Watch out Switch 2 — Sony could finally be making a new PlayStation handheld

A shot of PlayStation Vita from behind
(Image credit: Sony)

The Japanese giant couldn’t go ahead and actually do the deed, could it? About the only thing hardcore PlayStations fans want more than the spiritual follow-up to the PSP and PS Vita is a new Twisted Metal spin-off featuring Sweet Tooth in his own horror game. Actually, clearly that’s just me. Everyone else just wants a new Sony gaming handheld.

And going by recent reports, it looks like you may all get your wishes granted. Well-known hardware leaker Moore’s Law is Dead (thanks Insider Gaming), says Sony is working on a non-streaming pocket-sized console.

That “non-streaming” part is key. If this rumored handheld ever comes to the market, we shouldn’t be dealing with a PlayStation Portal situation. As weirdly popular as it proved at launch, Sony’s latest gizmo is nothing but a glorified streaming device. According to Moore’s Law that won’t be the case with the company’s latest gaming portable, as it will run titles natively. 

The leaker’s report suggests the first proper handheld to come from Sony since 2012’s PlayStation Vita will rock a custom AMD APU (just as PS5 does). The device is “currently in the high level design phase” and is “at least two years out, and technically not greenlit for launch yet”. 

Latest new PlayStation handheld rumors

The PlayStation Vita

PlayStation Vita was way ahead of its time with its beautiful OLED screen, but the Nintendo 3DS still crushed it sales-wise.  (Image credit: Sony)

In terms of how powerful Sony’s unannounced handheld could be, tidbits from MLID’s report hint at a system that will support backward compatibility for PS4 games. If true, this would make you assume this device is at least as powerful as Sony’s eighth generation home console. Should this prove to be the case, we’d be looking at a handheld more in line with Steam Deck power than Nintendo Switch.

While MLID says he’s confirmed AMD has a contract with Sony to manufacture this rumored new PlayStation handheld’s APU, he doesn’t have any precise specs on the device.

If Sony truly is working on a new Portable PlayStation, it’s almost certain the Nintendo Switch 2 will beat it to market. After all, rumors persist that Nintendo is gearing up to manufacture 10 million Switch 2 units in its first year.

As for the levels of grunt this alledgled next-gen PSP/whatever it ends up being called could have to square off with, some reporting points to an underpowered Nintendo Switch 2 that will be “roughly on par with PS4 when docked”. Although in cheerier news, it could also be treated to a 7-inch OLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate. Cross all of Mario’s fingers that’s the route The Big N choose to go down, because those rumors of Switch 2 getting an LCD screen make the OLED obsessive very sad.

A few years from now if we find ourselves thrust into a Nintendo Switch 2 vs next-gen PlayStation Portable, the bigwigs at Sony will be hoping for a very different outcome from when the companies last clashed in the handheld space. While the PS Vita sold around 15 million units throughout its lifecycle, the Nintendo 3DS utterly battered those numbers; shifting north of 75 million machines.

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Dave Meikleham
UK Computing Editor

Dave is a computing editor at Tom’s Guide and covers everything from cutting edge laptops to ultrawide monitors. When he’s not worrying about dead pixels, Dave enjoys regularly rebuilding his PC for absolutely no reason at all. In a previous life, he worked as a video game journalist for 15 years, with bylines across GamesRadar+, PC Gamer and TechRadar. Despite owning a graphics card that costs roughly the same as your average used car, he still enjoys gaming on the go and is regularly glued to his Switch. Away from tech, most of Dave’s time is taken up by walking his husky, buying new TVs at an embarrassing rate and obsessing over his beloved Arsenal. 

  • Sim2er
    The problem with those cloud handhelds is that they don't have 5G except for the Verizon exclusive Razer edge. I'd buy a Nintendo phone in a heartbeat, and for the past few years I wondered what would've happened if Microsoft released an Xbox phone. I almost bought the Xperia Play back in the day except for the crappy carrier exclusivity.

    The irony is that Sony got a head start when they bought onlive but then squandered the technology. They also had momentum with the PSP. The handheld space is pretty crowded now, especially with all the PC handhelds. Sony still has a number of exclusive franchises, but their PC ports might harm their handheld ambitions. However I'm mostly a PC player so I'm happy that exclusives are largely a relic of the past. I actually bought an Xbox over PlayStation because of cross compatibility.