I’ve reviewed more than a few AYANEO devices at this point, but whilst this one looks very similar to that of the AYANEO Air 1S and AYANEO Air Pro that I reviewed earlier this year, the internals are totally different in the sense that this is AYANEO’s first Android handheld.
When it comes to the design of the handheld, it still has one of the best screens that you’ll find in a handheld with its 5.5-inch 1080p AMOLED display that has perfect blacks, great brightness and vivid colours and just like all the other AYANEO handhelds, it has hall effect joystick and triggers meaning that these won’t break down over time.
Whilst the physical size is similar to that of the AIR 1S, it’s a lot thinner and more comfortable in the hands. The ergonomics of the unit feel great with the analogue sticks feeling great, the D-Pad having a good amount of responsiveness and the face buttons whilst on the smaller side, are all in a great position. The colouring of the unit are super nostalgic following in the footsteps of the NES with its classic colouring.
There’s still finger print unlocking and two extra customised buttons on the top next to the shoulder buttons which are actually super useful in Android for getting to customise menus in emulators and such. There’s also a built in gyroscope which comes in handy for a range of mobile games and also emulating certain devices. You also get a dual MicroSD/Sim slot so that you can continue gaming on the go.
As mentioned at the start of this review, this is AYANEO’s first Android device. It runs Android 12 and has full access to the Google Play store which is not only great for a range of mobile games such as Genshin Impact and Call Of Duty mobile but you can also access Xbox Cloud Gaming and PlayStation Remote Play which both work flawlessly on the device.
Really though, I suspect that most people will probably buy this as an emulation device and the good news is that it’s absolutely perfect for it. It has a MediaTek Dimensity 1200 CPU and comes in 6GB/8GB versions for its Australian release (I tested the 12GB version) and all three of these should be capable of a wide range of emulation.
Obviously, the retro systems are all covered, meaning you’ll be able to jump into everything from the NES/GameBoy to the PS1/64, but it’s even capable for emulating the GameCube/Wii/PS2 and even some more modern consoles depending on the title and how you’re running them.
I was super impressed in particular with the GameCube/PS2 emulation which runs at 2/3x native resolution which does a world of good for those games especially paired with this incredible OLED screen.
AYANEO has dropped a custom version of AYASPACE on the Pocket Air, which extends both to a launcher that can build your gaming library across a range of emulators, but also acts as an overlay to change performance modes, quickly customise settings and check performance stats, and it’s super handy and brings the whole experience together.
Whilst AYASPACE isn’t as good as Daijisho for bring a emulation frontend, I have no doubts it’ll get consistent updates to continue improving
Battery life on the Pocket Air is absolutely phenomenal as well achieving up to 8-10 hours even on the performance mode. I was impressed to see that I still had a good chunk of battery after a whole day of gaming across a wide variety of platforms.
Whilst you could argue that a Steam Deck or ASUS ROG Ally could also run these titles as well as AAA PC games, and you wouldn’t be wrong, it’s the form-factor as well this insanely fantastic screen that makes this a winner.
The AYANEO Pocket Air marks a successful move for the company into the Android space. It retains the same great formfactor, with that super fantastic OLED display and performance that has been seen in other AYANEO handhelds.