View Full Version : Build a retro handheld for cheap with no skill required!

16-08-16, 10:04
I just wrapped up a new blog on how to create your own retro handheld on the cheap if you don't have any skills with soldering or don't have a 3D printer available or simply don't feel like doing the work to build your own or to find an open source unit.


The basic idea is to take a budget android smartphone (I use the Blu R1 HD for its rock bottom pricing and decent specs) with a solid 8BitDo NES30 Pro controller and their Xtander mount to create the handheld. Using free software such as Retroarch for all the emulators and Gamesome as a frontend (also can be set to lauch when Android boots) creates a budget handheld for around 110 bucks. Check the blog link for details, pics, and videos.

10-01-18, 06:09
A year and a half later, 3 changes to this method.

1: The phone used was originally the Blu R1 HD. I have switched to a Blue Life One X2 Mini, due to the better CPU, more RAM, and significantly more storage (64 gig internal, plus SD card support; I run a 128 gig card in mine for a ton of storage for games). The Blu R1 HD is still a great phone at a budget price, and if you are trying to keep it under 100 it is still the best option. If you are building for around 200, the Life One X2 Mini is worth the extra cash.

2. The new controller I use is the 8BitDo SN30 Pro. I still recommend the NES30 Pro, but the SN30 has better analog sticks, better shoulder buttons, and is slightly larger. I keep both, typically using the NES one for 8 bit and below, and the SN30 for 16 bit and newer. Both have XTanders available to clamp the phone to.

3. Originally, I used the Gamesome frontend, which is still a solid choice. However, here lately I have switched to the RetroX frontend. It's not available on Google Play, instead being an external APK that needs downloaded and installed, plus costs 13 dollars. That being said, it pulls all pictures and box art from the internet instantly instead of having to wait to scrape artwork, plus it saves on your local storage by loading art from online. If you are on an unlimited data plan or using WiFi, it's an optimal choice. I also prefer its design to Gamesome. Gamesome is still a good choice, I simply prefer RetroX these days.