5 things we would like to see


Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

Microsoft has yet to make an Xbox portable console, although the Xbox brand is almost 20 years old. During that time, in fact, Sony has seen three PlayStation handhelds come and go, while Nintendo has gone through countless iterations of the Game Boy and the DS. Handhelds would be hard to break into now – the majority of mobile gamers play on phones and tablets, and the Nintendo Switch has a firm grip on the angle of the console. Valve’s Steam Deck looks set to make portable PC gaming viable.

That said, there are ways in which Microsoft could make a portable Xbox appealing, perhaps even enough to carve a niche of its own. Here are five things we’d like to see if Microsoft ever decides to launch an Xbox handheld.

1. Access to all Xbox games

screenshot of xbox series x halo master chef collection

Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Series X

One of Sony’s obsessions with handhelds was to create portable spinoffs from bigger game franchises like God of War. There was nothing inherently wrong with the idea – a few of those spinoffs became classics in their own right – but there was sometimes a feeling you were getting an inferior B-team product, with a smaller scale, weaker graphics, and / or a side story that didn’t advance the plot. It doesn’t really fly in the 2020s, not when Switch players can play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild wherever they go.

An Xbox handheld should therefore run most or all of the X / S series games. Lower resolutions and Nvidia DLSS scaling could go a long way in making this work, as 4K textures don’t have much of an appeal on a smaller screen. At least some developers should be producing low-resolution assets, but that could be an acceptable hurdle in expanding a game’s audience.

We would like to see a handheld get a version of Game Pass equal to that of the X / S series.

Developers who can’t downgrade their graphics could use Xbox Cloud Gaming for delivery, mirroring the cloud technology Nintendo uses for games like Control and Hitman 3. Xbox Cloud Gaming is currently limited to Game Pass Ultimate subscribers – and Microsoft will keep it. probably. average for financial reasons – but it would certainly be better than nothing. Cloud technology can even let a handheld play both Xbox and PC titles, as long as they share the same control scheme.

Either way, we’d like to see a handheld get a version of Game Pass equal to the X / S series, with a robust library. The pitfall to avoid is the Game Pass for PC, which has an anemic selection by comparison.

2. Touch screen, touchpad and motion controls

wireless controller ps5 vs xbox x series

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

The standard Xbox control layout is a given. That means two analog sticks, a D-pad, and four face buttons, as well as triggers and shoulder buttons.

A touchscreen might not be essential, but one would certainly expect it since virtually every other handheld has had one in the past decade. This would make it easier to navigate the Xbox UI, especially when it comes to typing.

Related: The best portable consoles

A trackpad meanwhile would open up mouse-style control for everything from Halo Wars to Call of Duty. Indeed, that’s why there are two trackpads on the Steam Deck, as well as a motion sensor that can be used to fine-tune aiming. Adding them to an Xbox portable system would be crucial if Microsoft is also to take on Steam by offering support for PC games on the go.

3. A mobile cinema experience

Netflix Originals next to the popcorn stock photo 7

Oddly enough, the Switch is completely lacking in native video streaming apps, although that seems like an obvious way to increase the value of a console. The only options are YouTube, Hulu, and Funimation, leaving major gaps like Netflix, Disney Plus, and HBO Max. The Steam Deck should be in a better position, but only because it will be able to open web services – it could have its own native apps for enhanced playback and offline caching. None have been announced so far.

An Xbox laptop should have access to a full suite of third-party streaming apps, as well as access to Microsoft’s video store and rentals. It might also have the presentation to back it up, including support for Dolby Atmos and an HD widescreen display measuring at least 7 inches. HDR (high dynamic range) would be welcome, although it would likely require 1080p resolution, higher than 720p on the Switch’s built-in display.

4. A dock

Nintendo Switch OLED White Model

The Switch proves that as pleasant as it is to play on the go, when you’re at home, it’s still better to put a system in a dock and play on a TV. Even the Steam Deck has an optional docking station to match Nintendo’s home hybrid setup. While it could cannibalize S-Series sales if the prices were similar, Microsoft probably wouldn’t care as long as it gets your money back somehow.

See also: PS5 vs. Xbox Series X

In a base spec, an Xbox docking station would hopefully offer 4K upscaling and gigabit Ethernet. Ideally, it would also include alternative audio outputs and USB ports for connecting controllers and other peripherals. This could theoretically include cheaper storage, although it would be shocking to remove a device from a dock and suddenly lose several games.

5. Great networking options – home and away

xbox series x vs series s controllers

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

While Microsoft would almost certainly follow its competition, it’s worth remembering that a good handheld should allow people to play together wherever they are, with or without an internet connection. At home, an Xbox laptop should allow people to connect multiple controllers – on the go, peer-to-peer networking would be a must. It keeps kids busy on the roads and adults can only play Monument Valley or Words With Friends on their phones.

Related: The best Xbox Series X and Series S accessories

Perhaps more interesting is how Microsoft could go further. Imagine, for example, if the company let an Xbox handheld connect to an X / S series as a controller. At a minimum, that would be a great fallback, especially when friends are over. If touch and trackpad input were supported, it could make a handheld the best control option.

A handheld would almost certainly provide a high performance all-in-one experience for Xbox Remote Play. For now, Remote Play allows X / S series owners to stream to iPhones, iPads, and Android devices, but to get the full effect they need to connect a separate gamepad, often with a stand or stand. A dedicated handheld would streamline the technology.

Microsoft could potentially add 4G and 5G cellphones, although that would be tricky. 5G is a notorious battery drain, and regardless, gamers should still pay for a monthly data plan.

Is there a chance that an Xbox portable console will actually happen?

xbox x series vs s series before 1

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

If it exists, it is small. As mentioned, gamers already have plenty of mobile options, and an Xbox handheld would likely be more expensive than the $ 350 OLED Switch. It would also be redundant with the X / S series for people already configured for remote playback on a smartphone.

To be successful, Microsoft would likely have to go with Valve’s or Nintendo’s chinstrap, taking a loss of hardware in order to hook people into the Game Pass ecosystem. The payoffs could be huge, but the challenge of selling enough units to gain a (sure) foothold means it might not be worth the risk. Stranger things have happened in the tech industry, so we’ll never say never.


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