PlayStation Portal Feels Better Than It Looks

A PlayStation Portal handheld displays the start screen.
A PlayStation Portal handheld displays the start screen.

There’s no getting around it. The PlayStation Portal, Sony’s new wireless PS5 handheld, is very weird-looking. Essentially a DualSense controller split in half with a touchscreen in the middle, it’s the handheld equivalent of a Hummer turned into a stretch limousine. When I saw the first images of this thing online, my initial thought was someone had drawn it on a bar napkin, or outgoing PlayStation boss Jim Ryan had lost a bet.

Once I opened the box, which is a little bit smaller than the one you’d get with a pair of Vans, that perception was unchanged. It still looks like someone made a boomerang out of a Kindle. It has the same coarse texture on the back of each controller arm. It’s pleasing to the touch, but also a grime-magnet.

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The handles are roughly an inch shorter than those of the standard DualSense, which I expect might take a little bit of getting used to. My hands naturally sit a little further forward of the control sticks on the Portal than the DualSense, and I can imagine needing to adjust my grip occasionally while I get used to driving this beast.

Photo of the back of the dualsense and portal handheld.
Photo of the back of the dualsense and portal handheld.

The Portal is far more robustly constructed than I expected, and there’s no give or torsion if you tug at the handles. The bottom corners of the screen could be vulnerable to cracking after a drop—there isn’t much in the way of a protective bezel around the lower third of the screen. That said, the screen is solidly mounted to the frame in a way that belies the rather spindly look of the Portal.

Annoyingly, Sony’s handheld doesn’t come with a dedicated power brick—just a USB cable for you to use with another adapter or to plug into the front of your PS5. The power cable goes in the center-back of the screen, right under the white armature. It’s a little fiddly to get to, but not quite as annoying as the cable housings on the Switch dock.

We’ll have a full rundown of Sony’s new handheld next week. PlayStation Portal launches November 15 (see at Best Buy).

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