GPD XP Plus: Is the Upgraded Modular Console Worth It?

GPD has revealed the GPD XP Plus, but is it worth getting excited about? Let's find out.

GPD has revealed the GPD XP Plus, an upgrade to the previously released GPD XP.

A quick catch up: GPD makes Android handhelds that are more comparable to mobile phones than they are your average Anbernic product. The GPD XP Plus is the company’s latest outing and takes the power of modern hardware and turns it into a modular device.

What’s a modular device exactly? Think the Nintendo Switch, but a phone (it can actually make phone calls as well).

The right controller section of the console can be snapped out and replaced. That’s the hook, essentially.

Included with the XP are two different controller options. One is a controller that mirrors the left side of the console, and the other, a MOBA-focused design featuring numbered buttons.

The system itself uses magnets to keep everything in place, so yeah, you don’t need to worry about snapping stuff when you try to jam it in. There’s also a plug for if you want to use it without a controller in the right port. That’s mostly used for if you fancy playing games vertically.

GPD XP Plus Price

As of right now, there are two different versions of the GPD XP Plus available via IndieGoGo, and both are available at the early bird prices of $374/£297 and $339/£269. 

What are the differences between the two options? Hard drive size. Prospective owners have the choice between 128GB or 256GB depending on how much internal storage they need. Though it’s worth noting, both systems offer up microSD expansion slots, so if you want to save around $40/£30, you can always whack an SD card in at a later date.

  • GPD XP Plus with 6GB of RAM, 128GB storage – $2,660 HKD/$339/£269
  • GPD XP Plus with 6GB of RAM, 256GB storage – $2,936 HKD/$374/£297

GPD XP Plus Specifications

GPD XP controller being disconnected

A lot of the specs here are going to sound like another language for most. The long and short of it is it’s comparable with the AYN Odin, and in some departments, beats the Odin.

Of course, how engineers work within the framework of the tech is often a deciding factor in performance. So while the XP could feasibly be stronger, whether it will is still guesswork and we need to see more of it in action before passing judgement.

A good example of this is the PSP running N64 games. That shouldn’t be possible from a hardware point of view, yet thanks to some very clever engineering, it is. Conversely, just because something has the means doesn’t mean it’ll be utilised fully. It’s a case of wait and see, as always.

  • CPU: MediaTek Dimensity 1200, 8 Core
  • GPU: ARM Mali-G77 MC9 @900MHz
  • RAM: 6GB LPDDR4
  • Storage: 128GB UFS 3.1
  • Screen: 6.81-inch
  • Heat Dissipation: Single fan with active heat dissipation
  • Wi-Fo: 2.4 G / 5 G dual-band Wi-Fi 6
  • Mobile Wi-Fi: 4G/3G/2G
  • Charging: USB-C
  • Memory Card: Micro SD
  • Battery Capacity: 7000mAh (up to 12 hours on Android games)

For comparison, here are the specs of the original GPD XP.

  • CPU: MediaTek Helio G95 – dual Arm Cortex-A76 processors clocked up to 2.05GHz
  • GPU: ARM Mali-G76 MC @ 900Mhz
  • RAM: 6GB LPDDR4X
  • Storage: 128GB UFS 2.1
  • Screen: 6.81-inch

The short version: The XP Plus is a more powerful version of the GPD XP. Whether that extra power is worth it, will be up for owners to decide.

GPD XP Plus Release Date

According to GPD, both versions of the XP are expected to ship August 2022. That’s only for the consoles ordered via the IndieGoGo page, though, which are limited to 500 units each.

As for a worldwide release, GPD is keeping shtum. It could be a case of the money raised from the IndieGoGo will be used to help launch the product in further territories as is the case with many other companies, but nothing is confirmed at this point.

What Can the GPD XP Plus Emulate?

Now for the bit everyone cares about. It’s fine, I’m just as excited to get into it.

Before we get into what I’ve seen is possible, let’s look at what GPD says the XP can run.

  • Nintendo: NES, Super Nintendo, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy, Game Boy Colour, N64, Nintendo DS, GameCube, Wii
  • Arcade: MAME
  • Sony: PS1, PS2, PSP
  • SEGA: Genesis/Mega Drive, Dreamcast
  • Other: PC Engine, WonderSwan Colour, NeoGeo Pocket

That is quite the list, and whenever any of us see GameCube, PS2, and Wii, it’s hard not to get excited.

What is actually possible? Quite a lot. This doesn’t feel like the usual case where companies list every console while knowing full well there’s no way it runs everything. The GPD XP, however, does seem like it’s in this ballpark.

Moreso, ETA Prime on YouTube has shown the GPD XP Plus in action, and it can in fact run PSP (God of War at 3x resolution) and PS2 games. It doesn’t appear to be 100 percent perfect emulation, but then nothing is, but it looks like there’s enough compatibility there for the console to be able to claim it can run the aforementioned systems. Not bad, eh?

GPD XP Plus Concerns

Okay. There is one area that troubles me and we need to see more about. The screen comes in at a whopping 6.8-inches. That’s larger than most devices in theory, but GPD’s whole thing is making consoles that resemble mobile phones, and that’s where the problems could arise.

The screen itself looks nice and crisp from what I’ve seen, which is good. But it’s the 1080×2400, 9:20 aspect ratio that’s giving me cause for concern.

That is a really weird choice to go with. The most common aspect ratios are 4:3 for the older systems, and 16:9 for the more recent retro consoles. Oh, and the Game Boy Advance with 3:2, because it’s Nintendo and we don’t question it.

What this all means is Android games will scale and look great, but you’re going to be beholden to emulator settings when it comes to filling the screen in any meaningful way. Otherwise you’ll be left with a massive screen that only uses a small section of it surrounded by big ol’ black bars.

Modern emulators do include settings to stretch the screen or force a 16:9 aspect ratio. But even then, at 16:9, the screen is still going to look a little unfilled. It’s possible a 16:9 hack could bring the used-screen-space down to around five to six inches, but again, there’s most likely going to be black bars somewhere unless you stretch the screen (no one who enjoys a pixel-perfect screen wants to do that).

Conclusion

Is the GPD XP Plus worth it? That’s hard to say. Every year we see companies release a plus version, which is pretty much the same thing with some slight modifications. In this case, GPD has improved the internal specs. The original GPD XP struggled with higher-end emulation. These changes, then, should offer up more compatibility.

For owners of the GPD XP, the GPD XP Plus doesn’t seem worth the upgrade. There isn’t enough that’s new here to justify it. But for people coming in new, well, there’s the Ayn Loki or the Aya Neo Air, and for those looking to save, there’s the Evercade Exp.

Who’s this console for, then? If you spend hours upon hours playing Minecraft, Genshin Impact, or PUBG on Android, this console is worth pick-up. For the emulation gamers out there, though, it’s hard to recommend GPD XP Plus without seeing more of what it can do.

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Wesley Copeland

Wesley Copeland is a gaming and tech journalist with over 10 years of experience writing online. Originally starting in video games before specializing in tech and toys, you can find his bylines at IGN, VG24/7, Kotaku, Tech Radar, Games Radar, PC Gamer, and many more. He's also highly passionate about how tech can be used to better our day-to-day lives.