Ayaneo Flip DS review: Two screens to handheld paradise

Rosalie Newcombe
Photo of the Ayaneo Flip DS handheld.

Ayaneo’s Flip DS is the first handheld of its kind with a dual-screen setup, but is it worthwhile outside of the Nintendo-inspired features?

Ayaneo is no stranger to the handheld market. Month in and month out, the boutique device manufacturer reveals and releases uniquely designed handhelds with every form factor you can imagine.

With so many Ayaneo handhelds in the wild, and more on the way, it’s no wonder that eventually, Ayaneo would release a device inspired by one of the most popular handhelds to exist, the Nintendo DS. 

The Ayaneo Flip DS re-imagines the iconic Nintendo handheld by recreating its clamshell and dual-screen design, into a portable Windows gaming machine.

After many hours of testing, however, does the boutique handheld stand on its own in a sea of PC gaming handhelds? Or, is the nostalgic clamshell and dual-screen design too gimmicky for its own good?

Key specs

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 7840U
  • GPU: AMD Radeon 780M
  • RAM: 64GB
  • Storage: 2TB
  • Panels: 7-inch IPS 1080p / 3.5-inch 960×640 IPS
  • Price: Starting from $1145
PROSCONS
Compact designHeavy
Ideal for Nintendo DS/Nintendo 3DS emulationExpensive
Can watch and play games simultaneously on dual-screen setupAwkward to configure second display
Can easily emulate older games and run AAA titlesBase of handheld can feel hot over time

Design

Photo of the Ayaneo Flip DS handheld.

The Ayaneo Flip DS refreshingly doesn’t take after the Steam Deck. There’s already the Ayaneo Next Lite and other devices for that. Instead, the Flip DS most closely resembles that of the Nintendo DS and its 3DS successor. 

At first glance, the sleek and glossy ‘Shadow Black’ version of the Flip DS, that we were given to review, looks inconspicuous. However, once the handheld is opened up, the stand-out 3.5-inch 960 x 640 touch-screen is unmissable. This secondary display sits on the ergonomically designed base of the handheld, opposite the  7-inch screen that attaches via hinges opening up to a 180-degree angle.

The Flip DS comes with all you’d expect, a d-pad, two analog sticks, ABXY buttons, two sets of trigger buttons, and a microSD card reader to name a few. Unlike other handhelds out there, it even makes use of hall effect sticks, to avoid any nasty drift.

There are even small textured grips on the bottom corners to keep your hands from slipping off the glossy handheld surface. The underside of the Flip DS also plays host to the main air vent, while the 3.5mm headphone jack and speakers slits sit along the bottom edge. The smaller air vent, along with the OCuLink Interface, two type-C ports, and microSD card read site, are positioned on the top side.

Photo of the Ayaneo Flip DS handheld.

While this unique Ayeneo handheld more than plays homage to Nintendo’s past hardware, it’s monumentally bigger than its inspirations. The Flip DS weighs in at 640g, a whole 420g heavier than the original Nintendo 3DS, and 387g heavier than my own New Nintendo 3DS model.

This beefy Windows handheld is even 10g heavier than the Steam Deck OLED. Though the Ayaneo Flip DS won’t fit into the pockets of your jeans, its chunky size makes sense when you dive deeper into what the boutique handheld is capable of.

Features

A world’s first for not just Ayaneo, but Windows handhelds as a whole, the handheld’s 3.5 inch 960 x 640 IPS screen, by default shows off all the performance information of the handheld. From the average frame rate, TDP, fan speeds, and temperatures of both the CPU and GPU.

Photo of the Ayaneo Flip DS handheld.

On this bottom screen interface, you can also swipe through various menu options, and get access to a series of “quick assistant” buttons. These buttons make it easier to navigate through Windows 11, providing shortcuts to menu options like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. 

With the touch of a small button between both displays, you can change this secondary screen to be an extension of the one above it. Just like registering a second gaming monitor on a typical desktop PC.

As a millennial who needs multiple things running at a time, this allowed me to watch music videos via YouTube on the bottom screen while playing a game up top. Typically, I stream videos on my iPad or smartTV while gaming on a handheld, but with the Flip DS, I can do it all from one device.

Performance

Many Nintendo fans may likely look to the Flip DS as a way to re-experience the joys of replaying older games. As luck would have it, the Windows handheld can handle both newer AAA and older emulated titles without much hassle.

Emulation

For this review, I ran The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D via a 3DS emulator. The beloved remake looked gorgeous on the top screen, although with some discrepancies as it was a game intended for the LCD 800 x 240 display of the 3DS and not the IPS display of the Flip DS.

Photo of the Ayaneo Flip DS running The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D.

It took a few tries to initially get the secondary screen of the 3DS emulator to remain on the bottom screen of the Ayaneo Flip DS. However, once that was configured, it worked a treat, bar the unavoidable dialog box bars. The dual-screen touch-screen compatibility made equipping items a more authentic experience.

The same can be said when running The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker HD through a WiiU emulator. Even without an OLED display, the IPS screen made the already saturated color palette of Wind Waker HD look mesmerizing. The novelty of having the Wii U gamepad available as a touch-screen on a Windows handheld never grows tiresome. Once you have the bottom screen figured out, the experience is fantastic.

AAA gaming

While the Ayaneo Flip DS closely resembles a Nintendo handheld on the outside, it’s a whole different ball game on the inside. With its 7840U chip powered by AMD’s RDNA 3 architecture, it can not only emulate iconic Zelda titles but play modern AAA games too.

During my time with the Ayaneo Flip DS, I tested out how the asymmetrical horror ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ ran on the device. Developed in Unreal Engine 4, the online game based on the iconic film series can be fairly graphically intensive. Yet, with its in-game settings set to ‘medium’, patrolling as the Slaughter family was an easy feat. The game ran around 60 FPS on the Flip DS, with no visible screen tearing or lag in sight.

Having the secondary screen available below, instead of having to pull up the performance menu on the Steam Deck made registering performance a breeze. Although there were times I turned off the dual-screen to not distract from the scary horror atmosphere.

The only main hindrance I experienced with the Flip DS, was its tendency to feel hot to the touch. According to the performance specs, the Flip DS’s GPU temp would sit around 59%, and it’d only increase to around 63% when deep in a Texas Chain Saw Massacre match. Yet it felt incredibly toasty between the left stick and secondary screen, as well as the left-hand side of the rear of the device.

Battery

Both AAA and emulated games ran great on the Flip DS, its battery didn’t leave much time to get through them without hunting for the charger. With the battery at 100%, playing the free-to-play online RPG Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis, gave approximately two hours of gameplay. Though that was somewhat to be expected with a graphically intensive online game, this was even with the in-game settings set to ‘medium.’

This isn’t an issue exclusive to the Flip DS, but a common problem with many PC gaming handhelds. Unless I was using the Flip DS as a compact laptop, and just browsing the internet, I always ensured the device was plugged in at all times to circumnavigate the battery issues. With a free accompanying charger, with multiple plug heads depending on your region, this wasn’t a concern. However, the Ayaneo Flip DS will only charge with its specific 45 Wh charger and not other type-C chargers with different wattage, like the Steam Deck or Nintendo Switch.

Thermals

During an evening of switching up between The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D and Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis, the full heat of the Flip DS reared its head. To see just how hot the handheld was getting, I ran the HWiNFO program in the background to get a proper reading on how it was coping with both games.

According to HWiNFO, the AMD Radeon 780M GPU of the Flip DS had a maximum temperature of 73.1 degrees, meanwhile, the AMD Ryzen 7 7840U CPU reached similar maximum temps of 74.4 degrees. While neither is egregious in the slightest, the handheld still felt incredibly hot after about an hour’s worth of gaming. As mentioned previously, this is particularly present between the left stick and the secondary screen.

While there aren’t any buttons in this area of the device, the heat still feels palpable behind the second display too. As a touch-screen, you may regularly use this screen to access quick-access menu shortcuts or use the emulated WiiU projected gamepad screen. I regularly found myself having to avoid leaning my fingers around that area of the handheld.

Should you buy the Ayaneo Flip DS?

Photo of the Ayaneo Flip DS handheld.

When it comes to recommending the Ayaneo Flip DS, its premium price tag cannot be overlooked. The AMD Ryzen 7840U powered 2TB model I had for review, is priced at $1439 at retail, which is more or less in line with a high-powered gaming laptop. 

Even the low-end versions of the Ayaneo Flip DS, like the 16GB 512GB Ryzen 7 7840U model, are priced at $939. That’s a lot for a device that many may purely have their eyes on for its emulation capabilities. Especially when even the rarest of Nintendo DS and 3DS models are not going to reach those expensive thresholds.

However, while the Ayaneo Flip DS may be identifiable as a Windows handheld, it is also essentially a compact laptop. With the Flip DS, you have access to Windows 11 and all the functionality that comes with it. Even better, it has the added extra of being easily portable and packed with 2TB of storage (in the model I reviewed) that you can use to your heart’s content. It’s no wonder why then, the Flip DS’s price point would be so eye-watering, but so is the performance of the AAA and emulated games it has the power to run.

Verdict: 4/5

The Ayaneo Flip DS’s recognizable clamshell and dual-screen design is a nostalgic trip down handheld memory lane and makes itself stand out among the increasingly over-saturated PC gaming handheld market. However, its added features and awkward built-in software, make the Windows handheld experience even more of a convoluted learning experience for newcomers.

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About The Author

Dexerto's Senior Tech Writer. Rosalie is an expert on all things handhelds, and has been picking them up since the original Game Boy, all the way up to the Steam Deck. Before working at Dexerto, they covered all things hardware for PCGamesN and Custom PC. Get in touch via email at rosalie.newcombe@dexerto.com.