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Phil Hayton

An Xbox handheld could finally show up during the Xbox Games Showcase, but I hope it’s not a PlayStation Portal rival

GamesRadar+ hardware editor Phil Hayton holding Steam Deck OLED with Xbox logo on screen.

To the dismay of portable gaming fans, the long-rumored Xbox handheld failed to show up at the publisher's Games Showcase. Whether or not a portable version of the console is in the works has yet to be confirmed, but while the company won't be entering the best gaming handheld ring quite yet, it's about to send more console contenders to battle.

In addition to the current line-up, three new Xbox consoles are set to arrive this year. The trio includes an all-digital Series X with a white shell, a new Series S with 1TB of storage, and a revamped Series X with a massive 2TB drive. As for new hardware, Xbox's Sarah Bond says the company is "hard at work on the next generation," which should provide reassurance that it's not exiting the console market.

However, not all is lost, as Phil Spencer has dropped hints that an Xbox handheld could be coming after all. The CEO also suggested that a hypothetical portable by the company would focus on local gameplay, avoiding streaming solutions used by other devices within the space.

Many players who caught the original Xbox handheld report are sure to be bummed out at this year's Summer Games Fest event. A portable version of the Series S could have served as a pick-me-up for fans who are waiting for something different from Microsoft's gaming brand. That said, when you take a step back and look at everything announced at the Xbox Games Showcase, players have a lot to look forward to, including Fable in 2025 and a whole lot more.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

As for Xbox handheld, we'll be keeping an eye on the scene as always, whether the portable ends up being a cloud device or a fully-fledged console. We've still got a few big events in 2024, and provided the rumors are true, it may end up popping up later in the year.

Original story:

Xbox handheld rumors are making the rounds yet again, but this time they point towards a portable console reveal during the Xbox Games Showcase. While the latest round of whispers don’t contain any info about specs, you’ll only have to wait until June 9 to see what Microsoft actually has in store. That said, I’m already praying that we get something that’ll challenge the Steam Deck rather than rival the PlayStation Portal with streaming shenanigans.

eXtas1s, a renowned leaker and YouTuber, claims that an “Xbox Portable” teaser will feature during the Games Showcase (via TrueAchievements). Again, we’ve not got anything else to go on yet, apart from its existence being revealed, and there’s no guarantee we’ll hear anything about the handheld’s specs and capabilities during the event. However, we could find out whether it’ll be a miniaturized Series S, an Android-based streaming device, or something new entirely. The enthusiast in me is holding out for the latter, but I can absolutely see the appeal in being able to use current-gen console tech on the go. 

Most of the gaming handhelds out there right now, other than the Switch, are portable PCs. In theory, an Xbox handheld could reignite competition within the handheld console scene again, as Nintendo has been wandering around that battlefield solo since the PS Vita was vanquished. Yes, I know that the PlayStation Portal is technically a successor, but if you’ve read my review, you’ll know that I don’t think remote play is a proper answer to the industry’s portable problem. 

 Dear Xbox, please don’t pull a Portal 

(Image credit: Future / Phil Hayton)

It feels like we’ve been spoiled by the portable PC scene lately. Not only do we have a brand new Asus ROG Ally inbound, but the Zotac Zone is on the way to take on the Steam Deck OLED. Handheld console enthusiasts will also likely be able to get their hands on the Nintendo Switch 2, but I can’t help but feel like Xbox and PS5 players are having their mobile gaming needs neglected. Sure, the PlayStation Portal is a least an attempt at cutting the cord, but I think fans deserve more features beyond streaming.

The bare minimum I’m asking for here is for Microsoft to make a handheld that doesn’t require a Series X or S console. I mean, if I really had my way, I’d also ask that the Xbox Portable is able to run games natively rather than using the cloud at all, as we’ve already got devices like the Razer Edge and Logitech G Cloud that provide that functionality. Ideally, I want to see Microsoft go for something a bit more ambitious, as creating something with features that span beyond the cloud could serve as a great hardware revival. 

I’ve said this before, but I truly believe Microsoft needs to optimize Windows before making an Xbox handheld. Whether the company’s PC and console endeavors intertwine is a different matter entirely, but the new portable could help the brand carve out its own space within the scene. I’m not 100% sold on the idea of the device itself being a mini rig, as that could be viewed as a nail in the coffin for traditional console hardware. But, that’s not to say the system’s OS can’t share similarities with whatever’s on the cards for the Windows 11 side of things.

Ultimately, I think all portable gaming fans will benefit if the Xbox handheld can run games natively. There’s no guarantee that the above rumors are true, but I’ll be along for the ride on June 9. The recent explosion within the portable PC scene is proof enough that players are craving mobile options, and with previous rumors suggesting even Sony is cooking up a proper Steam Deck alternative, I think we can do better than the Portal.

Already sitting pretty with Valve’s portable? Check out the best Steam Deck accessories and best Steam Deck dock. Alternatively, Swing by the best gaming laptop for something with more oomph. 

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