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If you always wanted an Xbox handheld console, you might be in luck

Microsoft is reportedly testing a prototype of an Xbox handheld console, its rumored next-gen refresh to compete with Sony and Nintendo.

Xbox Handheld Prototype: An image of Master Chief and the Xbox logo.

Just about any major gaming company is in the handheld market these days. The Nintendo Switch continues to shift millions of units, and Sony is back in the game with its PlayStation Portal. Now, Microsoft is supposedly looking into bringing Xbox players a portable console too, as rumors claim an Xbox handheld is in the prototyping stage.

The ability to play any of the best Xbox Game Pass games or new Xbox games on the go is an attractive prospect. Sure, you can figure out how to cloud stream Xbox titles on many of the best handheld gaming PCs out there, but it’s not quite the same as shacking up with Microsoft’s hardware. According to rumors from Windows Central’s Jez Corden while appearing on the Xbox Two podcast, he says that Xbox “have got handheld prototypes right now.”

Microsoft isn’t dabbling with cloud technology, either, as Corden adds that the purported Xbox handheld prototype is a “fully native Xbox handheld.” That means, theoretically, you should be able to play games without issues like internet connectivity hindering your gaming sessions. We’d love to be able to harness current-gen hardware from Xbox in our hands, no matter where we are. But playing the best FPS games or best RPG games available on Xbox outside the house might not happen anytime soon.

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Word of a refresh for Xbox was previously mentioned in the Xbox Business podcast with Phil Spencer and Sarah Bond, claiming that the next Xbox console would be “the largest technical leap you will have ever seen in a hardware generation, which makes it better for players and better for creators and the visions that they’re building.” This follows concerns that Xbox consoles would leave the physical market, and opt to concentrate on cloud-focused gaming.

It’d be a unique move from Microsoft to release its first Xbox handheld, as opposed to Project Brooklyn, the rumored next-gen Xbox console, as part of its refresh goals. This would contrast strongly from Sony’s alleged plans to release a PS5 Pro, which would considerably buff the current model’s specs before the release of new PS5 games like GTA 6.

There’s a gap in the market for Xbox to carve out, given that Nintendo is still yet to update its hardware, and the PlayStation Portal can’t play games natively and relies on Remote Play to function. However, finding an attractive point will be its biggest obstacle, especially if it’s offering powerful portable results.

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In other gaming news, GTA 6 could be delayed to 2026, and we speak to the developers behind upcoming extraction shooter Exoborne at GDC 2024.