3 Best Pocket-Friendly Consoles for 2024

red and black nintendo switch game controller

Handheld gaming devices are starting to become more and more popular as time goes on. The improvement in processing power as well as their power consumption has given rise to a new category of gaming devices that can play full-fledged games, all while fitting in your pocket.

So, let’s take a look at some of the best portable gaming consoles to get in 2024.

Things to Look For in a Handheld Gaming Console

The category for handheld gaming devices is becoming more diverse with the release of every new portable gaming console. So, if you’re unsure which console you should get, here are some factors to keep in mind when choosing a handheld gaming console.

  • Platform: This is the biggest factor to look for when choosing a gaming console. If you’re someone who has a huge Steam library, it would be a great decision to get a PC-based handheld gaming console.

However, if most of your library consists of Nintendo games, then getting a Switch is a better idea. Some consoles use Windows whereas others like the Steam Deck use a custom Linux build with Proton compatibility layer.

  • Performance & Power: Handheld consoles like the Switch are notorious for their severely underpowered hardware which often has a lot of trouble running third-party titles at an acceptable performance. 

However, handhelds with more powerful hardware usually require a lot more power which means they are going to use a lot of battery, but run games with great performance. If you play a lot of 2D games like Stardew Valley or Terraria, you should be fine with a less powerful hardware.

  • Size: the size of the device matters a lot if you’re going to be carrying it with you while traveling. If you’re fine with the added weight and bulk of the device then it’s recommended that you get a handheld console that packs a lot of power. If you want a lightweight console, you can go for the Switch.
  • Display: If you’re going to be staring at a small screen for your long gaming sessions, it should be a great display. The Steam Deck and the Nintendo Switch have OLED variants as well that can save some power and provide a vibrant image. Do make sure there’s a balance since high refresh rates and resolutions can drain the battery.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at my picks for the best handheld gaming consoles in 2024.

Nintendo Switch

Unless Microsoft and Sony make their own modern handheld gaming consoles, the Nintendo Switch is the undisputed king of consoles for gaming on the go.

Although the base variant is a great option to get, the refreshed OLED version improves on the features offered by the regular Switch by adding a larger 720p display, more storage capacity, better speakers, and other enhancements.

However, the hardware is underpowered in terms of the latest games being launched. If you’re someone who plays a lot of 2D games or Nintendo’s first-party games, the Nintendo Switch is the best handheld console you can get in 2024.

Pros Cons
Excellent Game Library Underpowered Hardware
Good Battery Life
Can Be Used With a TV Easily

Steam Deck

The Steam Deck is essentially a handheld gaming PC with a lot of power in its small footprint. If you already have a vast library of games on Steam, the handheld console by Valve should be a no-brainer for you.

Steam Deck is fairly affordable, especially when considering the lower-end models. It also has two models, one with an IPS panel and the other with a larger OLED screen. The higher variant models also have a 90Hz screen which can make games look smoother.

The Steam Deck can last anywhere between three to ten hours, based on the game you’re playing. However, it’s bigger than the Nintendo Switch, which means that it won’t easily fit into your pockets.

Pros Cons
Plays Modern PC Games Bulky and Heavy
Superb Emulation
User-Friendly UI


If you have the budget and want more bang for your buck, the ROG Ally can be a great option for you. It trades a little bit of comfort for more power. The Ally is Windows-based, which means that essentially it’s a portable gaming laptop.

Although it uses an LCD panel, the screen is 1080p which is extremely sharp for gaming on a 7-inch display. It has a 120Hz screen and supports variable refresh rates which helps keep the game smooth. Even with all the power it has, the Ally is smaller in size compared to the Steam Deck.

The performance and display come at the cost of battery life since the Ally can only go for two to four hours.

Pros Cons
More Powerful Than the Steam Deck Short Battery Life
Full Windows Support
120Hz Refresh Rate with 1080p Display

A Bonus Option

This might sound a little weird. But, you might have a high-end handheld console in your pocket right now. You might even be reading this article on one.

Yep, that’s right! 

Nowadays, phones pack so much power that they can be used as handheld consoles. I own an iPhone 15 Pro Max and have had a great gaming experience on it, especially after getting the right accessories.

My friends and I play a lot of Call of Duty: Mobile and none of the gaming consoles in this list can play it unless emulated. So, I use a USB-C to HDMI cable, which allows me to connect my phone to my TV. 

However, I recommend getting a USB-C hub that also supports both HDMI and Ethernet since I face a lot of lag on WiFi, and the Spectrum en español customer support recommended using a wired connection with my Spectrum internet.

With the new iPhones, Apple has also shown its commitment to bringing AAA titles like Resident Evil 4, Assassins Creed Mirage, and Death Stranding. I expect to see this list grow as time goes on.

Wrapping Up

Although you’re bound to find dozens of handheld gaming consoles in the market, there is a lack of great portable gaming devices on the market. But as the demand grows, we expect to see the release of more pocket-friendly consoles with better performance, battery, and hardware.