Powkiddy X18 Review – A Unique Experience

Don’t let the Lenovo rip-off logo throw you off. The X18 Android handheld is a product of Powkiddy, a Chinese brand that specializes in retro consoles. This one comes in the beloved clamshell form factor, letting you flip it open and close with style.

It is available on Powkiddy’s own website with tons of accessories and also on major retailer websites such as Aliexpress and Amazon. The shipping cost usually adds a considerable amount to the price, but you can typically find it for no more than $120.

The Powkiddy X18 can feel a bit overpriced to some. For $120, you don’t get the best build quality and some awfully placed buttons. The emulation is powerful but the software leaves a lot to be desired. The flip form factor, however, does make for great portability and keeps the package protected. The handheld is also quite comfortable to hold.

Here are the specifications.

Product Specs:Details:
CPU1.5GHz quad-core CPU and an ARM Mali 450 GPU
Storage64-256 GB
Ports1 HDMI, 2 USB-A
Price$50-$80 depending on the storage


  • Portable clamshell design
  • Large screen with decent resolution
  • Durable package


  • Low quality buttons
  • Terrible launcher and UI
  • Awkward shoulder button placement


powkiddy x18

Flipping open the handheld greets you with a large screen with thick bezels on the sides and rubber paddings in the corners to protect it from scratching up with the base. This is a 5.5-inch LCD with a 720p resolution, which is more than enough for retro gaming, giving it an edge over some of the competition.

The screen is bright, colorful, vivid, and has great detail in most games thanks to the high resolution. The bezels around the screen are wide, but they do not ruin the gameplay whatsoever. You will have no trouble feeling immersed in games.

You may see a bit of ghosting from time to time, but it’s nothing major.

The touchscreen gives it a slight advantage over some other Android handhelds since it makes for much easier navigation. Powkiddy has made the most out of this touchscreen as you can also use it for gaming through on-screen controls if you don’t prefer the buttons.

Design and Build Quality

powkiddy x18

The control panel below the screen has your usual button and joystick layout. There are two joysticks on either side of the console, which are of average quality, nothing bad here, but the same cannot be said for buttons. The D-Pad has awful quality and feels like cheap plastic. It feels mushy and the entire thing is pressed down while you’re trying to use it. A quick and easy 3D printer job would’ve fixed this. The XYAB buttons, however, are quite decent. 

There are 7 more buttons right below the screen for power, sound control, cancel, etc. These buttons do their job quite well and you will rarely need to use the touchscreen.

The L and R shoulder buttons are not visible at first glance as they are placed right behind the screen at the top of the base. These are quite awkward to reach while playing and their quality is not the best either. They tend to get stuck sometimes and have to be pulled out every time.  

Some people don’t like the huge Powkiddy logo sticker at the bottom, but it can easily be removed. Although you will need a decent replacement sticker as the empty space looks quite ugly.


powkiddy x18

The X18’s performance goes toe to toe with its competition. It is powered by the MediaTek MTK8163 chip, the Mali T720 GPU, and 2GB RAM. This translates into a solid gaming performance up until you try Gameboy emulation at least.

Most console generations before the Gamecube will run seamlessly on this device. You can load up titles from the Nintendo DS, PlayStation 1, Nintendo 64, PlayStation Portable (PSP), Sega Dreamcast, and a few others, and almost all of them will run butter smooth. 

Popular titles including Crash Bandicoot, Final Fantasy 9, Tekken 2 and 3, retro Monster Hunter games, Kingdom Hearts, God of War should run without any issues. But you will need some tinkering with the settings and button mapping to get them to work properly.

The touchscreen controls are quite reliable. There is even a dedicated Google button that will bring up proprietary software that lets you map all your touchscreen controls easily. This is ideal if you want to avoid the awful D-Pad or the awkwardly placed shoulder buttons.

Software and UI

powkiddy x18

The software is easily the worst part of the device. The handheld boots stock Android 7.0 out of the box and will not be receiving many updates in the future. This raises performance concerns for long-term use as outdated software can be a huge anchor to performance.

Its software comes loaded with a list of Chinese bloatware and it is impossible to install Google Play Services without having it crash on you all the time. This means you will have a lot of trouble getting Google Chrome or the Play Store to work properly.

There are a bunch of pre-installed emulators and games already, but if you want to add your own, you will have to rely on APKs from random third-party websites and stores. Most of the free ones are not ideal so you will likely have to spend a dollar or two to get decent ones.

In short, you will have to put in a lot of hours before the software comes into an ideal usable state.


Overall, the Powkiddy X18 is not a bad device, save for the software and UI. The handheld is only recommended if you know your tech and have some experience dealing with retro consoles, as you will be spending ages to get everything right.  

Once that’s out of the way, the emulation performance does make up for the lack of software quality. The X18 can easily handle more powerful consoles such as the PSP, PS1, Sega Dreamcast, but you’re better off not touching any Gamecube titles. 

The D-Pad is not the best and the shoulder buttons are awkwardly placed, but the rest of the controls along with the admirable screen make for a great gaming experience nonetheless.

The Powkiddy X18 deserves no more than a 6.5/10.


Does Powkiddy X18 run Gamecube?

The X18 is not the right choice for Gamecube titles. Most games will get no more than 10-20 frames per second.

What games are on Powkiddy?

The handheld is pre-loaded with a variety of titles already, but you can easily run any other Nintendo 64, PlayStation 1, PSP, and Sega Dreamcast games on it.

Is Powkiddy good?

The Powkiddy X18 makes for a decent competitor in the $120 price range, but you may wanna check out the Anbernic RG351P and PiBoy DMG as well.

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