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KT R1 Is A Retro Handheld Finally Shaking Up The Scene

If you’re like us, you’re probably overwhelmed by the sheer amount of retro handhelds being pushed out of China. There’s no stopping them, and it’s rare that we get a handheld that really shakes up the scene.

The last handheld we can remember doing that was the Retroid Pocket 2 and the ODROID GO Advance. But, there could be something new up for grabs, and that’s called the KT R1 handheld.

We first got wind of the KT R1 by our friends over at Obscure Handhelds, and it seems like it could be a potential to become one of the best retro handhelds out there for those wanting power under $200.

The KT R1 was officially revealed a few months ago on Chinese forums by the user “niluanxy” who mentioned that they were working on a device called the R1 with a possible “upgraded” version with additional RAM and a more premium feel/look.

The KT R1 is being build and sold by a single user, which amazes us because the more you read, the more you’ll be shocked that one person is behind this. When the likes of ANBERNIC and Retroid struggle to do what this man is doing, then you know that this has to be something special.

KT R1 Specifications (Not Yet Official)

  • Hexa-Core AmLogic S922X 1.8GHZ CPU
  • Mali-G52 GPU
  • 2GB – 4GB RAM
  • 4″ LCD Touch Screen Display (800 X 600)
  • 5000 MAH Battery
  • Wifi/Bluetooth

What Makes The KT R1 So Special?

As you can see from the specifications above, this is a handheld like no other on the market. We must also mention early on in this article that its rumoured that the retail pricing of the KT R1 will sit between $100 – $200 depending on what variant you go for.

There will be plastic variants with the potential to upgrade RAM to 4GB, and a possible metal addition that comes with 4GB RAM as basic.

This will be the first handheld with a AmLogic S922X CPU inside. It’s a chip that was released last year and made up of not only a quad core ARM Cortex A73 but also a dual core A53 processor allowing it to run many of your old school games smoothly.

KT R1 handheld yellow

The KT R1 also has a 4″ touch screen display with a resolution of 800 x 600 making it a nice suitable size for playing many retro games. Not only that it has a “fast charger” inside to speed up the charging process and rumble motors to increase your gaming experience, just like the RG351P.

The fact that it’s touch screen makes us smile too, because we all know, once one retro handheld manufacturer does something the rest will follow. It is 2021 after all, so this should become the norm!

The KT R1 will also feature tiny bezels, rumoured to be coming in at just 3mm thick making the handheld look modern, sleek and premium. Bezels are a thing of the past we hope.

There will be two microSD slots, one internally for your software, and one that you cans witch externally to add your ROMs. The internal storage is using a EMMC of different sizes.

How Does The KT R1 Look?

KT R1 Handheld button layout

There are a few renders floating around by the creator, and even though they are saying these are final, we like to take these things with a pinch of salt.

Many times do we see “final renders” of images and then upon release it’s a little different, so we’re not going to state these are final as we wouldn’t want to disappoint you further down the line. But from what we can see, this is a very nice looking handheld.

As mentioned before the bezels are tiny, the button layouts near perfect and the analogue sticks don’t look like the cheap ones that we have seen on the recent ODROID GO Super.

You can also see on the image above the two different analogue stick positions, but it wouldn’t surprise us if they go with the stick under the DPAD, because we all know what happened when the RG350M screwed up… you guys weren’t happy!

KT R1 Handheld shoulder buttons

Looking up top, the KT R1 has a very Retroid Pocket feel to it, and the shoulder buttons look slightly flared which we love. You can also see that the analogue sticks sit inside the shell making it more suitable to be “pocket” friendly.

We’re not sure how thick the handheld is, but we expect it to be like most other handhelds on the market, if not slimmer.

On the bottom of the KT R1 you will find a headphone jack, USB-C port, a Mini HDMI output and most like your MicroSD card slot.

Rumours also have it that the KT R1 will have removable face plates allowing you to customise and change when and where you please, but that’s most likely only on the ” upgraded” version. But this alone will bring so much creation to the community.

It’s the best bit of marketing you could possibly to do a handheld, Instagram is going to be flooded with this thing, and in all honesty we are surprised other handhelds haven’t done this in the past, it’s genius.

KT R1 Operating System

KT R1

This will be good news for some, and bad news for others as the KT R1 will be running Android 9 straight out of the box. Similar to the Retroid Pocket 2, this allow the handheld to be much more configurable to Android Apps and other potential updates that Android Smartphones have.

The only downfall with this is that it will be a little complicated for beginners to understand and setup. We’re hoping this comes “playable” out of the box and that we don’t have to mess around with the settings and button mappings for hours on end.

If that’s the case, it will be a little disappointing, but who knows, they may surprise us!

A lot of Android TV boxes being market as “retro consoles” have the same chips and software as this and many of them have had good reviews, but they are renowned to slowing down after a year and becoming a bit buggy.

That unfortunately, is the biggest downfall with Android handhelds/TV boxes, they don’t age well. According to Obscure Handhelds: “Niluanxy has stated he’s pretty much finished with the OS”. Which makes us believe this handheld could be dual boot.

The specs combined with the OS and stunning layout it’s going to be possible that this handheld runs Dreamcast games at full frames, including God of War at 60 FPS on PSP.

Many of you will be asking “What about PS2?”. No chance! Unfortunately PS2 emulation on these kind of handhelds is near impossible, the chips just aren’t strong enough. Sad, I know, but it will happen, just maybe not for a while.

When Can I Get One?

KT R1 metal

The KT R1 is being built by one talented individual who has connections with factories in China due to his recent work on the GPD Win 2. Passionate is an understatement, and we believe that he can bring this to life within the first quarter of 2021.

It us rumoured he will be launching it on IndieGoGo, so we will update this article as soon as it goes live and tweet it via @retro_dodo on Twitter once it does.

Niluanxy has mentioned he will receive the first final prototype in a couple of months and will get the campaign out as soon as it does, so we can expect an official launch before mid 2021, if things go well.

Now, as much as we want this handheld to be a reality, it’s hard for us to believe that Niluanxy can single handedly cope with the demand of this product. We’ve seen it with Retroid, and Hardkernel who missed out on thousands of orders due to the long wait times.

But if he can pull it off, he’s going to be rolling in dollars, that’s for sure especially with the rumoured $150+ price tag. Heck, that may even lower sales which means some us may actually get a unit!

The problem we are also seeing in this niche is the constant growing of prices. Just 12 – 18 months ago handhelds like these would start at $50, now it’s normal to see them above $100. This is obviously due to demand, but when are we going to say “no” to these mad prices?

We can’t wait to see what comes from this and we will continuously update this article when we hear anything new. We will also try to get a review unit as swiftly as possible.

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