Retroid Pocket 3 Review – PCMag

Retroid Pocket 3 Review – PCMag

A good-looking, inexpensive retro gaming handheld that requires some tinkering
I’ve been PCMag’s home entertainment expert for over 10 years, covering both TVs and everything you might want to connect to them. I’ve reviewed more than a thousand different consumer electronics products including headphones, speakers, TVs, and every major game system and VR headset of the last decade. I’m an ISF-certified TV calibrator and a THX-certified home theater professional, and I’m here to help you understand 4K, HDR, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, and even 8K (and to reassure you that you don’t need to worry about 8K at all for at least a few more years).
The Retroid Pocket 3 is an Android-based retro gaming handheld that deftly emulates games up to the fifth console generation, but you must learn how to configure the software to get the most out of it.
Android-based gaming handhelds can be powerful devices, but they’re often finicky. For example, the two-year-old Retroid Pocket 2 ($84.99) and the recent Logitech G Cloud ($349.99) let you run classic games on comfortable and well-designed hardware, but only after you wrestle with emulators for a bit. The Retroid Pocket 3 ($119) makes loading and managing game roms a much smoother process than those handhelds, but you’ll do a lot of tinkering with the emulators (unlike the $94.99 Anbernic RG351P). Still, it’s an impressive device that features a large screen, a powerful processor, and an overall quality feel for not a lot of money.
The Retroid Pocket 3 could easily be mistaken for a Switch Lite. It shares the Nintendo handheld’s general contours and design, with rounded corners, parallel dual-analog sticks, dual triggers, and even A/B/X/Y face buttons in the Nintendo configuration (A on the right). It’s smaller, though, measuring 7.2 inches wide to the Switch Lite’s 8.2 inches, and with a 4.7-inch screen compared with the Switch Lite’s 5.5-inch screen. It also lacks any home/power/plus/minus buttons on the face. Instead, power, select, and start buttons sit on the upper edge, a home button is on the right edge, and a volume rocker is on the left edge. The overall button placement isn’t a problem, but the start and select buttons feel out of the way when you’re playing games that require you to regularly access menus by pressing them.
The Retroid Pocket 3’s top edge also holds a micro-HDMI port, while the bottom edge houses a microSD card slot, a USB-C port for charging, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The handheld comes with 32GB of onboard memory, and you can easily add more with an inexpensive 64GB or 128GB card (I’ve seen them for less than $15 at Micro Center).
The 4.7-inch LCD has a 1,334-by-750 resolution that’s slightly higher than on the Switch and Switch Lite, so it looks a bit sharper with its smaller area. The screen gets extremely bright, and I found that setting it to just 60% brightness made it more than visible in most lighting. It shows well-saturated color, but it doesn’t get as deep or vivid as the OLED Switch’s screen.
Like the Switch and unlike the Retroid Pocket 2, the Retroid Pocket 3 has a touch screen, which makes navigating the Android 11-based system a simple affair. You can swipe and tap in the standard Android launcher, instead of relying on clunky directional controls or using an analog stick to control a mouse pointer.
The Retroid Pocket 3 has a 4,000mAh battery that you should be able to get a good five or six hours from on a charge, depending on what games you emulate and the brightness of your screen.
You’ll only occasionally dive into the Android launcher, since Retroid has added a useful front end that lets you catalog your favorite games and apps in menus with large tiles that can be easily selected with the physical controls. That said, the interface requires some wrestling to set up the emulators (particularly RetroArch cores) and rom directories to properly work. It’s much less of a chore than it was on the Retroid Pocket 2, though. You still need to know your way around configuration menus, but it’s more reasonably streamlined in this instance. It isn’t quite the Anbernic RG351’s add-roms-and-forget-it experience, but Linux takes to fully customized and curated interfaces more readily than Android.
The bad news for anyone hoping for an easy-to-find roms cache on a separate partition: There isn’t one. That’s not much of a loss considering how many of those roms were in Chinese on the Retroid Pocket 2, and that partition’s own, separate OS was a bit clunky. The good news for everyone else: There are no sketchy roms on the handheld. The system comes completely clean with the Retroid Pocket interface already installed. Of course, this means you must add your own roms, but that’s generally safer than relying on a bulk drop from a mysterious SD card preinstalled on your device.
The Retroid Pocket front end is split into two main screens: Apps and Emulation. Apps lets you arrange any app on the system on a simple menu. Emulation displays whatever systems you want to emulate in a neat row similar to the Nintendo Switch interface. Each system jumps straight into your game library, which can be shown as a simple list or as the box art for each game automatically scraped from online databases. Once you get each emulator properly working, the handheld’s almost as easy to use as the RG351.
The front end supports dozens of different systems with the emulators preinstalled. That list is overly optimistic for the Cortex-A75/A55 (one core for the former, three cores for the latter) CPU and PowerVR GE8300 GPU, though. You can load GameCube and PlayStation 2 disc images on the device, and run them on the preinstalled Dolphin for Handheld and AetherSX2 emulators, but I wouldn’t recommend it (F-Zero GX ran at 5 frames per second in our tests). If you want Dolphin to work well, you should reach for the G Cloud.
The different emulators offer various levels of stability and control options. Some will freeze or simply crash, so you must experiment with what works for each system. You also must set hotkeys for many emulators, because only some bring up their system menus when you swipe right from the left edge of the screen (or, in the case of RetroArch, tapping the icon in the lower-right corner of the screen). Again, it isn’t as much of a try-and-see mess as the Retroid Pocket 2, but at its heart, you’re still dealing with an Android device with a bunch of emulators crammed together.
Anything short of sixth-generation consoles plays just fine, at least. Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, NES, Nintendo 64, Super NES, Sony PlayStation, and Turbografx-16 games all run smoothly and with nicely sharp, upscaled graphics. Even most PlayStation Portable games play well, though the most advanced games, such as God of War: Chains of Olympus and Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, stutter a bit. The screen is fantastic, too, making each game pop with vibrant colors.
The physical controls are less impressive. The analog sticks feel fine, as they seem to be more or less identical to the sticks on the Switch’s Joy-Cons. The triggers also feel pretty good. The direction pad feels a little wiggly, though, and the face buttons are slightly mushy, despite also being clicky. The tiny buttons on the Joy-Cons are the same size and shape but are a little more springy and comfortable. Retroid clearly recognizes this, and includes a dome switch upgrade kit with the device. The caveat is that you must open the handheld and replace the switchboards and buttons. Hopefully, you have a tiny hex bit handy, and don’t mind dealing with small ribbon cables.
Despite some qualms, the Retroid Pocket 3 is an impressive package for the price. Its screen is fantastic, its front end is far better than its predecessor’s, and it has all of the ports, slots, and software access necessary to satisfy tinkerers. The only problem is that you must tinker with it to get the best experience, and that’s not something everyone is ready or willing to do.
To be fair, though, if you’re shopping for this type of retro gaming handheld, your tastes and skill set are both far closer to what the device asks for than the average consumer. It’s not quite as pick-up-and-go user-friendly as the Anbernic RG351P and similar Linux-powered handhelds, but it has much more processing power, a larger and nicer screen, and more user-accessible capabilities with Android.
The Retroid Pocket 3 is an excellent, inexpensive retro gaming handheld, but it’s not for users looking for an easy time. Android remains a somewhat more frustrating platform than Windows for running emulators, so you must do some work to get the handheld to operate as you wish. You even have to crack open the device yourself if you want to replace the buttons (though it is a nice touch that alternate switches for the buttons are included). If you’re willing to do so, though, you can play virtually any console game up to the fifth console generation on a fantastic screen. That’s a pretty comprehensive package for $119.
Outside of the world of emulation, if you don’t mind spending a bit more you can get a more premium and easy-to-use experience. The Analogue Pocket ($219.99) remains the best Game Boy-style device, with an even better screen and build quality than the Retroid Pocket 3. It requires original cartridges out of the box, but enabling emulation with third-party cores for up to 16-bit game systems like the Neo Geo and Super NES (and Game Boy Advance) is easier than configuring any given emulator on the Retroid Pocket 3. And, of course, the Nintendo Switch ($299.99, $349.99 for OLED model) and Switch Lite ($199.99) offer loads of classic games, including modest but high-quality NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, and Nintendo 64 libraries with Nintendo Switch Online.
The Retroid Pocket 3 is an Android-based retro gaming handheld that deftly emulates games up to the fifth console generation, but you must learn how to configure the software to get the most out of it.
Sign up for Lab Report to get the latest reviews and top product advice delivered right to your inbox.

This newsletter may contain advertising, deals, or affiliate links. Subscribing to a newsletter indicates your consent to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe from the newsletters at any time.
Your subscription has been confirmed. Keep an eye on your inbox!
Advertisement
I’ve been PCMag’s home entertainment expert for over 10 years, covering both TVs and everything you might want to connect to them. I’ve reviewed more than a thousand different consumer electronics products including headphones, speakers, TVs, and every major game system and VR headset of the last decade. I’m an ISF-certified TV calibrator and a THX-certified home theater professional, and I’m here to help you understand 4K, HDR, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, and even 8K (and to reassure you that you don’t need to worry about 8K at all for at least a few more years).
Read Will’s full bio
Advertisement
PCMag.com is a leading authority on technology, delivering lab-based, independent reviews of the latest products and services. Our expert industry analysis and practical solutions help you make better buying decisions and get more from technology.
© 1996-2022 Ziff Davis. PCMag Digital Group
PCMag, PCMag.com and PC Magazine are among the federally registered trademarks of Ziff Davis and may not be used by third parties without explicit permission. The display of third-party trademarks and trade names on this site does not necessarily indicate any affiliation or the endorsement of PCMag. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product or service, we may be paid a fee by that merchant.

source

Apk Bazar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *