The AYA Neo Pocket Air is an upcoming handheld game console featuring a 5.5 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel AMOLED display positioned between two physical game controllers. It’s expected to go up for pre-order soon through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.
AYA announced the pocket-sized game system last month, and at the time the company said it would be powered by a MediaTek Dimensity processor. But this week the company began teasing a higher-performance AYA Neo Pocket S, with a processor “even more powerful” than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip used in recent flagship phones. Now we know what that means: the Pocket Air S could be one of the first devices to ship with Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon G3x Gen 2 processor.
AYA has also released some pictures of the upcoming handheld, which has the same basic layout as the Pocket Air, but with a few key differences including a boxier design and a different D-Pad.
From the pictures it looks like we can expect the Pocket S to have dual analog sticks, shoulder triggers, and physical Android navigation buttons.
While Qualcomm only announced the Snapdragon G3x Gen 2 processor on August 23rd, AYA began teasing this model a few days ago, possibly in an effort to remain competitive with rival AYN, which just launched a crowdfunding campaign for the Odin2 handheld with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor.
But up until now AYA described the info they were releasing as “leaks” rather than official announcements, and they were often written in the form of blog posts speculating about the possible chips the Pocket S could use, which always seems silly when those blog posts are written by the company itself. Anyway, it looks like AYA was under NDA and couldn’t actually say which processor it was using.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned by following the handheld gaming space in the last few years, it’s that AYA, AYN, GPD, and One Netbook are constantly trying to one-up each other, so it’s likely that the timing of this not-quite-an-announcement isn’t a coincidence.
AYA’s devices could stand out from the Odin2 in a few ways. For example, the Pocket Air and Pocket S are expected to have an OLED display, while the Odin2 has an LCD screen. And AYA’s “leaks” also suggest the Pocket Air S could have a “bezel-less screen.”
But the AYA Neo Pocket Air and Pocket Air S will also probably cost more then the Odin2: AYN is taking pre-orders for $299 and up during crowdfunding and promising that its handheld will have retail prices starting at $339 after crowdfunding ends.
Not only is AYA not promising to match that price, but the company’s CEO has indicated the the bill-of-materials alone for the Pocket Air comes to around $300, and that’s before you count research & development, marketing, and shipping costs. In other words, the company would probably be selling devices for a loss if it tried to match the Odin2 price tag, so instead the company is trying to make the case that its products will be better than the Odin2 somehow, with a better display and/or processor.
And the Snapdragon-powered Pocket S will probably cost even more than the Pocket Air.
One thing to keep in mind about the AYA/AYN rivalry is that both companies have had a hard time keeping their promises. As @RetroGamesCorps noted recently, the two companies were also playing a game of one-upmanship last year when AYN and AYA announced plans to launch cheaper-than-Steam-Deck handheld gaming PCs with entry-level specs. In the year since then AYA improved the specs and doubled the price of its model, while AYN has yet to begin shipping its model to customers who placed pre-orders.
As for the AYA Neo Pocket Air and Pocket Air S, the company says it will reveal more details, including shipping information, at the end of the month. But based on what we already know about the Pocket Air, the first Android + ARM game console from a company that’s been selling Windows + AMD handhelds for the last few years will be one of the company’s smallest and lighted devices to date.
Models with Dimensity 1200 chips are expected to measure 224 x 89.5 x 17mm (8.8″ x 3.5″ x 0.67″) and weigh 380 grams (13.4 ounces). It’s unclear if there will be any variation with the Snapdragon model.
Other confirmed specs for the MediaTek-powered model include a 7,350 mAh battery, 6-axis motion sensors, X-axis linear motor, vibration motors, a microSD card reader, a fingerprint sensor, and support for WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2. The Pocket Air is expected to have a 3.5mm audio jack, dual microphones, and two USB Type-C ports, one for charging only and a second with USB 3.2 Gen 2 capabilities.
The game controllers feature hall sensors for the joysticks and shoulder trigger buttons. And the handheld has a fan for active cooling.
AYA hasn’t announced pricing details yet, but while the OLED display gives the company a little bit of leeway to make a Qualcomm version of the Pocket Air a little more expensive than the AYN Odin2, the competition in this space would make it difficult for the company to charge too much more.
This article was first published August 20, 2023 and most recently updated August 23, 2023.