AMOLED Gameboy Color Review (Mod Q10 Retro Pixel)

AMOLED Game Boy Color Review (Mod Q10 Retro Pixel) is Amazing

The Game Boy Color came out 25 years ago, and after all that time, it’s finally possible to bring it into the modern era with a new AMOLED screen mod.

Gameboy Colour Release Date

If you are a fan of the Game Boy Color, I have an awesome mod video for you with a new mod kit that was just released for the GBC. This is going to be a deep dive review into this new kit to see what it is, what it does, and if it is worth the asking price.

Let’s jump into it. The star of the show is this AMOLED display that comes from a BlackBerry Q10 and this adapter PCB for the GBC. On top of this, we also have a pre-cut shell that will make this build super easy. You can modify an official shell by yourself if you want to save some money, but that is probably only worth doing if you have a shell that you really have your sights set on reusing. This one feels like OEM quality, so it’s a great option to go with if you have a beat-up GBC.

I went with this green shell because I do not already have this colorway in any of the builds that I have. When it comes to pricing,

it’s going to come down to the package that you buy. If you just want the screen itself, that is going to set you back $50. If you want the full kit with a new custom shell, that will cost an additional $5, and I think that is worth every dollar for the time that it saves you. Game Boy Colors are surprisingly pretty rare where I live, and I think that’s because this was never officially sold in this country.

Gameboy Color Original Price

All of the models that exist on the 2nd hand market are ones that were imported from Japan, Europe, or the US, and that’s the case for the one that I bought. This is a Japanese GBC, and I paid $60 to get it. I would expect that you would be able to get one much cheaper than this where you live, but this is an average price for GBCs that don’t have any issues. The shell on this is pretty decent all things considered.

It’s aged, but it hasn’t yellowed as much as some of the others that I have seen. This condition is much better than the last GBC that I bought for a modding project, and that one was only $10 cheaper than this. I think I will keep this shell to reuse it in another build. Everything else here is in full working order, including the speakers and all of the ports. We will start this process with a quick disassembly of the stock shell. This process is very easy to do, with only a few screws to deal with, but if you need some help, don’t forget to enlist a little engineer. Then it’s just

a matter of disconnecting the stock screen to free the PCB. Now at this point, we could clean and reuse the stock membrane. If you have good ones, this is going to be your best bet to keep the authentic feel of the buttons. I think I will end up with another GBC in a week or so that is in worse condition than this, so I am going to keep these buttons for a future build. For this build, I am going to use everything that came with the package. Now we are at the point where we need

to solder this red wire to this battery point on the adapter PCB. They have already pre-tinned the pad, so this should be extremely easy to do. We have that lead connected, so now we can move forward with reattaching the FPC to this board, and then we can connect up the screen. You’ll see that this comes with adhesive strips on the sides of the screen. I took off the bottom half of this just to make it easier to get back in here if I ever need to. The kit also comes with some film that they say

you should apply to the back of this screen to protect it from shorts, but you can see that the back of the screen isn’t exposed in the kit that I have. I don’t think that we need to apply this, but we may need to apply some tape to some of these points so there aren’t any shorts caused by other points. I’m not going to do that right now. We are going to take the adapter board and feed the screen cable through the slot to connect the screen to the board. Then we just need to slide

this screen into place from the front to move on to the next step. So something that I’m noticing about the buttons that come with this that you should probably be aware of is that the measurements don’t seem to line up exactly with the official ones. You can see that the center post on the DPAD is a bit longer on the original one than it is here, which means that this is going to bottom out when you press it down. This has the potential to give you false input. So if you have the ability to just

reuse the set of buttons that came with your GBC, just do that. The A and B buttons also have this issue, but the DPAD is the most important of the bunch. If you need to, you can DIY this center post to make it long enough that this isn’t an issue. But realistically, you want to have something that’s like the original. I won’t use my original buttons because I want to stick with the things that come with this kit so I can properly review it. With whatever combination you plan to use, put them in place and

then you can install the stock PCB. If I just flip this over, you can see what I was talking about with the DPAD. It isn’t tall enough right now. The DPAD can bottom out. Same thing for the A and B buttons. I am going to screw in one of the internal screws just to keep everything in place for the next step. To be able to power the screen, we need to solder the other end of the red wire to the point labeled C on the power switch. This is the only annoying part of the build,

but it should be a breeze if you have experience soldering other things. Make sure you have some solder on your wire and it should be good to go without too much trouble. So I’m just going to hold the wire in place to solder it to the C pad. Then we can reconnect the display cable, before making sure that the entire thing works. Put the back shell on and get some batteries to see if the display will light up. And we can see that it works. Now, all we need to do is screw in the remaining PCB screws, put on the back shell, screw in the 6 back shell screws, put in some batteries, and close it up.

Gameboy Color Features

Anyway, we’re finished with the build, and I have to say I’m pretty impressed with this. I did some testing off camera just to experience the quality of this display and the pure blacks on some of these retro games. It’s amazing. What I want to do now is go through some of the features of this, and then we’ll do a comparison between this and the next best modding option that exists. So right now we’re booted

into a game that’s going to loop in the background while we talk about this screen. This kit comes with a touch screen, and we can access it by putting our finger right here. When this opens, we have a couple of things available to us, and we can do everything with touch. For example, our first option is brightness, and we can adjust the brightness by pressing on the triangles. Doing something like this isn’t new because other mod kits also have ways of adjusting brightness via start and select, or a touch sensor on the top. This is

way easier to do than any of those options. Beyond that, we also have this color mode. So the first mode is the default way that the game boy micro would handle games. If you go to the second color mode, you’ll be looking at this how you would see it on a modded Game Boy DMG or on a Game Boy Pocket. We can compare this to a modded Pocket in just a moment. Let’s open up that menu again and we’ll just cycle through some of these other color palettes. Realistically, these are not terribly useful for the

Game Boy Color since the default one will be superior in almost every instance. I feel like these things would be more useful on an older game boy micro model. Very quickly, you might see some strobing on the screen in this footage. You can’t see that with the naked eye. This is typical behavior when filming AMOLED displays and it is only visible to a camera. So let’s open up that menu again and now we’ll go through the pixel effects. This is with no pixel effect. This is what I typically use. The third option has vertical scan lines,

which looks decent, and the 4th option has horizontal scan lines. The last option will do both to create square pixels. It is cool that you have the ability to quickly swap between these, but they will decrease your brightness when they are enabled. I think the first or second option are the best. So that’s the whole first menu. If we want to get to the next menu, we’re going to swipe up from this and we have something called FRM. I’m going to boot into another game so we can showcase what that does. In Link’s Awakening, you’ll

see that this chain is flickering on screen. That is what we want to fix. If we go back into the menu and turn on the FRM option, that transparency flickering will be fixed. There are other games that also use rapid flickering on official hardware to achieve transparency, and this is the option that you’ll need to use to make them look like they would on real hardware. Beyond that, we can also customize the screen position. This is mainly meant to fix any alignment issues with the panel. Mine was almost completely centered with the default settings. In

the last menu, you’ll find the logo color options. If I tilt the screen back, you’ll see a cutout for the Game Boy Color logo. This option will allow us to turn on that part of the AMOLED screen with different colors. There are a lot of colors available here, which totally brings the entire package together by allowing you to customize the color of this logo with whatever shell you want to use. It also looks better than other options because it’s fed by this awesome AMOLED display. I’m going to go with the green one, and then I’m

good to go. I think this combo looks good. I’m blown away by how good this display looks. The default screen resolution is 720×720, but obviously, we do not have access to that full resolution. With the resolution that we do have access to, this is doing integer scaling, so every pixel that you see on screen is made up of any smaller pixels that give you a very sharp image. For this test, we have Metroid 2, and I turned on the black and white mode on the GBC for this. The Pocket doesn’t have an exact match to

this, but it is close enough for us to see some of the differences for these older games. I’m going to have to shut off the studio lights so we can really see the difference here, but even without that, you can already seen the deep backs on the AMOLED display vs. the Pocket. I had to crank the ISO a bit for this to make it easier to see in the footage. I have to say, I have no issues with the pocket, and I am happy with this display, but there is no competition for a game like

this when you have an AMOLED display that gives you perfect blacks. The viewing angles are also much better on the AMOLED mod than this older IPS one. In this test, we have the Game Boy Color AMOLED Q10 AMOLED display vs. the Q5 IPS kit, which was the best screen mod available for the GBC before this new kit. As you can see, they look similar in this setting, but this game has pure black backgrounds, so we should see some differences if we shut off the studio lights again. On the Q5 panel, the background starts to distort when viewed at an

angle, but the new AMOLED display keeps the deep blacks in the background. If you end up playing a game like this at night on your GBC, it’s going to look ridiculous how perfectly isolated everything is when the background is completely off. 10/10 experience. During that last test, I noticed that I was seeing more power draw from the Q5 screen compared to this new one. Because of that, I want to do a battery life test to see where things are. I bought a set of IKEA 2450 cells for this test. These are the best cells that

I can buy where I live that I know are not fraudulent, and they should be comparable to Eneloop cells. For this, I set my camera on a timelapse, but this test went longer than I expected. When it comes to the Q5 display and a stock GBC cartridge, we got 5:48 of battery life. Not bad, but not as good as this GBC AMOLED display with almost 2 additional hours of battery life compared to the older best-in-slot screen. After the test is done, I am surprised how this new mod holds up. Even though the screen cut out earlier

this Q5 GBC, The batteries that were in there were still good enough to be used in the GBC AMOLED after 8 hours with the console left on, or 3 hours after the screen cut out. That tells me that the cells dropped below the required current or voltage that this Q5 screen needs in order to power on, whereas this GBC AMOLED screen must have lower requirements. This issue would be even worse if we did this test with both uses using a flash cart. This mod kit is now the goat for GBC modding, and it’s the only one

that I will probably consider for future builds. Now that I know that I’m going to keep this, I’m going to go inside and just add some insulation material to the back of the PCB, and I’m going to put some tape on the little adapter board so it doesn’t move around in here because I did have a problem where I would put it sideways or upside down at night and the screen would cut out and the system would short. So I’m going to solve that problem because I really like this, and I need to be able

to have this top-down for playing at night lying down. There are two areas that we need to worry about. Back here is where they expect you to insult based on a conversation that I had with the company, so I will apply some material here. I think the short was happening in another location, so I will also insult the adapter board and secure it in place so it cannot move around at all. I plan to use this long-term and I don’t want to ever have to come in here again in the future to fix any issues

down the line. There are a few more tests that I want to do before wrapping up this video. The first thing that I want to check on is the response time of this panel. If I had datasheets for both screens, it would be easy to just compare the specs, but I don’t think the spec sheet is public for this AMOLED display. I’m going to use some gameplay to get a rough idea of how they stack up. In this, we are basically looking for how much ghosting we have on screen. The Q5 screen is rated for

a 16ms response time, which is one frame, and this new AMOLED display seems to be the same based on what I am seeing here. The next thing that is easy for us to talk about is color. Now, this AMOLED display seems to have much deeper colors than this Q5 panel, and that is probably because it has a wider color gamut than the sRGB of the Q5 panel. If you look at the blue in the background, or the green of the pipes, those pop more on the AMOLED display. The Q5 display does get about one stop

brighter at around 400 nits of peak brightness, but even if we match both screens based on max brightness, there is still a difference in the saturation of the colors. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with this Q5 panel, and it is already a monumental improvement over the stock screen, but it doesn’t look as good as this AMOLED display when they are side-by-side like this. Everything is just a deeper tone. These reds in the names are deeper, the greens are deeper, the blues are especially deeper. Everything just pops more on this display. If we get to

the main title menu, you can see a lot of differences between these and I included a screen grab of how this should look in the right corner of the screen. The purples on the Q5 screen are more muted vs. the Q10 screen, with the Game Boy Color AMOLED Q10 being closer to the reference picture. Again, you can see a noticeable difference between Mario, the pipes, and the bricks between both units. This difference carries over to Shantae, where we also see a wider range of red colors in this roof, as well as the orange in the chat box. Here’s a close-up. And we have one final close-up for this section. While we are here, let’s go through some close-up shots of the pixel effects. This is the default mode, this is mode 2, mode 3, and finally, mode 4.

Gameboy Color Pros and Cons

Anyway, let’s go over the pros and cons of this new screen before wrapping up my overall suggestions. On the pro side, there are a lot of things that I like about this kit. The first is that it’s an easy installation. In terms of difficulty, I would put this at two out of ten, and that extra point of difficulty

only comes from the fact that you need to own a soldering iron to be able to do this. You don’t have to be good at soldering to be able to do this because they have already pre-tinned one pad. Everything else is pretty simple and you could be a complete novice and still get this thing installed correctly. As long as I soldered the wire, I feel confident that Taki Jr. could do the entire build without my help. The second pro for me is the battery life. This thing has amazing battery life versus the competition. It’s not

as good as the stock screen with batteries, but it is compared to other backlit screens that are on the market. The picture quality on this is also amazing. That goes for the deep blacks in games that use a black background like Metroid, but it also extends to the brightness, response time, color saturation, and gamut coverage. The shell is also a pro. For five dollars, it’s well worth the cost for what you get, especially when you consider that this exact shell goes for $10 on its own. The touchscreen OSD menu is also an awesome feature. I

read some comments from people that expected the touch support to be a gimmick, but it is way more useful than you would expect, especially if you are used to the older OSD kits. To be able to get some of the same functionality, you need to solder two other wires on competing kits, and those wires are way more difficult to solder than the main one that we did in this video. I also like the logo customization, as well as having the ability to turn it off completely without any light bleed at night. Finally, I think this

is an affordable mod. For only a few dollars more than a Q5 screen by itself, you get an OLED panel, a new shell, replacement buttons, and new rubber membrane pads. It’s a good deal, especially if you can get a used GBC for cheap where you live. When it comes to icons, there’s really only one that I can say, and it’s not related to the screen, it’s related to the buttons that come with the kit. The DPAD and A & B buttons are not the same size as the original ones. That is going to mean that

the DPAD will bottom out when you press on it, and it will occasionally give you the wrong input when you press it. That’s why you should reuse your original DPAD if you can, or buy a replacement one from another company that has a known good component for sale. That’s the only bad part of this kit. Everything else is exceptional. So, yeah, that’s going to wrap up things on this video for the Game Boy Color AMOLED screen. It is an amazing mod that I think is well worth the asking price. Given that these are using old

Blackberry Q10 replacement screens, who knows how many of them are available on the market, so this is going to be something that you will want to own while it is still available because this is currently the definitive version of the Game Boy Color that is possible with any screen mod. If you enjoyed this video and you want to see another, take a look at my review of the FPGBC. That’s another great handheld for GBC games that also uses the Q5 screen from this video. Happy gaming everyone!

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