The KT-R1 is a handheld game console that’s been in development for quite some time, and now it’s almost ready to go. There are a few different things that make the KT-R1 stand out from an increasingly crowded field.

It’s a pocket-sized device with a high-resolution 4.5 inch display featuring a 3:2 aspect ratio. The handheld ships with Android 12 software and has a MediaTek Helio G99 processor which offers better single-core performance than many devices in this category. And there are a bunch of different customization options. The KT-R1 goes up for pre-order soon for $169 and up, and it’s expected to begin shipping to customers in China this month before international shipments begin in early 2023.

First, let’s talk about some of those customization options. The entry-level KT-R1 has a plastic body and comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. But you can also pay extra for 6GB/128GB or 8GB/256GB models or pay a little more for a metal body.

Color options include white, yellow, red, and grey.

And even the controller layout is (somewhat) customizable. You can choose whether the D-Pad is on the top or bottom of the left-hand controller. So if you like both analog sticks along the bottom, you can choose a model with the D-Pad on top. Prefer the D-Pad on the bottom? Then the left analog stick will be placed above it.

All models feature a 4.5 inch, 1620 x 1080 pixel IPS LCD touchscreen display with a 3:2 aspect ratio. That means you can play Game Boy Advance with no letterboxing or pillarboxing. And older games designed for TVs with 4:3 aspect ratios should have relatively slim borders along the sides.

The MediaTek Helio G99 processor is an octa-core chip with two 2.2 GHz ARM Cortex-A76 CPU cores and six 2 GHz Cortex-A55 cores and Mali-G57 MC2 graphics. In a preview of a pre-production KT-R1 handheld, the Phawx says it’s powerful enough to handle many PlayStation 2 games with ease, although Game Cube titles may be more hit or miss.

The KT-R1 features LPDDR4 memory and UFS 2.2 storage, support for WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 5.2, a fan for active cooling as well as a heat sink, stereo front-facing speakers, dual vibration motors, dual microphones, a USB Type-C port and microSD card reader, and a 5,000 mAh battery that The Phawx says is good for six to ten hours, depending on usage.

He also describes the game controllers as… fine. The D-Pad can be a little wonky at times, the shoulder buttons don’t offer a lot of travel, and the analog sticks are designed for circular input rather than a full range of motion (although you may be able to adjust that in the settings for some games and emulators). But overall he concludes that the $169 starting price makes the KT-R1 a pretty attractive device.

Prices top out at $279 during pre-orders for a fully decked-out model with a metal case, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. But there are also some pretty good in-between options (you’ll be able to pick up a 6GB/128GB model with a plastic case for $199, for example).

According to specs listed on the KT-R1 website, models with at least 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage come with a 35 watt fast charger and feature support for NFC as well as a 6-axis gyroscopic sensor, electronic compass, and gravity sensor. Entry-level models with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage lack those sensors and come with an 18 watt charger.

The KT-R1 measures 169.8 x 79.5 x 18.3mm (6.9″ x 3.1″ x 0.7″).

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  1. Are there any MediaTek Helio G99 boards already running game emulation on the market? Otherwise, independent benchmarks are needed before buying.

  2. That one colour scheme almost looks like a Sega Dreamcast theme, except that they don’t have the same colour pattern on the ABXY buttons. Strangely they have two different button colour arrangements on both examples in the same picture.

    This is definitely a device I would buy. The 3:2 screen is one of the biggest selling points for me. If this is available to order immediately I’ll grab one. But if they’re doing crowdfunding, or pre-orders, I’ll pass.

  3. This is an excellent first try for them. They’re close, but not quite there. Should have stuck to a Single Configuration. That would simplify their project. It would make it easier to develop and squash bugs and imperfections. For instance:

    One Material (Matte Plastic), One Colour (eg Hot Yellow), One Form-factor (Joystick placement), One Feature set (Gyro, NFC, GPS), One Processor (4GB/64GB), and One Price (USD $149).

    …this would make it a defacto buy over the Retroid Pocket 3+ and Anbernic RG 505. As it sits, this is competitive but not necessarily better.

    What I liked a lot: very pocketable, great speakers, good ergonomics, full of features (in higher tier), good build quality and did I mention it is actually pocketable. Can’t say the same for AYN Odin or cheap products.

    They should have done a few other modifications and improvements to really drive it home. Firstly go 16:9 this ensures better App Support, Game Streaming, and certain Widescreen Emulation. It does not detract from other emulation like 4:3 or 5:3 it merely gives you bezels on the sides. Next have both Joysticks above for better 3D-Style gaming, with the Action Buttons and D-Pad placed upsidedown. Requiring you to pull down the Notification Shade and toggle the Screen-Rotation which then makes the speakers and buttons in the correct placement for 2D-Gaming. It would be neat for them to fix button placements for Power, Start, Select, Back, Home, Menu, and maybe Volume as well. Get rid of that Active Cooling design and focus on making it a great Passive Cooled Handheld like other pocketable devices. Lastly they need a microHDMI Out port on the bottom, Google PlayStore access, an Unlockable Bootloader, and to be able to make/sell these at a high volume.