TRIMUI Smart Review [Micro Retro Game Handheld]

TRIMUI Smart Initial Review/Impressions: A Micro Retro Game Handheld With Potential 👍 

The TRIMUI Smart is an interesting and unique micro retro game handheld from the same team that designed the TRIMUI Model S. I like this handheld more than I thought I would and it has earned a spot in my device rotation. Out of the box, the Smart works better than most of the other micro handhelds on a stock setup I've used but it will need software updates or CFW to reach its full potential. The device has some frustrating issues with the software, so future updates will definitely be necessary. The ceiling on this device is high,  but it does need work. This is my initial early review. I plan to update the review when software gets updated and if CFW options from the community become available. 

TRIMUI Smart Giveaway On Twitter [LINK]

TRIMUI Smart

TRIMUI Smart Specs 

  • Model: TRIMUI Smart
  • Website: TRIMUI.com
  • OS: Tina Linux [TRIM-UI] 
  • Emulation: RetroArch
  • UI: TRIM-UI
  • SoC: Allwinner S3
  • Cores: 2X Cortex A7
  • Process: ARM 1.5Ghz
  • Memory: LPDDR3 128MB
  • Display: 2.4-inch IPS LCD 240x320 
  • Speaker: 0.5W Single Mono Front Facing
  • Internal storage: built in 8GB
  • External storage: Micro SD card
  • Network: WIFI, 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n
  • USB: USB type-C OTG (handle/headset/storage device)
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0 (speaker/headset/game console)
  • Battery: Lithium battery, 1200mah
  • Input Type: DC 5V
  • Charging: USB Type-C 5V/1A
  • Play time: 3.5 Hours
  • Appearance size: 110mm×59mm×15mm
  • Weight: 100g
  • OTA: Upgrade Over WiFi (Future)

Previous Device: TRIMUI Model S

The TRIMUI Model S (PowKiddy A66) turned into a pretty good experience with custom options like Shaun Inman's MiniUI. Eventually PowKiddy rebranded it as the PowKiddy A66. There are no custom firmware (CFW) options for the TRIMUI Smart right now,  but that could change if the device picks up some interest. There's no word if CFWs or custom options will make their way to the device for sure, but there are community developers looking at it...

The Good 👍 

  • A Big Improvement Over The TRIMUI Model S In Most Areas
  • No Ghosting or Screen Tearing That's Notoriously Bad With The Vast Majority Of Micro Handhelds 
  • Netplay Works Well (Although It Took Me A While To Get It Working)
  • 3X More Powerful Than The Model S
  • Options To Adjust CPU Process (3 Settings)
  • Easy To Use UI
  • No Noticeable Input Lag

The Meh 🤷‍♂️ 

  • L2/R2 Shoulders Would Have Been Nice (Not A Deal Breaker)
  • No RetroAchievements In This RetroArch Build 
  • No 3.5mm Headphone Input (Only Bluetooth Headphones)..You Can Use USB-C headphones or a 3.5mm to USB-C adapter Though. 
  • Uses An Older Linux Build Than The Model S Used
  • Price 

The Bad 👎 

  • No Safe Shut-Down or Sleep Option (Yet...)
  • Issues With Loading Save States (GB/GBC/GBA/NES/Some Arcade...Other Platforms Were Fine. This Will Likely Be Fixed In The Future
  • Function Buttons (Start/Select/Menu) Are Stiff, Hard To Press And Very Loud 
The Unknown 🤷‍♂️ 
  • Future OTA Update Function Planned
  • Possible Store/Marketplace (App) For Independent Games In The Works
  • Possible Future CFW or Custom Options If Developers Become Interested... (Seems Likely)

In The End 👍

In the end, I do like this device. The big selling point is the simplicity, size for micro game handheld enthusiasts and the fact that the screen does not have Ghosting or Screen tear issues that nearly all other micro devices have. With a good CFW or custom setup, this could end up being a great device. 

Disclosure: Team TRIMUI sent two devices at no cost (to me) for my evaluation. This review is precisely how I would review it with an independent opinion if I had paid $79.99  each (currently the lowest price for international orders. There's no financial gain or benefits for me if you decide to buy this device.  

TRIMUI Smart Price 🤷‍♂️

When I first saw pre- orders showing up a while back on AliExpress for $90+ and then $79.99 at places like KeepRetro,  it did worry me that this device was considerably more expensive than the Model S which I paid $49.99 for when it launched. Is the TRIMUI Smart worth $30 more? In short, for some the answer will be "Yes".  The Smart is a less frustrating out of the box experience and the future potential of this handheld has a considerably higher ceiling. I'd avoid paying the $90 and Up prices and order from KeepRetro.com the only place I've seen selling it at actual MSRP for $79.99. For now,  it appears AliExpress stores are putting a considerable markup on it. If I was pricing the device,  I would have liked to see it closer to $60 to compete with the Miyoo Mini. 

OS/Firmware 🤷‍♂️ 

The firmware version I tested out was the domestic version to China (not international) and there are some slight differences. The domestic version has an option under Settings to change themes while people receiving the international version don't have the same options. I'm assuming this may change with future updates.

All in all,  the out of the box stock OS/Firmware is an improvement over the out of the box Model S (A66) was.  Some settings like background music volume reset on every boot/reboot. The software is similar to the stock software on the Miyoo Mini and there is likely some crossover with the software teams between the two companies. 

The current stock firmware mostly works but I have encountered some bugs that I can't figure out how to correct even with a factory reset or flashing a new card like loading save states for NES, GB, GBA, MAME 2010 and Arcade. This could be solved in the future with a firmware patch or possibly switching out RetroArch cores being used. For now,  it's an issue I can't figure out myself. Games from the above platforms that support in-game saves still work. 

Build Quality & Design 👍 

Overall, the design is excellent. The shoulder and function buttons do have a little rattle (movement) to them but not as bad you'd find on say most PowKiddy devices. It's more comfortable to use than the Model S due to being considerably thicker and slightly rounded. I found the ergonomic design to be comfortable enough for long gameplay sessions. It's not a high end build quality, but it's solid enough to last. 

Size 👍

What you are paying for with the TRIMUI Smart is less about performance power and more about the micro size and convenience. 

TRIMUI Smart Compared To A Nintendo Switch

TRIMUI Smart (Left) VS TRIMUI Model S (Right)


Storage/Included ROMs 👍

The device has 8GB internal storage which I haven't been able to access yet and comes with a generic 32GB microSD card. It is loaded with ROMs but not ideal versions. I highly suggest backing up the SD card and flashing everything to your own card plus sourcing your own ROMs. The official firmware is not online yet,  so backing up the card is essential. 

TRIMUI App Market 🤷‍♂️

At the time of review,  the App Market was not yet set up on the device so I was unable to test that possible future feature. I do like like the idea of the potential to have independent developers getting more games out there on devices like this one...

Emulation Performance 👍 

Overall,  emulation performance is close to what you'd expect from the device's specs although I don't think the device has reached full potential yet. We'll have to see what the next OTA update looks like or if any community developers work on some custom options. On paper, the device is about 3x the power of the Model S, but I wouldn't expect great performance in the future beyond PS1. 


Arcade 👍

CPS1, CPS2, Neo•Geo, and most MAME gamrs all run smoothly on the device. CPS3 has problems with frame stuttering but that could be fixed with more optimized software. 

GB/GBC 🤷‍♂️

GB/GBC ROMs run fine but the scaling is definitely not optimized well or possible to optimize yet. Due to the RetroArch Build used,  whatever scaling options you use get applied to all systems making it difficult to optimize per system. On my device, GB and GBC save states do not load. There are others with with the same issue while some are saying save state loads work fine. In its current state,  I wouldn't recommend the device for GB/GBC until the software is either updated or some custom options become available. 

NES 🤷‍♂️

Most NES games run fine but there's issues here with loading game states as well. While scaling could be better,  NES looks good on the screen. Out of the box,  I would not recommend this device for NES although that could change in the future. There is some stuttering in games like SMB3 but I believe this could be fixed using a more optimized RetroArch setup in the future. 

SMS/PCE 👍

SEGA Master System and PCE (TG16) look and play well on the device with no major issues. 

Genesis/SNES 👍

Genesis & SNES also look and play fine. SNES had some minor stutters here are there which should get cleaned up with custom options. 

GBA 🤷‍♂️

MGBA runs smooth with clean sound on most 2D games. There is some choppy sound with 3D games. I ran into problems with loading saved game states through RetroArch, so for now can only rely on in-game saves. 

PlayStation 👍

PS1 runs and looks pretty good on the device with some framerate issues on more 3D intensive games. All in all, it's drastically better than what you could get out of the Model S PSX-wise and this should improve in the future. This is close to the best PS1 potential I've seen on a device of this size although the Miyoo Mini still has it beat due to its higher resolution (and larger) screen and better custom software options. 

Battery Performance 👍

Depending on what I'm playing,  I'm getting anywhere between 3 and 4 hours of gameplay out of one charge which isn't too bad. 

Connectivity 👍 

The device has WiFi and Bluetooth which is rare in micro handhelds and a big bonus with the Smart. 

Sound 👍 

The front facing mono speaker is loud and not too bad although it is slightly "tinny". Connecting Bluetooth headphones or earbuds is essential for a good sound experience. There is no 3.5mm input for a wired audio experience. USB-C headphones do work on the device as inwell as using a 3.5mm to USB-C adapter which is not optimal but it's an option that works. 

Screen 👍 



Screen Resolution is lower than what we've been seeing on devices lately but it's not a deal breaker on a 2.4" screen. The lower resolution may effect CFW options for better integer scaling.  The screen is still crisp and the color saturation is good and well balanced. The front facing LED light is blindingly bright but fortunately gets covered up by fingers when playing. All in all, the screen is good. It would have been nicer if they had gone with a higher resolution option. There was some light bleed on both units I tested (more noticeable on the white device than on the purple). Lightly pressing on all 4 corners of the screen to make sure it's firmly seated eliminated most of the light bleed.  This is the first micro handheld I have used that didn't have serious problems with ghosting and screen tearing with the stock setup. 

D-pad 👍

The d-pad uses the dome switch design style which does make it "clicky" but the d-pad is responsive and accurate for a device of this size. There is a little play (movement) with the d-pad but not enough to effect gameplay. 

Face Buttons 👍 

The face Buttons are an ABXY layout with the option to remap the inputs to a PlayStation style layout which is nice and using dome switches. The buttons are a little clicky and loud but they are responsive and have good resistance. There is a tiny bit of play in the buttons but not enough to cause problems. You can hear them rattle a tiny bit if you shake the device. 

Shoulders 👍 

There are no L2/R2 Shoulder buttons which honestly isn't a huge deal. While the device could potentially run some games that need them,  just having L1/R1 is sufficient for what most people will play on the device.  The shoulders have a little more play in them than I'd prefer but they are still responsive and a big improvement over the Model S. 

Other Buttons 👎

There are Start, Select, Menu buttons on the front. These buttons are clicky and loud as well.  There are no Volume buttons which is a shame considering volume continually resets with this software. Fortunately, the device does have the option to change volume and brightness using button combinations. The power switch just has On/Off. At the moment,  there's no safe shutdown or sleep options. 

TRIMUI Smart Alternatives

When it comes to tiny (micro) devices around the same size,  the only devices I'd recommend are the TRIMUI Model S (A66) using MiniUI and the Miyoo Mini using MiniUI or OnionOS (Neither Option has WiFi). Most of the other devices in the same size range have too many serious problems particularly with screen issues (Ghosting & Screen Tearing) and input lag. The Smart blows away options like the PowKiddy Q20 Mini & original PocketGo with the lack of screen tearing, plus improves upon the Model S in most ways. The upcoming Miyoo Mini Horizontal could be a contender in this realm as well. 

PowKiddy Q20 Mini - Screen Tearing, Cheap Build Quality and Input Lag Made It A BAD Option. Mine just connects dust on a shelf!


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1 Comments

  1. Another TRIMUI Smart Review: https://gamingrespawn.com/featured/57693/trimui-smart-retro-gaming-handheld-review/

    ReplyDelete
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