Phil Spencer thinks Xbox should have a handheld console

Xbox press conference
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An Xbox handheld gaming console isn't a new tease from the Chief Executive Office of Microsoft Gaming, Phil Spencer. In an Xbox podcast in February, Spencer hinted at the possibility of an Xbox handheld while reaffirming that new Xbox consoles will be coming. 

During an interview with IGN at the Xbox Showcase over the weekend, Spencer addressed the ongoing rumors that Microsoft is working on a handheld console of some kind. 

"The future for us in hardware is pretty awesome. The work that the team is doing around different form factors, different ways to play, I'm incredibly excited about," Spencer said.

When pressed about a potential handheld device and whether it would feature cloud-based gaming, he added, "I think being able to play games locally is really important."

Spencer also mentioned that he likes the ROG Ally and Steam Deck, which isn't surprising, as they both received solid reviews from Tom's Guide editors.

In other interviews, Spencer has mentioned that he wants a compact Xbox mode on a handheld gaming PC. "I want it to feel like the dash of my Xbox when I turn on the television," he said.

While Xbox did reveal three new Series S/X consoles this past weekend, they are also supposedly in the works on a next-generation Xbox console. Which will, according to Xbox President Sarah Bond, be the "largest technical leap" ever.

Look, whether or not Xbox will produce a handheld console has been grist for the rumor mill for quite some time. We reported in 2021 that Xbox was dabbling with an Xbox handheld when Qualcomm released the Snapdragon G3x gaming chip.

The sticky wicket is actually Windows. Somehow, Xbox running Windows in a gaming platform needs to hide the Windows from the user. 

It is possible to make a semi-mobile Xbox as Tom's Guide's Anthony Spadafora managed to combine an xScreen and a portable power station to create a kind of Xbox laptop experience on a camping trip last year.

Tom's Guide computing expert Tony Polanco has said that an Xbox handheld might be a way for Xbox to survive and thrive. "Maybe an Xbox handheld wouldn’t give the brand an easy victory over its competitors, but it would get people talking about Xbox."

He also said that if working properly, it would provide a potential alternative to Windows 11 on handhelds. Other handheld companies know this. When Asus announced the ROG Ally X, part of the announcement included a feature called Armory Crate that is specifically designed to get around Windows 11 and hide the OS from users. 

It's not a definitive statement, but Spencer keeps mentioning the idea, so the hints are there, and it's feeling more and more like a real possibility.

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Scott Younker
West Coast Reporter

Scott Younker is the West Coast Reporter at Tom’s Guide. He covers all the lastest tech news. He’s been involved in tech since 2011 at various outlets and is on an ongoing hunt to build the easiest to use home media system. When not writing about the latest devices, you are more than welcome to discuss board games or disc golf with him.