As I sit here and try to collect my Odin 2 Mini first impressions, I can’t help but think about how wild the Android retro handheld space has become. In the past year, we’ve seen the Odin 2, Ayaneo Pocket Air, Pocket S, Retroid Pocket 4, Anbernic RG556, and so many more devices released. Some of them sport “flagship” Android specs, while others stand out with unique features.

That brings us to the Odin 2 Mini, an Android handheld that I immediately pre-ordered as soon as the link went live. In fact, it happened during the weekly Retro Handhelds podcast, which was a pretty incredible experience to be part of. Anyway, the Odin 2 Mini came as a bit of a surprise, given that AYN could just stick with the Odin 2 and ride it for another year or two.

AYN Odin 2 Mini

MiniLED and “Vinagretting”

Close-up on Odin 2 Mini D-Pad

Almost six weeks after pre-ordering the Odin 2 Mini, it finally arrived and I couldn’t wait to take it out of the box. There are two big reasons why I’m excited — the MiniLED display and its PS Vita-like design. Unlike some, I’ve already experienced MiniLED screens, as I own the M2 iPad Pro, which Apple relied on until the switch to OLED with the current M4 iPad Pro.

The difference here is that Apple is very particular when it comes to the components that it uses, as it has a much larger customer base to worry about when it comes to complaints. That’s not too much of a problem for AYN, but when the M1 iPad Pro introduced the MiniLED screen, there were quite a few gripes about “blooming.”

Odin 2 Mini Screen Vignetting

This image is unedited straight from my camera.

Basically, it’s when you see a “halo effect” appear around brighter objects that are set on a dark background. It’s not so much of a problem when you’re browsing the web or using different apps. But, it becomes pretty immediately apparent when watching a movie or playing a game with a dark background.

All of that is to say that the Odin 2 Mini has a different “problem” on its hands. Instead of worrying about display blooming, there does appear to be vignetting, or as Stubbs would say, vinagretting. Although it’s there, it’s really not all that bothersome. I honestly haven’t even noticed it while actually playing games. Maybe it’s because I’m focused on whatever I’m playing, but a quick brightness adjustment does the trick.

The Ultimate Vita

Top-down view of Odin 2 Mini with Vita and PSP

If you were a fan of the PS Vita, then there’s a good chance you’ve already ordered the Odin 2 Mini. I’ve always loved the PS Vita, but lost the one from my childhood back when I was still in school. It wasn’t until after getting into retro handhelds with the RG353V that I decided to snag one after seeing it at the flea market.

The Vita was far from the perfect device, but I maintain the idea that Sony should have stuck with it. But now, there’s pretty much no point, as the Odin 2 Mini is better in every way. Not only that, but this is what the PlayStation Portal should have been.

PS Vita and Odin 2 Mini Backplate comparison

After playing a couple of games, I messaged the RH group and said the following:

Okay now that I’ve spent all day transferring files and setting this thing up…my IMMEDIATE impressions are that this is the ultimate vita. Hefty, but comfortable.

Almost a day later, my feelings remain the same. It’s hefty enough that it sits down in the palm of my hands but light enough that my arms and wrists aren’t getting tired from holding it.

Playing Games with the Odin 2 Mini

Odin 2 Mini playing Balatro

I’m also a HUGE fan of the buttons and D-Pad. I’m not like Russ from RetroGameCorps or some of the others here at RH who obsess pay extra close attention to the D-Pad. I just like everything to feel good while I’m playing games or just using the handheld. And man, does the Odin 2 Mini feel good.

Before getting into actual games, I do want to point out that the ABXY buttons are simply divine. I’m not sure what kind of dark magic AYN found, but these seriously might be my favorite buttons. They aren’t recessed, aren’t mushy, and provide a satisfying tactile response when pushed.

Okay, okay. Back to the task at hand.

Hades on Odin 2 Mini

I seriously spent all day getting the Odin 2 Mini set up. That includes getting my own romset loaded onto the microSD card, along with setting up Obtainium and all that jazz. Being as this is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, naturally, the first system I had to try was the Switch.

Instead of just going with Super Mario Wonder, I fired up Hades. Part of this is because Hades is an incredible game, but also because it requires a lot of fast movements. I ended up seeing between 45 and 60 fps, with occasional stutters when I was trying to get the hell out of dodge. Part of this could be due to shaders caching, so it’s something that I plan to test further.

From there, the obvious choice for retro gaming is — the PS Vita. When paired with Vita3K, you couldn’t tell me otherwise that the Odin 2 Mini isn’t actually a modern Vita. It handled the games I played with ease, once I got everything set up. However, I did end up running into a really weird problem resulting in my needing to do a quick factory reset.

A Weird Problem

Close-up on ABXY buttons Odin 2 Mini

The problem arose after experiencing some issues with Vita3K. The emulator would just freeze on the main screen, and the times that I was actually able to try and load a game, it would instantly crash. I cleared the cache and storage, deleted and reinstalled the app, doing the same with any of the folders that Vita3K created. However, no matter what I did, the app just wouldn’t work or load any games.

So after wasting way too much time trying to troubleshoot what was going on, I decided to just say “screw it” and reset the Odin 2 Mini. Everything seems to be working, but I’m also being extra careful when it comes to using Vita3K. This might have something to do with the current build of Android that AYN is using, but it could also have just been something dumb that I did while I was tinkering.

Odin 2 Mini First Impressions

Odin 2 Mini with Odin 2 and Pocket S

There are a couple of elephants in the room when it comes to the Odin 2 Mini. The first of which is that AYN already sells an overpowered Android handheld with the ever-popular Odin 2. Then, there’s Ayaneo who is in the process of shipping the Pocket S and just announced the Pocket EVO. So while the Odin 2 Mini is less expensive, this isn’t exactly another Odin 2 situation all over again, where you need to get one.

It’s part of the reason why I didn’t really dive deeper into the performance, as it’s powered by the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip from the Odin 2. The only difference is that there is no “Max” model to speak of, leaving only the Odin 2 Mini Base with 8GB of RAM and the Odin 2 Mini Pro with 12GB of RAM.

Odin 2 Mini Playing Halo alt

Personally, I’m a big fan of what AYN has done, and I think that this is the perfect handheld if you’re longing for a modern iteration of the PS Vita. Although extremely popular, Sony’s PlayStation Portal is simply too locked down and limited to even be part of the conversation. I’m going to spend a little bit more time with the Mini before deciding whether to toss it into one of Ban’s Bins or keep it as a companion to my Legion Go. But for the time being, it’s been a pleasant experience, even with needing to deal with a few quirks along the way.

Keep your eyes peeled for our full review, as Jalanimal just informed me that it should be ready to go within the next week or so. In the meantime, check out Subbs’ “Live Look” at the Odin 2 Mini.

AYN Odin 2 Mini

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