Whilst we all love our beefy consoles, our PS-5S, Xbox Series X’s, and (clearly the best) PCs, and we all appreciate the sheer graphical might of a living room or bedroom gaming setup. Though, sometimes, it’s lovely to have the best handheld video game consoles to play your favorite games on the go.
Whether you just want to lay in bed fighting monsters, or if you need some adequate entertainment on a car, train, or plane ride, a handheld video game console is a perfect source of joy and entertainment to satisfying your game-loving heart. There are loads of different options to choose from, and it can be quite tricky to pick which handheld to buy.
That’s why we at TechEngage have compiled this list of the best handheld video game consoles for 2021.
Best handheld video game consoles on Amazon
- 1. Nintendo Switch Lite
- 2. GPD XD Plus [Latest HW & Most Stable Update] Handheld Gaming Console 5″ Touchscreen Android 7.0 Portable Video Game Player
- 3. PlayStation Vita
- 4. Anbernic Portable Gaming Player Console RG351P Handheld Game Console
- 5. Your Smartphone (TechEngage Recommends the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G)
- Nintendo Games
- AAA Games
- Great build quality
- Hard to get hold of
When you think of handheld video gaming consoles, Nintendo is hard to ignore. Ever since the original GameBoy in the early 1990s, Nintendo has been the king of providing fun and games to consumers on the move, and when it comes to their vast game library, their handheld consoles are second to none.
Their latest portable handheld is their best yet, with the Nintendo Switch being unique in delivering a surprisingly effective AAA console experience to your hands, and as far as a handheld system is concerned, the Switch Lite is the best way to do this.
If you’re excited to play Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield, or Animal Crossing: New Horizons takes your fancy, or if you’re just looking for a quality console to take on the go with you, it’s really hard to beat the Switch Lite. Nintendo’s library of quirky and interesting games will leave you entertained for hours, and there are even (albeit with graphical downgrades compared to consoles) AAA games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt to play on the go.
The Nintendo Switch Lite is a small and light Nintendo Switch system at a great value. With a built-in +Control Pad, and a sleek, unibody design, Nintendo Switch Lite is great for on-the-go gaming. If you’re looking for a gaming system all your own, Nintendo Switch Lite is ready to hit the road whenever you are.
Priced at $250, this little handheld monster is great for kids, both little and big (and decidedly adult if you’re a kid inside), and I mean, come on: on what other hardware can you play The Witcher 3 on a train!
2. GPD XD Plus [Latest HW & Most Stable Update] Handheld Gaming Console 5″ Touchscreen Android 7.0 Portable Video Game Player
- Runs Android apps
- Great for emulation
- A little dated
- Clunky UI
Our second pick on this list is an Android 7.0 powered handheld gaming machine from the little-known GPD. The GPD XD Plus is a device small enough to fit in your pocket; it is around the size of your average mobile phone and perfect for playing old games using the physical clamshell controls.
Powered by a Hexa-core MediaTek MT8176, the XD Plus is powerful enough to give good performance in mobile games and emulated retro titles. It includes a 720p IPS panel, perfect enough for an enjoyable gaming experience given the size of this device.
With a battery capacity of 6000mAh, the battery can last up to 10 hours of continuous gameplay, and 120 hours when the screen is off.
As its essentially an Android tablet, the GPD XD Plus has a myriad of social features, including social media apps and video apps.
The XD Plus was originally released in 2012, and so by now, it’s pretty outdated. If you’re looking to emulate older games, this will be absolutely fine. However, this might struggle with newer Android games, and there’s absolutely no chance of playing AAA games at all.
With an average rating of 4.3 stars out of 5, Amazon reviewers love this device. One happy customer writes in their five-star review:
“In the few weeks I’ve owned this thing, I’ve fallen in love with it. I now understand the keymapper button which allows you to bind touch controls to the physical buttons, thus making me far more formidable in PUBG mobile. Most of all, Since Valve released their Steam Link APK and since Moonlight (for Nvidia Game streaming) is a several-years-mature app, I’ve been having a blast playing games (with 1440p resolution on the host machine) from my PC all day today, when at home.
I feel like I really consolidate a lot of my efforts with this device. It has no business playing PC games from my home desktop, over-the-internet, as well as it does.”
- PlayStation Integration, PS Now
- The decent backlog of games
- Abandoned by Sony
- No new releases
The successor to the coveted PSP, the PS Vita, was released in 2012 as Sony’s cutting edge handheld gaming console. Many PlayStation Vita games, such as Final Fantasy X, God of War Collection, and Minecraft, classic games from PS One and PSP systems, and more.
If you have a PS4, you can use the Remote Play feature to detach from your living room setup and play entirely portably around the house. Stream a wide range of your PS4 games on your PS Vita system over a local wi-fi network when away from your PS4 system or TV.
This system supports Sony’s game streaming platform PlayStation Now. Get instant access to a huge collection of more than 700 PS4, PS3, and PS3 games ready to play right in the palm of your hands. Blockbuster hits include Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Crew 2, Injustice 2, and more.
With an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5, despite its age, people really love their PS Vita. One happy customer writes:
“The PlayStation Vita is a system that literally improved on nearly every aspect of the PlayStation Portable System, it’s predecessor. The screen display of the PlayStation Vita System is absolutely gorgeous, the touch screen display is extremely responsive and smooth, and the dual analog sticks feel very natural and right at home to PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 users.
I play the Vita in bed after the kids are down. I also take it on trips but I mostly play it at home. The Vita feels great, looks great, it’s a solid dependable piece of hardware, currently priced attractively at $156. It has an enormous library of games and I prefer it to play on a TV or monitor.”
- Limited functionality
- Really small
This product is perfect if you’re a retro fanboy and looking for a cheap system to play your favorite games from yesteryear on. With a 3.5-inch tempered glass covered IPS display, this is perfect to stick in your pocket and play your favorite GBA or PS1 games.
With a built-in 3500mAh battery, this console can last up to six hours of gameplay on one charge. It perfectly supports games from PSP, PS1, NDS, N64, DC, and more. Simply stick in a TF card and play away to your hearts’ content.
This product feels really well built, the joysticks are Switch joysticks, everything is really tight, and nothing wiggly or loose. The RG351P has stereo speakers on the bottom. The buttons follow a SNES style with Sony-style joystick locations.
One Amazon reviewer writes about this product:
“This is a high-quality system. You can tell by the craftsmanship they put a lot of effort into making this device. Button function as they should and the dual-analog sticks can be pushed in to function as L3 and R3 buttons, great for many games and emulators.
The system came with some preloaded games and a decent charge so I was able to get up in running immediately. Games run really good and I didn’t notice any screen-tearing. Retro Arch is built-in and is the main heart of the emulation, and if you know anything about emulation then you know Retro Arch is king. Comes preloaded with Emulec but you can download other OSs if you want to.”
And finally, a handheld gaming system that isn’t an actual console. Your smartphone. The truth is, in many respects, if you’re not looking for exclusive or AAA console ports, your smartphone is probably your best choice for gaming on the go.
Firstly, both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store have a wide selection of really great mobile games to play. Some of them, yes, I’ll admit, aren’t great, but there are hundreds that are truly great. You’ve got Rollercoaster Tycoon Classic as one of them, and you can even get near PS3 level experiences with games like Call of Duty: Mobile. Touch controls aren’t the best, but with a few accessories like Bluetooth controllers, you can easily improve your experience.
Secondly, one of the biggest revolutions recently in handheld gaming is the advent of game streaming services like Google Stadia. If you’ve got a solid internet connection, what these services do is stream (Netflix style) your gameplay of a powerful remote server to provide you the best PC level performance right on your phone.
However, you like to play your games, before you have a look at a dedicated game console for your hands, try out the device that may already be in your pocket.
The decision to choose the best handheld video game consoles depends on the sheer nature of its use. If you want to play exclusive AAA games with a great build quality anywhere just after pulling the console out of your pocket, Nintendo Switch Lite is the best choice on the list. Whereas if the price is also a consideration and you are ready to compromise on AAA ports, the smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G) is your way to go.
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