Unless you live under a rock, it should be quite evident that the Nintendo Switch is currently the epitome of portable, handheld gaming right now. From it’s versatility in the numerous ways that it can be played, to the range of its high quality exclusive titles like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Octopath Traveler, Splatoon 2, and Mario Tennis Aces, to its increasing library of fan favorite third party games like Fortnite and Paladins, there’s no denying that the Switch is a must-have for those looking to do some gaming on the go, or at home.
But what if you don’t want a Switch? Maybe you don’t care for the Nintendo exclusive titles, and are looking for other types of games or different features that can provide a different experience. Well the good news is that there are definitely some viable alternatives to the Switch. We’re going to take a look at two currently strong alternative options.
GPD Win 2 – A handheld clam shell PC that is about the size of a Nintendo 3DS XL. It runs a full version of Windows 10 (yes, it’s true), and features a built-in gamepad and keyboard.
iPhone 8 Plus/X with Gamevice controller – With the Apple A11 Bionic chip at their core, these are the most powerful smart phones to date with the largest and nicest display; attach a Gamevice controller and they turn into a legitimate handheld gaming device.
I know, an iPhone?! Yes, before you decide to press the back button, please stick around to the section where I describe why I chose these devices to compare to the Switch, I think you might be surprised at what you find out about the iPhone’s gaming possibilities!
Nintendo Switch – A tablet-like console with removable Joy-Con controllers and the ability to be docked and played on a TV. Since this device is so well known, I won’t bother with explaining the specs or details of the Switch.
GPD Win 2
The GPD Win 2 released around the start of the second quarter of 2018. It is the successor to the GPD Win, and features an Intel M3-7Y30 dual core processor with Intel HD 615 integrated graphics; a major upgrade from its first iteration. It sports 8gb of DDR3 RAM for memory and a 6 inch, 720p touch screen display. You can use this touch screen to navigate through Windows, or use the integrated gamepad that doubles as a mouse function.
The Win 2 comes with 120gb of internal storage in the form of a removable M.2 SSD, and includes a Micro SD expansion slot for additional storage space. This is a huge plus considering many Windows triple A games are large files, and since micro SD cards are now coming in capacities as large as 512gb, this means that it is possible to have up to 1tb of storage on this device! Other ports include USB A 3.0, USB C (a nice touch), and micro HDMI for extending the display to another monitor.
As mentioned before, you can expect it to include a full version of Windows 10, it includes WiFi and Bluetooth connections of course, and just about every other standard feature readily available on a Windows laptop, minus some ports and plus an integrated full gamepad that doubles as the mouse feature.
A quick YouTube search will lead you to videos of the device adequately playing games like Grand Theft Auto 5 and Doom, and easily rocking other titles like Overwatch and Diablo 3. As a Windows 10 machine, it is capable of running an uncountable number of Steam games, so long as they fit within the graphical power capabilities of the device, and it is capable of playing emulators, something that the Switch definitely cannot do. Piqued your interest yet? Between the Steam library, emulators, and numerous other games on Windows, it is safe to say that this device has the largest amount of game options out of the three that we’re talking about in this article.
There is a catch to this wonderfulness of course, as the GPD Win 2 is expected to retail between $700-$900. While I assume that the price will go down a significant amount after some time, like its predecessor did, a few potential buyers might find that the hefty price does not quite match the potential. After all, for the same price you can build a decent gaming desktop, buy a normal sized gaming laptop, an Xbox One X, two Nintendo Switches, or even something like the new Microsoft Surface Go, which is another portable-style Windows machine.
Personally I find that the device might be worth the price for a small group of people. Essentially you’ll be paying for slightly limited PC gaming capabilities with the ultimate amount of portability. Just imagine playing GTA 5, Farcry 3, or Cuphead while on the bus, waiting at the airport, or on a flight. Playing Warframe and Overwatch while laying cozily in bed sounds quite pleasant as well. Additionally, the one thing that needs to be remembered is that this is, by all definitions, a Windows computer, so there are almost infinite other possibilities aside from gaming that can be achieved on this device, although I would recommend that you definitely not try to type an essay on this thing.
Videos of the Win 2 playing various titles:
The Phawx – YouTube
As an added note, with the micro HDMI port, I imagine that it may even be possible to connect this bad boy to a TV, hook up a discrete controller via USB or Bluetooth, and essentially convert it into a makeshift console. This is a crude version of what the Nintendo Switch is famous for, and who knows if it’s capable of pushing more than 720p at an adequate amount of FPS to a monitor, but with a Windows machine, anything is possible. PCMR.
Pros/Features: Full Windows 10, integrated gamepad that doubles as mouse, 6in. Gorilla Glass touch screen, 120gb SSD with expandable storage, WiFi & Bluetooth, capable of running Steam, emulators, and other games, multiple ports, full keyboard, stereo speakers, fast charge, BIOS settings are customizable.
Cons: Price, only comes with 128gb of storage out of the box, limited by integrated graphics, so newest triple A titles probably won’t fare well.
iPhone 8 Plus/X with Gamevice controller
Admittedly I’m quite excited to share the idea of an iPhone as a legitimate portable gaming option, especially because when the idea of a gaming phone pops up, you probably think of the Razer Phone, or the brand new Asus ROG phone, both of which have legitimate features that could compete with the Switch, and both of which are potential candidates for my next article…
A year ago I bought a Gamevice for my iPhone and after finding a long list of high quality games in the app store (both touch-only and controller compatible), and taking the Gamevice with me on a few vacations (where I didn’t feel like carrying around my Switch) , I can truthfully say that I am quite impressed at the potential and possibilities of this little tech duo.
Before this past year, like many of you, whenever someone brought up the idea of mobile gaming I would cast it aside as nothing more than spiritless time sinks and predatory in-app purchase schemes. It wasn’t until my introduction to Vainglory, a legitimate iOS MOBA with a thriving esports scene, and popular games like Fortnite and PUBG being ported to iOS, that I realized that true gaming was actually a possibility on a mobile device like an iPhone.
With high-quality touchscreen games like Arena Of Valor, Iron Marines (a fun and light RTS reminiscent of Starcraft 2), Steamworld Heist, Infinity Blade 3, The Witness, and tons more, you can begin to see that even without any additional devices, gaming on an iPhone (or iPad) can be a pretty legitimate experience. Well, when paired with the Gamevice, that experience increases ten fold; the iPhone turns into a powerful handheld console capable of playing thousands of controller compatible iOS games.
Yes you read that correctly, thousands. One of the many features of the Gamevice is the accompanying Gamevice Live app that lists every one of the over 1,000 iOS games that are playable with the Gamevice controller. The app, while a little simple and rough around the edges, does a great job of getting you going with the games that you want to play. And while sure, a good chunk of the games are freemium garbage, there are plenty of quality games, both indie and higher-end, that will keep you busy for hours. Many of these games that you’ll run into can also be found on Steam, the Nintendo Switch, and other consoles as well. Some significant mentionables are Transistor, ICEY, The Talos Principle, World of Tanks, and Dandara.
Some other features of the Gamevice that make it worth the $60-$80 price tag: It connects to your iPhone via Lighting port, saving you from Bluetooth pairing headaches, and leaving your Bluetooth connection open for headphones, although it’s not necessary considering that it also features a headphone jack; I’m sure many of you like the idea of having a headphone jack again. Additionally, the controller also includes a Lightning port, which means that you can charge your phone through the controller while playing. Gamevice says that the controller itself is hardly a drain on your phones battery and “barely uses the same amount of power as a pair of headphones”.
I’ve already name-dropped quite a few game titles in this article, but I’m glad to tell you that there is plenty more high quality, console/PC style titles and ports on iOS. The earlier half of the GTA series as well as other Rockstar games like Bully, many entries in the Final Fantasy series, and even retro ports like Sonic and Rayman games are available to play. Several triple A and indie games that were originally available on PC or consoles have been ported to iOS. NBA 2K18, GRID Autosports, Minecraft, and Street Fighter IV are prime examples of triple A games that play well and look amazing on the platform. Life is Strange, Fez, Inside, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, Oceanhorn, Bastion, Terraria, and Portal Knights are just some of the various popular indie title games that have made their way to iOS. Truthfully told, just about anyone reading this would be pleasantly surprised and equally impressed at seeing the amount of high quality titles/ports to play on the iPhone and Gamevice.
Pros/Features: You might already have an iPhone ready to turn into a portable console, currently the most powerful smart phone on the market – handles any game with ease, large library of high quality games (behind the clutter of freemium ones), Gamevice uses Lightning port which frees up the Bluetooth for headphones, Gamevice folds up for portability
Cons: Limited to the iOS library (no emulators,etc.), Gamevice is a bit overpriced, gaming swallows up your phones battery life, you have to dig through the freemium games to find the good ones
There is no doubt that the Nintendo Switch has become a powerhouse of a console since its release, and its popularity continues to grow as its game library increases with great titles that are sure to bring even more people onto the platform. I myself enjoy playing Splatoon 2, Super Mario Odyssey, and a load of “nindies”on my Switch, currently. Floor Kids keeps me entertained for hours!
However, the Switch is not for everyone, and sometimes people enjoy to stay off of the beaten path. This is where devices like the latest iPhone, which you might already have in your pocket, and the GPD Win 2, which may serve more of your needs than just gaming, might be a better suited option for you.