Portable gaming has always been popular, but recently there has been a large increase in the number of options out there. It’s a fun way to enjoy some of your favorite games on the go, be they retro classics or new releases.
However, with so many different emulators out there, how do you know which one to pick? This guide is here to help.
Below, we will look at some of the best handheld emulators currently on the market.
Who Should Get This
Handheld emulators are great for any gamer, but they are even better if you travel, commute, or often find yourself away from home and still want to be able to play an assortment of games.
With the number of games and portable devices now on the market, it’s easier than ever to have a wide range of entertainment options right at your fingertips.
These handheld emulators provide an easy way to have fun and pass the time when you can’t use a larger console.
These gaming devices are also great for kids you want to keep occupied. If you’re on a long road trip or plane ride, they are an effective way to keep your children busy for a few hours to ease any boredom.
If you have bad vision or don’t like playing games on smaller screens, you are going to have a tough time with these emulators and might not want to spend the money on them.
Best Handheld Emulator: Our Picks
The following sections cover the best emulators on the market and go over their individual niches.
1. GPD XD
- Best for: Overall
- Key Features: 5-inch screen. Fast and powerful. 4GB RAM. 32GB storage space and wireless compatibility.
- Series: Touch
- Brand: LANRUO
- Screen Size: 5 inches
The GPD XD is one of the best handheld emulators on the market. The flip screen design is both functional and durable, while the smaller size and portability allow it to easily fit inside your pocket or bag.
The unit is powered by a MT8176+PowerVR Hexa-core processor, a feature that gives it fast speeds and reliable quality. The 4GB of RAM will keep everything running smoothly no matter where you like to play games. It also has a large, vibrant screen and excellent battery life.
If this has a downside, it’s that the buttons themselves could be a bit better. The D-pads are a bit soft to the touch, while the triggers definitely have a loud click. Regardless, it’s still a well-made device that will keep you playing your favorite games for a long, long time.
2. RG350 Game Console
- Best for: Versatility
- Key Features: Extremely portable. 3.5-inch tempered glass display. 2500 preloaded games. Multifunctional design. Music player.
- Memory: 16GB
- Battery: 2500mAh lithium
- Screen Size: 3.5 inches
If you want a well-rounded emulator that can do it all, look no further than the RG350 game console. This device not only runs games, but it plays music and videos as well. That extra functionality, combined with the 2500 preloaded titles, makes it a true entertainment device.
In addition, it has a 32G TF chip, 6 hours of battery life, and some of the best speakers you’ll find on the market. Everything looks great on the screen, and it all sounds great as well.
The biggest drawback to this device is its durability. It won’t crumble in your hands or break in the event of a single drop, but it doesn’t have the longevity some might like. Even so, if you’re careful with it, you’ll be able to get quite a lot of mileage.
3. MJKJ Handheld Game Console
- Best for: Usability
- Key Features: 16GB storage capacity and 4.2-inch display. Multifunctional. Bright, vivid screen. Affordable price point.
- Battery Life: 6 hours
- Storage: 16GB
- Screen Size: 4.3-inches
Those searching for a more affordable handheld emulator packed with a ton of features will enjoy this model from MJKJ. As with the other great options on this list, it comes with a large, bright screen as well as a portable, slimmed down profile.
There are a whopping 3000 built-in games, making it a great choice for people who enjoy variety, and also fully functions as a camera, recorder, MP3 player, and eBook reader. If you’re after an emulator that stands in as a full multimedia device, the MJKJ is the best pick.
As this is a more budget-friendly option, the software doesn’t quite have the same power as some other more expensive emulators. There are a few popular games missing too. However, it’s still an incredibly solid item at a much lower price point.
4. Retro Pocket 2
- Best for: Portability
- Key Features: Durable screen protector. Dual boot system. 4000MAH battery. Small and easy to carry. HDMI compatible.
- Battery Life: 6+ hours
- Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Screen Size: 3.5-inch screen
If you’re in the market for a smaller or more portable emulator, the Retro Pocket 2 is a great choice. This device, which comes with Open Android and Retro games, utilizes a dual boot system. It also has a powerful battery as well as full Wi-Fi/Bluetooth functionality.
That combination is incredibly useful for anyone who wants to take their games on the go. Those that don’t, or those who want a bigger screen, can use the included mini HDMI cable to play on a larger TV.
This device’s biggest pull is its smaller size. Though some people may not enjoy it from an appearance or durability standpoint, it’s hard to get more value in such a compact package.
5. MJKJ RG351V
- Best for: Appearance
- Key Features: Excellent display. Powerful RK3326 chip and 6 hour battery life. Tempered glass. Durable build.
- Battery Life: 6 hours
- Storage: 64GB
- Screen Size: 3.5 inches
Outfitted with a strong 6-hour battery, 64GB worth of storage, and a vivid, 3.5-inch screen, the MJKJ RG351V is an extremely attractive product that helps bring your favorite handheld games to life. The wood appearance and responsive buttons create a sharp and responsive machine.
As with other top emulators, it also features excellent specs and comes packed with a ton (2500) of games. You can run a range of different systems, and they all look exceptional thanks to the upgraded internal software as well as the beautiful display.
The only issue some people might have with this device is its shape. The classic Gameboy look works for a lot of people, but there may be some who prefer the more horizontal approach. If that doesn’t bother you, there’s a lot to like with this one.
6. CNMF RG315P
- Best for: Display
- Key Features: 3.5-inch high-def screen. RK3326 upgrade chip. 2,500 preloaded games and a long-lasting battery. Durable construction.
- Battery Life: 8 hours
- Storage: 64GB
Screen Size: 3.5 inches
The RG315P is a well-rounded console perfect for those who want their games to pop. The display is the absolute all-star here, providing a stunning, vibrant picture with amazing colors. It runs a lot of different games, and they all absolutely pop off the screen.
Another bonus of this emulator is that the strong battery lasts up to eight hours, making it easy to take with you on a trip or commute. The USB cable charges quickly and the internal chip is upgraded to prevent any annoying frame rate loss.
This is not the most durable emulator you can buy. In addition, the software can cause spontaneous resets from time to time. However, such drawbacks are few and far between.
Choosing a Handheld Emulator: What to Consider
Taking the following factors into account, your decision-making will be much easier.
Size is a major concern with any handheld emulator. Even though these devices tend to be small, there is some wiggle room. You can get something easy to handle, but you can also get a bigger model if you so wish.
The smallest options are around the size of your average smartphone, while larger options that come with a flip screen have a much larger display. It all comes down to what you want.
I personally like a screen size in the 4 to 5 inch range. That’s small enough to carry around but big enough to easily see your games.
Some options come at 3 inches or less, which means it’s up to you to decide what size you prefer.
An emulator’s memory is directly related to how many games you can store on your device. Large amounts of memory mean you will have the ability to literally have thousands of games at your disposal.
That’s pretty awesome and one of the amazing features of these devices. Shoot for 16GB of memory as a starting point, and know that increased amounts of RAM from there will give you an even better overall experience.
Handheld emulators are designed to be fully portable and taken with you just about anywhere. That means they have batteries, and we all know that battery life is a major concern with any portable electronic device.
You want to get an emulator that has decent battery life so you can rest assured you will have access to your games for hours on end.
Look for an option that has at least 6 hours of battery life, but try for 10 or more when you can.
Useful Tips & Resources
Even though these emulators are a great way to play games on the go, you can also easily hook them up to just about any TV and enjoy them on a bigger screen.
You can do this either by connecting the device to your TV via a USB to HD cord or through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections (if both devices support it).
By connecting to a TV, you can enjoy the many thousands of games that come on these units in their full glory. This video has more:
The world of portable gaming has never been better.
With so many options to choose from and thousands of games in the palms of your hands, a handheld emulator is an awesome way to enjoy all of your favorite titles.
The options listed above allow you the ability to play games when you’re away from home, and they also allow you to connect to your TV for a larger gaming experience when you’re back at the house.
What are your favorite games to play on a handheld emulator? Let us know in the comments below!