Gaming Phones vs Android Handheld Consoles: Picking Your Perfect Playmate

Can't decide between a gaming phone and an Android handheld console? Join us as we break down the pros and cons of each and see whether a gaming phone or an android handled console is the best for you. Let's get started.

gaming phone vs android handheld

There is a new dilemma that many serious mobile gamers face today. This dilemma is the choice between a gaming phone and an Android handheld console. Both types of devices offer powerful hardware and access to a vast library of games, but they excel in different areas. In this Gaming Phones vs Android Handheld Console comparison, we’ll look into the key factors to consider before you pick a side.

A Gaming phone is essentially a high-end smartphone that is modified to improve it's performance for gaming. Examples of gaming phones include stellar names like the Nubia Red Magic 9 Pro, Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro and Black Shark 5 Pro etc.

An Android Handheld Console is a device with Android parts that has been specially designed for gaming. Android Handheld Consoles use a horizontal tablet form factor with physical buttons on both sides of the display. This is a form factor that was popularized by Sony's PSP, PS Vita and more recently the Nintendo Switch. Examples of Android Handheld Consoles include AYN Odin 2 Pro, Razer Edge, Ayaneo Pocket Air etc.

ayn odin 2

Gaming phones vs Android Handheld Consoles

These two devices are designed for gaming but which one is the best for you? To determine this, we are going to compare both sets of devices based on the following criteria.

Gaming Performance

Both gaming phones and Android handheld consoles usually have high levels of gaming performance. However whilst gaming phones exclusively target the bleeding edge of performance, Android Handheld Consoles, while powerful, offer a wider range of options for customers to choose from. You can find high-end devices like the AYN Odin 2 with top-of-the-line specs, or more budget-friendly options like the Retroid Pocket 4 Pro.

Connectivity Matters

The easy winner here are the gaming phones. This is because they are first and foremost, smartphone before everything else. As a result, they are well equipped for both mobile broadband and WiFi connectivity. This allows you to play online games on the go without relying on external hotspots. Android Handheld Consoles on the other hand only have WiFi connectivity and would have to rely on a phone or an external MiFi/WiFi router for connection to the Internet.

Battery Life

Gaming phones and Android handheld gaming consoles use very big batteries to maximize playtime for the user. Both sets of devices also supports fast charging as well so that you can quickly top up your batteries when they're low. The battery life that you'll get depends on the individual device that you choose so this one is a draw.

Design and Controls

Despite being known for their gaming prowess, Android gaming phones are still phones and they run into most of the problems encountered by normal phones. These include heating and poor janky controls. The control issue is even more glaring as they also rely on touch input and shoulder buttons which can be clunky at times. Android Handheld Consoles have no such problems due to their ergonomic design and their use of physical controls such as joysticks, D-pads, buttons etc. These make gaming on Android handhelds so much better.

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Cooling Systems

Whilst most older gaming phones had to rely on external coolers, the newer ones are shipping with active cooling systems. However, these are not as good as the cooling systems that you'll find on the Android Handheld Consoles.

Extra Features: Beyond the Basics

Android handheld consoles sometimes offer features not often seen in gaming phones, like the ability to output video to a TV via HDMI.


Gaming phones are smaller and more portable. You could easily stick them in your pocket and move around with them. Android Handheld Consoles on the other hand are bulkier and wouldn't fit in your pocket. They mostly need a special carrying case to protect the buttons and vents.

Price Point: Finding the Value Sweet Spot

Android Handhelds target a wide range of performance and are easily more affordable than gaming phones. Gaming phones on the other hand are a lot more pricey as they target really high-end performance and do not hold back on specs.

asus rog phone 8 pro 11

The Verdict: It's All Down To Your Priorities

The best choice depends on your gaming needs. If high-end gaming performance and connectivity are important to you, then a gaming phone might be the best for you. However, if you prioritize dedicated controls, longer battery life (without relying on a phone hotspot), and a potentially lower price tag, then an Android handheld console could be the perfect option for you. In the end, the winner is the happy gamer who is satisfied with his/her choice and is ready to conquer mobile gaming!


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