AYN Odin 2
Image: Darren Calvert / Time Extension

2023 has been an exciting year for retro gaming handhelds. We've already seen the AYANEO Pocket Air with its impressive specs and price, and there are a multitude of cheaper options from the likes of Anbernic and Miyoo. If you are still on the fence about which Chinese Android-based handheld to get, the AYN Odin 2 is certainly a strong competitor for the coveted crowd of handheld emulation king.

Given how well-received the original AYN Odin was last year, many enthusiastic retro gamers will likely have backed the very popular IndieGogo campaign and taken advantage of the 'early bird' pricing – but for those who missed out, AYN is now selling directly from its online store.

The Odin 2 has an ergonomic boost over its predecessor, with a comfortable chunky grip to hold onto during longer gaming sessions. The battery, joysticks and buttons have also been improved, and there's more power thanks to the beefier Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor.

It's clear that AYN has taken on board feedback from the first Odin iteration and has improved on this year's release significantly – but is it worth your hard-earned cash? Let's find out, shall we?

AYN Odin 2 Review: What's In The Box

AYN Odin 2
Image: Darren Calvert / Time Extension

The Odin 2 arrives in an attractive Apple-like box with a tab to pull out the well-protected device.

Aside from the device itself, only a USB-C cable is supplied for charging and syncing. The Odin 2 supports 65W quick charging, so be sure to grab a modern USB-C compatible charger plug to take advantage of that. Other accessories are available separately, such as the Odin 2 Super Dock to easily connect to your TV, and a rather fetching protective carrying case.

AYN Odin 2 Review: Design

The unit is quite aesthetically pleasing, especially in transparent blue, as we ordered. The LED lights under the joysticks and on the edges of the device may not be to everyone's taste, but they can be set to any RGB colour and dimmed – or turned off completely if you'd prefer.

Despite being slightly heavier than the original Odin at 420 grams, the weight feels good for a larger-sized handheld. The Nintendo Switch with Joy-Con attached tips the scales at 398g, but with the chunky ergonomic sides for your hands to rest, the Odin 2 is a lot more comfortable to use than the Switch for long periods.

The Hall Effect analogue sticks (which should hopefully remain drift-free) feel very smooth and have a nice range of travel. The positioning of the D-pad under the analogue sticks may not suit everyone, but we had no problem pulling off 'Hadokens' with it. The face buttons feel great too, despite being on the smaller side compared to a standard Xbox controller. The shoulder triggers are similarly good, and the analogue L2 and R2 buttons work well in practice with GameCube games.

The Start, Select, Home and Return buttons are all sensibly placed on the front of the device and easy to find without looking. On the rear of the unit, there are also customisable M1 and M2 buttons, which might come in handy for some of the emulator functions.

AYN Odin 2
Image: Darren Calvert / Time Extension

On the top of the Odin 2, we have the microSD card slot, which is neatly covered over, a mini-HDMI port, volume rockers and the power button, which includes a fingerprint sensor. The power button will glow red when the battery life goes below 20% and green when charging, which is a nice touch. On the bottom of the device, there's a USB-C port and a 3.5mm audio jack.

The back of the unit has a large fan grille, which is nicely integrated into the design. In our experience of running GameCube and PS2 games in 1080p, it does not even trigger the fan when in high-performance mode using the fan's smart settings, which only turn it on when required.

AYN Odin 2 Review: Display & Speakers

The 6" LCD 1920x1080p touchscreen is of very high quality and looks favourable even when compared to a Nintendo Switch OLED. The colours really pop, and the screen is plenty bright enough. While it may not be on the same level as the OLED screen found in the recently released AYANEO Pocket Air, we didn't find it to be lacking.

There are no complaints in the audio department, either, with excellent stereo speakers situated at the bottom edge of the unit. They sound really clear, even at higher volumes. We also found it easy to connect Apple AirPods to the unit if you prefer to listen to audio over Bluetooth.

AYN Odin 2 Review: Software and Performance

The Odin 2 runs on Android 13 and comes with a preinstalled 'Odin Launcher' app, which can be used as a frontend for your emulators so you don't need to get too bogged down in the finer details of Android OS.

Once you have all your emulators up and running the way you want, we found Daijishō (free in the Play Store) to be an excellent alternative frontend, and it will make you forget you are even using an Android device once everything is configured the way you want.

One of the benefits of using Android on a device such as this is access to Google's Play Store, where you can easily download games such as Grand Theft Auto III, Dead Cells and Streets of Rage 4 – all of which play perfectly on this device. You can also take advantage of WiFi7 – if your router supports it – to stream Xbox games for Remote Play and such like.

AYN Odin 2
Image: Darren Calvert / Time Extension

Of course, the main reason you will likely want to buy an Odin 2 is for retro gaming emulation. You'll be pleased to hear it does an absolutely superb job of emulating everything we threw at it, including Sega Saturn games using the Yaba Sanshiro 2 emulator, AetherSX2 for PlayStation 2 emulation and Dolphin for GameCube/Wii emulation. We found the performance of games from these generations to run flawlessly on the Odin 2, even when upscaled to 1080p.

When dabbling with less demanding emulators such as RetroArch for older systems, the unit can be switched into a low-performance setting. The higher setting is more beneficial for demanding games such as F-Zero GX, which can run at 60FPS, upscaled to 1080p with widescreen mode enabled. It doesn't even so much as stutter. We'd recommend checking out Retro Game Corps' excellent guide on which emulators to grab from the Play Store and which ones to side-load.

AYN Odin 2
Image: Darren Calvert / Time Extension

Due to the powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip inside, some are even using the Odin 2 to emulate Switch games using Skyline. While we haven't attempted this ourselves, it seems the results are very encouraging indeed, and glitches are likely more down to the need for emulator optimisations.

Input lag and latency can be a concern with these types of devices, but in our extensive playtime with the Odin 2, we are yet to have any problems. The controls are quick and responsive, even when playing rhythm games.

AYN Odin 2 Review: Battery Life

The Odin 2 packs a mighty 8000mAh battery, which can be fast charged at 65W. In practise, when testing with GameCube emulation at 1080p using high-performance mode, we'd get around 5-6 hours of playtime. Reportedly, users have had a full day's use from the sizeable battery pack.

Of course, variables such as high screen brightness will drain the battery more quickly, but let's just say it's a big enough battery for stamina to be a non-issue for even the most demanding of users.

AYN Odin 2 Review: System Specifications

  • CPU: Qualcomm Kyro 64bit, 1 [email protected] / 4 [email protected] / 3 [email protected]
  • GPU: Adreno 740
  • RAM(LPDDR5X): 8GB / 12GB / 16GB
  • Storage(UFS4.0): 128GB / 256GB / 512GB
  • Screen: IPS LCD 6″ 1920x1080p Touch Screen
  • Video Output: HDMI + Display Port
  • WiFi: WiFi7
  • Bluetooth: BT5.3
  • Interface: USB 3.1 Type C/Micro HDMI/3.5mm Audio Jack
  • OS: Android 13
  • Battery: 8000mAh
  • Cooling: Active Cooling
  • Charging Power: 65W Quick Charge 5.0
  • Size: 225x98x17mm
  • Weight: 420g

AYN Odin 2 Review: Price

The Odin 2 is available in three RAM / storage configurations:

Most dedicated retro gamers will likely find the Pro variant to be the best value for money. We certainly didn't struggle with 12GB of RAM, but perhaps the most demanding of power users may be able to justify the extra cost of the Max model with 16GB of onboard RAM and additional internal storage.

AYN Odin 2
Image: Darren Calvert / Time Extension

AYN Odin 2 Review: Conclusion

Summing up, the AYN Odin 2 is an amazing device for the low cost of entry. It comfortably holds its own against the AYANEO Pocket Air and easily trumps cheaper Android options from companies like Retroid and Anbernic.

AYN has succeeded in improving on the original Odin from 2022, making sensible upgrades which add value without breaking the bank. If you have a lot of time on your hands to tinker with setting up Android apps and fine-tuning settings, you will likely get a lot of enjoyment from this device.

For enjoying PS2 and GameCube games on the move, the Odin 2 is hard to beat in 2023. We can't wait to see what next year holds in store for AYN.