So here comes Anbernic to play. You ever have that friend who always arrives to the party late? Like later than fashionably late? Some of the early arrivers are starting to get a bit tired, all the big party people are already halfway under the table, and all the good hors d’oeuvres are either gone or lukewarm. In strolls your friend who clearly spent most of that extra time on their hair, trying to awkwardly jump into the deep end of the match-the-vibes pool. Okay I’ve gotten a bit far into this analogy, but the point is Anbernic is that friend right now. Whilst everyone else in the handheld world has been partying up the high-powered lifestyle, Anbernic has been working on their hair, but now they’ve arrived and they’re ready to dance the night away. Enter Anbernic’s RG556, a large and powerful handheld poised to compete in the upper midrange of the current handheld market. As with previous devices, their naming convention tells us a bit right off the bat. 55 means it’ll be a 5.5 inch screen, and 6 means this is the first entry into their “6th generation” of devices, leaving behind the T618 powered 405m, 405v, and 505 devices. So no more T618, what now? Well, let’s talk about that.


Technical specifications from Anbernic’s product page

The Unisoc T820, well that’s new, haven’t seen that in a handheld yet. What do we know about this chip? Well, it performs somewhere relatively between a Helio G99 and Dimensity 900. So the 556 will play games a bit better than the KT-R1, but a bit lesser than the Odin Lite or Retroid Pocket 4 Base. It also performs slightly better in benchmarks than the Snapdragon 720G found in the Logitech G Cloud, so make of that what you will. It pairs up with a Mali GPU, which have historically not been as well supported as Snapdragon and their Adreno GPU. However, with more of these midrange handhelds coming out with Mali hardware it’s hopeful we’ll see developers respond with updates to their hardware support (Like Citra, which has had numerous compatibility quirks regarding Mali GPUs.)

The device has a healthy 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM, plenty to support the overhead from Google Services while gaming, and the full suite of dual-band AC wifi and Bluetooth 5.0. Curiously, Anbernic’s spec sheet lists their onboard storage as being UFS 2.2, despite the documentation I’ve been able to find on the Unisoc T820 showing support for UFS 3.1. So it’s not the optimal choice, but either way will still be much faster than, for instance, SD card storage.

Another thing worth mentioning would be the generously sized 5500 mAh battery, which in my testing has really excellent standby duration. Looks like we’re not getting any type of fast charging though, shame, so it’ll take a little over 3 hours to fully charge. Then lastly, and a glad thing for those of you who may have been missing the inclusion of a mini or micro HDMI port, is that it will support display port over USB-C, which means bust out those docks folks! This party needs some Crash Team Racing on the big screen, and you’ve got just the thing.

Lastly we’ve got that screen, oh boy that screen. Anbernic has seen the OLED hype train and hopped aboard. Five and a half inches of deep inky black levels and vibrant popping colors is wonderful and really brings the 556 to life. This isn’t the first time Anbernic has dabbled in this kind of thing, after all the RG503 and 505 both had OLED screens. These were, however, older excess screens that were likely intended for Playstation Vitas back in 2012. They weren’t exactly up to the standard of modern displays. Meanwhile this seems to be a much newer type of screen that falls more in line with what we’ve come to expect. It’s gorgeous, and there’s really not much more to say about it. It also doesn’t fall prey to some of the problems recent handhelds have had, with the refresh rate reporting a rock-solid 60hz to Retroarch and none of the big over-sharpening woes that befell the RG405 or RG505 handhelds.

But hey enough hardware talk, how does it feel?

Inputs and Comfort

Here’s where the RG556 really knocks it out of the park. It seems that Anbernic looked at all the solutions from various other manufacturers, from raised bumps to silicone grip add-ons, and decided to just dial it all in. Immediately upon holding this device it molds nicely to your hand, due to the large handle grips that make the device look admittedly a bit odd. Of course, while the grips are comfortable the plastic is a bit less so. It’s a slick, glossy, fairly cheap-feeling plastic. It’ll likely hold up as well as any other devices in its category, but could certainly have benefited from some sort of texturing.

Moving down to the sticks we get the same Switch-style affair that we’ve gotten used to with these devices. They are Hall effect, so they’re nice and smooth and won’t drift, but on a device this size I can’t help but be a little disappointed by the small sticks. Nobody is putting this in their pocket any time soon, it definitely could have gone with larger sticks. Of course while I’m complaining I feel I should mention the glossy d-pad. Anbernic, when I said I didn’t like the mismatch of the matte d-pad with the glossy face buttons, I meant I wanted matte face buttons! It just looks bad and doesn’t feel nearly as good as Anbernic d-pads of days past.

Besides that the d-pad and face buttons otherwise work well. It’s the usual Anbernic rubber membrane, which means they give a good amount of travel and actuation force. The face buttons could stand to be a little bit further apart I suppose, but now I’m just nitpicking. Joining all of this on the front are the Select and Start button below the right analog stick, and the Back\Home and Anbernic launcher buttons below the d-pad on the left side. They all have nice soft clicks to em, and seem responsive enough to do their job.

Moving to the bottom of the device we find the headphone jack, an SD card slot with a plastic cover, and an oddly-placed off-center USB-C connection. I have to imagine there was some reason to do with the internals as to why this couldn’t be centered, and it will probably make it incompatible with certain docks. Not that the big old grip handles haven’t already done that for certain ones. There’s also two down-firing speakers down here. It’s unfortunate they couldn’t find room on the face for front-firing, but oh well, they get the job done adequately.

Finally we move up top, since there are no inputs to be found on the sides or rear of the device. In the middle there sits just a simple power button and volume rocker, both clicky and do their job, and then a small status light to indicate charging state and an exhaust port for the internal fan. Then we get to the shoulders and triggers and I really get a sense of deja vu. It’s like they pulled their concept directly from the original Odin/Odin Lite. The size, the resistance, the draw distance, all of it feels extremely reminiscent of Ayn’s first successful outing. Nothing outright wrong with that, they were nice at the time and they still feel nice now. Just a bit odd. Oh and the triggers are also Hall effect, so… yay I guess? No trigger drift, or whatever.

Now I know I had a few little things to nitpick and complain about, but overall my evaluation of the comfort of this thing is top notch. Besides a few well-done premium x86 handhelds, this might be the most comfortable handheld on the market right now. It feels so right in the hand, fits like a glove, it’s nice. However, the tactile experience itself could be improved, from proper texturing on the body plastics and controls, to larger sticks with greater range of motion. So it’ll feel a little chintzy, but you’ll be able to play for hours without hand cramps.

Software and OS

Default Android Launcher

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that this device will be running Android. Specifically, it’ll be running Android 13, which is nice because that hopefully translates into longer official compatibility with updates and games on the Android platform. This particular build is going to be a familiar interface for anyone who has had former Anbernic Android devices, even the dual-boot systems like the 353 series. Anbernic has been polishing this build up for a while, and besides a strange over-sharpening issue in the 5th generation devices, they seem to have gotten it on to a solid foundation (though I certainly wouldn’t say no to some GammaOS on this.) This build includes a lot of little quality of life additions, such as fan and CPU mode controls, on-screen button mapping, and the ability to toggle between Xbox and Nintendo-style layouts for the face buttons. It also comes pre-installed with numerous emulators, but for the best results you should probably delete them and reinstall your own copies to get the latest updated versions.

Anbernic’s Specialized Frontend

Clicking the specialized button on the front of the device, or clicking the toggle inside the notification shade, will take you to Anbernic’s custom frontend launcher. I’ve never really used it beyond testing, and I don’t know anyone else who does, but Anbernic keeps insisting on having a dedicated button for it. So it’s clear they really want us to use it. It’s perfectly fine, it’s serviceable, it does its job. It makes for an easy no-touch-needed interface to browse and launch your games from. It’s just an unfortunate fact that there are better third-party options on Android such as Daijisho or Reset. Still, if you’re not an advanced user this might be a benefit to you, so I certainly don’t begrudge its inclusion.

Ultimately, with all their small additions, this is still Android. If you know Android, this is it. Install all the apps your heart desires, watch a movie, check out the latest GOTX on Discord, buy a new set of industrial-strength toenail clippers on Amazon, whatever it is you want to do.

So What Can It Play?

What can it play? Well at this point in the handheld arms race I’d say the better question is what it can’t play. Or, specifically, what can’t it play that is even available on Android? After all, we know there are no PS3 or Xbox emulators available on Android, so it obviously wouldn’t play those. However, even for systems that are supported on this device you’ll find a few gaps. You’ll get pretty much all of the 8 and16 bit systems and handhelds just fine, PS1, PSP, DS, N64, even Dreamcast and Saturn all nearly complete libraries. You’d pretty much at that point simply be contending with the compatibility level of the emulators themselves with certain parts of those libraries. So rather than focus on those systems, let’s dive a little deeper into the systems this device will struggle with.


The Dolphin emulator has been around on Android the longest of all the higher end emulators, and it has had a ton of work and polish put into it. For the most part is the 556 a Gamecube machine? Yes. Gone are the T618 worries of having to use PAL ROMs or sub-1x resolutions, because most of the Gamecube library is going to run just fine here. I’d say at least 90%. Now a lot of those are just going to have to run at 1x, which will look a bit fuzzy on this display. There is a really large chunk, however, that run fine at 2x resolution with no further tweaking or adjustment necessary. All this being said it’s still not a perfect Gamecube machine, and some of the really tough titles like Rogue Squadron may still require the use of some of those old tricks like PAL ROMs (which run at 50fps natively instead of 60) or speedhacked forks of the emulator.


Oh PS2, left for so long without a proper emulator on Android. Then finally one comes along, AetherSX2, only to soon see its creator leave the stage. Overall PS2 performance will be similar to Gamecube, but with less games capable of hitting the 2x resolution scale. In addition to that, due to the unfinished nature of the emulator you will likely find more games that are incompatible than with Dolphin. On the plus side, you do get options for tinkering to increase speed on compatible titles. All said, if the emulator is compatible then it’s likely the 556 can run it, but if it’s not then the 556 certainly doesn’t possess the overhead to brute force certain barely-there titles.


The Citra emulator still considers itself to be in Early Access, but despite that you will generally be able to get a good playable experience out of a significant portion of the 3DS library. The shader compilation stutters are often bothersome though. If you can get past the whole “building a shader cache” hurdle the 556 will be able to handle 2x resolution in many titles. Bear in mind you won’t want to get the regular Citra from the Play Store, but rather grab the Vulkan version from their github, as Mali GPUs have rather lousy OpenGL support but do much better with Vulkan.


No, don’t do it. Can I just say that and we can move on? No? Elaborate? Explain myself? What do you think this is, some sort of review?

Okay okay, well I stand by what I said. While you technically can install Yuzu on the RG556, it’s not really going to be a great time. Sure, you’ll probably get a few low-end 2D titles to run alright, bring on the Sonic Mania or the Cuphead. This device does not have the power, however, for more intensive Switch titles. So don’t go clearing your schedule for another run at Breath of the Wild on your new 556.


So where are we with this device? Clearly, some corners were cut to meet a pricepoint, after all I think Anbernic has shown in the past they can do plastics better than this. However, they’ve brought us a comfortable, and adequately powerful device, with a really gorgeous OLED screen. This should set a standard for how hard you should go with the handles if you’re not worried about being slim and pocketable. You should be able to spend plenty of hours with your favorite retro games all the way up to Gamecube and PS2 with this midrange machine.


  • 5.5 inches of OLED goodness for your eyes
  • You’re gonna love these handles for marathon Tetris sessions
  • Excellent battery life, both active and in standby


  • Power level is just barely good enough and leaves little overhead for troublesome higher end games
  • Plastic quality of body seems a bit substandard, feels cheap and is a glossy fingerprint magnet
  • Switch sticks. Please stop. We didn’t like them when the Switch did them, we still don’t like them now.

Final Thoughts:

  • A solid first entry into Anbernic’s 6th generation handhelds brings enough to love to earn its place, and its price, in the upper midrange of current handheld options. I’m eager to see where they go from here and would love to see further refinement done to this design in the future.


You can purchase the RG556 from Aliexpress here and use either code USCD20 for US customers, or FECD20 for Canadian customers and receive $20 off.

Otherwise you can purchase from Anbernic directly.

Lastly our favorite reseller GoGameGeek has code PB44 for $30 off.

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