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7 Best Handheld Game Console

Handheld game console

Before 1976, you needed a computer or a stationary console to play games. However, that changed in 1976 when Mattel introduced the first handheld game console. Many other companies including Milton Bradley and Coleco later released their proprietary versions of handheld game consoles—but I will not bore you with all those details.

Game Boy was a popular handheld game console (Photo credit: Luis Quintero/Pexels)
Game Boy was a popular handheld game console (Photo credit: Luis Quintero/Pexels)

Eventually, Jerry Lawson, the founder and president of Video-Soft—often called the “father of videogame cartridge” helped to design video game cartridges which launched a new era of gaming. The first generation of handheld video games came with only one game. In other words, they were known as a single-game handheld game system.

What that means is that if you want a new game, you must buy the handheld game device that it came with. That was not convenient at all. With the development of cartridges, gamers were no longer mandated to buy a new handheld game system each time they wanted to play a new game. All they had to do was to purchase a new cartridge containing the game they wanted to play. That was cheaper and more convenient.

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Fast-forward to 2023, the cartridge is obsolete too. Games are not delivered to consoles and some handheld game devices through the cloud. Therefore users of handheld game consoles can easily download or play games over the internet.

However, all handheld game consoles are not created equal. While some are still restricted to playing games from a particular company or publisher, others can play a broad range of games from diverse publishers. While this is exciting, it also creates a unique problem; how to choose handheld game consoles.

In this post, we will talk about what to look out for when choosing the best handheld game system. Keep reading to find out more.

7 of the best handheld game consoles

This list includes the best handheld game consoles for different categories. We believe this will make it easier for our readers to make their choice depending on what tops their priority.

Before we dive right in, it is important to mention that our recommendations contain affiliate links. That means GameBaba Universe may make a teeny bit of commission if you make a purchase through our link. Consider it your love message to us and we will thank you with all the stars in the Milky Way.

However, it is also important to mention that this is not a sponsored post and we have only recommended handheld game devices that we personally tested. Without further chitchats, let’s dive in.

Nintendo Switch OLED – Best for Nintendo fans

Nintendo Switch Oled handheld game console
  • Display: 7-inch OLED (touchscreen)
  • Battery life: Up to 9 hours
  • Storage: 64 GB (Expandable up to 2TB with microSD/SDHC/SDXC cards)
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Connection to the Internet: Yes

Did you know that the recently released Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom sold over 10 million copies in the first three days? Even more interesting is that it was a Switch-exclusive release. The previous installment sold about 30 million copies. That tells you the size of the fanbase of this handheld game console. So, what did Nintendo Switch do differently that has made it the standout handheld game device?

Firstly, it has one of the largest screens in the handheld game console category. Also, it comes with a docking station that allows you to connect the Switch to your television. It has internet access which can come in handy for expanding your game library.

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This handheld game console can be used in three different modes namely the TV mode, the Tabletop Mode, and Handheld Mode. Arguably the most fascinating feature of the Switch is that up to 8 consoles can be linked locally for multiplayer gameplay.

The only shortfall we found with Nintendo Switch is that you will be mostly restricted to playing Nintendo games. Although they have a large library, a time may come when you a change becomes inevitable. Also, it is slightly too big to be carried around with ease.

Steam Deck – Best for triple-A titles

Steam Deck handheld game console
  • Display: 7-inch (touchscreen)
  • Battery life: Up to 4 hours
  • Storage: 64 GB eMMC / 256 GB NVMe SSD/ 512 GB high-speed NVMe SSD
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Connection to the Internet: Yes

Valve’s Steam Deck is arguably one of the most popular handheld game consoles on the market and its popularity is linked to Valve’s large game library. It runs on the proprietary Steam OS which combines with a massive 16 GB RAM to offer gamers the opportunity of playing triple-A titles in the palm of their hands.

Just like Switch, Steam Deck can be projected onto a television for a bigger display that will feel like playing a regular console. The display is clear and the memory is expandable which is good news for gamers with a large collection of games in their catalog. A recent update offered Local Network Game Transfer that made it easier for gamers to transfer games from their PC to Steam Deck without an internet connection.

Arguably the biggest drawbacks to owning a Steam Deck are the huge price and poor battery life. In addition to that, using a Steam Deck can get a little technical with some games requiring special configurations to work seamlessly. This can be a serious pain point for younger users.

RG353V Handheld Game Console – Best handheld game console for game compatibility

RG353V Handheld Game Console
  • Display: 3.5-inch
  • Battery life: Up to 6 hours (3200mAh high-capacity lithium battery)
  • Storage: 32 GB high-speed eMMC 5.1 + 16 GB TF
  • RAM: 2 GB LPDDR4
  • Connection to the Internet: Yes

If what you need is a handheld game device that supports different platforms including PSP, DC, GBA, WSC, NDS, PS1, and much more, this should be an easy pick. It comes with dual OS namely Android 11 and Linux. When you switch to the Android OS, you can do more than just play games. It can become an all-round entertainment system with multiple functions including listening to music and watching TV on the go.

In terms of connectivity, RG353V handheld game console is also packed. It has 5G compatibility, can connect to Wi-Fi, comes with Bluetooth 4.2, supports cloud gaming through Moonlight streaming and the icing is the inclusion of a HDMI port. With this, you can connect your game to a TV or a computer monitor and enjoy a larger display.

When projecting onto a television, connect a controller to the game using Bluetooth. Games can be downloaded and installed on the device. At less than $200, this is definitely a great pick for gamers on a tight budget.

Most of the negative reviews on this product have centered around missing parts and durability. That seems to be an issue with quality control. However, when everything is OK, it is super irresistible.

Logitech G Cloud Handheld Gaming PC – Best for cloud gaming

  • Display: 7-inch FHD (touchscreen)
  • Battery life: Up to 12 hours
  • Storage: 64 GB (expandable to 1TB using a MicroSD card)
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Connection to the Internet: Yes

When it comes to cloud gaming, Logitech G Cloud handheld gaming console is the clear leader. It allows you to play triple-A games using multiple Cloud Gaming Services like Xbox Game Pass and GeForce Now. Users can also enjoy games via Remote Play. Unlike most handheld game devices, Logitech G Cloud is lightweight which means you can play for hours without feeling like you are holding onto a dumbbell.

Another standout feature of this handheld gaming device is the linear haptic feedback offered by the control. Although not the latest, its Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.1 can guarantee uninterrupted connectivity. What caught our attention the most was its massive battery that offers up to 12 hours of gaming. It should be a norm for handheld game devices to have large batteries considering the fact that they are mostly used on the go.

The biggest setback we found with this device is that it needs strong internet (at least 64 Mbps) access to work well when streaming games from Xbox Pass. In the absence of good internet, the gameplay will be buggy. However, it appears the device is still under development. Hopefully, the internet issue would be fixed.

Ayaneo Air OLED – Best portable handheld game console

Ayaneo air
  • Display: 5.5-inch OLED (touchscreen)
  • Battery life: 10,050 mAh battery offer 38Wh of usage
  • Storage: 512 GB M.2SSD
  • RAM: 16 GB LPDDR4x 4266
  • Connection to the Internet: Yes

Powered by 6 cores 12 Threads AMD Ryzen 5 processor, this Windows handheld game console silenced a lot of critics when it was released. The gameplay performance is exceptionally smooth across multiple games. Although the OLED screen is not as large as the Steam Deck, it shines with a higher resolution that guarantees 60 frames in most games.

In terms of connectivity, gamers are presented with the latest in the industry including Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, and 2x USB-C slots. The audio quality is great too but you can switch to wired or wireless headphones when you are playing in a noisy environment, thanks to its 3.5mm audio interface. The controls and joysticks are tactile and easy to change.

Due to its lightweight and compact design, you can tuck Ayaneo Air into your pocket, just like any other smartphone. It adds fancy RGB lights around the joysticks which can be customized in different ways. What would likely be the biggest setback for those planning to get this device is the mammoth price tag and the poor battery life.

Cintwor RG552 handheld Game Console – Best budget for Android games

Cintwor RG552
  • Display: 5.36-inch OCA (touchscreen)
  • Battery life: Up to 6 hours (2x3200mAh Li-ion battery, 24Wh power)
  • Storage: 64 GB eMMC (expandable using TF card)
  • RAM: 4 GB LPDDR4
  • Connection to the Internet: Yes

Real gamers know that playing Android games on mobile phones is the least convenient. If you are thinking of getting a dedicated Android handheld game console for playing your games, Cintwor RG552 will make a great choice. At less than $200, it is fairly affordable and you will get both Android and Linux OS.

Interestingly, it can be used for more than just gaming because it is also compatible with popular Android apps like YouTube, TikTok, and so on. Although it comes with 64 GB of storage, it can be expanded with a TF card. Besides the console, another thing that caught our attention is the 12-month after-sale support.

The area where we had an issue with this device was durability. Things may start to fall apart one after another. However, the speed at which that will happen will depend on how well you use the device. If you ever run out of juice you will be glad that it supports 30W fast charging.

Backbone One – Best mobile game controller for iPhone

Backbone One

We were inspired to write this post because most of the other handheld gaming console lists we came across included iPhones which we think is misleading. Reducing a smartphone like Apple to a handheld game console is demeaning because it is definitely more. Instead, for those that already have an iPhone they want to use for gaming, we recommend using it with Backbone One.

Backbone One connects to iPhones through the Lightning port and turns your smartphone into a gaming console. It is compatible with the latest iPhones including the 14 series, 13 Pro, and 13 Pro Max models. The Backbone app doubles as a hub for games and has interesting features like screen record and connecting with friends. It can also be integrated with the PS Remote Play app because it was built with PlayStation.

Backbone One also makes game streaming from different cloud gaming services possible. However, you will need to pay monthly to use the app and that fee can accumulate and become really expensive over time. It is important to also mention that to use the PS Remote Play, you need a solid internet connection. Without that, you will get a terrible experience.

How to choose the best handheld gaming PC

Whether you choose to call them handheld gaming consoles or handheld gaming PC, their purpose remains the same. Handheld game systems were created to make it easier for gamers to take their favorite games with them wherever they go.

When it comes to choosing the best handheld game consoles, it goes beyond just aesthetics. You need to consider the types of games you play and how you want to use the handheld game console. Get it right and your joy will be akin to a teenage boy that just got his first kiss.

Considering the fact that handheld game systems are usually pricey, getting it wrong is a No—No. Below are the critical factors that you must consider when shopping for a handheld game console.

Game Libraries

This is arguably the most important factor to consider when shopping for a handheld game console if you are a diehard gamer that loves to stay with the trend. Why is that so? With some handheld game systems, you are just stuck with the preloaded games that came with the console.

Peradventure you discover that your favorite title is not among the preloaded games and there is no way to add it after making the purchase, you are bummed for life.

Others, on the other, have access to the internet and would either allow you to download and install games or play remotely using cloud gaming services. It is vital to double-check the console to make sure that it is compatible with your favorite game genre before making the purchase.


While all the devices on this list are called handheld game consoles, some are more convenient to carry around than others for reasons bordering on size and fragility. Some handheld gaming PCs come with a carrying case to make them safely portable, others don’t. So, depending on how you plan to use your handheld game console, this is something that requires your attention.

Battery life

If you have found a companion in a handheld game console during road trips or flights, you need to pay attention to the battery life of handheld game systems when next you go shopping so that you don’t feel like someone whose lover slept off during a romantic chat.

Screen size/resolution

The screen size of handheld game consoles can be as small as 3.5 inches or as large as 7 inches. Also, the resolution can be as low as HD or as high as FHD. Depending on the type of game you play, the size and the resolution of the screen can hugely impact your experience. This is particularly true for triple-A games.


ROM is the same thing as internal storage. The size of your storage will determine the number of games your handheld device can hold at once. Once you exceed your storage limit, you may have to delete some games to make room for new ones—and that can be pretty annoying.

Some handheld game consoles have expandable storage while others do not. It is always safer to go for those with expandable storage if you have a large game catalog.

RAM on the other hand determines how fast your handheld game console will be. The larger the RAM, the less likely you will experience lags during gameplay. This is specifically important if you plan to purchase a smartphone for gaming purposes. For triple-A gaming, go for consoles with up to 16 GB of RAM


No matter how much you love a handheld game console, if you can’t afford it, you can never have it. As much as we hate to admit it, price will remain a crucial factor when making a purchase—regardless of whatever that may be. We believe it is totally irresponsible to blow your entire saving just to make a purchase because there will always be a cheaper alternative.

Before you go

With the world fast-tracking towards cloud gaming, owning a handheld game console is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Although consoles will continue to be around for a long while—albeit they will continue to morph as we have seen with cartridges—handheld game systems have a huge role to play, especially among those that have made gaming their hobby.

As we mentioned earlier, handheld game consoles are built differently and mostly to satiate different audiences. Knowing the type of gaming console you need can boost the experience you will get out of them. That is why you need to refer to the “How to choose” section of this post frequently.

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