Top 10 Best Handheld Devices for Gaming in 2023
Best Handheld Devices for Gaming
Gaming has not only become one of the most popular hobbies but the number of people opting for gaming as a profession is also increasing. This means its popularity is on the rise. Another important fact about gaming is that it is no longer just for kids. A report about gamers in the US shows that 76% of kids engage in gaming on daily basis, whereas a surprising 67% of adults also play games regularly.
As perceived conventionally, gaming is not only confined to PC or consoles, but about 57% of the gamers in the US use smartphones for gaming, as seen in the report of ESA.
In this fast-pacing world, it is expected that people are more drawn toward compact and portable gaming devices as they are more accessible comparatively. The PC and video gaming systems require a proper setup and connection which means you can’t carry them everywhere and can’t use them while traveling, however, handheld devices have this advantage.
This makes them very popular but before diving into the best handheld devices for gaming, let’s briefly understand handheld gaming devices.
What are Handheld Gaming Systems?
The handheld gaming devices are the ones that can keep you entertained anywhere at your convenience. Normal gaming systems like the PS5 or PC are inconvenient to be taken anywhere, as they require to be plugged into some stable source of electricity.
Handheld Gaming Systems are devices that allow you to play video games on the go. They come with a good battery life allowing you to enjoy gaming without any interruption. They also don’t require a constant internet connection which means you can use them on your road or air trips. They are compact and lightweight which means you can easily fit them in your backpack and carry them without any trouble.
These devices don’t require any connection with a TV or a power source. They are rechargeable. The most popular of handheld gaming devices are smartphones as well as the most profitable ones. After testing a number of products, we have hand-picked the best handheld devices for gaming.
Best Handheld Devices for Gaming-At a Glance
- Apple iPad Air – Best Handheld Wi-Fi Gaming Device
- GPD MicroPC – Best Handheld Laptop for Gaming
- Nintendo Switch – OLED Model – Best OLED Handheld Gaming Device
- Nintendo Switch Lite – Best Lite Handheld Gaming Device
- Retroid Pocket 2 Plus – Best Android Handheld Gaming Device
- HAIHUANG RG351V Handheld Game Console – Best Portable Handheld Gaming Device
- Backbone One – Best Mobile Handheld Gaming Device
- Fire HD 8 Tablet – Best Portable Entertainment Gaming Device
- Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda – Best Zelda Handheld Gaming Device
- Nintendo Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. – Best Mario Handheld Gaming Device
Apple iPad Air – Best Handheld Wi-Fi Gaming Device
DIMENSIONS: 9.74 x 7.02 x 0.24 inches, WEIGHT: 1.02 pounds, DISPLAY SIZE: 10.9 inches, RESOLUTION: 2360 x 1640 pixels, REFLECTIVITY: 1.8%, CAMERA: 12 MP, VIDEO RESOLUTION: 4K, BATTERY: 28.6-watt, OS: iOS 7 – iOS 12.5.5, CPU: Dual Core 1.3 GHz, BLUETOOTH: V4.0.
Apple’s iPad Air has topped the list of the best handheld gaming devices due to a number of reasons.
Handheld gaming devices were revolutionized with the launch of iPads and tablets. They come with large color display, good battery life, and touch screen and most of all are portable and convenient to be carried around.
People tend to be quite considerate about the design of their gaming devices. This is because this is the device they will be using on their trips or whenever they are outside their house for gaming. The iPad Air features a very sophisticated design with a 10.9” display, which provides the perfect touch screen space for consumers to enjoy their games.
The best handheld Wi-Fi gaming device is not only stylish but also lightweight.
This model of iPad Air is about 60% faster than the older model. This makes it very responsive to the taps and strokes in the intense gaming environment. It comes with the App store that allows you to download the best gaming apps without any inconvenience.
It features the M1 chip which allows it to run the graphic-intense games smoothly.
Why is iPad Air at the top of the list?
The most popular type of handheld gaming device is no doubt the smartphone but the best one is the iPad Air. Its bigger size and ease of use are the main reasons for this. It provides a smooth and more satisfying gaming experience as compared to other handheld devices. It also allows you to play most of the games you would find in conventional gaming devices such as Call of Duty, etc.
When I ordered the iPad Air, I was very excited for its arrival. I love gaming but don’t have the time to stay indoors all the time. I wanted something that was compact, light-weight, has a good battery life, and allowed me to play the latest games without any inconvenience. I was very pleased with the performance of the iPad Air, however, if you like the essence of physical buttons for gaming, I wouldn’t recommend this device.
- 9” Display Screen
- Excellent Performance
- Lightweight and Portable
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- USB-C charging
- Battery life can be improved
- Costly Magic Keyboard
iPad Air is perfect for casual and day-to-day gaming. It is perfect not only for young people but as well as for older people who enjoy gaming regularly. If you are on a budget and enjoy gaming using keyboards, this might not be the perfect fit for you as the keyboard compatible with iPad Air is a bit costly.
GPD MicroPC – Best Handheld Laptop for Gaming
DIMENSIONS: 153*113*23.5mm, WEIGHT: 0.440 kg, CPU: Intel N4100 processor, RAM+ROM: 8GB LPDDR4, 128GB SSD, OS: Windows 10, DISPLAY: 6 inches, RESOLUTION: 1280*720, BATTERY CAPACITY: 2*3100mAh, PROCESSOR BASE: 1.10 GHz, MAX TURBO FREQUENCY: 2.40 GHz
GPD MicroPC is like carrying a compact-sized PC with you. As the name defines, this is a MicroPC and it hasn’t been specifically designed for gaming but due to its decent processors, it is a good choice for handheld gaming.
This mini-computer comes with a 6 inches display and a weight of 440 grams only. It has some exceptional features that would make any gamer opt for this mini-PC for gaming. It comes with an Intel N4120 processor. The best handheld laptop for gaming also features a coprocessor which is the Intel UHD graphics 600 coprocessor. It boasts a RAM of 8 GBs.
Due to its superior design, it is one of the best options for gamers. It doesn’t lag a lot while gaming and has a good speed which is perfect for gaming. It also comes with a keyboard, which provides the perfect gaming experience as well.
GPD MicroPC proved to be a very good buy for me. I wanted something that had a decent battery life so that I can easily take it on my trips and this device surely allowed me to keep myself busy with gaming. It has a pretty good resolution and I was also surprised that there was no lagging while playing games continuously as well.
- Wide Variety of Ports
- Mouse Buttons
- Backlit Keyboard
- Decent Battery Life
- No Touch Screen
The best handheld laptop for gaming is surely a good choice for people that want to enjoy portable gaming while having the feel of regular gaming systems. GPD MicroPC has a very appealing backlit keyboard and a very decent battery life as well. However, the only drawback is that it lacks a touch screen which is more appealing nowadays.
Nintendo Switch–OLED Model – Best OLED Handheld Gaming Device
DIMENSIONS: 4 x 9.5 x 0.55 inches, WEIGHT: 0.71 lbs., DISPLAY: 6 inches, RESOLUTION: 1280 x 720, STORAGE: 64 GB, BLUETOOTH: V 4.1, BATTERY: 4310 mAh, BATTERY LIFE: 4.5-9 hours, CHARGING TIME: 3 hours
Nintendo Switch – OLED Model is one of the best handheld devices for gaming. It isn’t much of an upgrade of the previously present Switch models but surely has some features that allow it to stand out amongst them. It is a hybrid model and comes with OLED which is better than normal LED displays. If you are looking for a handheld gaming device, then this is another good option for you.
The design of the best OLED handheld gaming device is quite appealing. It has a 6 inches touch screen display and features control buttons on both sides of the screen. The OLED design does have some drawbacks. It comes with improved speakers and a built-in port for ethernet. The gaming device doesn’t support SSD storage or 4K, which is a bit undesirable.
The Switch comes with a pair of Joy-Cons which are wireless controllers which allow the possibility of setting different configurations. The controller comes with Joy-Con straps as well as a Joy-Con grip.
The Nintendo Switch – OLED model is one of the excellent choices for gaming. It allows you to back up your progress in the cloud if you are playing first-party games or Nintendo games online. The Joy-Cons can be used as two separate controllers letting you game in local co-op or multiplayer mode.
I am a die-hard Nintendo Switch fan and was looking for something with a bigger and better screen. The Nintendo Switch – OLED model proved to be the perfect choice for me.
- Good Build Quality
- Three Play Modes
- Well-Designed Controls
- Hybrid Design
- Low Battery Life
The Nintendo Switch – OLED model is the perfect choice for Mario, Zelda, and Metroid fans. If you are one of the Nintendo Switch lover, this is a good option for you as it comes with a brighter and better screen. It also allows you to play in three different modes, however, the low battery life could be an issue for some users.
Nintendo Switch Lite – Best Lite Handheld Gaming Device
DIMENSIONS: 3.6 x 8.2 x 0.55 inches, WEIGHT: 0.61 lbs., DISPLAY: 5.5 inches, RESOLUTION: 1280 x 720, STORAGE: 32 GB, BLUETOOTH: V 4.1, BATTERY: 3570 mAh, BATTERY LIFE: 3-7 hours, CHARGING TIME: 3 hours
Nintendo Switch Lite is a light and compact gaming console. Its size is about two-thirds of the size of the other Switch models. It comes in several eye-catchy colors including yellow, gray, and turquoise. Unlike the OLED model, its Joy-Cons don’t detach.
The Nintendo Switch Lite comes with a screen size of 5.5 inches. It comes in bright colors and the display of the screen is also very bright. It has a slim and solid design. It features physical controls on both sides of the display screen. These controls in combination with the bright display provide a good gaming experience.
The best lite handheld gaming device comes with a USB-C wall adapter. One of the features that it lacks, is the dock as it doesn’t connect to a TV.
The performance of the Nintendo Switch Lite is very similar to that of the Switch. The major difference is that it has a slightly longer battery life than other models. It has a battery life of about 3 to 7 hours. Its compact size restricts some hardware features; however, it makes gaming much easier. It lacks a dock for TV which might prove to be a disadvantage for some gamers.
I wanted a budget-friendly Nintendo Switch and this proved to be a good option. It allowed me to sync my profile from my Nintendo account as well. I found this handheld device to be very comfortable due to its compact size. One of the things that I loved about the Nintendo Switch Lite is its battery life. It proved to be a perfect companion for my intra-city trips.
- Compact and Lightweight
- Direction pad
- Decent Battery Life
- Nice Design
- Lacks TV mode support
- No vibration
Compact, lightweight, and appealing are the three perfect words to describe the Nintendo Switch Lite. If you are looking for a console having physical control buttons as well as a bright screen, this is one of the most suitable choices for you. However, it doesn’t provide any vibrations which might be a bit disappointing for some users.
Retroid Pocket 2 Plus – Best Android Handheld Gaming Device
DIMENSIONS: 6.02 x 3.19 x 0.79 inches, WEIGHT: 13.2 ounces, WI-FI: 2.4G/5G + BT 5.0, BATTERY CAPACITY: 4000mAh, DISPLAY: 3.5-inch 480p, CPU: 1xA75 @2.0GHz 3xA55 @1.8GHz, GPU: PowerVR GE8300, RAM: 2GB, STORAGE: 32GB
Retroid Pocket 2+ is one of the best budget-friendly handheld gaming devices. It has a vintage look with a great aesthetic. This gaming console is powered by Android. It comes with a number of decent features which allowed it to make this list. It is the latest handheld gaming device that has been launched by Retroid.
The design of the Retroid Pocket 2+ is quite simple. It comes with a small 3.5 inches touch screen display and a number of control buttons on both sides. The best Android handheld gaming device comes with a Unisoc Quad-core Tiger T310 chip to power it and 2 GB RAM. It is powered by Android 9.
Performance and Other Features
The best Android handheld gaming device comes with integrated Wi-Fi which will allow you to upgrade the console to the latest version. The gaming experience might not be as pleasant as that provided by high-end gaming consoles, but it surely provides a decent experience. Some other features of the Retroid Pocket 2+ included an improved D-Pad, raised action buttons, a micro-SD slot, and a micro-HDMI port.
My experience with this was actually quite good. The Retroid Pocket 2+ seemed very promising. It proved to be the perfect and budget-friendly handheld gaming device for lower-end games.
- Raised Physical Controls
- Improved User Interface
- Touch Screen
- Better UI
- The right Slider needs improvement
If you are looking for a budget-friendly handheld console that can be used for playing lower-end games then the Retroid Pocket 2+ is a good option for you. It has a simple user interface and easy-to-use physical controls. This makes it a good option for light gaming.
HAIHUANG RG351V Handheld Game Console – Best Portable Handheld Gaming Device
DIMENSIONS: 6.38 x 4.88 x 1.61 inches, WEIGHT: 13.4 ounces, DISPLAY SIZE: 3.5”, CPU: Quad Core 1.5 GHZ, GPU: Mali-G31 MP2, RAM: 1GB, BATTERY: 3900mAh
The Haihuang RG351V handheld gaming console was made to this list due to its unique feature that allows the user to play classic games from the older consoles. These include NES, SNES, Game Boy, or PS1.
The design of the best portable handheld gaming device is vertical. It features a display of 4:3 and 3.5 inches with a resolution of 640 x 480. This gaming console is quite big compared to other handheld consoles and is heavier as well. The screen takes up about 50% of the body of the device. The size of this device doesn’t make it pocket friendly. The display is bright with great viewing angles. The body is robust and made of reliable material.
The OS of this gaming console is user-friendly; however, it isn’t as simple as downloading an app from the App store and directly running it. It doesn’t require any setup or button mapping when used for the first time. It showcased a pretty decent performance with a good battery life of about 4 to 5 hours.
When I ordered this gaming console, I was expecting a vintage kind of piece and well I received one. I am satisfied with its performance; however, the setup was quite confusing for me and I had to watch several tutorials on YouTube to understand it.
- Robust Build Quality
- Provide up to PS1 Emulation
- Large Display
This is a perfect emulator for old game lovers. This isn’t the most pocket-friendly device as its size is a bit large and is a bit heavy, however, it the large display is very appealing at the same time as well.
Backbone One– Best Mobile Handheld Gaming Device
DIMENSIONS: 3.70 x 10.14 x 1.28 inches, WEIGHT: 4.87 ounces, WIDTH (CONTRACTED): 6.94 inches, SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: iOS 15 or later
Backbone One is not an independent gaming console. It requires to be connected to an iPhone to work. At first look, it seems like another of the mobile gaming controllers, however, a closer evaluation ended in a way better results and experience. It made to this list as it makes mobile gaming more convenient.
The best mobile handheld gaming device is an extendable cradle for an iPhone. It comes with a sliding backplate which is quite rigid to hold the iPhone in place. It comes with a lighting-type connector, to connect to your iPhone. It comes with physical buttons on both sides which are similar to those of Xbox consoles.
The Backbone One comes with a D-pad which is present below the left analog stick. The device doesn’t require Bluetooth to pair with your iPhone or doesn’t require any charging as it is powered by your iPhone itself. It has an auto-recognition feature on your iPhone as well. This adds to the already good experience of gaming from the iPhone.
I was a bit hesitant to order this product as I was afraid of lagging issues, however, when I ordered it, it worked as advertised. I was actually impressed by the gaming experience it provided. The only issue I faced was durability issues. This product isn’t much durable.
- Easy to use
- Comfortable in hands
- Fits differently sized iPhones
- Limited to iPhones only
The Backbone One is a perfect device for people who love to play major mobile gaming apps, as it will be the most suitable device for competitive gaming. However, if you are an Android user, this will not work for you.
Fire HD 8 Tablet – Best Portable Entertainment Gaming Device
DIMENSIONS: 8.0” x 5.4” x 0.4”, WEIGHT: 0.355 kg, DISPLAY: 7”, RESOLUTION: 1024 x 600, STORAGE: 16/32 GB, RAM: 2 GB, BATTERY LIFE: Up to 10 hours, PORTS: USB-2 (2.0), CHARGING TIME: 4 hours, CAMERA: 2 MP
Fire HD 8 Tablet is yet another tablet that made it to this list. The most important feature of this laptop is its price. It is one of the good-performing laptops that comes on a budget with a powerful chipset, and USB-C charging. It is a perfect budget-friendly handheld gaming console.
The best portable entertainment gaming device has a display of 8 inches. It comes with a 2GHz quad-core MediaTek 8168 processor and a battery life of about 12 hours. It also has a microSD expansion slot, a USB-C port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Its display is large which gives a good gaming experience.
This tablet is one of the most budget-friendly handheld gaming devices. Like your smartphones, it allows you to download thousands of gaming applications from Amazon’s storefront. It is a perfect gaming console for long trips as it comes with long battery life.
I wanted to gift a device to my kid that he could use to play games anytime he wished to and without using the TV but my budget was limited. When this tablet caught my attention, I immediately ordered it as it was advertised to be the perfect handheld gaming tablet and fortunately, it proved to be one. The feature that impressed me most, was the battery of this tablet.
- Long Battery Life
- Fast USB-C charging
- Hands-free Alexa Support
- Restrictions of Fire OS
If you are looking for a tablet for gaming that is both budget-friendly and has amazing performance, this is the perfect choice for you. Fire HD 8 has some restrictions of Fire OS, but apart from that, it has a very nice display and a long battery life.
Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda – Best Zelda Handheld Gaming Device
DIMENSIONS: 1.06 x 6.14 x 3.5 inches, WEIGHT: 5.6 ounces, DISPLAY: 2.36 inches, BATTERY: Lithium-ion, PLAYTIME: 8 hours, CHARGING: USB-C, CHARGING TIME: 3.5 hours
This is the perfect gaming device for Zelda lovers. It came long before Game Boy and is another of the fine products from Nintendo. It comes in a vintage design and is solely dedicated to the game “The Legend of Zelda”.
The Game & Watch features a classic 1980s design with a thick body. It has a color display of 2.36 inches. The device is designed just like the Mario Game & Watch, which comes in a golden-colored body. It has control buttons on both sides of the screen which are very comfortable to be used for playing The Legend of Zelda.
The games that can be played on the best Zelda handheld gaming device include The Legend of Zelda, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link, and the classic Game & Watch game Vermin.
My Game & Watch really impressed me. It had great build quality with a really nice feeling D-pad. I was surprised at the battery life of this handheld gaming console. I charged it once completed and was able to use it for about 2 weeks.
- Nostalgic Design
- Color Display
- Perfect for Zelda Fans
- Limited Games
The Legend of Zelda Game & Watch is the perfect device for Nintendo lovers, especially the older ones. It allows the users to get an idea of what the original Game & Watch handheld felt like.
Nintendo Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. – Best Mario Handheld Gaming Device
DIMENSIONS: 112 x 76 x 12.5mm, WEIGHT: 0.068 kg, DISPLAY: 2.36 inches, BATTERY: Lithium-ion, PLAYTIME: 8 hours, CHARGING: USB-C, CHARGING TIME: 3.5 hours
The perfect handheld gaming console for Mario lovers. Nintendo launched this device to celebrate the Super Mario Bros. game. It features a whole 1980s design which gives the vibe of the starting of Nintendo games.
The design of this device is vintage but it has some latest features as well. It comes with a vibrant color display that has a size of 2.36 inches and provides a really good experience to gamers who want to enjoy the legendary Mario anytime they wish to.
The most prominent feature of the best Mario handheld gaming device is that it doesn’t use batteries for power. It is rechargeable and can be charged using the USB-Type C charging cable. The screen automatically turns off when not used for a while. These features make it perfect to be used without a TV or a PC and still enjoy the Mario vibe. It comes with three pre-loaded games.
I am a die-hard Mario fan and have spent my entire childhood playing this game. When Nintendo released this gaming console, I knew I had to get it immediately. My overall experience with this device was pretty great. I loved the fact that despite its vintage design, it had the feature of USB-C cable charging. Although, I wish Nintendo added more vintage games to this device.
- Classic Design
- Bright screen
- USB-C charging
- Decent Battery Life
- Limited Number of games
If you are a Mario fan, this is a good option for you. But when we talk about the best handheld gaming devices, this might not be the best option as it doesn’t have a large variety of games.
Best Handheld Gaming Devices-FAQs
Which handheld game device was the most successful?
If you look at the most selling ones, then the Nintendo DS series was the best-selling handheld gaming soles.
Is the Switch Lite worth it?
Yes, it is one of the highly-ranked handheld gaming devices. It is a compact gaming device that comes with a number of good features, allowing you to have a nice gaming experience remotely.
Is the Nintendo Switch Portable?
Yes, Nintendo Switch is a portable design that allows you to enjoy the same experience as home consoles while being away.
Can I connect Switch Lite to the TV?
No, this device can’t be connected to the TV and is a handheld device only.
Can you play Fortnite on Switch?
Yes, you can play Fortnite on Nintendo Switch without any trouble.
Best Handheld Gaming Devices-Buyer’s Guide
To choose the best handheld gaming device, one must be aware of a number of features. The market is full of handheld gaming devices and it can get tricky to choose the best one, therefore following factors must be kept in mind while deciding on the perfect device for yourself.
Type of Games: This has to be the most obvious point you should consider while looking for a handheld gaming device. The gaming experience from a handheld gaming device definitely depends on the hardware of the console. Some consoles are connectable to your TV as well while others can’t be connected.
Battery Life: Handheld gaming consoles are mainly designed to be used when away from home without requiring a connection to the TV. This means they have their individual battery which must be long enough to get through your trips. A typical gaming console will give you a battery life of about 4 to 5 hours on one complete charge.
Connectivity: Most handheld gaming consoles come with a Wi-Fi connectivity feature, which not only allows you to play games online but also download additional games to your device. However, this feature isn’t offered by all of the devices.
Budget: Everything boils down to your budget. The quality and reliability of the gaming console highly depend on its price. If you are willing to invest a good amount then you will definitely end up with the best in quality and features gaming console.
Best Handheld Gaming Devices-Conclusion
Gaming consoles are one of the best companions for your trips away from home. They allow you to enjoy your favorite games without requiring external connections with the TV or your PC.
All of the devices listed here have their own specialties some provide a touchscreen experience, some feature nostalgic games, some allow you to download the latest games of your choice, some provide a basic gaming experience at a very affordable price, and so on.
- Apple iPad Air – Best Handheld Wi-Fi Gaming Device
- Nintendo Switch – OLED Model – Best OLED Handheld Gaming Device
- Nintendo Switch Lite – Best Lite Handheld Gaming Device
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