When we talk about gaming, we instantly think of either powerful PCs/laptops or gaming consoles like PlayStation and Xbox. They undoubtedly provide an immersive gaming experience but one thing where they lack is portability. You cannot just take them with you and start playing from anywhere. This is where handheld gaming consoles come into the picture. They are so compact and lightweight that you can carry them around in your backpack or even a trouser with deep enough pockets.
The best part is you do not have to compromise on things like visual graphics or battery life for high performance. They are capable of running games that are beautiful to look at and play from wherever you want, even on your daily public transit commute. This is why we have compiled a list of the best handheld gaming consoles to buy in 2023.
Nintendo is a name that needs no introduction in the gaming community. The Nintendo Switch is the most popular handheld gaming console in the market since its debut five years ago. It sports a 6.2-inch LCD display with touchscreen input. It is available in a single storage option of 32GB.
One unique thing about the Switch is its TV mode. This mode allows you to connect the console to your TV and play video games on the big screen using bundled Joy-Con controllers. As for games, it offers a number of Nintendo titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2, and Animal Crossing New Horizons. The battery life is officially claimed to be between 4.5 hours and 9 hours.
Price: $299.99 via Amazon
Nintendo Switch OLED
It is the same as the standard Switch but with a few upgrades. The biggest one is obviously the OLED panel which is also bigger at 7 inches. It should be your choice if your preferred features include a stunning and vibrant display. This one also gives you double the storage i.e. 64GB.
Price: $349 via Amazon
Nintendo Switch Lite
This is the third model in the Nintendo Switch family and as the name suggests, Lite is all about affordability. It also means this handheld console compromises in a lot of aspects. The first one is that it offers only handheld mode and no TV mode. This means it can run only video games that support handheld mode. There is a smaller 5.5-inch LCD touchscreen display.
It does not come bundled with Joy-Con controllers and they need to be purchased separately. There is 32GB onboard storage and it is claimed to last for about 3 hours to 7 hours on a single charge.
Price: $199 via Amazon
Steam Deck is a handheld gaming console from Valve, owner of the popular digital store for PC games Steam. It lets you play a lot of PC games from your Steam library from anywhere you want. Some of the popular titles it can play are Death Stranding, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and Elden Ring. It even supports side-loading games for playing. The only thing to keep in mind is that not every Steam game will run on the console. You may also find the software experience to be buggy at times.
It has a 7-inch IPS LCD display with 1280 x 800 pixels resolution. It is claimed to offer a battery life of up to 8 hours based on your usage. It is available in 64GB (eMMC), 256GB, and 512GB NVMe SSD storage options.
Price: $399 for 64GB, $529 for 256GB, and $649 for 512GB via Steam Store
Logitech G Cloud
As the name suggests, the Logitech G Cloud is a handheld gaming console that relies solely on cloud game streaming services. It supports Xbox Cloud Gaming via Xbox Game Pass and NVIDIA GeForce Now. You will need to have active subscriptions to these services before you can start playing. There is also Steam Link support if you want to play Steam games.
It comes with a 7-inch Full HD IPS LCD touchscreen display. Under the hood, it has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G processor and 64GB onboard storage. It is claimed to offer at least 12 hours of usage under “normal playing conditions”. There is no SIM card support which means you will need to have a WiFi connection to be able to stream games.
Price: $299 via Amazon
The Analogue Pocket is a handheld gaming device that will take you to the classic Game Boy and Sega game days. It is capable of running over 2,780 Game Boy (GB), Game Boy Color (GBC), and Game Boy Advance (GBA) cartridges. It has cartridge adaptors for supporting games from other systems like Sega Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket Color, and Atari Lynx.
It has a 3.5-inch LCD display with a 1600 x 1440 pixels resolution. You can even play games in the original GB, GBC, and GBA display modes. There is USB Type-C for charging, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and you can get a dock separately if you wish to play those games on TV. It is claimed to last for about 6 to 10 hours on a single charge.
Price: $219.99 via Analogue
The Panic Playdate is a unique different handheld gaming device and nothing like any of the ones we covered so far. It looks like a Gameboy, comes in Yellow color, has a mechanical clank on the side, and sports a black and white display with no backlighting. It does not have any of the popular games but comes with a total of 24 indie-developed games instead. These games are bundled with the device but you get two of them each week for 12 weeks.
The mechanical clank is supported by select titles. It has a Playdate Mirror app that lets you stream your gameplay to a Windows/macOS/Linux PC in real time. The Playdate may not appeal to everyone out there but if does to you, it can be pre-ordered via the official website. It is expected to ship sometime during this year.
Price: $179 via Panic Shop