How to Choose Between Anbernic’s 5 Different RG35XX Retro Game Handhelds

What’s the difference between the RG35XX, RG35XX Plus, RG35XX 2024, RG35XX H, and the leaked RG35XX SP? We got you covered.

Anbernic's RG35XX Plus models

There’s no shortage of handhelds for playing retro games. Anbernic, Retroid, Powkiddy, and more have filled a demand that Nintendo, Sony, Sega, and more are not serving.

But with dozens and dozens of handheld options to choose from, where do you even start? We recommend Anbernic’s humble RG35XX series. What was once a single sub-$50 handheld now has several different versions, including the original, Plus, 2024, and H model. There’s also a Game Boy Advance SP-style clamshell “RG35XX SP” model that’s reportedly coming in the future.

All priced at less than $100, the RG35XX handhelds are hard to beat for reliably playing your childhood favorites from the NES to NES, Game Boy, PS1, all the to the Nintendo 64.

Sure, you could probably ask a ChatGPT to spit out an answer highlighting the differences between the RG35XX handhelds and why you should choose one over the other, but there’s always the chance it’ll hallucinate the answers. Us, human writers? We’ve been covering all the RG35XX handhelds in-depth, so we’re pretty sure we know what we’re talking about.


It all started with the original RG35XX model.


It makes the most sense to start with the original RG35XX that Anbernic released in late 2022. Anbernic set the tone with its first-ever RG35XX, introducing attractive transparent colorways in black, white, and purple, along with an opaque gray inspired by the original Game Boy. At $49.99, it’s a solid pick if you’re looking to play anything up to PlayStation 1 titles.

Anbernic has since improved on this design with newer models that have better chipsets, batteries, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities, but this still comes with Garlic OS and Anbernic’s own stock OS installed. If you don’t want to fuss around and just want to get straight to playing retro games, the original RG35XX is the best model to start with.

RG35XX (2024)

The RG35XX model that was updated for 2024 comes with a few key upgrades.


The RG35XX 2024 is a strange “update” because there’s almost no reason for it to exist. The overall design, screen, buttons, and speaker are the same as on the original and RG35XX Plus, but it’s a Frankenstein of sorts. It has the same upgraded CPU, GPU, and RAM as the RG35XX Plus, but the battery is the same capacity (2,600mAh) as the OG RG35XX and not the larger 3,300mAh battery in the Plus. That works out to around 7 hours of battery life versus the 5 hours for the RG35XX and 8 hours for the RG35XX Plus.

The one big thing missing in the RG35XX 2024 that the RG35XX Plus and H have is Wi-Fi. You still get Bluetooth, controller support, HDMI output, and vibration, but no Wi-Fi for streaming the handheld to a PC with Anbernic’s Moonlight Streaming feature.

Weirdly, the RG35XX costs the same $49.99 as the original RG35XX, which Anbernic still sells. I guess if you want a faster chipset and longer battery life but don’t care for Wi-Fi, then it’s better to pick the RG35XX 2024 over the original. But if you want more features then...

RG35XX Plus

The RG35XX Plus comes with one key difference.


Anbernic’s RG35XX Plus earns that name because it has a slightly more powerful chip, and a larger 3,300mAh battery compared to what you get in the RG35XX and RG35XX 2024. The “Plus” in the name also means the RG35XX Plus comes with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatibility (features you won’t find in the RG35XX or RG35XX 2024), so you can connect your accessories or jump into co-op games.

While the RG35XX can emulate most games up to N64 without too many dropped frames or control issues (unless they play better with joysticks), the faster chipset in the RG35XX Plus allows it to replicate games from more demanding consoles like the Dreamcast and handhelds such as the PSP and Nintendo DS. The extra upgrades do come with a higher price ($63.99), but this is the Anbernic RG35XX to get if you want the most capable device in the series.


The RG35XX H adds joysticks to its design.


If you’re not a fan of the vertical Game Boy form factor, Anbernic’s RG35XX H (for horizontal) has you covered. It’s almost the exact same device as the RG35XX Plus, with the same performance and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities, but in a horizontal layout and with dual joysticks. That will make playing certain Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, and PSP games way easier.

The RG35XX H’s horizontal layout also means better ergonomics. Instead of cramping your hands and fingers around a narrow handheld, the wider design should make for more enjoyable extended play sessions. The RG35XX H starts at $67.99.


This leaked image of the RG35XX SP shows a model that looks close to production-ready.

@GameboyJuntaro / X

Last is an RG35XX handheld that Anbernic hasn’t even officially announced yet: the leaked RG35XX SP. The name isn’t official yet so don’t go chiseling it in stone just yet. But if Anbernic does stick with the “SP” name, it’d be a clear nod to the Game Boy Advance SP.

Nintendo can’t sue Anbernic for mirroring the GBA SP’s clamshell design, so long as the device is different enough. Leaked images show the so-called RG35XX SP having ABXY buttons (the GBA SP only has A and B buttons). We can’t see the backside, so we don’t know if it will have one or two pairs of shoulder buttons. Considering how fast Anbernic churns out these handhelds, we’re guessing the RG35XX SP could simply slot in the same internals as the rest of its modern RG35XX models. However, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities might not be guaranteed when looking at the size of that compact shell. We don’t have a price yet, but this would be the clear pick if you want a retro handheld that closes shut to protect the display and buttons.

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