The Ultimate Guide to the Best Handheld Gaming Consoles in 2024

Looking for the best handheld gaming console? You've come to the right place! In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the top handheld gaming consoles of 2024, helping you find the perfect portable gaming device to suit your needs. Whether you're a seasoned gamer or just looking to enjoy some gaming on the go, we've got you covered with detailed reviews, buying tips, and expert recommendations.

Handheld gaming has experienced a remarkable resurgence in recent years. With advancements in technology, portable gaming consoles now offer experiences that rival traditional home systems. Whether you’re a casual gamer or a dedicated enthusiast, there’s a handheld console out there for you. This guide will take you through the best options available, providing detailed insights into their features, benefits, and why they stand out in the crowded market.

From the all-encompassing Nintendo Switch OLED to the powerful Steam Deck for PC gamers, we’ve covered every angle. Read on to discover which handheld gaming console is the best fit for your gaming lifestyle, and get ready to take your gaming on the go!

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The Evolution of Handheld Gaming Consoles

Handheld gaming has come a long way since the days of the original Game Boy. Early handheld consoles were limited in terms of graphics, gameplay, and battery life. However, they provided a unique and portable gaming experience that could not be matched by home consoles. The Game Boy, launched by Nintendo in 1989, became a massive success and set the stage for future handheld consoles.

Today’s handheld consoles offer high-resolution screens, powerful processors, and vast game libraries. The Nintendo Switch revolutionized the market in 2017 by combining home and portable gaming into one device. Following its success, many manufacturers have entered the fray, offering a variety of handheld consoles that cater to different types of gamers. From retro-inspired devices to powerful handheld PCs, the options are more diverse and exciting than ever before.

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Top Picks for the Best Handheld Gaming Consoles

Best Overall: Nintendo Switch OLED

Key Features:

  • 7-inch OLED screen
  • Enhanced audio
  • Improved kickstand
  • 64GB storage


  • Vibrant display
  • Great battery life
  • Extensive game library


  • Same internal hardware as the original Switch

Why It Stands Out: The Nintendo Switch OLED offers the best overall experience with its superior display and robust game library. The OLED screen provides rich colors and sharp contrasts, making games look more vibrant and immersive. It's perfect for both casual and hardcore gamers, offering a wide range of titles from family-friendly games to complex RPGs and action-packed adventures. The improved kickstand and enhanced audio further enhance the portable gaming experience, making it a versatile device for gaming at home or on the go.

Best Budget: Nintendo Switch Lite

Key Features:

  • 5.5-inch touchscreen
  • Lightweight design
  • Integrated controls


  • Affordable
  • Portable and compact
  • Plays all Switch games


  • Cannot connect to TV

Why It Stands Out: The Nintendo Switch Lite is ideal for gamers on a budget. Its compact size and affordability make it a great choice for kids and those looking for a secondary console. Despite its lower price, the Switch Lite retains the core functionality of the Nintendo Switch, allowing players to enjoy the same great games in a more portable format. The integrated controls and smaller screen size make it easy to carry around and perfect for gaming on the go.

Best for PC Gamers: Steam Deck

Key Features:

  • 7-inch display
  • Custom AMD APU
  • 16GB RAM
  • Runs SteamOS


  • Excellent build quality
  • Powerful performance
  • Vast Steam library compatibility


  • Larger and heavier than other handhelds

Why It Stands Out: The Steam Deck brings the power of a gaming PC to your hands. It's perfect for gamers who want to take their extensive Steam library on the go. The Steam Deck is equipped with a custom AMD APU, 16GB of RAM, and a 7-inch display, providing a high-performance gaming experience in a portable form factor. It runs SteamOS, allowing seamless access to your Steam library and offering compatibility with a wide range of PC games. Despite its larger size, the Steam Deck is designed to be ergonomic and comfortable for extended gaming sessions.

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Best for Retro Gaming: Super Pocket

Key Features:

  • 2.8-inch IPS display
  • Compact design
  • Preloaded classic games


  • Affordable
  • Supports Evercade cartridges
  • Great for retro enthusiasts


  • Small screen size

Why It Stands Out: The Super Pocket is a fantastic choice for retro gamers. Its affordability and ability to play Evercade cartridges make it a unique and charming handheld console. The Super Pocket is designed to emulate the look and feel of classic handheld consoles, with a compact design and a library of preloaded classic games. The small screen size may not be suitable for everyone, but it adds to the nostalgic charm of the device. Additionally, the support for Evercade cartridges expands the game library, offering a wide range of retro titles to enjoy.

Best for Remote Play: PlayStation Portal

Key Features:

  • 8-inch LCD screen
  • DualSense controller features
  • Remote Play capability


  • Ergonomic design
  • High-quality streaming
  • Excellent haptic feedback


  • Requires constant internet connection

Why It Stands Out: The PlayStation Portal is perfect for PlayStation 5 owners who want to stream their games remotely. Its design and features ensure a seamless gaming experience away from the TV. The PlayStation Portal incorporates the ergonomic design and advanced features of the DualSense controller, including haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, providing a familiar and comfortable gaming experience. The 8-inch LCD screen delivers crisp visuals, and the high-quality streaming capability ensures smooth gameplay. However, it requires a constant internet connection for remote play, which may be a limitation for some users.

What to Look For in a Handheld Gaming Console

Choosing the right handheld gaming console involves considering several factors to ensure you get the best device for your gaming needs. Here are some key aspects to keep in mind:

  • Platform Compatibility: When choosing a handheld gaming console, consider the platform it supports. For instance, the Nintendo Switch offers exclusive Nintendo titles, such as Super Mario, Zelda, and Animal Crossing, that you won’t find on other platforms. The Steam Deck, on the other hand, provides access to a vast Steam library, including popular PC games and indie titles. Understanding which games you want to play and which platforms they are available on is crucial in making the right choice.
  • Display Quality: The quality of the display can significantly impact your gaming experience. Look for consoles with high-resolution screens and vibrant colors. The Nintendo Switch OLED, for example, features a 7-inch OLED screen that provides rich colors and deep contrasts, enhancing the visual experience. High-resolution screens not only make games look better but also reduce eye strain during extended gaming sessions.
  • Battery Life: Battery life varies widely among handheld consoles. If you plan on long gaming sessions, choose a console with extended battery life to avoid frequent recharging. The Nintendo Switch OLED offers a battery life of 4-9 hours, depending on the game being played. In contrast, the Steam Deck's battery life ranges from 1.5 to 8 hours, depending on the game’s graphical demands. Understanding your usage patterns and how often you can charge the device will help you choose the right console.
  • Performance: The processor and RAM determine a console’s performance. For a smooth and responsive gaming experience, opt for consoles with powerful hardware. The Steam Deck, with its custom AMD APU and 16GB of RAM, offers a high-performance gaming experience, capable of running demanding PC games smoothly. Performance is especially important for gamers who play graphically intensive games or require quick response times in competitive titles.


Choosing the best handheld gaming console depends on your gaming preferences and lifestyle. Whether you prioritize display quality, budget, or platform compatibility, there’s a perfect handheld console for you. The Nintendo Switch OLED offers a premium experience with its vibrant display and extensive game library, while the Steam Deck provides a powerful portable solution for PC gamers. For those on a budget, the Nintendo Switch Lite and Super Pocket offer great value and portability. The PlayStation Portal is an excellent choice for PS5 owners looking to stream their games remotely. Explore the options, and elevate your gaming experience with the right handheld device.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Is the Nintendo Switch better in docked or handheld mode?

The Nintendo Switch offers flexibility with both modes. Handheld mode is great for portability, while docked mode provides a home console experience with enhanced graphics and multiplayer options on a larger screen.

Q2. Are handheld games consoles more affordable than home consoles?

Handheld consoles can be more affordable, but prices vary. The Nintendo Switch Lite and Super Pocket are budget-friendly options, while high-end models like the Steam Deck are more expensive but offer greater performance and versatility.

Q3. What’s the best handheld console for kids?

The Nintendo Switch Lite is a great choice for kids due to its durability, compact size, and affordability. Its integrated controls and sturdy build make it ideal for younger gamers who may be prone to dropping their devices.

Q4. Can I play my PC games on a handheld console?

Yes, the Steam Deck allows you to play a wide range of PC games from your Steam library. It provides a powerful and portable solution for PC gamers who want to take their games on the go.

Q5. How often should I charge my handheld gaming console?

This depends on your usage. Consoles with longer battery life, like the Nintendo Switch OLED, may need charging every 4-9 hours of gameplay. Frequent charging is necessary if you play graphically intensive games that drain the battery quickly.

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