do however like all the color schemes. Some are my favorite color schemes especially the white then the grey. I’m not sure about the interface though. I often find Android interfaces complicated to operate when it comes to the playing of video games. That is the issue I’m having with the RP2 and the GPD XD Plus. Which is why I just purchased myself a PocketGo S30. I’m still waiting on my PocketGo S30 to be delivered. Though this KT R1 looks interesting, I often prefer Linux based retro handhelds because they are so much more simpler to navigate through and add roms.

    Reply
  8. Honestly I grabbed a razer kishi and a gamesir x2 and use them with my Samsung S20 FE edition and there is really no need to look further. If you have a phone just use that with one of these and always get the best performance. I can actually run dolphin emulator on my phone which blew my mind. Plus I can use my older phones if I want something on the go. They are faster and have oled screens. I love stand alone devices but my closet is full of them. After the honeymoon phase is over those devices just collect dust.

    Reply
  9. >>Could Be The One You’re Waiting For
    OMG it might just be! With that design, it looks fant-

    >>800×600
    No

    If the compute module 4 handheld has an 800×600 screen I’m gonna get really pissed.
    It’s not as bad as the OGA resolution, but I’ve used an Amazon Fire 7 Tablet that has such a screen and let me tell you, I did not have fun with how games scale up on that. It’s never gonna look good.

    Reply
    • Yes, it’s an unfortunate resolution. However, pixel density is quite high so it might not be so bad. If all else fails, roughly 60-70px of black border at the top and bottom for 2x integer scaling on some systems.

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      • I’m guessing this will run Android(since Amlogic will sure provide Android source for this), which makes me think, Android handhelds, like GPD XD or RP2, which are considered good ones in retro handhelds, but in normal world they’re plain shit comparing to normal android phones, sure this R1 thing will be better than GPD XD/RP2 spec wise, but it’s still chunky and most probably shitty made. why can’t we have good things? for god’s sake we need normal Android phone companies to come here.

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        • I don’t see that happening. Sony tried making a gaming phone and Nvidia tried making a dedicated Android handheld. Both stopped doing that because it wasn’t profitable enough. So therefore I see normal Android phone companies making high performance phones and some detachable controllers but I don’t see them making dedicated handhelds.

          If they release a dedicated handheld with good build quality and performance they just could release a standard phone for a smaller price since they won’t have to include the handheld parts and also open themselves to a higher market audience. So they just have no reason to build an Android handheld.

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          • Sony tried a very long time ago, Shield(the handheld) is 7 years old, that’s a very different time back then. Also “open themselves to a bigger market” doesn’t mean that every consumer in that bigger market will all buy every product in that market, they have competitors, but if any normal company come to the handheld market, they can dominate easily.

          • @JimmyZ your right much changed since the Xperia Play and the Shield Portable where released. Still there must be a reason they don’t try again. At the same time Xiaomi developes the Black shark gaming phones. Gaming companies like Asus ROG and Razer release gaming phones also. None of them release a dedicated handheld.
            Why do you think that is?

            I don’t think it’s just because they didn’t think of it or just because they are to blind to see the potential it would have. I think they analyzed it quite well and they know that even if they would dominate that market, they would dominate a market that’s not profitable enough. Therefore Razer rather releases a smartphones that competes both with ‘normal’ higher end smart phones and those several other phones marketed at smartphones for gamers than release a handheld that would be without any competition.

            Not seeing it happen is the reason I beleave it it not profitable for those mainstream hardware manufacturers.

            Only a few people spend several houndred bucks for a device like this. Many people spend it for a smartphone since it can be used as a phone as well. Many people spend it for a mainstream handheld like the switch because it has standalone games. But for a device that just is capable for playing emulators and gamers there phone could play also, only a few people are willing to spend a high price for that.
            Those chinese brands can produce for a much lower price and they also don’t suffer as great from a bad image from bad manufactured hardware which means they produce for a much smaller price and therefore a much smaller profit is big enough for them.

    • I have to agree, with an addition, what’s with the 4:3 aspect ratio? No. 1024×600 would be greatly better for emulation of wider variety systems.

      Reply
      • That would be better for Android games and emulating newer systems, but I guarantee if he’d stuck a widescreen in this thing people would be complaining about black borders on the left and right for retro systems. You can’t please everyone. I agree with the 4:3 ratio, it was the right choice. The resolution wasn’t though.

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        • People who complain about “black borders” need to remember the concept of wider compatibility, especially with the SOC this system will have. 16:9 would have been a better choice. Or perhaps one of each and a resolution adjustment? One model with 1280×720(or 800) and one with 1024×768, both with the same specs otherwise. Then each user can choose which aspect ratio is more important/useful for them. I’d bet real money that the widescreen model would be the more popular model…

          Reply

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