With the return of handheld gaming, most people are looking for the Best Handheld Emulator to play games. With the great success of SNES Classic by Nintendo, other platforms like Atari and Sony have joined the retro game and are now releasing high-quality game consoles.
This is evident in the market, where there are a vast number of handheld consoles that are explicitly designed for emulation.
The drawback of this is that it can be daunting and overwhelming to select the Best Handheld Emulator. Just like buying any products, you need to put some factors into consideration.
Like PS3 and PS4, the handheld emulator is also a popular choice in the gaming world.
Top handheld emulators comparison (Editor’s Pick)
10 Best Portable Emulator Reviews
01. Sony PlayStation Portable 3000 Core Pack System
The PSP is a superior handheld emulator in the market that comes with a built-in microphone and is designed for the gamer for great fun.
This PSP 3000 model also comes with built-in Wi-Fi to enable you to surf the internet and play online games.
With this fantastic Sony device, you can watch movies, surf the net, view photos, play music, expand memory for downloadable content, and play digital audio.
Similarly, with the PSP model, you can choose to play the disc media (UMD) movies/games or download content from the PSN online store if it has a memory card slot.
With a huge screen, sleek finish and compact design, it is easy to activate entertainment wherever you go.
Also, unlike the previous models, the new PSP has minor changes such as smaller buttons, fingerprint magnet, and a lip to help open the UMD door manually.
The PSP-3000 series offers hundreds of games to select from, so you can enjoy a better user experience.
The PSP 3000 core pack system includes a piano black PSP 3000 system, battery pack, 5V AC adapter, AC power cord, and documentation.
02. Portable Arcade Gaming Player
Are you looking for the perfect surprise gift for your child? Well, this kid’s handheld portable gaming player is built-in with 416 Retro video games that are perfect for both parents and kids.
As you go through the list of games, you are likely to get good old memories of you growing up.
Your kids will also enjoy playing games that you grew up on. Besides, what better way for parents to interact with their kids than to play retro games together.
What makes this device one of the top handheld emulators is its plaid appearance, 3.5 inches LCD color display, independent keys, and stylish photo frame design.
Weighing110g, this device is extremely lightweight, responds quickly, and does not leave any fingerprint marks.
We also love its simple arcade-style, which makes it possible for a five-year-old to operate without much trouble.
Another great spec is its humanized design that helps eliminate frustrations such as dead batteries when playing your favorite game.
It includes a rechargeable lithium battery as well as a USB cable plug that can be used without batteries.
You can also use the 3 AAA batteries. With these unique advantages, you can be certain of exceptional gaming experience.
03. iNNEXT Controller Gamepad Joystick
Reclaim your childhood with this iNNEXT USB SNES controller. If your application or program allows a USB controller input, you just need to plug in the controller and play without the use of drivers or patches.
It works well with any emulator you wish to use or download.
What’s more, this USB controller performs exceptionally well on USB storage devices such as notebook computer, PC, Android smartphone, Raspberry Pi 1 (model A, model B, and Model B+), Raspberry Pi 2, Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, Raspberry Pi Zero, Macbook, and Retro pie. Android TV BOX is, however, not supported.
It is also compatible with game emulators like Handheld GBA emulator, NES, Higan, SNES, Sega Genesis emulator, Snex9x, RetroArch (great on Android), Sega OpenEmu (supports only OS X) and BSNES which is great for two-player action.
It is also highly compatible with operating systems like Windows 98/ Vista/ ME/2000/ 2003/ XP/ 7 /8 /8.1/ 10; Linux mint/ UBUNTU/ Android Linux; Mac OS X; Retro gaming operating systems: Recalbox, RetroPie, Happi Game Center, Piplay, ChameleonPi, and Lakka.
This device is loved by gamers because of its sensitive buttons which allow precision control. It also includes a cord that is approximately 5ft long.
04. Atari Flashback Portable Handheld
The Atari comes with 70 built-in Atari 2600 classic games that include PAC-MAN and the legendary BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment arcade hit.
Besides that, it offers other block-bluster games such as Frogger, Galaga, River Raid, Galaxian, Pitfall! And Dig Dug.
It comes with a portable 2.8” LCD display that brings to life games that come with the device.
Since this portable handheld device comes with an AV slot, it is possible to hook it up to your TV, so you can enjoy playing the games on the big screen.
The Atari Flashback Portable Handheld also includes an SD card slot that enables you to expand the device’s memory.
So you can download more of your favorite childhood games. Once you download the games, transfer them to the SD card and slot it into the portable handheld.
However, it does not include an SD card. Included in the pack are a USB charging cable and built-in rechargeable battery, which makes it great for the gamer on the go.
05. Bounabay Wireless Bluetooth Gamepad
This is one of the best Bluetooth controllers that is compact and works exceptionally well.
This handheld emulator is compatible with Android 4.4 above system and supports numerous simulator games.
The adapter of the game controller is USB-sized, and it comes with a gamepad that is ideal for Android mode.
With this controller, it is easy to play original mobile games. It also has a friendly user-interface, and you won’t need to install any drivers in order to start using it.
A unique spec of this emulator is its telescopic stand that enables you to place your mobile phone in the bracket while playing your favorite game.
It supports devices with a thickness of 0.36 inch and 3.5-6.3 inches long.
Not to mention its Bluetooth 4.0 wireless with a transmission distance of 10 meters from the operation.
Other great features of the Buonabay Bluetooth controller include built-in lithium battery and optimal button mapping.
06. SunFounder Raspberry Starter Learning Kit
The SunFounder starter learning kit is suitable for beginners who are looking to learn more about Raspberry Pi, program, and electronics.
It is a magical tool kit that comes with various learning components that will help you quickly understand the world of Raspberry Pi.
The starter kit includes 17 projects, each containing principles, code explanations, fritzing images, and circuit connection. The manual also includes a detailed introduction to the components.
Additionally, this kit is the perfect choice for beginners who want to learn about programming since it provides python code and C code.
A great accessory included in the starter kit is a Rab holder, which is large enough for a Raspberry Pi, Arduino Uno, as well as a breadboard.
There are also numerous wires to use with the breadboard. Other things you can expect from this kit include a stepper motor, buttons, LEDs, capacitors, and accelerometer.
07. I’m Game 180 Games Handheld Player
I’m Game GP 180 is a handheld gaming device that is packed with 180 games to keep children entertained for hours.
It offers a great variety of games, including sports, adventure, action, racing, card games, puzzles, and more.
It also comes with thinking games that involve math, memory, and logic. The GP 180 in this great emulator will definitely customize your gaming experience.
Measuring only 5” x 2.75”x 1”, this gaming device is portable and comes in a small shape to fit in the pocket or bag.
Hence, it is an excellent pick for entertainment on-the-go. Also, the buttons and navigators are tactically placed in order to give you excellent control during long hours of gaming.
It features a 3” TFT full-color display, making it easy to operate and enjoy the games available.
With high-quality graphics, the handheld game player will make your gaming experience exceptional.
While it is powered by AAA batteries, it also features an AV adapter or USB cable to facilitate home play.
You just need to connect to plug and play on your big screen via the AV output and enjoy hours of entertainment.
Other additional features include a built-in speaker, volume control, low power indicator, LED power control, 3.5 mm headphone jack, and wrist strap for portability.
The I’m Game 180 Games device is available in tow colors of your choice.
08. DreamGear Dgun-2888 My Arcade Gamer
The DreamGear Dgun-2888 My Arcade V Portable Gaming System has 220 built-in retro-style video games that are ready to play.
All you need to do is turn on the power and get the fun started. The fact that it has a simple arcade-style and is perfect for all ages makes it the Best Handheld Emulator.
With this gaming device, you can play your favorite race or sport, solve puzzles, play tennis or golf, storm the castle as well as soar the skies.
It is an excellent option for the gamer on the go since it can easily fit in the pocket, purse, or backpack.
Featuring a 2.4” clear full-color LCD screen, you can be guaranteed of exceptional gaming experience with this handheld gaming device.
It is powered with 3 AAA batteries, so you or your child can enjoy hours of entertainment.
However, the 3 AAA batteries are not included in the pack. It is also advisable to replace the batteries on a regular basis for optimal performance. Gamer V Portable 220 includes a user guide and volume control.
09. Dingoo A380E Handheld Emulator
The Dingoo A380E is a handheld emulator that will bring back the old memories of your childhood.
On this console are emulators like Nes, Snes, Mega Drive, Neo Geo, Master System, Genesis, GBA, Gameboy, CPS1, CPS2, and Famicom.
Additionally, it is compatible with operating systems such as Windows 2000/ Vista/ XP/ Windows 7 and USB2.0 charging port.
It has 4GB memory built-in and also provides a Micro SD slot that supports up to 32 GB card, so you can add more games.
This handheld gaming emulator features AV out, which makes it possible to plug n’ play the games on your TV. The controller is designed with A/B/X/Y cross direction buttons for optimal control.
It also features built-in WiFi that is able to support 2 playing gaming as well as wireless controllers.
It is powered by an 1800 M AH lithium-ion battery. The package also includes one stereo earphones, USB AC charger, USB cable, and English manual.
10. GPD XD Plus Portable Gaming Handheld
The GPD XD+ handheld device combines both technology and cutting edge components in order to provide exceptional gameplay performance for hardcore gamers.
It is ideal for portable retro gaming on both old and new computers and consoles.
With this device, entertainment will be in your hands as you explore the Google Play for TV shows, movies, music, and books.
You can also watch your favorite movies from Netflix and Hulu Plus and enjoy music with its bass-reflex audio.
The GPD XD+ 2018 has been upgraded with things like Bluetooth shared internet, Android 7.0, MTK8176 Quad-core+ power VR, Vulkan engine, E-ink book mode, and 4GB RAM.
This gaming device comes in a relatively small size, with thickness twice that of your mobile phone.
For the portable & small size it easily fits your pocket, so you can enjoy entertainment on the go.
Another high spec is its 6000m AH battery life, which is long enough to sustain Android games for about 8-9 hours and emulator games for about 8-11 hours.
The battery life will depend on the screen brightness.
It features a 5” touch screen, a D-pad, ten gaming buttons, two analog joysticks, and Bluetooth 4.1. Additionally, it offers wireless LAN 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac.
What to Consider for Buying Best Handheld Emulators
Below are some items you should pay attention to before buying any gaming emulator.
Types of Game
The first thing that you should consider when buying a handheld emulator is the type of games it can play.
Before you make any decision purchase, you need to ask yourself what your favorite game is and ensure that the gaming emulator can play it.
The range of games available varies from device to device. For instance, the Android device mostly plays retro games.
This is the most important factor as it will determine whether you can enjoy playing the games for long hours or not.
You probably do not want to get interruptions when the game gets exciting. Therefore, pay attention to the battery endurance of any handheld emulator, so you can be sure to enjoy long hours of fun and play.
Basically, the best device will have a minimum battery life of three hours, while other devices can give you five up to seven hours of play.
The battery life of other devices will depend on the brightness on the screen.
Make sure that the gaming emulator you choose comes in dependable and high-quality craftsmanship, so you can be assured of durability.
Also, devices with a trendy and stylish design will draw the attention of others. Devices that come with a curved design along the edges are suitable for children to grip on as they play games.
If portability is an essential factor to you, then you need to look for an emulator that comes in a compact size and is able to fit in the pocket, purse, or bag.
A small size emulator is easy to carry around. Additionally, you can take it anywhere you go and enjoy all-out gaming even during travels.
The screen size display of various devices varies greatly. A device with a big screen is the right choice since you will have a lot of viewing space to make your gaming experience exceptional.
Another tip is to look for screens with a screen protector, so you don’t have to worry about dust and scratches.
The bets handheld emulators can play on different platforms such as TVs, screen monitors, and projectors.
As long as they have the same input connector as the console, you can enjoy playing your games on the big screen.
Format of Games Supported
The form of games supported is essential as it will determine how many classics you are going to enjoy.
Opt for a console that offers support for multiple game formats such as SFC, NES, SMC, GBA, GBC, BIN, SEGA, NEO GEO, GB, CPS, and GG.
With multiple game formats, you can install more games and enjoy a massive gaming world.
Some of the extra features to look out for when buying a handheld gaming device include a WiFi spot, Bluetooth band, external memory, volume control, loudspeakers, wrist strap, clock, camera, calendar, and many more.
You should also ensure that it comes with lots of RAM and ROM, so you can have a great memory to download your games.
Frequently Asked Questions about Handheld Emulators
Here are some commonly asked questions concerning the handheld emulators.
Is it Safe to Use an Emulator on my PC?
Typically, it is safe to run the emulator on computers. However, some emulators do not go through the beta period before being released to the public, and this can cause problems that may lead to file damage. Luckily, this does not happen a lot.
How does Emulator Works?
There are various types of the emulator which are designed for specific consoles being emulated online.
Various technologies are used to run the games and give exceptional emulation experience.
For instance, Adobe Flash technology is used by emulators such as NES, GBA, and Game Boy Color to run the games.
How do you set up the USB controller?
In order to set up a USB controller, go to the USB setting controller. Then, simply map the keyboard keys to the controller buttons.
If there are no keyboard mapping settings on the USB controller, use USB Overdrive for Mac OS and JoyToKey for Windows.
Can You Play in Multiplayer Mode in the controller?
For most devices, there is no multiplayer mode yet to play with a second player or over the internet.
There is only one controller to play the game. You can, however, share the games you play with your friends and compare your individual scores.
Which Emulator is Best?
With so many emulators to choose from, the choice you make will depend on your unique needs and requirements.
Nevertheless, you need to know the essential features to look out for when making your selection.
This includes things like high hardware and software compatibility, fast updates, and easy-to-understand interface.
Is it Possible to Configure the Emulator Controls?
Yes, you can configure the emulator controls to match your taste. You just need to click on the emulator screen and hover with your mouse until an icon bar appears at the bottom.
Then click on the tool icon where you will see the default setting. Set up the emulator custom controls to your liking.
How does enlarge the Screen of the emulator?
For now, it is not possible to make the screen bigger. You can, however, play the full game screen by clicking at the “full screen” icon at the bottom of the screen.
How does it save the game’s progress?
In order to save your game from where you left, be sure to follow the steps below:
- Hover the cursor over the screen to display the icons at the bottom of the emulator. Click on the arrow pointing down that says “Save.”
- Download the file that you are looking to save and place it anywhere on the computer. Ensure that the file name has the “.sav” extension.
If you want to load your game, here is what you need to do:
- To load the game, hover the cursor over the screen, and some icons will appear at the bottom of the game screen. Look for an image named “load” or “load state” and press it.
- Find and open the file with the “.Sav” extension that you had previously saved. When you open this file, your game will load, and you will be able to continue playing without losing any progress.
Which is the Minimum Battery Life
The minimum battery life you can expect from any device is 3 hours.
Can I Play Retro Games on Handheld Console?
The PlayStation Vitas and 3DS offer compatibility with older handheld consoles.
Nonetheless, the Android tablet is a better choice if you are for running an emulator since it offers high-quality emulation software.
Why is Game Loading Slow?
When you click on the emulator screen to start a game, the emulator loads particular game ROMs.
However, some of these ROMs are small in size. Sometimes, it may take a few seconds to load the internet connection, especially if the games are more modest.
Loading bigger games can cause heavy loading, and this may take some time.
Nonetheless, with steps taken to make loading quicker, it should take just a few seconds to load more massive games unless there is a problem with the internet connection.
What is a Multi-platform Device?
A multiplatform gaming emulator is one that can play games on several platforms.
This includes projectors, screen monitors, and TVs. Such a device allows you to enjoy the games on a bigger screen.
What Should I Do When the Game is Lagging?
When playing certain games like GBA, you may experience lag. One way to avoid this is by muting the sound on your system (Windows) and not on the emulator.
If this does not work, click on the outside of the game screen and then on the game screen again.
What Technology Emulator Use?
Different types of technologies are used depending on the console that needs to be emulated.
For instance, games in Sega, Genesis, Game Boy Color/ Advance and Super Nintendo are run using Adobe Flash Technology.
What does it mean by Non-Annoyance Popup Ads?
It is common to come across annoying forced ads or popup ads from some websites. These pop-up ads usually run before the game loads and are likely to ruin the user’s experience.
Therefore, the non-annoyance popup ads mean that the ads are non-intrusive, and you can enjoy the game without any interruption.
How We Came Up With the List of the Best Handheld Emulators
When compiling this list of the best gaming emulators, there are certain things that we took into consideration.
The top factor is the types of games available, especially the classic games which are ideal for children and bring nostalgia to adults.
Another crucial factor is the battery endurance rate. This is important because no one likes to run out of battery in the middle of playing their favorite game, and everyone wants a more extended, uninterrupted playtime.
The other feature we considered is portability since a lot of people prefer a device that they can carry easily and give them entertainment on the go.
The screen size is also crucial to many. A big screen size will guarantee a big space to view your game.
While it can be challenging to choose the best gaming device for your needs, our reviews take you through the top 10 handheld emulators that surely give the best value for money.
Whether you are looking for action-packed adventures or retro gaming fun, these emulators will bring back the good old memories and keep your kid busy for hours.
When making your decision, pay attention to the features and the benefits, so you can narrow down your choices and eventually grab the best deal.