Retroid Pocket 2+ (2022) Evaluation: Retro gaming on a funds

The Retroid Pocket 2+ delivers greater than sufficient energy at a value that may’t be beat.

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In regards to the Retroid Pocket 2+

An overhead shot of an Xbox controller next to the Retroid Pocket 2+.

Credit score: Reviewed / Jonathan Hilburg

This handheld is barely barely bigger than the full-sized iPhone 13.

Listed here are the specs of the hand held console we examined:

  • Processor: Unisoc Quad-core Tiger T310
  • Graphics: PowerVR GE8300
  • Reminiscence: 2GB LPDDR4x RAM
  • Storage: 32GB EMMC
  • Battery: 4000mAh
  • Show: 3.5 inch IPS display screen, 640 x 480 pixels, contact display screen
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz and 5.0GHz), 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C 2.0 in (cable included), micro-HDMI out
  • Working system: Android 9.0
  • Colours: Indigo, 16Bit, Black, Orange, Retro
  • Dimensions: 6.02 x 3.19 x 0.79 inches
  • Weight: 7.02 ounces
  • Particular options: Haptic suggestions, pre-loaded with emulation and sport streaming apps, Micro SD card slot, included display screen protector

The Retroid Pocket 2+ lives as much as its transportable promise, being solely barely longer and wider than the full-sized iPhone 13. Retroid makes 5 completely different colorways, every of which is a throwback to basic consoles and is on the market for a similar value. We reviewed the Retro model, which has a grey plastic shell and purple face buttons, a transparent nod to the unique Sport Boy.

On first boot, the Retroid Pocket 2+ prompts you to change between Retroid’s proprietary front-end app loader for straightforward entry and a plain Android 9 pores and skin—this may be switched between at will. The chin of the Pocket 2+ holds two front-firing audio system that direct sound towards the person with out getting blocked throughout regular use.

Sadly, the Pocket 2+ is locked to this model of Android and may’t be up to date.

What we like

The superb worth

An angled shot of the Retroid Pocket 2+.

Credit score: Reviewed / Jonathan Hilburg

This handheld provides a ton of worth relative to its sticker.

For less than $99, the Retroid Pocket 2+ nets you an Android 9-based gaming handheld that may simply slot in your pants pocket.

Working Android means you may set up Discord, browse the online through Chrome, hearken to music, or stream your desktop to the machine. All of that’s earlier than mentioning the Pocket 2+’s means to output video to a TV. With a Bluetooth controller paired, you may simply flip it right into a full-fledged retro gaming console on your front room.

Examine that to different retro gaming handhelds in the marketplace and it turns into clear that the Pocket 2+ provides far more worth for the worth. Anbernic’s RG351MP, a equally priced and sized handheld that may’t totally play Nintendo 64 video games, or the corporate’s RG351V, which transplants the identical chipset right into a Sport Boy Coloration physique, are each extraordinarily well-liked however each are outclassed by Retroid’s choices.

The throwback design

An angled close-up photo of the Retroid Pocket 2+.

Credit score: Reviewed / Jonathan Hilburg

Flat throughout with spherical corners, the design evokes the unique Sport Boy.

At such a low value, you may need anticipated Retroid to chop prices by slashing ergonomics and design options, however the Pocket 2+ sits comfortably in my hand. It’s flat throughout with rounded corners like the unique Sport Boy, however the shoulder buttons cantilever off the again to supply a pure resting place on your fingers when gaming.

The format will probably be acquainted to anybody who owns a Swap; the Pocket 2+ options two shoulder buttons on all sides of the display screen (not full triggers) a D-pad on the left facet under a totally analog joystick, and the X, Y, B, and A buttons above a second stick on the correct.

The little type prospers on the Retroid Pocket 2+ are additionally value calling consideration to. Every of the accessible coloration choices is a reference to an older era of video games, from the GameCube-purple handheld to the inexperienced, blue, yellow, and pink face buttons on the Tremendous Nintendo-inspired 16Bit model.

Even the boot display screen cribs from the Sport Boy Coloration’s swirl of colourful letters, because the Pocket 2+ brand curls into place whenever you begin the system up.

Sadly, the right-hand stick is the sliding variety discovered on the PlayStation Moveable (PSP) fairly than totally articulated. One other conspicuous absence is a scarcity of L3 and R3 buttons; you may’t click on the sticks down for extra inputs.

The efficiency shines for the worth

A close-up shot of the Retroid Pocket 2+ with a still from Hades on the screen.

Credit score: Reviewed / Jonathan Hilburg

The Pocket 2+ provides easy play throughout titles in all gaming generations, with only some exceptions.

The lack of these buttons shouldn’t be too large of a deal in case you’re working video games natively because the Retroid Pocket 2+ shines whenever you’re enjoying Dreamcast, PlayStation 1, or Nintendo 64 video games or under, which don’t use them.

It is a little handheld that may run with the most effective of them—in case you don’t set your expectations too excessive. If you need a system that may play Sport Boy Advance, PlayStation, and SNES video games with out breaking a sweat whilst you commute, then the Pocket 2+ is ideal for the worth.

I examined the gamut throughout gaming generations and the Pocket 2+ ran an enormous swath of older video games with out situation. You’re restricted to the emulators accessible to the Android 9 ecosystem, however what comes packed on the console works effectively sufficient—and if you wish to strive alternate emulation apps, you may seize them from the Google Play Retailer.

Last Fantasy Techniques Advance, Golden Solar, and all the Sport Boy Advance remasters of the Tremendous Nintendo Mario video games ran flawlessly by means of the included RetroArch app.

Transferring as much as extra demanding titles was simply as straightforward. I performed by means of a couple of worlds within the authentic Banjo Kazooie for Nintendo 64, accomplished course circuits in Mario Kart 64, and put a couple of hours into the unique Paper Mario by means of the included M64PLus FZ app, all with minimal or no slowdown. The identical was true for PlayStation 1 video games (for essentially the most half). Dreamcast video games all ran at full pace utilizing the Redream emulator.

Most video games ran with out situation by means of RetroArch, however Darkstalkers 3 had a really skinny graphical glitch working up the correct facet of the display screen that wouldn’t go away. The extra graphically intense Entrance Mission 3 refused in addition with RetroArch however ran tremendous by means of the included DuckStation emulator.

RetroArch is a superb all-purpose emulator for older video games that may battle with working more moderen titles, in order that Retroid packs in a lot of devoted apps for extra sophisticated consoles is a pleasant contact.

Attempting to play more moderen titles is the place the Retroid Pocket 2+ falls flat. For those who’re searching for one thing extra highly effective and prepared to pay for it, the $239 AYN Odin or $198 Odin Lite will play Wii, GameCube, and PlayStation 2 video games at full pace on a 1080p display screen. Don’t anticipate related efficiency from the Retro Pocket 2+ on this space.

Tremendous Smash Brothers Melee dipped under 30 frames per second throughout matches when run on Dolphin, and Kingdom Hearts began out okay when run on the AetherSX2 emulator, however would usually develop into unplayable throughout frenetic moments. Some slower-paced titles, like Paper Mario: The Thousand-Yr Door will run effectively sufficient to finish however don’t anticipate 100% compatibility.

The Retroid neighborhood retains a steadily up to date spreadsheet of which video games run effectively, however that’s an added layer of complexity in case you simply desire a handheld that may run your ROMs out of the field.

What we don’t like

Small display screen

Two hands hold the Retroid Pocket 2+ while playing The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.

Credit score: Reviewed / Jonathan Hilburg

The small display screen is all however unreadable when streaming newer titles.

The three.5-inch display screen of the Retroid Pocket 2+ is its largest disadvantage. It’s tremendous for studying textual content natively in Android or on the internet, and in older video games, however is unreadable when streaming newer titles. The touchscreen is a helpful addition and really responsive, however the dimension makes it straightforward to overlook keys when typing on the onscreen keyboard. Nothing main, however when you’ve got bigger fingers, it is perhaps an issue.

Though PlayStation Moveable video games run effectively, the black bars on the highest and backside of the 16:9 picture being emulated on a 4:3 panel will reduce into your already scant display screen actual property.

As a result of the Pocket 2+ runs on Android, you may stream video games from both the cloud or your personal PC over Steam Hyperlink or Moonlight. I used to be in a position to stream my PC video games to the hand held with out situation over Wi-Fi with Steam Hyperlink, however though the efficiency was good, my outcomes had been blended.

I attempted Management, Elden Ring, and Divinity: Authentic Sin 2, however the picture was simply too small to have a very good expertise in any of them. The textual content was unreadable and it was onerous to make out what was happening. You’ll have a greater time emulating higher-end consoles in your PC and streaming the outcome to the Pocket 2+.

Construct high quality is hit and miss

An angled shot of the Retroid Pocket 2+.

Credit score: Reviewed / Jonathan Hilburg

Completely different customers have reported inconsistent construct high quality.

Sadly, high quality management is a bit hit and miss with the Pocket 2+, however the variance isn’t unhealthy sufficient to stave off a advice.

That is reportedly extra of an issue with the newer Retroid Pocket 3 in line with clients who pre-ordered the machine and obtained theirs early, however the 2+ additionally minor has inconsistencies unit-to-unit.

Whereas the display screen on our take a look at handheld is mostly vibrant sufficient to play open air within the shade, some customers on the Retroid subreddit have gotten models with dimmer screens, or screens which might be nonetheless too vibrant to play at evening even on the lowest brightness. That is solely on the absolute highest and lowest ends of the brightness vary and these incidents are uncommon. There are additionally free third-party apps for additional decreasing your display screen’s brightness, so it isn’t a dealbreaker for my part.

In my case, the face buttons on our take a look at unit are very stiff and have a “crusty” really feel to them. Typically, they’re alright in combating video games, however I missed multiple exact bounce when enjoying 2D Mario video games. This isn’t a serious downside, and I haven’t seen anybody else complain about it.

The USB-C connector on the prime of my unit can be a bit finicky and generally connects and disconnects quickly if the cable is jostled.

Fortunately, Retroid sells each single piece of the Pocket 2+, together with the shell, contact display screen, PCB with battery, buttons, several types of rubber pads for the face and D-pad buttons, and even the screws on its web site.

You may conceivably change something that fails and even construct your personal Pocket 2+ from scratch if you need. Sadly, Retroid doesn’t provide a guaranty, although none of its opponents at this value do both.

Retroid is undercutting itself

The Retroid 2+ stood up in front of a computer keyboard.

Credit score: Reviewed / Jonathan Hilburg

The Retroid 3, plus questionable pricing selections, cuts into the attraction of this handheld.

The largest competitor to the Retroid Pocket 2+ is the Retroid Pocket 3, which begins delivery this month.

It packs a bigger 4.7-inch, 750 x 1334 pixel display screen, clickable thumbsticks (each of that are the total analog sort), and Android 11. Retroid claims that the Pocket 3 is 20-30% sooner than the two+, which ought to permit extra PS2 and GameCube video games to develop into playable.

However the Pocket 3 makes use of the very same internals because the Pocket 2+ regardless of retailing for $20 extra, or $30 in case you go for 3GB of RAM. The claimed efficiency bump comes solely from the software program optimizations of upgrading to a more recent model of Android. If you need a Pocket 3, the most effective use can be for streaming video games.

Sadly, having not examined it, I can’t suggest the Pocket 3 proper now. Customers who pre-ordered the machine and have gotten them early have reported flickering display screen points, unfastened inside connector cables, and different construct high quality issues that Retroid will hopefully type out earlier than the product goes on sale to most of the people.

I can also’t maintain my tongue about Retroid’s pricing construction for the Pocket 2+. The hand held is technically accessible for $99 by means of Retroid’s web site, however you’ll pay $15 for delivery from China and may anticipate to obtain yours in about two weeks. For those who pay $150 to purchase the Pocket 2+ by means of Amazon, it’s best to get it the subsequent day. That looks like Retroid value gouging its extra impatient clients.

Must you purchase the Retroid Pocket 2+?

Sure, in case you’re into retro gaming

The Retroid Pocket 2+ laid on a table with a Super Mario game paused.

Credit score: Reviewed / Jonathan Hilburg

Followers of gaming yesteryear will certainly need to snap this up.

Regardless of its flaws, the Retroid Pocket 2+ remains to be the hand held gaming champion at $99. Nothing else comes shut at that value level apart from the costlier Pocket 3, or a used Nintendo Swap Lite.

The Pocket 2+ will run generations of older video games flawlessly and native Android video games effectively sufficient. Minecraft and Stardew Valley are playable, however the textual content in Useless Cells was unreadable till I adopted a web-based information to alter it within the settings.

Therein lies the most important hurdle to purchasing the Pocket 2+: in case you’re simply dipping your toes into the world of emulation, tweaking settings for video games that don’t run effectively, and even sourcing ROMs or console BIOS, can appear overwhelming. Enjoying round with the hand held introduced again fond reminiscences of getting emulators arrange on my PSP, but when that is your first time, anticipate to learn a couple of guides on getting began earlier than you bounce in.

There are positively higher choices on the market, and an ocean of worse ones. The Anbernic RG552 is well-liked, that includes a 5.36 inch 1920 x 1152 pixel IPS display screen and 4GB of RAM, but it surely prices twice as a lot because the Pocket 2+ and solely runs about as effectively. The Steam Deck will deal with something you throw at it and may run as much as Nintendo Swap video games and past with no downside, however the least expensive mannequin begins at $399.

For most individuals, the Retroid Pocket 2+ delivers greater than sufficient energy at a value that may’t be beat.

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Costs had been correct on the time this text was revealed however could change over time.

Meet the tester

Jonathan Hilburg

Electronics Editor


Jonathan Hilburg is a valued contributor to the household of websites.

See all of Jonathan Hilburg’s critiques

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