Ever since the launch of the Switch, Nintendo has really ruled the roost when it comes to handheld gaming consoles. However, companies of the likes of Anbernic and PowKiddy are now starting to step up and the battle is fierce. It is now difficult to simply name the best handheld gaming consoles in 2022 as the industry keeps getting more competitive.
However, there are always a certain few products that have the spotlight amidst a collection of options. After in-depth research and analysis of the best handhelds on the market, we’ve compiled a list of the best handheld gaming consoles.
What are the best retro handheld gaming consoles?
With a tonne of things to consider before listing any product in this list, we’ve gone through features like display quality, design, battery, life, and portability. Like a lot of other things in life, there is no one-size-fits all solution here as well. There are handheld gaming consoles that might work for some, and might not for others…
The idea here is to list the ones that truly stand out. Each handheld gaming console listed here is good at most things, and is exceptionally good at at least one thing. So, let’s get right into it!
The Best Retro Handheld Gaming Consoles In 2022
AYN ODIN: The All-Rounder
+ Wide LCD screen that displays very clear graphics
+ Superb build quality
+ Intelligent android OS features
+ Great quality audio
+ Powerful performance
+ Portable and comfortable to hold
– Slightly obsolete processor
– Boring logo
- 6-inch 1080p LCD touchscreen
- D1000G 2GHZ CPU/Snapdragon 845
- ARM Mali-G57 MC5 GPU
- 8-core Snapdragon SD845 and 4-core Kyro Silver/Gold (Ayn Odin Base/Ayn Odin Pro)
- 4 GB RAM
- 64 GB ROM
- 5000mAh/6000mAh battery (Base/Pro) that lasts about six hours
AYN Odin is a handheld gaming console that runs on Android and ARM-based processors, and was released in three different models, the Lite, Base, and Pro. AYN Odin was launched in late 2021, and started shipping to early backers in early 2022.
In many ways (not literally, of course), the AYN Odin is a Nintendo Switch Lite running on Android. Where it does trump the Switch Lite though, is on the display front—AYN Odin comes with a larger and sharper LCD compared to the Nintendo Switch Lite. It also features a microSD card slot that enables you to maintain the available memory, with a battery capacity of 6,000mAh, which can last about six hours of active play on some games.
The AYN Odin also features active cooling, which allows it to run its processor full power, without throttling for long durations. The good news is that this fan is also very quiet—on its lowest setting, the AYN Odin’s fan is nearly silent. In performance mode it is extremely quiet, and almost as noisy as a Nintendo Switch in high performance mode. It’s not as obvious as the Steam Deck or the Aya Neo Next, which are both handheld PCs. Its grips are more comfortable, and its back buttons can be customized.
Nintendo Switch Lite: For the Classics
+ Portable and lightweight
+ Wide collection of iconic games
+ Numerous accessories
– Average display
– Unable to be docked to a larger screen
- 5.5-inch HD LCD touchscreen
- ARM 4 Cortex-A57 core CPU at 1.02 GHz-motion (same as Switch)
- 32 GB ROM
- Battery life of over seven hours
Best Deal on the Nintendo Switch Lite
The Nintendo Switch Lite is a less expensive handheld gaming console as compared to the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch OLED. It has a 5.5-inch display and weighs 9.7 ounces compared to 10.5 ounces for the standard Switch. The weight difference is not immediately noticeable; however, you must hold it in your hands to notice how light it is.
Almost all Switch games can still be played on the Nintendo Switch Lite. However, some games that look good on a big screen don’t fit well to the Switch Lite’s small screen.
Examples of games played on Nintendo Switch Lite includes; Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond, Metroid Dread, HADES, Mario Party Superstars, Celeste, Legend of Zelda, Assassin’s Creed, etc.
ALSO READ: The best Anbernic retro handhelds, ranked
Anbernic RG351MP: Popular Vote [EDITOR’S CHOICE]
+ Excellent build quality
+ Perfect for long gaming sessions
+ Sleek and very portable
+ Free microSD card included
– Lacks built-in Wi-Fi
- 3.5-inch IPS display
- 4-core RockChip RK3326 at 1.5GHz
- Mali G31-MP2 GPU
- 1GB RAM
- 16 GB ROM
- 3500mAh Battery that lasts for three to four hours
Best deal on the Anbernic RG351MP
The RG351MP is an excellent piece for a handheld gaming console, based on its performance and affordable price. You will be able to enjoy a host of your favourite retro games on this one, and for a fantastic price.
We have the RG351MP come in three different colours; Mint Green, Ocean Blue and Matt Black. The RG35MP comes with RockChip RK3326 Quad Core processor, clocked at 1.5 GHz, with 1GB RAMand 16GB storage. This is via a microSD slot; users can use the second slot for storage expansion.
With an LCD of 3.5″ IPS 640×480 and a 3500 mAh the Anbernic RG351MP provides for over four hours of gaming, typically. It’s safe to say that the RG351MP wins in this list of the best handheld gaming consoles in 2022!
Anbernic RG552: Power meets metal
+ Portable and customizable
+ Great brightness
+ Impressive retro performance
– Slightly large
– Lacks Bluetooth connectivity
- 5.36-inch full lamination IPS touchscreen
- 6-core 64-bit RK3399 CPU at 1.8GHz (two cores) and 1.4GHz (four cores)
- Mali-T860 GPU at 600MHz
- 4 GB RAM
- 64 GB ROM
- 16 GB micro SD card
- 2 × 3200mAh battery with about six hours of battery life
Best deal on the Anbernic RG552
Anbernic is known for producing fantastic handheld gaming consoles that are a joy to use for all types of retro enthusiasts. The Anbernic RG552 is their most expensive handheld to date. The Anbernic RG552 is a dual-boot Linux and Android-based handheld game console, considered a successor to the Anbernic RG351MP.
The RG552 is equipped with a 1.8GHz Hexa-Core RK3399 CPU, a Mali T860 GPU, 4GB RAM, a 6400 mAh battery. This, with a 5.3″ touch screen display with a 1920 x 1152 resolution. This is a major step forward from their previous handhelds, luring gamers into more powerful emulation.
The RG552 is roughly 350g and it measures 20 x 8.5 x 2 cm. It features a 5.36-inch HD touchscreen with a 1920×1152 resolution and a 5:3 aspect ratio. It’s the first portable Anbernic console with a fan and active heat sink. It can start up in either the Linux-based Batocera interface or Android, which offers access to the Google Play store for game downloads. It can also stream Stadia content.
Anbernic RG300X: Full Retro
+ Dockable to a larger screen eg. TV
+ Lightweight and very portable
+ Amazing display
– Quite an old processor
– Lacks analog joysticks
- 3-inch IPS fully laminated screen with 40×480 resolution
- JZ4770 CPU, 4770 dual-core 1.0 GHz
- 512 MB DDR2 RAM
- 2500 mAh that lasts for six hours
Best deal on the Anbernic RG300X
RG300X has a screen size of 3 inches, along with a dual core, 1.0 GHz processor. It’s also powered by 512MB of RAM, and most sellers ship the RG300X with a 16GB microSD card. It runs on the Opendingux operating system, which is a great emulation system.
The RG300X has a 2500 mAh LiPo battery, giving it a life of about 6 hours per charge. Other features include HDMI output, 3.5mm stereo earphones. As you probably would’ve guessed from the design of this (pretty) handheld gaming console, it’s really targeted at the retro enthusiasts (any Game Boy Micro fans in the house?). That might work for some, and might not, for some others.
For all practical purposes, it is a better idea to go with something like the RG351MP (mentioned earlier in this article), unless you really have a thing for the design of this one.
Best Handheld Gaming Consoles in 2022: What’s Your Pick?
We have handpicked the very best of handheld gaming consoles currently in the market, and each product in this list has been tested multiple times, including their gaming performance, battery life and general utility.
Handheld gaming consoles have been in existence for more than three decades, but 2022 seems special. We’ve already seen a bunch of interesting retro gaming consoles, such as the Evercade EXP, PowKiddy RGB20S, and there’s a whole bunch to come.
That said—which one’s your favourite pick for this year? Anything that you are planning to buy?