Best Portable Game System for 2021- Buying Guide

Best Portable Game System for 2021- Buying Guide

What is better than gaming? Being able to game wherever you want, whenever you want. If you are looking for such a device then a handheld console might be the buy for you. Portable gaming consoles allow the user to engage not only in video games but experience a variety of multimedia content. Even though the introduction of mobile gaming has reduced the popularity of it, hand-held consoles are still the best form of gaming-on-the-go. In this article we will be looking at the best portable game system models in the market or in other words, the best handheld games consoles. If this interests you, give it a read.

How to pick the best portable game system

When it comes to portable gaming, the market is not without options. There are a lot of mainstream companies such as Nintendo and Playstation that produce their own game systems. In addition to that there are third party developers that have built their portable gaming systems for users to enjoy. In this section we will look at how you can narrow down the choices and pick what is best for you.


This means everything when it comes to gaming systems. Having the correct manufacturer could mean the difference between being able to play your favourite titles and being stuck with an empty console. Different gaming manufacturers support different games. The two most prominent are Nintendo and Playstation. So pick wisely.

Extra features

The best portable gaming systems can do much more than just playing games. It is a multimedia device that allows you to do everything from browsing the internet to watching videos on online platforms. It is best to go with a model that offers these features if you have the need for it. Some handheld gaming consoles even have special apps that expand what you can do on it.

Battery life

When it comes to portable devices the battery life is an important factor. This aspect decides how much entertainment is possible on the console. For good measure we advise you to always go with a model that offers more than 6 hours of playtime. With how advanced the technology is now, anything below that is a relative disadvantage.

The design

The design of the gaming console decides how well the experience is using it. When we mean design we mean everything from the resolution of the screen to the buttons that are used by the gaming system. Different gaming systems have different movement pads and directional pads that make all the difference when you are playing a video game. Not to mention the overall aesthetic appeal for the handheld console. Luckily almost every handheld console follows a specific trend when it comes to design.

Being future proof

Buying a video game console is an investment. It is something that you buy to last a few years minimum. Therefore you have to make sure that your devices are future proof to last you for a comfortable period of use. As a general rule of thumb we advise you to purchase a model that would get new title releases for the next two years minimum. Of course this rule does not apply if you are going to purchase a legacy console such as the Nintendo DS.

Best portable game system: Our top picks

This section is all about the best picks in the market right now. We did the research for you and made a list of the best models for you to choose from. There were some models that we omitted from the list due to them not being actively supported by the manufacturer.

Nintendo Switch

The Switch brought in a lot of hype at its release. Produced by one of the leading game corporations in the world, the Switch was hyped up to be their next big thing. This is much more than being just a regular handheld but it has aspects of a full home-gaming system in its arsenal.

The Nintendo Switch comes with its main gaming handheld console and Joy-Con controllers. But then comes the docking station. When you are outdoors you can use the handheld to play your video games,but when at home you can connect the console to the docking station. This allows the user to broadcast it to a much larger display such as a TV.

The Nintendo Switch comes with some impressive hardware for a handheld console. The device has a custom designed Nvidia Tegra s1 Xoc as its chip. This is coupled with a 32Gb memory to store all your games on. Currently there are two different ways to save your games. One is through the trademark cartridges belonging to Nintendo. The other is by downloading the video game through the Nintendo Online Store.

Most of these games are available to play online as well. For this you have to subscribe to their gaming package which allows you to play with users from around the globe. It is quite similar to the Playstation Live. Players can even partner their individual consoles together(upto eight) in order to have a local multiplayer game session. The possibilities are endless with the new Nintendo Switch.

The Joy-Con controllers that arrive with the base package also have some special features. These controllers have both an accelerometer and a gyroscope for motions. This unit also includes a IR motion camera. The two controllers can be paired to work together and also as singular devices for multiplayer purposes.

One of the latest devices in the market. WIll last you a good 4 years minimum.Titles are still being released. Might take a while for your favourite titles to become available.
Supports multiplayer sessions(eight)
Ability to cast to larger displays
Great base controllers

This is probably the best portable game system in the list. We highly recommend you to try it out even if you are not a fan of the Nintendo series. Definitely deserves 5 out of 5 stars for what it gives. A big plus if your kid loves Pokemon; the new Pokemon series is now available on the console.

5.0 out of 5.0 stars

Apple iPad Air

Now why would we include an iPad as a gaming system. Well , games have evolved over the last few years and mobile gaming is the next big thing. The iPad allows you to be a part of this with ease. Not to mention Apple has its own gaming subscription service.

The App Store is a great source of video games. Every mobile game that gets a release arrives on the App Store before getting released on the Android counterparts. This means you will always have new titles to try out. Best of all, most of these are completely free to download. Games such as Fortnite, Wild Rift and PubG have hundreds of millions of players world wide.

The Apple Arcade is what seals the deal. This is a subscription based service that is not available on Android tablets. For just $5 a month you get 100 games per month to play. There are certain titles that are exclusive to this service. Which translates to massive value for your money.

Not to mention the Apple iPad is a top notch multimedia device. It is one of the leading smart tablet models in the market. It is more of an all-in-one package.

Multimedia supportQuite expensive
Dedicated gaming service
Great battery life

Even though this is the best option for mobile gamers, we have to agree that all these pros come at a significant price. The iPad Air costs a lot more than a standard gaming console. But if you are able to digest its price then there is no device better than this for a full console+Multimedia experience. We give this device 4.5 stars.

4.5 out of 5.0 stars

Nintendo 3DS XL

The latest version of Nintendo’s Portable console series. The Nintendo 3DS XL is very different to the previous versions of the gaming console. It is loaded with new features and gadgets that bring in a lot more to the table.

First of the graphics this device is capable of processing is higher than the 2DS. It has a 3D screen that is capable of creating the best possible graphics at every instance. How does it do it? Through the different cameras that are present in the console. These cameras constantly monitor the position of the player and adjust the image to provide the best possible viewing angle.

The new Nintendo 3DS even has stereoscopic cameras in its rear. These are capable of producing some high quality photographs. 0.3MP and running on CMOS technology, these cameras have been optimised by developers to take excellent photographs even in low light conditions.

High quality graphics Does not come with a AC adapter
Backwards compatible with previous Nintendo titles.
Optimised viewing angles 
3D photography

If you are looking for a gaming console for your kids, then the Nintendo 3DS XL is probably your best bet. It brings a world of adventure for your kids that can be closely supervised and monitored. It has been widely regarded as the best portable game system system for kids since its initial start through the GameBoy color. We give this handheld console a 5 out of 5.

5.0 out of 5.0 stars  


This is a new addition that caught our attention. We felt this is more suited towards older users. If you are someone that loves retro games and playing those age old titles in your free time, this might be an attractive option for you. This does take some work to get started but it is very worth it considering the potential of the gaming console. We believe this is one of the best handheld games consoles for retro game lovers.

So, how does this work? The GPD XD PLUS works through emulators. These are softwares that are capable of recreating a video game console. Technically any video game console can be played if you have the proper emulator for it, but the limitation is the GPU and CPU. Therefore we mainly recommend this to play older titles. 

The handheld gaming console has got a lot of praise from its users. Many regard this as the best thing they ever purchased. But the truth is the GPD XD PLUS takes a bit of work. You need to find working ROMs and emulators to play your preferred game. But considering you are able to do this, the GPD XD PLUS has unlimited potential. If its CPU can run the game, then you can play it.

Unlimited  titlesNeed to find ROMS and Emulators
Good performance 
Supports Android and Play Store

We give this a solid 4 out of 5. We still believe this is one of the best handheld games consoles for retro games lovers. But acquiring ROMS and Emulators might be a bother for some. If you do not have an issue of putting in some work, then this might be a great purchase with a lot of value.

4.0 out of 5.0 stars

Nintendo 2DS Handheld

The little brother of the Nintendo 3DS XL. This is quite similar to the Nintendo 3DS except that it is completely 2D. We consider this a more affordable option when you compare it to the 3DS XL. It is almost half the price and is capable of playing all the titles that the 3DS can except in 2D.

Unlike the other models, this does not have a flip design. It is more of a simple block. It is smaller than the 3DS models and has a more compact design. This makes it really easy to hold. The lower screen of the Nintendo 2DS is sensor based. It is there to make life easier for the gamer. Everything from selecting options and scrolling through in-game menus can be done through this screen. To make it even more user friendly there is a stylus that comes with the device. 

AffordableNo new games will be supported
Lesser tendency to break
Stylus for ease of access
Supports a large number of games

We give this a 4 out 5. The only reason we give this a lower score is due to it being discontinued from production. That means it will be harder to find. But if you do manage to get your hands on one, make sure you hold onto it.

4.0 out of 5.0 stars

Made your pick from the best portable system list?

This wraps up our article on the best handheld games consoles. Did you find your pick? If you liked this feature you might like our latest article on the best car DVD players, give it a read. You might find something interesting.

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