Xbox handheld all but confirmed by Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer

Xbox handheld? written via Photoshop on an ASUS ROG Ally
(Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Phil Spencer, the CEO of Microsoft Gaming, dropped a massive hint about a potential Xbox handheld device.
  • Spencer all but confirmed that a handheld Xbox console is on the way during an interview shortly after the Xbox Games Showcase.
  • When pressed about if the hypothetical device would be for streaming or local gameplay, Spencer emphasized the importance of being able to play games locally.

Rumors of an Xbox handheld have swirled swiftly over the past few months, and we now have the biggest hint ever that one is on the way. Xbox CEO Phil Spencer said "I think we should have a handheld, too" in a recent interview. Spencer only touched on the topic briefly, likely not to steal the limelight from the impressive list of titles shown off at the Xbox Games Showcase and the refreshed Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S lineup.

As its name suggests, the Xbox Games Showcase was about games. The event earned high praise from enthusiasts and those in the industry, including our Managing Editor Jez Corden who said, "Microsoft just made its best-ever pitch for the Xbox ecosystem." While the showcase was all about games, that didn't stop Spencer from dropping the biggest hint ever about an Xbox handheld during an interview with IGN.

"The future for us in hardware is pretty awesome. The work that the team is doing around different form factors and different ways to play, I’m incredibly excited about,” said the Xbox chief. “Today was about the games... but we will have a time to come out and talk more about platform."

When pushed further about a hypothetical situation in which Microsoft made an Xbox gaming handheld and asked if that device would be for local gameplay or streaming, Spencer said, "I like my ROG Ally, my Lenovo Legion Go, my Steam Deck. I think being able to play games locally is really important."

The crowd responded to Spencer with enthusiastic applause and cheering as the Xbox CEO smiled.

A natural step for Xbox

People have clamored for a portable Xbox console for ages. When the Steam Deck, ROG Ally, Lenovo Legion Go, and similar devices burst onto the scenes, it became obvious that a new form factor for gaming had emerged. Microsoft has clearly listened to fans, and the tech giant has gone as far as to send out questionnaires asking for people's thoughts on gaming handhelds.

Spencer talked about his love of portable consoles in an exclusive interview with our Managing Editor Jez Corden. The Xbox lead said then that he thinks of handheld PCs as "almost extensions of [his] Xbox console." He made similar comments when teasing an Xbox handheld in his most recent interview.

In a separate piece, Corden argued that an Xbox handheld is "absolutely necessary" for Microsoft. It seems the tech giant agrees.

Microsoft has expanded the reach of its platform consistently over the last few years. You can now stream games to your phone, PC, console, or handheld. You can even stream Xbox titles to a Meta Quest. But a dedicated Xbox handheld that's both made by Microsoft and built for local gameplay of Xbox titles would be a massive step in expanding the Xbox ecosystem.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at

  • John McIlhinney
    It sounds like local gameplay would be the priority but it would be nice if they were to expand the capabilities to enable streaming and then maybe release a lite version that was streaming only.
  • fjtorres5591
    One thing that gets lost in the tea leaf reading: Spencer continues to hype PLAY ANYWHERE. Which means an XBOX-branded windows handheld will meet his needs just fine. All it needs is an XBOX GUI and (maybe) dual boot into full Windows.
    No need to cook up an ultra-low power Lockhart, especially if the next gen XBOX will be a similar hybrid: straight off-the-the shelf parts will do the deed. AMD, INTEL, or (hang on to your hats) QUALCOMM. An easy sell at $499. Maybe $399 with a two year Game Pass contract that will take it into the next gen with a trade-in plan.

    MS is now very strong on the PC side and PLAY ANYWHERE is a solid hole card they can play to portray a handheld PC as an XBOX.