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(Pocket-lint) - Gaming is one of modern life's great pleasures, whether you love simple and cheerful platformers, or you're more into intense competitive multiplayer titles. 

It's even better when you can enjoy them on the go, though - handheld games consoles have been hugely popular for decades now, and show no sign of stopping. We've gathered some of the very best you can pick up right now, here for you to check out. 

Our guide to the best gaming handhelds to buy today

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Nintendo Switch Lite



  • All-handheld
  • So well-made
  • Great games


  • Can't be docked

Nintendo's pared-down version of its supreme Switch is an absolutely beautiful handheld console, quite possibly the best one ever released.

You get access to a huge library of excellent games, including many from past generations, and its big screen is perfect for playing them on. 

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Nintendo Switch OLED



  • Amazing new display
  • Same superb library
  • Dockable to TVs


  • Pricier

If the Switch's lineup of games is attractive to you, but you want the flexibility of being able to dock the console for static play, then the OLED model is the best pick for you.

The new and upgraded display is a huge success, and makes games look their best, while increased storage and battery life are also welcome.

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New Nintendo 3DS XL



  • Some truly great games
  • So portable
  • Well-made


  • Ageing all the time

The 3DS generation from Nintendo also holds some of the best handheld games ever released, and this version of the portable console is the best possible.

You can play any 3DS or DS game on it, and there's a simply massive library to play through. So, while it might not be the newest, this it still a top-grade option. 

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Nintendo Switch



  • Great value
  • Same amazing Switch games
  • Tried and true


  • Screen is a bit middling now

Of course, you could also opt to get the older version of the Nintendo Switch, which can very much be a handheld console first and foremost and is more affordable than the OLED version.

It's got all the same games as the OLED and Lite, and fits right in the middle of them from a pricing point of view.

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Nintendo Game and Watch



  • Beautiful design
  • Classic titles
  • So cute


  • Not many games

A retro throwback release, Nintendo has given the old Game and Watch a fresh lick of paint and sent it back out into the world. 

This one won't last forever, though, as stock is limited, so if you'd like to enjoy some classic Nintendo games on a delightful little console, act now. 

More about this story

Every product in this list has been tested in real-life situations, just as you would use it in your day-to-day life.

Buying a handheld console can be a big investment, so we've used all the options on this list extensively to see how they hold up in the real world. We've tested gaming performance, battery life and looked at their libraries to help with your buying decisions.

Of course, pricing is a big factor, as is build quality and reliability. As with any roundup, it's not possible to deliver a list that works for every type of user, but we lean on the experiences and opinions of the wider Pocket-lint team - as well as thoroughly assessing the areas above - in order to do our best in this regard.

What we always tend to avoid when compiling these picks are needless spec comparisons and marketing lines; we just want to provide an easy to understand summary that gives you an idea of what each handheld console is like to use. Our verdicts are concise, but this is purely in the interest of brevity. Rest assured all the devices on this list have been fully tested.

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Writing by Max Freeman-Mills.