AYANEO Pocket AIR Review: Android Handheld Powered by Dimensity 1200
In an era dominated by mobile gaming on smartphones, the world of handheld gaming consoles may seem like a relic of the past. However, as I delved into the current landscape of Android handheld gaming, I was surprised to discover a thriving market that caters to enthusiasts seeking a unique gaming experience. From affordable options to premium devices, there's a wide range of choices available, with well-established brands like Anbernic, Odin, AYANEO, and Onexplayer leading the charge. This review article sets out to explore the reasons behind the enduring appeal of Android handheld consoles in a world seemingly dominated by mobile gaming.
To many, the question arises: why invest in a separate Android handheld console when you can achieve a similar gaming experience by simply adding a controller to your smartphone? The answer lies in the culture surrounding handheld gaming, which has cultivated a dedicated fanbase. What sets these consoles apart is the tactile and nostalgic sensation of holding a dedicated gaming device, an experience that cannot be fully replicated by pairing a phone with a controller. Handheld gaming consoles, in essence, evoke a distinct emotion and offer a unique way to enjoy games, making them more than just a piece of hardware.
In this article, we will explore the latest addition to the Android handheld gaming scene, the AYANEO Pocket AIR. This device, in contrast to many other Android handhelds on the market, carves out its niche with a focus on "thin and light OLED retro games." AYANEO, known for its Windows handheld consoles, aims to capture the essence of handheld gaming with this Android offering, showcasing how this evolving industry continues to innovate and cater to the needs of dedicated gaming enthusiasts.
The most striking distinction between the AYANEO Pocket AIR and other game handheld consoles lies in its aesthetics. Unlike the majority of game handheld consoles that tend to adopt a rugged, predominantly black design, the AYANEO Pocket AIR takes a completely different approach. It boasts a delicate and compact off-white body adorned with eye-catching red buttons and a distinctive yellowish rocker cap design. To add an extra layer of flair, the rocker even features RGB switching capabilities, creating mesmerizing lighting effects that seamlessly blend a sense of modern technology with a nostalgic retro atmosphere. Personally, this creamy color scheme resonates deeply with me, making the AYANEO Pocket AIR truly stand out in terms of appearance.
The AYANEO Pocket AIR, as a horizontal Android handheld machine, boasts several advantages over Windows handheld machines, particularly due to its utilization of the ARM architecture. This choice enables the device to achieve a remarkably slim and lightweight profile. With a mere 380g in weight and a svelte thickness of 17mm, the Pocket AIR ensures that gaming sessions remain comfortable and fatigue-free. The thoughtful arrangement of joysticks and buttons in a vertical layout ensures that your thumbs can effortlessly cover them without the risk of accidental touches. Additionally, the device features a small-sized grip design on the back, ensuring a secure hold and excellent portability for gaming on the go.
The AYANEO Pocket AIR boasts a striking design feature on its front - a 5.5-inch OLED touch screen with a sharp 1080P resolution. What sets it apart is its 16:9 screen ratio, which cleverly maximizes the actual display area. As a result, it offers a significantly larger viewing experience compared to mobile phones of the same diagonal size. This thoughtful design choice enhances the user's visual interaction and ensures that every detail on the screen is brilliantly showcased.
When it comes to screen display quality, this device boasts an impressive 99% P3 color gamut coverage, a striking 10000:1 contrast ratio, and vibrant colors that truly pop. However, it's essential to note that its global peak brightness, topping out at 350 nits, falls short in comparison to most mobile phones. This limitation renders it less than ideal for use in bright outdoor settings where visibility can be compromised. Additionally, users may encounter the common issue of strobe flickering at low brightness levels, a challenge often associated with contemporary OLED handheld consoles.
The AYANEO Pocket AIR boasts an impressively comprehensive peripheral interface. Positioned atop the device, the power button not only serves its traditional function but also houses a convenient fingerprint module for enhanced security. At the bottom of the device, users will find a versatile USB-C interface, ensuring compatibility with a wide range of accessories, alongside a 3.5mm audio port for seamless audio connectivity. Furthermore, concealed within the side cover lies a double-sided SIM card tray, with one slot accommodating a two-in-one SIM card and TF card, providing users with flexibility and convenience for their connectivity and storage needs.
In other words, this device offers versatile connectivity options. It supports TF card expansion, allowing you to increase your storage capacity. Additionally, you have the option to insert a phone card for internet access, and it also supports dual-SIM dual standby functionality. However, it's important to note that this device does not support traditional phone calls; instead, it is optimized for data and internet usage. It operates on a 4G network, ensuring fast and reliable internet connectivity. This makes it an ideal choice for playing online games and enjoying various online activities.
AYANEO Pocket AIR boasts not only an exceptional appearance but also a cutting-edge feature that sets it apart from the rest - a Windows handheld-level cooling system. This innovative cooling system ensures that the device remains efficient and maintains optimal performance even during resource-intensive tasks, making it a standout choice for tech enthusiasts and professionals alike.
The aircraft's design incorporates prominent cooling air inlets at the rear and air outlets on the top of the fuselage. These features are crucial for regulating temperature and ensuring efficient operation. For those seeking an immersive experience, the settings provide an option to activate the "turbulence" mode, ramping up the fan's speed to its maximum. When engaged, the whirring sound of the fan spinning wildly adds to the realism, enhancing the overall sense of flight and adventure.
Despite having such a robust fan, the AYANEO Pocket AIR comes equipped with a Dimensity 1200 processor, complemented by LPDDR5 memory and UFS3.1 flash charging. This impressive hardware combination might seem like overkill for most tasks. In reality, the device often operates optimally with just the "balanced" fan mode turned on, showcasing the efficiency and versatility of its performance capabilities.
The AYANEO Pocket AIR's primary focus does not lie in its performance, as evident from its compatibility with retro games. These classic simulation games typically have small file sizes, requiring modest processing power. However, the device offers additional features like a somatosensory gyroscope and an X-axis vibration motor, enhancing the gaming experience. With a robust built-in battery boasting a capacity of 7350mAh, users can expect exceptional durability during extended gaming sessions without the constant worry of running out of battery life.
If you're looking to dive into the world of Android gaming, the Dimensity 1200 offers a commendable level of performance that can handle a wide range of games. I personally tested its capabilities with a demanding title like Genshin Impact, pushing the envelope by setting the picture quality to the highest settings and enabling 60 frames per second. However, I couldn't help but feel a tinge of frustration during gameplay. It became apparent that the device struggled to maintain its clarity, especially when rapidly changing the viewing angle, causing the visuals to become somewhat blurry. Fortunately, I found that dialing down the picture quality slightly significantly improved the overall playability, striking a better balance between performance and visual fidelity.
Furthermore, it's important to note that the key mapping function must undergo updates over-the-air (OTA). Consequently, Android games that lack native controller support can only be interacted with through touch inputs, as the controller mapping cannot be applied without the necessary updates.
The AYANEO Pocket AIR stands out among Android handheld devices primarily due to its remarkable software system. Unlike most Android handhelds that rely on basic native Android software, the AYANEO Pocket AIR features a proprietary suite of applications including AYAHome, AYAHome UI, and AYASpace. These software components not only enhance the overall design aesthetics but also significantly improve user interaction and the ease of importing games. This unique software ecosystem sets the AYANEO Pocket AIR apart, making it a standout choice for those seeking a more user-friendly and versatile Android gaming experience.
AYASpace software offers a seamless solution for gamers looking to simplify the process of importing games from Android handheld consoles. Unlike the complexities and hassles associated with other methods, AYASpace simplifies the experience by supporting the direct import of data from platforms like Tianma, Batocera, Launcher BOX, and ES format ROM. Once the data is imported, users can launch their games directly within AYASpace, bypassing the need for time-consuming front-end and simulator installation processes. This user-friendly approach streamlines the gaming experience, making it more accessible and enjoyable for enthusiasts of all levels.
In AYAHome, users can access a wide array of installed software effortlessly. Simply press the AYA button, and the quick settings window will appear on the right side of the screen. This convenient feature allows users to seamlessly view current monitoring information, fine-tune performance modes, and take control of fan settings, among other functions. These enhancements have significantly elevated the user experience when using Android handheld devices.
In conclusion, the world of Android handheld gaming consoles is far from obsolete; it thrives with innovation and unique offerings that cater to gaming enthusiasts seeking an authentic and nostalgic gaming experience. Devices like the AYANEO Pocket AIR demonstrate the enduring appeal of dedicated gaming hardware in an era dominated by smartphones. Its striking appearance, slim and lightweight design, and vibrant OLED display set it apart in terms of aesthetics and user experience.
Moreover, the AYANEO Pocket AIR combines powerful hardware with an efficient cooling system, ensuring optimal performance even during resource-intensive tasks. While it excels in handling a wide range of Android games, there may be some performance limitations with graphically demanding titles. The key mapping function, reliant on OTA updates, might pose challenges for games lacking native controller support.
What truly distinguishes the AYANEO Pocket AIR is its software ecosystem, offering a user-friendly approach to importing games and enhancing the overall gaming experience. With features like AYASpace simplifying game importation and AYAHome streamlining system management, AYANEO's software suite adds a layer of convenience and accessibility to Android gaming.
In a world where gaming is more accessible than ever, devices like the AYANEO Pocket AIR remind us of the enduring allure of dedicated gaming consoles, offering a unique and captivating way to enjoy our favorite pastime. As the Android handheld gaming landscape continues to evolve, it's clear that there's still a place for these innovative devices, catering to the needs and desires of dedicated gamers seeking an exceptional gaming experience.