PlayStation Portal: Alternatives to Sony’s £200 streaming handheld

The PlayStation Portal lets you stream games from your PS5 (Sony)
The PlayStation Portal lets you stream games from your PS5 (Sony)

Yesterday, Sony announced its first dedicated handheld gaming system since the PlayStation Vita.

But far from being a direct follow-up, the PlayStation Portal is something that’s a bit of a headscratcher. In short, it’s extremely limited despite its £200 price point.

Unlike the PSP and Vita, you won’t be able to use the PlayStation Portal outside your home. The device can only stream PS5 games from your PS5, meaning you need to be on the same wifi network and have the main console switched on. It’s pitched as something for multi-user homes, to let players still play PS5 games if someone else is watching TV.

The problem is that there are plenty of devices that already let you do this and, in all likelihood, you’re probably close to a couple right now.

Here are the best PlayStation Portal alternatives, before you decide to drop £200 on Sony’s upcoming curiosity.

Your smartphone or tablet

Backbone One (Backbone)
Backbone One (Backbone)

Pretty much any smartphone or tablet works with PlayStation Remote Play via the iPhone and Android apps.

The only requirement is that you’re running at least Android 8 (released in 2017) or iOS 13 (compatible back to 2015’s iPhone 6s). Both apps are free and can be used over wifi or with your mobile data.

You can use touchscreen controls, but you really shouldn’t if you want a halfway playable time.

Fortunately, you can connect a gamepad via Bluetooth, including Sony’s own PlayStation pads. You’ll need Android 10 or later for the PS4’s DualShock 4 wireless controller, or Android 12 for the PS5’s DualSense. On iOS, you can use a DualShock 4 on iOS 13 or later, but you’ll need at least iOS 14.5 for the DualSense.

To save you from having to pair your gamepad whenever you want a quick game of FIFA, we’d recommend smartphone players get a gamepad grip. The Razer Kishi will do, but for a truly authentic experience, Backbone makes an official PlayStation-style one for both iPhone and Android devices.

The added advantage here is that you’re not stuck with just PlayStation games. You can stream Xbox games via the Game Pass app, or just play the best mobile games in more comfort than you’re used to.

Your computer

Someone gaming on a laptop with a DualShock pad (Castorly Stock / Pexels)
Someone gaming on a laptop with a DualShock pad (Castorly Stock / Pexels)

If you have a laptop or desktop computer, the same applies. Remote Play apps are available for both Windows PCs and Macs, though the hardware requirements are a bit more confusing than the smartphone route.

On a Windows (10 or 11) PC, you’ll need a seventh-generation Intel Core processor or later with at least 2GB RAM and 100MB storage.

For Mac, there’s no processor requirement: you just need to have 2GB or more RAM and more than 40MB of storage space. But you do need to be running one of the following versions of macOS: High Sierra, Mojave, Cataline, Big Sur, Monterey, or Ventura.

Either way, just download the app, pair a Bluetooth gamepad, and get playing.

A dedicated gaming handheld

 (Steam Deck)
(Steam Deck)

If you have the money to spare, one of the new PC gaming handhelds is undoubtedly the way to go for the ultimate portable gaming experience. Devices like Valve’s Steam Deck and the ASUS ROG Ally have built-in controls and are actually built for triple-A gaming on the go.

Not only can both run PlayStation Remote Play (Steam Deck with a little work, the ROG Ally natively via Windows as described above), but they also work with hundreds of PC games that tend to be available more cheaply than their PlayStation equivalents. Better still, they’re perfectly happy running these games offline without an internet connection, making them excellent tube fodder.

The very real downside is price. While you can add a controller phone grip to your smartphone for £50 to £100, the Steam Deck starts at £349, while the ROG Ally will set you back a massive £699.

That’s undoubtedly a lot for those who just want to play their PS5 games when the TV is in use. But for those who take their gaming seriously and want the most flexible option on the go, it’s the best solution you can get right now.