The best gaming handhelds

There are more gaming handheld options in Australia than just the Nintendo Switch and Steam Deck.

Best gaming handheld overall
front
Steam Deck
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
From
$705
Display
7/7.4-inch 1280x800 IPS or OLED
Weight
From 639 grams
Storage
64GB, 256GB, 512GB, MicroSD
Best cheap gaming handheld
Evercade EXP
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
From
$190.82
Display
4.3-inch 800x480 IPS screen
Weight
270 grams
Storage
4GB
Best gaming handheld PC
Lenovo Legion Go
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.75
From
$1348
Display
8.8-inch 2560x1440 IPS
Weight
640 grams
Storage
512GB, MicroSD
Best gaming handheld console
Nintendo Switch
4 out of 5 stars
4
From
$329
Display
5.5/6.2/7-inch 1280x720 IPS or OLED
Weight
From 276 grams
Storage
32GB, MicroSD
Best mobile gaming handheld
Razer Edge
3 out of 5 stars
3
From
$889.95
Display
6.8-inch 2880x1080 OLED
Weight
401 grams
Storage
128GB, MicroSD
Nathan Lawrence
Feb 05, 2024
Icon Time To Read6 min read

Gaming handhelds are the new hotness and have been since the launch of the Nintendo Switch. When Valve released the Steam Deck in 2022, competitors have been scrambling even harder to mimic the console-like handheld form factor.

If you’re in the market for a gaming handheld, costs start around $200 for a decent cheap retro handheld but can stretch up to thousands of dollars for a handheld PC. Your budget and practical use cases for gaming handhelds should determine the one that’s right for you, whether you’re looking to take the form factor for a spin or spend some serious hours with one.

Compare the best gaming handhelds

Best for
Gaming handheld
Display
Weight
Storage
Price
View more
Best gaming handheld overall
heroSteam Deck
7/7.4-inch 1280x800 IPS or OLEDFrom 639 grams64GB, 256GB, 512GB, MicroSD
From
$705
Best cheap gaming handheld
heroEvercade EXP
4.3-inch 800x480 IPS screen270 grams4GB
From
$190.82
Best gaming handheld PC
heroLenovo Legion Go
8.8-inch 2560x1440 IPS640 grams512GB, MicroSD
From
$1348
Best gaming handheld console
Nintendo Switch
5.5/6.2/7-inch 1280x720 IPS or OLEDFrom 276 grams32GB, MicroSD
From
$329
Best mobile gaming handheld
Razer Edge
6.8-inch 2880x1080 OLED401 grams128GB, MicroSD
From
$889.95

Steam Deck

Best gaming handheld overall

front
Price
Starts at
$705
Display
7/7.4-inch 1280x800 IPS or OLED
Weight
From 639 grams
Storage
64GB, 256GB, 512GB, MicroSD
pro
Pros
pro Very easy to use
pro Versatile and expandable
pro Tonnes of compatible games
con
Cons
con Unofficially available in Australia
con Slow charging, variable battery life
con Extra versatility costs

Nintendo may’ve started the trend with the Switch but Valve cemented the popularity of the gaming handheld with the Steam Deck. While not officially available in Australia, the Steam Deck is still very purchasable and, if your budget allows it, very worthwhile. SteamOS is incredibly user-friendly, granting straightforward access to an ever-growing library of some of the best Steam games. Battery life varies based on the game—a challenge true of all gaming handheld PCs—but lower-spec titles and less-demanding indie games are a real treat to play. Tweakers will appreciate the Steam Deck’s versatility, from basics like installing non-Steam games through to a Windows MicroSD card installation or emulating beloved older games. Basically, the Steam Deck is handheld gaming at its best.

For alternatives, consider any of the category winners on this page. For handheld gaming PCs, specifically, compare the Steam Deck to the Lenovo Legion Go, Asus ROG Ally and Ayaneo Air Plus.

Evercade EXP

Best cheap gaming handheld

Price
Starts at
$190.82
Display
4.3-inch 800x480 IPS screen
Weight
270 grams
Storage
4GB
pro
Pros
pro Affordable pocket gaming
pro Practical horizontal and vertical modes
pro Great entry price for handheld gaming
con
Cons
con Battery life ain’t flash
con Bluetooth would be nice
con Limited selection of games

The Evercade EXP is a comparatively affordable way to test the gaming handheld waters. For around $200, you can get a taste of the form factor with some great classic games. The Evercade EXP comes with 18 classic Capcom games preinstalled, which includes bangers like Final Fight, Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting and Ghouls ’n’ Ghosts. Sure, the EXP is lacking some of the trappings of its pricier competitors, but it’s lightweight and easy to use, plus it’s built for horizontal and vertical gaming. When you get bored of the preinstalled games, Evercade offers a range of classic game collections on cartridges.

For retro alternatives, consider the Game Boy-like Capcom Super Pocket or unique Playdate.

Lenovo Legion Go

Best gaming handheld PC

Price
Starts at
$1348
Display
8.8-inch 2560x1440 IPS
Weight
640 grams
Storage
512GB, MicroSD
pro
Pros
pro Stunning display
pro Form-factor versatility
pro Competitively priced handheld PC
con
Cons
con Low battery life
con Ergonomics could be better
con First-gen teething pains

The real winner of this category is the Steam Deck, but for a silver medallist worthy of attention, consider the Lenovo Legion Go. Compared to the Steam Deck, the Legion Go is a higher-spec gaming handheld PC. The display is larger with a higher refresh rate, the processor is faster, and Lenovo has taken a leaf out of Nintendo’s Switch playbook with detachable side controllers. Practically speaking, Legion Go owners can play a wider range of games, including more demanding PC titles. As long as you know your way around a PC, you have full access to every digital library care of the Windows 11 operating system, too.

Outside of the aforementioned Steam Deck, also consider the Asus ROG Ally, any of Ayaneo’s handhelds or the OneXPlayer range.

Nintendo Switch

Best gaming handheld console

Price
Starts at
$329
Display
5.5/6.2/7-inch 1280x720 IPS or OLED
Weight
From 276 grams
Storage
32GB, MicroSD
pro
Pros
pro Multiple models available
pro Play mode flexibility
pro Lightweight longevity
con
Cons
con Low performance specs
con Compromises on Lite model
con Joy-Cons aren’t great

Full disclosure: the Nintendo Switch is currently the only full-fledged gaming handheld console. But that shouldn’t detract from its overall value and worthiness for this niche category. Prices start at around $300, which isn’t a whole lot more than the basic retro handhelds. The difference is the Switch has a sprawling library of games to play solo or together. Admittedly, the Switch Lite is designed as a solo experience, but the other two Switch models are built for versatility. Consider the base model for same-screen multiplayer, with or without a TV, or treat your eyes to the gorgeous larger screen of the Switch OLED model. Whichever Switch you choose, you’ll soon understand why it’s one of the best-selling consoles of all time.

If you want a true gaming handheld console experience, dust off a Nintendo 2DS or PlayStation Vita.

Razer Edge

Best mobile gaming handheld

Price
Starts at
$889.95
Display
6.8-inch 2880x1080 OLED
Weight
401 grams
Storage
128GB, MicroSD
pro
Pros
pro Gorgeous display
pro Tablet and backbone controller
pro Good gaming battery life
con
Cons
con Controller could be better
con Fan noise during games and downloads
con Expensive for what it is

Most modern smartphones and tablets can handle mobile games. But not all of them are purpose-built for mobile games. That’s where the Razer Edge steps in. While the price means it's predominantly for passionate mobile gamers, buyer’s remorse quietens as soon as you turn on the gorgeous display. Snap in the included perfect-fit Razer Kishi V2 backbone controller and you’re ready to game. The Edge is effectively an Android tablet, albeit with plenty of preinstalled gaming options. Download the best mobile games from the Google Play Store for starters. Or delve into the ever-improving world of game streaming, from Xbox and PlayStation consoles or via cloud services like Xbox Cloud Gaming, GeForce Now or Parsec.

For a more practical alternative (albeit less gaming-focused), use a Bluetooth controller with an existing tablet or invest in a backbone controller for your smartphone to play games without smudges. Alternatively, PlayStation 5 owners may want to consider the PlayStation Portal for streaming PS5 games at home.

What to look for in a gaming handheld

Start your gaming handheld search with budget and platforms in mind. If you’re only interested in dabbling, start with something cheaper like the Evercade EXP for retro gaming or a Nintendo Switch Lite for a wider range of games. For those who have a growing collection of Steam games, the Steam Deck is well worth considering.

The Steam Deck is a gaming handheld PC, which requires patience and tinkering to get the most out of its versatility. For something potentially more familiar in terms of an operating system, consider a Lenovo Legion Go or any other handheld PC that comes with Windows. All of the versatility of Windows software means a more accessible way to play across digital libraries (including Steam) as well as emulation.

Mobile gamers can up their game and limit screen smudges by adding a controller. Any Bluetooth controller will work, including ones you may own for existing consoles. Alternatively, find a better fit with an iOS or Android backbone controller for a smartphone.

icon-expertise

How we choose the best gaming handhelds

We started our gaming handheld comparisons by using the Nintendo Switch as a foundation. Nintendo’s handheld console offers a great mix of price, versatility and portability. As the only true handheld game console on the market, it was an easy pick for that particular category.

It’s not the best gaming handheld, though. Unless the inevitable Switch successor ups its versatility game, gaming handheld PCs are the true top contenders for the best overall category. Sure, they’re typically heavier, but they also reward tinkering, let players enjoy truly new-gen games and have expandability options beyond their base operating systems.

We also wanted to acknowledge the rise of retro and mobile gaming handhelds. There are a lot of retro gaming handhelds that are in a grey area in terms of the thousands of games they tend to include, so we ruled those out, limiting choices to products with officially licensed games. For the best mobile gaming handheld, we acknowledge that modern smartphones and tablets can play games in a pinch but a dedicated device is the next evolution for dedicated mobile gamers.

Gaming handheld frequently asked questions

Start gaming handheld comparisons with the entry-level Steam Deck. It’s a good idea of pricing expectations from a versatile machine.
Yes, gaming handhelds are a good investment for avid on-the-go gamers and they’re getting better in different ways with each iteration. Valve’s Steam Deck is the gold standard that everyone else competes with, but better Steam Deck competitors tend to have beefier hardware.
The Nintendo Switch is the best all-rounder portable gaming station (aka gaming handheld). Except for the Lite version, out of the box, the Switch offers a great interface, good battery life, plenty of games and versatile play options.
Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence
Nathan Lawrence has been banging out passionate tech and gaming words for more than 11 years. These days, you can find his work on outlets like IGN, STACK, Fandom, Red Bull and AusGamers. Nathan adores PC gaming and the proof of his first-person-shooter prowess is at the top of a Battlefield V scoreboard.

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