The 8 Best Handheld Game Consoles for On-the-Go Gaming

For those times when iPhone games just won't cut it.

handheld gaming console
Nintendo

Most people rely on apps on their smartphones to pass time, but your iPhone or Android wasn't built for gaming. These handheld game consoles are. They have better battery life, actual buttons, and tons of games that can keep you occupied for hours.

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Nintendo Switch Handheld Game Console

from $299.00

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Best Overall

Nintendo's newest gaming console has been nearly impossible to get due to such high demand. The Switch features a unique design, and it offers one of the most versatile gaming experiences. The console is simply a 6.2-inch tablet with small controllers called Joy-Cons that attach to the sides of the screen (or they can be removed to use as wireless controllers).

When you place the Switch in its dock, it automatically switches to allow gaming on the big screen. The Switch offers entertainment in any environment, thanks to its portability. You can even kick back and watch Hulu on it!

More: Must-Have Nintendo Switch Games to Start Playing ASAP

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Nintendo New 2DS XL Portable Game Console

from $129.99

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Best Budget Pick

The Nintendo 2DS XL offers gamers dual large screens, a comfortable-to-hold clamshell design, stereo sound, and a built-in NFC reader for amiibo. It may not play 3D videos and games like the 3DS XL, but it's still compatible with Nintendo 3DS games and software for a cheaper price.

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New Nintendo 3DS XL Portable Game Console

from $195.00

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Best for Die-Hard Nintendo Fans

The newest iteration of Nintendo's portable game console sports updated controls, face-tracking, a brighter screen, a better camera, and improved CPU performance. The new 3DS XL comes in black and red, plus a galaxy pattern.

There also was a limited Metroid-themed "Samus Edition" to mark the release of Metroid: Samus Returns, and another one that looks like the Super NES. Just make sure you purchase an AC adapter with whichever model you choose, because one isn't included.

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Sony PlayStation Vita Handheld Game Console

from $249.00

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Best for Sony Fans and PlayStation 4 Owners

The Sony PlayStation Vita is a great option for PS4 owners because of a nifty feature called Remote Play. The feature lets you stream your favorite PS4 games over an Internet connection to the Vita, so you can play more graphic-intensive games like Uncharted anywhere.

Of course, the Vita has hundreds of games of its own, or you can download and play older PlayStation games, too. Its large 5-inch screen is perfect for watching videos, and the Vita looks and feels more premium than the plastic-clad Nintendo DS line, which looks more like a toy.

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Sega Genesis Ultimate Portable Game Player

$43.97

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Best for a Quick and Affordable Dose of Nostalgia

The Sega Genesis Ultimate Portable Game Player is Sega's nod to its Game Gear console from the '90s. If the gamer in your life was a Sega kid growing up, they'll definitely dig it. The Sega is loaded with all three Golden Axe games, nine Sonic the Hedgehog games, and Mortal Kombat 1-3, among many others, and you can even load more with its built-in SD card slot. The system plugs into your TV for gaming on the big screen, too!

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Nintendo 2DS Portable Game Console

from $127.99

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Best for Kids

The Nintendo 2DS is basically a 3DS without its hinges. It sports a wedge shape instead of the original clamshell design, but it's still comfortable to hold. Its two backlit screens are bright but are left exposed — which, you should note, makes them prone to cracks and scratches. The device plays Nintendo's extensive library of Nintendo DS and 3DS games. However, it doesn't support stereo sound unless you're wearing headphones. This console definitely looks more like a toy than a serious gaming machine, making it a cheap device for kids to play with.

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Razer Phone

$669.99

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Best Gaming Smartphone

If you insist on strictly using your smartphone for gaming, we recommend the Razer Phone — and no, we don't mean the iconic flip phone from Motorola in the early 2000s. This Razer is packed with a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor that's paired with a whopping 8 GB of RAM, a 4,000 mAH battery, and 64 GB of expandable storage. It has a gorgeous 5.7-inch LCD screen, large front-facing stereo speakers that use Dolby Atmos, dual 12 MP cameras on its backside, and an 8 MP selfie shooter. It's perfect for pairing with the SteelSeries Stratus XL wireless controller.

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Apple iPod Touch (6th generation) MP3 Player

from $209.45 (32GB variant)

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Best for Casual Gamers

Apple's latest iPod touch is easily the most entertaining MP3 player available on the market. Sporting the same processor as the iPhone 6, a 4-inch Retina display, an 8 MP camera, and iOS, the device will not only play music and video, but it'll also give users access to the same apps and games available for the iPhone and iPad. However, its lack of buttons makes it a bad choice for serious gamers.