The best handheld gaming consoles enable you to play fantastic games at home or on the go, which may be sufficient. While the best gaming PCs and consoles, such as the PS5 and Xbox Series X, are fantastic at-home companions, they are cumbersome to transport on vacation and hard to play while in travel. It is where handheld gaming consoles come into play: Machines that are somewhat strong yet light enough to fit in a backpack or even a pocket.
Instead, having to choose between low specifications (like the Nintendo Game Boy) and excessive power consumption (like the Sega Game Gear), handheld gaming systems today are unrestricted. The devices in this list are capable of running complex games with stunning visuals. Additionally, you may play for hours at a time because of the long battery life. Whether you are looking to kill time during your journey or keep yourself entertained after you get to your destination, these are the best handheld gaming consoles available.
Which Handheld Gaming Consoles Are the Best?
A few years ago, the handheld gaming industry was dominated by Nintendo and Sony, with devices such as the Nintendo 3DS and the Sony PlayStation Vita vying for dominance. With the Switch, Nintendo has effectively controlled the conventional handheld market.
1. Nintendo Switch
The Nintendo Switch is available in three different models: the Nintendo Switch, the Nintendo Switch OLED, and the Nintendo Switch Lite. The first two are innovative game consoles that can connect to a TV or handheld utilizing; the third is only for handheld use. Fans of Nintendo franchises like The Legend of Zelda and Animal Crossing will be pleased to learn that the game selection on all three systems is identical. Just keep in mind that transferring saving data between the two systems is not exactly seamless, so you will probably want to choose one and stick with it.
In addition to being a full-fledged tablet for entertainment and work, the Apple iPad Air has always been the best gaming device. The Apple App Store has several fantastic games accessible à la carte. However, since the launch of Apple Arcade last year, iOS devices have had access to a wide selection of high-profile titles from both indie and major studios. If you have not tried Apple Arcade yet, some of the games are comparable to those found on a home console and are well worth checking out.
The Asus ROG Phone 5 comes with a nice assortment of Google Play Store games. It is, however, a platform for Google Stadia games, which means you can play big-budget games on a small screen. Just make sure you have a controller.
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2. Nintendo Switch OLED
The Nintendo Switch OLED is not a vital upgrade for existing Switch owners. If you haven't already bought Nintendo's hybrid handheld, the OLED model is the one to get. This Switch model features a seven-inch OLED screen, a sturdy kickstand, improved speakers, and a dock with an Ethernet port built-in. Otherwise, it's identical to the base Switch, an excellent console thanks to its broad game library and clever portable features.
The Switch OLED does have a few flaws, to be sure. The system feels a little dated without SSD storage or 4K support. We may see a more significant upgrade sooner rather than later, four years into the console's life. However, if you want to play the most recent Mario, Metroid, and Zelda games, the Switch OLED is the best way.
3. Nintendo Switch Lite
The Nintendo Switch Lite is around two-thirds the size of the full-size Switch and offers two-thirds of the features we love about it. As with its larger sibling, the Switch Lite offers access to Nintendo's massive library of first- and third-party games, as well as a familiar control scheme and a large, vivid screen. With the Switch Lite, you can enjoy the same high-quality games like the original Switch while saving space in your backpack or handbag.
However, there are certain disadvantages. Due to its smaller size, the Switch Lite's battery life reduces, meaning in less total playtime. Additionally, the Switch Lite lacks removable Joy-Cons, making spontaneous multiplayer sessions considerably more hard to organize. Additionally, you cannot simply transfer saving data between a Switch Lite and a standard Switch, so choose wisely.
4. Apple iPad Air
Given that the Apple iPad Air is one of the best tablets available, it makes the reason that it would also be one of the best handheld gaming consoles. Apple's App Store features some of the best smartphone games available, and it often receives new titles months before Android. Along with perennial favorites such as Fortnite, Hearthstone, and Minecraft, you can play indie darlings like Monument Valley, Florence, and Threes.
What differentiates the iPad from Android tablets, though, is Apple Arcade. For five USD per month, this membership service provides you access to more than 100 games. Certain games are available only via the Apple Arcade service; others are available on the Nintendo Switch or PC, but not on Android devices. Sayonara Wild Hearts was a close second, but What the Golf, Dear Reader, and Lifelike offer unique experiences.
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5. Asus ROG Phone 5
The best handheld gaming console is undoubtedly the one you already own, which is why a specialized gaming phone, such as the Asus ROG Phone 5, is worth considering. As a result, you can enjoy both casual portable games and lengthy sit-down and play sessions on this great (albeit huge) smartphone. (Having a controller helps with the latter.) Asus ROG Phone 5 features everything you want to play, whether it's Crossy Road or Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
Remember that Android phones now have access to several cloud gaming services, including Google Stadia, Nvidia GeForce Now, and Xbox Cloud Gaming. With the ROG Phone 5's large screen and rapid refresh rate, you can play a wide variety of console and PC games from almost anywhere in your home or from any place with a strong enough Wi-Fi connection.
6. New Nintendo 2DS XL
The New Nintendo 2DS XL is an incredible system with two large, vivid displays, a compact design that easily fits in a backpack or pocket, and a massive library of amazing games. On the 2DS family of consoles, The Legend of Zelda, Mario, and Animal Crossing received some of their best handheld iterations. Third-party tiles are also plentiful on the console, including Square Enix, Atlus, and Capcom classics.
If we're being completely candid, the 2DS XL may not be around for long. Nintendo seems to have placed all of its eggs in the Switch basket, making the 2DS XL harder to come by. It will no longer get new games, and it has been terminating officially. However, this is all the more reason to get one immediately, if you haven't already.
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How to Choose the Best Handheld Gaming Console?
The best handheld gaming console for your requirements determines by the environment in which you want to use it. The ROG Phone 5 is the smallest and most adaptable gadget on the list, making it ideal for stowing in your pocket and playing on the go. Because you can connect it to a TV, the Nintendo Switch is perhaps the best choice if you want to divide your gaming time evenly between home and travel.
Price is also a factor. While the iPad Air and ROG phones are much more costly than the specialist gaming handhelds on our list, they also provide more versatility. However, if you currently own one, you may want to explore what games are available before buying a dedicated Nintendo gadget. Similarly, the Switch Lite is less expensive than the full-featured Switch but comes with fewer features.
How to Evaluate Handheld Gaming Consoles?
We lack a consistent approach for testing the best handheld gaming consoles since they combine specialized gaming hardware with adaptable mobile devices. A Nintendo Switch and an Apple iPad Air, for example, serve vastly distinct purposes in the digital sector, making it practically difficult to apples-to-apples comparisons.
Rather than that, we analyze each system's game library and how well it performs to its hardware. But with its groundbreaking second screen and unique controllers, the 2DS XL can play considerably deep and hard games than the ROG Phone 5. A system must merely play amazing games and be compact enough to carry comfortably to win a position on this list.
It's hard not to review a new console by what you want it to be rather than what it is. Nintendo makes great games and used to produce great systems, but they've lost their touch. The Switch might be the ultimate portable Nintendo jukebox, allowing you to play old and new great games anywhere, with anybody, at any time. That sounds incredible. It boasts some of the greatest games ever made, all the Marios, Metroids, and Donkey Kongs. New Zelda and Poké mon games demonstrate that greatness is still to come. But will it be enough? Is it easy to use and reasonably priced? Will enough people leave their games to make it work? Ask a PS Vita owner. But there are hints of a change in the norm here. With its exquisite, portable hybrid design and combination of handheld and local co-op, Nintendo's Switch is the companys' most beautiful console since the SNES. Then, after you're on board, the shady internet services and lack of game plans remain concerns with such a risky investment.
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