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During the past few years, mobile phones and other handheld devices have gone from only handling dull text-based menu systems to, on an increasing number of models, being able to render high-quality three-dimensional graphics at high frame rates. This paper is a survey of the special considerations that must be taken when designing graphics processing units (GPUs) on such devices. Starting off by introducing desktop GPUs as a reference, the paper discusses how mobile GPUs are designed, often with power consumption rather than performance as the primary goal. Lowering the bus traffic between the GPU and the memory is an efficient way of reducing power consumption, and therefore some high-level algorithms for bandwidth reduction are presented. In addition, an overview of the different APIs that are used in the handheld market to handle both two-dimensional and three-dimensional graphics is provided. Finally, we present our outlook for the future and discuss directions of future research on handheld GPUs.