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Comprehensive Review For Handheld Gaming Consoles of 2023

Gaming Blogs | Author: Mazen "Mithrie" Turkmani Posted: Dec 08, 2023 Next Previous

Handheld gaming is experiencing a renaissance in 2023, with an incredible array of devices available to suit every taste, budget, and gaming preference. From powerful portable gaming PCs to quirky niche devices, there’s never been a better time to dive into the world of the best handheld gaming console. Let’s explore the best handheld gaming consoles on the market, offering versatile gaming experiences, extensive game libraries, and retro gaming capabilities.

Key Takeaways



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Navigating the Handheld Gaming Console Market

Person holding a Nintendo Switch, showcasing the console's design and portability

The handheld gaming console market has evolved significantly from the days of the original Game Boy. Today, there are a variety of options offering powerful portable gaming experiences, mobile handhelds, and devices tailored to different gaming preferences. Before purchasing a handheld gaming console, considering one’s own gaming habits can help find the best fit. With expert opinion and extensive gaming experience, we have selected the best handheld gaming and handheld game consoles based on specific criteria.


The most popular handheld console, the Nintendo Switch, has surpassed the popularity of previous consoles like the Nintendo DS. Potential future upgrades for the Nintendo Switch could include 4K gaming, upgraded controllers, and the ability to play PC games through cloud streaming services. Meanwhile, other devices like Valve’s Steam Deck and Analogue Pocket offer unique gaming experiences for different player preferences.


This comprehensive guide will shed light on the top handheld gaming consoles in 2023, such as the Nintendo Switch OLED Model, Valve Steam Deck, and Analogue Pocket. Additionally, we will touch upon budget-friendly options, Android devices, unique handheld gaming devices, and Windows-based alternatives. Brace yourselves as we embark on a journey to find the perfect handheld console that matches your gaming style.

Top Picks for Handheld Gaming Consoles in 2023

Comparison of Nintendo Switch OLED, Valve Steam Deck, and Analogue Pocket in use

Image from Nintendo Life.


In 2023, the best handheld gaming consoles on the market, including gaming handheld devices, are the Nintendo Switch OLED Model, Valve Steam Deck, and Analogue Pocket. These devices offer a mix of versatile gaming experiences, extensive game libraries, and retro gaming capabilities.


The Nintendo Switch OLED Model boasts an improved display, offers versatile gaming options, and houses a vast library of games catering to both casual and hardcore gamers.


Contrarily, the Valve Steam Deck furnishes a portable PC gaming experience, granting access to the entire Steam library, and features impressive power and a desktop mode.


Last but not least, the Analogue Pocket, a premium device, is perfect for playing classic Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance games. It features a stunning display and includes various fun extras.

Nintendo Switch OLED Model

Close-up view of the Nintendo Switch OLED Model

The Nintendo Switch OLED Model is an upgraded version of the original Switch, boasting the following features:


This handheld-only console features integrated controls, instead of detachable Joy-Cons, and offers a vast library of games through the Nintendo eShop. However, it doesn’t support Game Boy Advance cartridges.


Despite some drawbacks like reduced battery capacity and lack of TV connectivity, the Nintendo Switch OLED Model provides an ideal gaming experience for both casual and hardcore gamers. Its portability, light weight, and versatile gaming capabilities make it one of the top handheld games consoles in 2023.


Measuring 9.4 x 4.0 x 0.6 inches and weighing 14.1 ounces, the Nintendo Switch OLED Model boasts a battery life of up to 9 hours. With access to the Nintendo eShop, it stands as a compelling option for handheld gaming.

Valve Steam Deck

Valve Steam Deck in hand, highlighting its screen and controls

Designed for on-the-go gaming, the Valve Steam Deck is a handheld PC gaming device. Its powerful hardware allows it to run certain titles like Elden Ring, Final Fantasy VII Remake, and the Resident Evil 4 remake, which are not compatible with the Nintendo Switch or other handheld consoles.


However, the Steam Deck has its drawbacks, including a considerable weight and a battery life that is not optimal, making it less portable than other handheld gaming devices like the Miyoo Mini+. Nevertheless, the Valve Steam Deck provides a dedicated handheld gaming experience with dimensions of 11.7 x 4.6 x 1.9 inches, a weight of 23.5 ounces, a battery life of 4 hours, and access to the Steam Game Store.


Overall, the Valve Steam Deck is an excellent choice for gamers looking for a portable PC gaming experience with access to an extensive library of games, despite its weight and battery life limitations.

Analogue Pocket

Analogue Pocket, a modern handheld console designed for classic gaming

The Analogue Pocket is a handheld console designed to play classic games from various systems, including:


The device features a cartridge slot that allows you to play games, including retro games, from these systems, providing a nostalgic gaming experience.


The Pocket uses FPGA motherboards to accurately replicate its target systems on a hardware level, resulting in a near-perfect emulation of older titles with a level of responsiveness and visual accuracy that software-based emulation and mobile gamepads like the Backbone One can’t match.


With a screen that offers 10 times the resolution of the original Game Boy, the Analogue Pocket provides a premium experience for playing classic games, rivaling the resolution of some of today’s other handheld gaming devices like the Ayaneo 2S.

Best Budget-Friendly Handheld Gaming Options

Logitech G Cloud Gaming Handheld, an affordable option in portable gaming

Budget-conscious gamers can consider affordable alternatives for handheld gaming, such as the Anbernic RG405M and Retroid Pocket 3+. The Anbernic RG405M is a cost-effective handheld gaming device that offers great value for money. The Retroid Pocket 3+, on the other hand, is an Android device capable of emulating older games and providing cloud streaming of modern games, similar to the Logitech G Cloud.


Both of these budget-friendly options allow gamers to enjoy a portable gaming experience without breaking the bank. While they may not offer the same power or versatility as more expensive devices like the Nintendo Switch or Valve Steam Deck, they provide a satisfying gaming experience for those looking to emulate older games and enjoy gaming on the go.

Android Handheld Gaming Choices

AYN Odin, an Android-based handheld gaming console with a sleek design

Devices like the AYN Odin and Logitech G Cloud are powerful Android handheld gaming devices. They boast powerful emulation performance, customizable controls, and cloud streaming capabilities, offering a versatile gaming experience. The AYN Odin boasts a larger display, increased processing power for game emulation, customizable back buttons and analog triggers, and a superior build quality compared to the Retroid Pocket 3+.


The Logitech G Cloud, on the other hand, is capable of emulating Dreamcast and PSP games and provides an estimated battery life of 10 to 12 hours. With a price range of $150 to $200, the Logitech G Cloud is a viable and affordable option for gamers seeking a versatile Android handheld gaming device.

Unique Handheld Gaming Devices

Miyoo Mini Plus, showcasing its compact design and gaming features

Gamers seeking a unique experience can consider handheld gaming devices like the Playdate and Miyoo Mini+. They feature compact designs, quirky attributes, and libraries filled with indie games. The Playdate, a small, yellow box with a 2.7-inch monochrome display, two face buttons, a d-pad, and a physical crank integrated into its side, is a niche gaming device that offers a unique gaming experience.


The Miyoo Mini+, on the other hand, is capable of emulating retro consoles up to the PlayStation 1 and boasts a compact design and extensive library of indie games. These unique devices cater to niche gaming interests and provide a fresh, alternative approach to handheld gaming.

Windows-Based Handheld Gaming Alternatives

ASUS ROG Ally, a powerful Windows-based handheld gaming device

Windows-based handheld gaming alternatives like ASUS ROG Ally and Ayaneo 2S provide better processing power, compatibility with multiple launchers, and superior displays compared to other handheld consoles. The ASUS ROG Ally features a 120Hz display, an advanced AMD APU based on the Zen 4 architecture, official Xbox support, and the capability to run any Windows-compatible game.


The Ayaneo 2S, on the other hand, offers a 7-inch 1200p display with enhanced brightness and sharpness, a larger battery capacity, and additional configuration options compared to the Asus ROG Ally.


These Windows-based handheld gaming devices provide a top-notch gaming experience for gamers who want the power and versatility of a handheld gaming pc in a portable form.

Handheld Gaming for Kids

Person engaged in gaming on a Nintendo Switch, a popular handheld device suitable for all ages

When it comes to handheld gaming for kids, the Nintendo Switch is the best option, offering a wide range of family-friendly games and robust parental control settings. Titles like Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury and Yoshi’s Crafted World are perfect for younger players, and the parental control settings on the Switch allow parents to monitor and restrict their child’s play activity based on age categories.


The Switch also has a wide range of online features, including the ability to play with friends

Enhancing Your Handheld Gaming Experience

Gamer using Backbone One, a mobile gaming controller, attached to a smartphone

To further enhance your handheld gaming experience, consider investing in accessories like the Backbone One mobile gamepad, which connects to smartphones and provides modern gameplay inputs. With intuitive controls, clickable thumbsticks, and zero latency, the Backbone One is compatible with all iPhones with a Lightning port, allowing users to crossplay console games or mobile titles on their phone.


This provides a seamless gaming experience with improved control and responsiveness.

Handheld Console vs. Gaming Smartphone

ASUS ROG Phone 5 displayed, showcasing its gaming-centric design and features

When weighing between a handheld console and a gaming smartphone, one should take into account factors such as the game library, versatility, and portability. Gaming smartphones like the ROG Phone 5 offer a versatile experience, with access to a wide assortment of games, including mobile titles and console games through cloud streaming services.


However, handheld consoles like the Nintendo Switch provide a dedicated gaming platform with larger screens, superior graphics, and dedicated game controllers.


Ultimately, the choice between a handheld console and a gaming smartphone depends on individual preferences and gaming habits. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, but with the wide range of devices available in 2023, there is a perfect gaming solution for everyone.

Summary

Valve Steam Deck OLED version, highlighting its vibrant display and ergonomic design

In conclusion, the handheld gaming landscape in 2023 offers a diverse array of options, catering to different gaming preferences, budgets, and needs. From the versatile Nintendo Switch OLED Model to the powerful Valve Steam Deck and the nostalgic Analogue Pocket, there is a handheld gaming console for everyone. With budget-friendly options, Android devices, unique gaming experiences, and Windows-based alternatives, the world of handheld gaming has never been more exciting. It’s time to dive in and discover your perfect portable gaming companion.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best handheld gaming consoles available in 2023?

In 2023, the top handheld gaming consoles include the Nintendo Switch OLED Model, Valve Steam Deck, and Analogue Pocket, offering a blend of versatile gaming experiences, extensive game libraries, and retro gaming capabilities.

What makes the Nintendo Switch OLED Model stand out among handheld gaming consoles?

The Nintendo Switch OLED Model features a larger and more vibrant OLED screen, increased internal storage, an expanded kickstand, louder speakers, and a vast library of games, catering to both casual and hardcore gamers.

Can the Valve Steam Deck play PC games?

Yes, the Valve Steam Deck is designed for portable PC gaming and provides access to the entire Steam library, allowing it to run PC games like Elden Ring, Final Fantasy VII Remake, and Resident Evil 4 remake.

What is unique about the Analogue Pocket?

The Analogue Pocket is a premium device designed for classic games from systems like Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance. It uses FPGA motherboards for accurate emulation and features a high-resolution screen.

Are there budget-friendly handheld gaming options available in 2023?

Yes, budget-conscious gamers can opt for devices like the Anbernic RG405M and Retroid Pocket 3+, which offer portable gaming experiences at a lower cost.

What are the features of Android handheld gaming devices in 2023?

Android handheld gaming devices like the AYN Odin and Logitech G Cloud boast powerful emulation performance, customizable controls, cloud streaming capabilities, and are capable of emulating Dreamcast and PSP games.

What are some unique handheld gaming devices available?

Unique handheld gaming devices include the Playdate with its physical crank and monochrome display, and the Miyoo Mini+, which emulates retro consoles up to the PlayStation 1.

What advantages do Windows-based handheld gaming devices offer?

Windows-based devices like ASUS ROG Ally and Ayaneo 2S offer better processing power, compatibility with multiple game launchers, superior displays, and the ability to run any Windows-compatible game.

Which handheld gaming console is best for kids?

The Nintendo Switch is ideal for kids, offering a wide range of family-friendly games and robust parental control settings.

How does the Backbone One mobile gamepad enhance handheld gaming?

The Backbone One mobile gamepad connects to smartphones and provides modern gameplay inputs like intuitive controls and clickable thumbsticks, enhancing the gaming experience with improved control and responsiveness.

What are the key differences between the Nintendo Switch OLED Model and the original Nintendo Switch?

The Nintendo Switch OLED Model offers a larger OLED screen, improved audio, a more robust kickstand, and increased internal storage compared to the original Nintendo Switch.

How does the Valve Steam Deck compare to traditional gaming consoles?

The Valve Steam Deck is a portable PC gaming device, offering access to the Steam library and the ability to play high-end PC games, which sets it apart from traditional gaming consoles focused on specific game libraries.

Is the Analogue Pocket compatible with cartridges from older gaming systems?

Yes, the Analogue Pocket is compatible with cartridges from the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance, and can also play games from other systems like Sega Game Gear, TurboGrafx-16, and Atari Lynx with optional adapters.

What makes the Anbernic RG405M a good budget-friendly gaming option?

The Anbernic RG405M is valued for its cost-effectiveness, offering a satisfying gaming experience and the ability to emulate older games at an affordable price.

How do Android devices like the AYN Odin enhance the handheld gaming experience?

Android devices like the AYN Odin offer powerful emulation, customizable controls, and cloud streaming capabilities, making them versatile options for playing a wide range of games including console and mobile titles.

What are the standout features of the Playdate handheld gaming device?

The Playdate is known for its unique design, featuring a small, yellow body, a monochrome display, and a distinctive physical crank that offers a novel approach to gameplay.

How do Windows-based handheld gaming devices like the ASUS ROG Ally cater to gamers?

Windows-based devices such as the ASUS ROG Ally cater to gamers by offering advanced processing power, high-refresh-rate displays, and compatibility with a broad range of PC games, making them versatile for different gaming styles.

What are the parental control options available on the Nintendo Switch for kids?

The Nintendo Switch offers robust parental control settings that allow parents to monitor and restrict their child’s play activity based on age categories, manage online features, and set play-time limits.

Useful Links

Resident Evil 4 Remake Hits iPhone: Launch Date Revealed
Top Steam Games of 2023: A Detailed List to the Year's Best
Top Gaming PC Builds: Mastering the Hardware Game in 2024

Author Details

Photo of Mazen 'Mithrie' Turkmani

Mazen "Mithrie" Turkmani

I have been creating gaming content since August 2013, and went full-time in 2018. Since then, I have published hundreds of gaming news videos and articles. I have had a passion for gaming for more than 30 years!

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