Are you looking for some exciting gaming experiences that don’t require a full console setup? Handheld gaming consoles provide unique and immersive entertainment on the go. You can easily bring them on a trip, to your office, to the doctor’s waiting room, or enjoy playing them at home. If you’re considering getting into the world of handheld gaming consoles, then look no further.

In the past, handheld consoles had very limited specs and incredibly high power consumption. That’s no longer the problem. Modern ones are built to last and give you hours of entertainment. The gadgets on this list allow you to play modern and retro games, so let’s have some fun.

Table of Contents
    Top 8 Handheld Gaming Consoles image

    1. Nintendo Switch

    Price: $295

    • Great game selection
    • Built-in multiplayer
    • Battery life range: 4.5 to 9 hours
    • A Hybrid system
    • Supports power bank usage
    Nintendo Switch image
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    The Nintendo Switch is one of the most popular handheld consoles out there, and it’s the best Nintendo system. It’s a hybrid gaming console which means you can play it at home with a dock plugged into your TV, or you can take the Switch without the dock, and play it on the go. You’ll need to attach the Joy-Con controllers on the sides of the device to be able to play it outside. But you won’t even have to stop your game. Simply pause it, and continue the same play session elsewhere.

    Nintendo Switch has an extensive game library with amazing titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Animal Crossing New Horizons. But you should know that more demanding games like these will drain the battery faster. Also, you’ll need a paid subscription to the Switch Online Service to back up your games.

    2. Nintendo Switch Lite

    Price: $200

    • Lightweight design
    • Diverse game library
    • Built-in +control pad
    • Comes in various colors
    • Touch screen
    Nintendo Switch Lite image

    Smaller than the regular Nintendo Switch, the Nintendo Switch Lite is designed solely for handheld play sessions. Even though smaller than the full-size model, the Lite version also has full access to the Nintendo game library. Its control scheme is comfortable and the screen is big and colorful. You can play games such as Doom or Assassin’s Creed on the go.

    However, the small size of the Nintendo Switch Lite means a smaller battery. The result is less playtime. It’s also much harder to facilitate multiplayer sessions as there are no Joy-Cons. Another drawback is that you can’t transfer game saves from Nintendo Switch to the Nintendo Switch Lite, so you’ll have to carefully choose which one you want.

    3. Nintendo Switch OLED

    Price: $350

    • 7-Inch OLED screen
    • Wired LAN port
    • 64GB internal storage
    • Adjustable stand
    • Enhanced sound system
    Nintendo Switch OLED image

    The Nintendo Switch OLED model is a handheld console on steroids. It’s not necessarily an upgrade for the original Nintendo Switch, but it’s the best choice if you are just considering which Nintendo to go for. This version of the Switch is not just bigger, but also brighter, which helps you immerse yourself in the games you play.

    If that’s not enough improvement, then you should know that the dock comes with a built-in ethernet port and the OLED model has an improved audio system. However, Nintendo didn’t do much to improve actual game performance. OLED doesn’t come with faster chips, but you can play the same games on all three Switch devices.

    4. Apple iPad Air

    Price: $380

    • Good tablet overall
    • Great battery life
    • Liquid Retina true tone display
    • Up to 256 GB of storage
    • Great sound system
    Apple iPad Air image

    The Air tablet isn’t a dedicated gaming console, but it deserves a serious place on this list. Since the Apple App Store has some of the best mobile games to offer, it’s only logical to pair them with the best tablet on the market, the Apple iPad Air. You can use it to play famous titles such as Minecraft, Hearthstone, or Fortnite, or go for indie choices such as Florence and Threes. Yes, you can play these games on Android tablets too, but you should know that the App Store often gets new titles months before Google Play Store.

    What really sets iPad Air apart is the access to the Apple Arcade. This is a subscription service with which you gain access to over 100 games. Although not all the games are exclusive to the iPad, and you can easily get them on a Switch console or your PC, you’ll never be able to play them on Android.

    5. Valve Steam Deck

    Price: $450

    • 7-Inch screen
    • Lightweight but sturdy
    • Comfortable to hold
    • Upgradable storage space
    • Supports Bluetooth connectivity
    Valve Steam Deck image

    Valve made a handheld console that lets you access your whole Steam game library. You can play all your PC games on this little device, but they’re optimized for the non-Windows platform. Also, you won’t be limited only to the games you bought through Steam. The Steam Deck will allow you to play side-loaded titles too.

    The Valve Steam Deck system constantly receives updates and the new titles are regularly being optimized to work on it. That said, there are some downsides to this console that might turn some gamers away from it. It’s somewhat expensive, the storage you get for the price is extremely limited, and you’ll have to invest in upgrades. Aside from that, the battery life could be better.

    6. Analogue Pocket

    Price: $220

    • Compatible with Game Boy cartridges
    • 360-degree display rotation
    • Great battery life
    • Mappable buttons
    • USB-C charging port
    Analogue Pocket image

    Analogue Pocket is a handheld gaming device for everyone who loves collecting old games. It doesn’t only resemble the old Game Boy, but it runs all of the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance cartridges. You can even play some Sega Game Gear games if you get an adapter such as Atari Lynx or Neo Geo Pocket.

    The Analogue Pocket has a high-resolution LCD screen, but it’s only 3.5 inches. However, if you invest in a separate dock, you can connect this little device to your TV and play high-res games. The most exciting part is that Analogue supports FPGA cores that replicate the classic game hardware.

    Unfortunately, there’s no dedicated store where you can buy games for your Pocket. That’s because this console was designed to run old cartridges. But it’ll allow you to side-load some indie games on a microSD card so you’re not limited to cartridges only.

    7. Game & Watch

    Price: $48

    • A system dedicated to one game
    • Cheap but classic
    • Retro
    • Created by Nintendo
    • 2.5-Inch screen
    Game & Watch image

    Game & Watch is a true blast from the past. It was originally created in the ‘80s, and it was a precursor to the Game Boy. The design is much different because it was inspired by a Japanese Famicom gaming console. The Game & Watch comes with only one game on it and you can’t add more. You can choose between Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda.

    This device perfectly fits into your pocket. It has a small backlit LCD screen and superb controls. The USB-C port lets you charge this device with any charging cable you might have in the house. The gameplay experience and the entertaining sounds are completely retro and very attractive to nostalgia-suffering gamers, but that doesn’t mean newer generations won’t enjoy discovering the magic of old games.

    8. Sony PlayStation Vita

    Price: $250-300

    • Dual analog stick for precise gaming
    • Remote Play lets you play PS4 games
    • Over 900 game titles
    • 5-Inch OLED screen
    • Excellent battery life
    Sony PlayStation Vita image

    It’s important to note that the PlayStation Vita is a retired handheld console, no longer in production. You can still find used models in excellent condition and Amazon sells them renewed. This console came out in 2011 and was a hit back in the day. It still feels like a premium console with all the expensive components Sony used back then.

    After it was abandoned by the big companies, the indie ones continued to support it and make games for it. That’s why there are now over 900 titles available for the PS Vita among which there are PS 1 classics, PlayStation Portable (PSP), and PS mobile games. PlayStation Vita can even run some of the newer hits due to the love it received from indie developers.

    What’s Your Favorite Handheld Gaming Console?

    These are some of the best handheld gaming consoles on the market right now. If you’re looking for a great portable gaming experience, any one of these options would be a good choice. Have you tried any of these handheld gaming consoles? What was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

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