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Nintendo Switch is the most popular handheld console of all time

Nintendo holds four of the top five spots on the most popular handheld consoles of all-time rankings.

Nintendo logs record pandemic profit but outlook cautious
In the past, Nintendo's new console sales have tended to peak in the third year after release, and then taper off - Copyright AFP Philip FONG
In the past, Nintendo's new console sales have tended to peak in the third year after release, and then taper off - Copyright AFP Philip FONG

New data indicates that The Nintendo Switch is the most popular handheld console of all time, averaging 20.7 million sales every year – although sales are not the only factor to consider when assessing overall popularity. First released in 2017, the gadget has sold more than 103 million units, averaging 20.7 million sales over the past seven years. This is not something that is static for popularity for the Switch continues with more than 11 million monthly global searches for the handheld console.

Coming in second is the Nintendo DS, with 154 million sales since its release in 2004. The DS was the first portable gaming device to have dual screens and touch-screen technology. The handheld console is still in popular demand, with an estimated 449,000 monthly global Google searches, the fourth highest of any handheld console.

Overall, Nintendo holds four of the top five spots on the most popular handheld consoles of all-time rankings, which have been compiled by solitaired.com and provided to Digital Journal.

In terms of how the gaming platform metrics were assembled, the overall rankings were based on all-time sales, sales relative to years since release, and estimated global amount of Google searches.

The overall rankings are:

RankConsoleYear ReleasedSalesSales per yearGlobal Searches
1Nintendo Switch2017103,540,00020,708,00011,070,000
2Nintendo DS2004154,020,0008,556,667449,000
3Game Boy/Game Boy Color1989/98118,690,0003,596,667512,400
4Nintendo 3DS201176,000,0006,909,091324,000
5PlayStation Portable200482,000,0004,555,556442,700

Coming in third place is the Game Boy, the third console from Nintendo in the top rankings. Originally released in 1989, with the Game Boy Color following in 1998, the Game Boy has sold over 118 million units, the second-highest of any handheld console on the market. Google searches for Game Boy are estimated to be 512,400 per month globally, making it the second most searched for handheld console to date.

The Nintendo 3DS comes in fourth place. As the successor of the DS, the 3DS aimed to redefine handheld gaming once again with the introduction of 3D technology. The console was first released in 2011, initially struggling in the market. However, the introduction of alternative models, such as the 3DS XL and 2DS, increased sales significantly, with an estimated 76 million units sold in total. Global searches for the Nintendo 3DS are estimated to be 324,000 per month.

Closing out the top five is Sony’s PlayStation Portable, more commonly referred to as the PSP. This was Sony’s first handheld console, marketed as ‘the most powerful handheld console’ when it was released in 2004. Since then, the PSP has sold more than 82 million units, averaging 4.5 million per year. Searches for the Sony PSP are estimated to be 442,700 per month globally.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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