Handheld gaming devices have always been a big part of video game history. The handheld console has been home to some of the greatest games ever. As technology has progressed, so have these consoles. These days, we are seeing some of the best handheld devices ever come out to the market, and they aren’t hard to find either.  

Handheld consoles were first popularized by Nintendo in the 1980s. It has since been used by all sorts of companies as they tried to compete with Nintendo’s dominance in the market. Nevertheless, some brands were able to release some of the best models. That said, here are six of the best consoles that came out on the market, that we’ve chosen to look at, in no particular order:

  1. Sony PlayStation Portable

The Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) was released in 2005 and sold over 80 million units. It is considered by many to have the best full-colour LCD screen of all handhelds up to that point, and featured games such as God of War, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, and many more. 

The PSP had a wide variety of games and it used its own proprietary media format, the Universal Media Disc (UMD), for game distribution instead of cartridges like previous handheld consoles. This meant that developers could make larger games if they wanted because they didn’t have to worry about cartridge size limitations as they did on the Nintendo DS or Game Boy Advance systems. 

  1. Nintendo DS

The Nintendo DS is one of the most successful and significant handheld consoles. It has sold over 154 million units worldwide, making it the best-selling handheld console in history. The DS system was released in 2004, with its first games released in 2005. The system was a more powerful version of its predecessor, the Game Boy Advance. It included dual screens and touch-sensitive controls for games to take advantage of these features. 

Its double-screen feature, originally touted as a silly design, gave game developers the chance to create some enjoyable game titles; most notably, the Super Mario Bros series saw a revitalizing jolt due to the DS.

  1. Nintendo Game Boy Advance

Unlike its predecessor, Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance was released in 2001 with a colour screen and a removable cartridge slot. It was also the first handheld console to include a rechargeable battery and backlit screen. The Game Boy Advance SP continued this trend by adding an internal light and making it slimmer than its predecessors, which made it easier to play the best Gameboy Advance games of all time in low-light conditions or while lying down on your stomach.

The customizable feature also did wonders as it allowed you to have all the benefits of playing on an original Game Boy while still giving yourself room for customization through different faceplates, which come in various shapes, colours, textures and designs. This allowed users to have a console looking unique from everyone else’s.

  1. Sega Nomad

Another break from the looming shadow of Nintendo on this list, the Sega Nomad appeared in the scene in 1995. Whilst it couldn’t shake Nintendo off the top spot, it sure gave them a run for their money. 

The Nomad’s primary selling point was that you were allowed play all the games you bought for your Sega genesis on it. The shared compatibility was endearing to console enthusiasts. However, its major downside was its short battery life, making it difficult to stray too far from your spare batteries. It is not often mentioned alongside the other best handhelds but for many it is a hidden gem.

  1. Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch is a handheld and home console hybrid, allowing you to play it at home on your TV or take it wherever you choose. Its screen measures 6.2 inches, about the same size as an iPhone Plus. The Switch does not have touch controls but uses motion controls for games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It also comes with two Joy-Con controllers that can be used in various configurations; one player can use both controllers, while another player uses one controller and plays with a separate Pro Controller.

  1. Atari Lynx

As the honourable mention on the list, The Atari Lynx was a handheld game console released in September 1989. It was the first colour handheld console and had a backlit colour LCD screen that allowed for a full-colour display. The Lynx’s form factor was ergonomically designed, allowing you to hold the unit comfortably in your hands. 

Although it was inferior to its main competitor at the time, the Nintendo Game Boy, Atari Lynx did manage to sell about 2 million units worldwide before being discontinued in 1996 due to low sales primarily due to its high price tag of £160.00.


Handheld devices play a significant part in the video game market. They have been around for decades, and there is no sign of them being obsolete anytime soon. The consoles listed above are just a few that have stood the test of time. Others to check out, if you want to research more, include the Sega Game Gear, the TurboExpress and, the daddy of them all, the Game Boy.