Guide: Install the RG350M screen on your RG350

Last updated 26SEP2020 (see Changelog for details)

If you have an RG350 or RG350P, but have heard all the great things about the RG350M screen, this guide is for you. I’ll walk you through the upgrade process, which includes a teardown, case modification (for the RG350 only), and installation of new display drivers. There’s also a video of the process available below, which will make things even easier.

Table of Contents
Why upgrade?
Where to buy
RG350 vs RG350P upgrade
Recommended tools
Installing the RG350M screen
More options

Changelog

Why upgrade?

  1. Better graphics fidelity. The screen that ships with the RG350 and the RG350P has a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels. This is the native resolution for many classic gaming consoles, and with this screen you will get a nice, classic pixel density with your games. But with the RG350M, Anbernic installed a 640×480 screen, which has twice the pixel density of the other devices. With twice as many pixels displayed on the screen, your images and text will look much sharper.
  2. Classic RG350 button layout. Many people prefer the analog stick layout of the RG350M or the RG350P, where they are both below the d-pad and face buttons (like on a PlayStation controller). Personally, I like the Switch / Xbox layout, where the analog stick is on top of the d-pad. By buying a new screen I can have the best of both worlds: my preferred button layout with an optimal viewing experience.
  3. Cheaper than a new device. A new screen costs about $30 USD, which is much cheaper than buying a new device altogether (unless you’re really interested in the metal RG350M, which admittedly feels very premium and is worth that added expense).

Where to buy

There are several options when it comes to a 3.5″ 640×480 LCD screen, but the reviews are all over the place. Because I know the screen quality on the RG350M is top-notch, I encourage you to buy the upgrade screen directly from Anbernic, since this is essentially a replacement part for their exceptional RG350M display. This screen has the glass laminated on top of the LCD panel, resulting in bright, brilliant colors and a very crisp display.

** Update: Anbernic now carries its screen via eBay, which you can find here.

You can find the RG350M screen at the official Anbernic store on AliExpress, in their “console parts” section. When you pull up this page, select the second “color” option, which will then display “RG350M SCRREN” (typo and all). Unfortunately, shipping for this screen is not very quick, mine took about a month to arrive in the United States.

RG350 vs RG350P upgrade

The process of upgrading your screen will differ depending on your device.

If you have an RG350P, the replacement is seamless — simply remove the old screen, and place the new one in its place.

For an RG350, you will need to remove the glass panel that covers the LCD panel, then the panel itself — they are two separate parts. In addition, you will need to shave down some of the RG350 case in order to fit the RG350M panel inside. It’s a relatively easy process, but let’s make sure you have the right tools to set you up for success.

Recommended tools

Phone repair kit: You will want a screwdriver to open up the case and remove some internal parts, a spudger to remove the LCD panel, and some 2mm double-sided tape to secure the panel to the case. I prefer this kit from Amazon, which is only $10, because it has the right screwdriver, several spudgers, and a roll of 2mm tape that fits perfectly with this case. It’s a very handy set of tools for tinkerers.

Scalpel, razor, or file: If you have an RG350, you’re going to need something to shave down the case so that the LCD panel fits. I used this scalpel from Amazon, it was $6. These things are sharp — I nicked myself in the first minute of using it! Rookie move.

Hair dryer: If you have a hair dryer laying around, grab it — we’ll need it to warm up the panel so that it’s easier to remove. If you want to be fancy, you could invest in a heat gun to speed up the process.

Installing the RG350M screen

Honestly, I learn from watching videos, so I made a video for you above. It’s a comedy of errors — my hair dryer blew a circuit while filming, and I nicked myself with scalpel (off screen, thankfully). But hey, there’s now a video of the process. If you want to read through the steps, here you go:

  1. Remove the four screws on the back of your device, and gently pop the back cover off. Remove the shoulder buttons, and unplug the battery clip from the circuit board. Remove the four screws surrounding each analog stick, and then the six screws that hold the circuit board in in place. These two sets of internal screws are identical, so don’t worry about mixing them up.
  2. Remove the upper band from the device, then unlatch the ribbon cable from the center of the board. Gently slide the ribbon cable out of the board. Pull the board up, and remove all of the face and bottom/side buttons: VOLUME, POWER, RESET, START, SELECT, ABXY, and the D-PAD.
  3. Pull the outer band from the device, which slides right out. Remove the speakers; they have some sticky foam attached to them, and you should be able to use this foam tape to reattach the speakers when you’re done. Move all of your buttons and screws to a different spot so you can focus on what remains: the faceplate and LCD panel.
  4. With the glass facing you, turn on your hair dryer and heat up the glass panel. This will take about three minutes altogether.
    • For the RG350: once the panel is hot, use the spudger to pry the glass cover from the LCD panel. Next, push the LCD panel down with your spudger to dislodge it from the case. You now need to shave off the extra plastic to fit the RG350M screen into the faceplate. It looks daunting, but you’re in luck — there is a little lip on the case that fits perfectly with the RG350M screen. If you shave down the extra plastic so that it is flush with the backside of the face plate, the panel will line right up. I recommend you watch the video above (around the 6:45 mark) to see what I’m talking about.
    • For the RG350P: slide the spudger into the frame that surrounds it, and pry it loose from the face plate. The new RG350M LCD panel will have a thin metal casing around the back panel and sides; if the screen doesn’t fit into its slot, you will need to gently pry off this metal casing before adding the screen. I haven’t done this mod on an RG350P myself, but it’s been reported to me that this process is very simple, just be gentle when removing that metal casing.
  5. Place strips of the 2mm double-sided tape along the little lip at the front of the faceplate. Set the LCD panel into its slot, from the front of the faceplate. Spend a couple minutes here pushing on the screen to make sure it’s totally snuck and secure with that double-sided tape. Next, add the black piece of tape that came with your screen to the back of the panel.
  6. At this point you’re good to reassemble the device , in reverse order of the steps above. Place the band around the device, and put a piece of masking tape across the bottom/side of the band so that you can secure the POWER, RESET, and VOLUME buttons to the tape so they don’t fly about. Slide the ribbon cable through the circuit board, then attach it to its slot and snap it into place. Replace the speakers, then the face buttons and d-pad. Screw in the circuit board, then the analog sticks.
  7. Before you close up the device (especially if using an RG350), you need to download and install device drivers to your internal SD card. This is much easier than it sounds: all you have to do is download and unzip this file, which is named “vmlinuz.bin”. Take your internal SD card and plug it into your computer. Inside the SD card you’ll see a bunch of files that make no sense, which is fine — one of them is named “vmlinuz.bin”. Just replace the old file with the one you just downloaded. That’s it, you can now eject the SD card and add it back to you device.
  8. Finish reassembling your device — add the shoulder buttons and reattach the battery cable (the device will turn on when you add the battery, so you can turn it off again if you’d like). Reattach the back panel and screw it in. That’s it!

More options

At this point you can use the RG350 as-is, with updated visuals. If you want to get extra fancy, head over to my install guides and install the emulators that are optimized for the RG350M.

But if you want the full RG350M experience, I recommend you download and install the stock RG350M firmware, which will give you higher resolution menus and texts, and will be much sharper overall. To get the new firmware, check out my firmware guide. Note that by flashing the new firmware onto your RG350, you’ll lose everything stored on your internal card, like your emulators (which you can copy from the media/data/apps folder).

Finally, once you have this nice new screen, you can upgrade your SimpleMenu icons to take advantage of the new resolution.

Changelog

In this section I’ll provide a quick summary of any updates I make to this guide.

26SEP2020
– Added more detailed instructions for RG350P owners based on feedbacck

20SEP2020
– Added updated link to Anbernic eBay store

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