Microsoft apparently wants a bit of the handheld market as rumours talk about a potential portable Xbox targeting late 2026. This handheld should come alongside a living room console offering higher graphics power.
According to XNC podcast co-host MAGG, Microsoft could release two consoles. If we’re lucky, one will be a dockable handheld console that runs games via the cloud or locally, unlike Sony’s PlayStation Portal, in addition to a powerful living room unit like the Series X.
Streaming games from the cloud on current Xbox consoles is a little counterproductive. While you skip downloads and installs, the cloud introduces lag. It makes more sense on a handheld machine with limited battery and compute power. Owners should be able to run less demanding games locally or enjoy graphically demanding ones through the cloud to make the device last longer.
Interestingly, it seems that the Surface team is tasked with this job instead of the gaming division. This is understandable, as the department is already familiar with battery-powered devices. Unlike our favourite fun boxes, handled machines must be efficient, small, and powerful without being too hot or heavy.
Talking about power, Intel wants to become Microsoft’s partner for the next console. This Xbox handheld may house an Intel SOC similar to MSI’s Claw. It would be interesting to see if Team Blue can win both the fixed and handheld contracts against AMD.
This may also mean that we won’t have a Series S equivalent. This proposed handheld could easily cover the budget spot while being more attractive due to its untethered nature. Since this is early doors, take these rumours with a pinch of salt.
I’m more interested in what software it will run. Branded as an Xbox, it’ll probably ship with a new version of Xbox system software. That itself is a modified version of Windows, so we could see Asus ROG Ally and Lenovo Legion Go benefit. It all depends on how locked down the ecosystem is. Ideally, both consoles and PC will get an Xbox app that takes cues from Valve’s Big Picture. But hey, I’d take a fully integrated PC Game Pass on Steam Deck without the faffy workarounds if it was on offer.
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