The Best Retro Handheld 2024

I recently purchased this really fun Game Boy refurb called “Pastel Boy” from Vapor95 which is a reseller for Gamerchanger Mods. They took a case from MizuCat (which was limited to 50), some upgrades and voila: you get a new Game Boy. I haven’t received it yet but it got me hankering for more: I realized this wasn’t a Game Boy Color. This was, by all accounts, a wonderful decoration for my house and nifty toy but it wasn’t really useful.

I needed something where I could bring my massive library that I have amassed of portable games around with me and the Zelda Game & Watch is really useful, but it only has Zelda. I don’t want just PSP either, I want GBA! Luckily that’s where retro handhelds come in.

Steam Deck / ROG Ally

These devices are now more aesthetic or price based – $150 or less to enter into the retro market. If you’re going for anything higher than $250, you might want to head more towards a Steam Deck, ROG Ally or other device. That’s assuming that you don’t move through to using controller grips on an Android device.

There remains in 2024 no better handheld for the value than the Steam Deck for retro gaming.

Research Difficulty

My hunt went on rapidly for the best Retro Handheld and I was just slammed with bad options, cheap plastic and a naming scheme that is just out of this world by vendors who operate on or about the same level that those odd household gadget folks work on Amazon (i.e. one company makes the product and 1000 try to rebrand it?) and wow just it’s not fun.

It’s very frustrating understanding what is even going on in the retro handheld market because there is so much and so many products around the sub $200 price point. There’s a lot of creators out there who put out excellent videos, but the watch time you need alone is probably hours and hours.

I’ve watched ETA Prime and Taki Udon and even with all of their videos, it took me awhile to realize the fruit of my journey: the decision on what is the absolute best Retro Handheld. There’s a lot of products again in the market, so it takes a hot minute to figure it out.

Specs to Consider

Here’s the deal: dedicated retro handhelds are a very niche market due to the Android phone market & the attachable side controllers to the phone. This makes most recent Android phones excellent retro handheld devices with a few apps installed and some setup. This can get you up to a 7″ full 1080p 144hz display along with blazing fast top tier graphics & processor. The Red Magic 6 is quoted as 2021’s top tier device for gaming.

When we talk about a dedicated unit we need to focus on what they can’t offer over a phone: form factor. That means we need something that’s small, pocket sized and limited in screen size between 3.5″ and 5″ displays with very low resolutions (in order to handle the limited power inside of them). They also need to be very inexpensive, once they reach the price of a decent Android phone then there is no purpose in buying them.

There are also some generational limitations on these devices currently. Major advances in system-on-chip technology have now reached the level of emulating PS2 and GameCube now. However, these devices in 2023 are fighting against the Steam Deck and the various other competitors now, who offer not only the power of having a retro handheld but also the ability to play a lot of other things.

The Absolute Best: The Retroid Pocket 4 / 4PRO

The RP4 is an S Tier and the absolute best, barely beating out the runner up (mentioned below). Here’s my logic:

  • This thing is an absolute beast, you are going to be able to play PS2 games without an issue.
  • You can play Android games. No funky linux based operating systems. It’s just an Android device in a neat shell.

They have a Discord where you can talk to the folks who make the device directly and get support there.

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New in 2024 is the Retroid Pocket 4 Pro.

Runner Up: Powkiddy X55
2022 Addition: MIYOO Mini
2024 Addition: RGB30 

The RGB30 is top tier in 2024.

The Powkiddy X55 is basically everything the RP2+ is except that it’s bigger. It is using the upgraded RK3566. It’s got a good grip and it does emulate well, but it’s much more expensive and at this price range you might be better off using your own Android phone and picking up a controller or the side grips. At this point or past.

The X18S is more powerful but reports on build quality have it out the door as an S Tier or “best” option. Clamshell is sweet though!

From https://www.goretroid.com/ also the color I purchased is above.

The MIYOO Mini is absolutely an amazing value at $55 and with a super amazing form factor and can run everything that its form factor can play. Something to really look into if you’re wanting something in the super budget category.

Runner Up: ANBERNIC RG351MP or RG35X

The RG351MP is $159 and does about the same as the RP2+, if not worse by comparison. You’re better off getting an older RG350 on some sale for $50ish and just soaking in the fact it has about the same chip as everything else does, without the metal frame and any screen upgrades.


The three main players right now in the niche retro handheld market seem to be ANBERNIC, Powkiddy and Retroid. You’re probably going to be better off with the Retroid’s newer processor and better operating systems (plus Android) and skipping some of the older tech. Android is the future in the retro handheld market: others have to adapt or move on.

David Piner, an accomplished video game journalist since 2001, excels in developing comprehensive guides and engaging content to enrich the gaming experience. As the esteemed former Managing Editor at TTH (as David "Xerin" Piner) for over a decade, David established a strong reputation for his perceptive analysis, captivating content, and streamlined guides. Having led skilled teams of writers and editors, David has been instrumental in producing an extensive collection of articles, reviews, and guides tailored to both casual and hardcore gamers aiming to enhance their skills. Dedicated to player-centric content, David meticulously crafts guides and articles with the players' interests in mind. He is a proud member of OUT Georgia and fervently champions equity and equality across all spheres.