The fantasy of being able to play Xbox console games on a handheld device has long been floated by industry insiders and gamers alike. In 2021, however, it’s very much a reality.
The Nintendo Switch aside, the Xbox team has been working long and hard to bring a seamless, accessible mobile gaming experience to smartphones and tablets.
At the moment, there are two ways to play Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S games on your Android-powered device:
- Via streaming your console directly to your device
- Via Xbox Game Pass, utilising the cloud (formerly known as xCloud)
In this guide we’ll cover the basics for how to start gaming on your Android device.
Streaming Your Xbox Console to your Android device
Console streaming has been available for a while via the Xbox Streaming App, which was in beta for quite a while. It had a fairly high ceiling in terms of eligibility, and even a modest internet connection wouldn’t work.
Thankfully, that ceiling has dropped significantly, and the new Xbox (beta) app pretty much allows anyone with a decent connection to stream their Xbox One console directly to their Android device. So yes, this means you’re mirroring your console onto your Android device: it’s exactly what it sounds like.
Here’s what you’re need to do to get it working.
- Ensure your device has Android version 6.0 or greater and Bluetooth version 4.0+
- You’ll need an Xbox One, Xbox One X, or Xbox One S (for obvious reasons)
- Xbox Beta app (it’s literally called the ‘Xbox Beta’ app in the Play Store)
- Your Microsoft account details (this is your Xbox Live account details)
- A reasonably stable Wi-Fi or mobile data connection, with at the very least 10Mbps connection
Once you’ve ticked all those boxes, all you need to do is boot up the app, login, and connect your console (the app will guide you through the setup).
Once everything’s signed off in the app, you’ll be able to navigate to your devices (it looks like a little library/book symbol on the bottom of the app), select your console, and then click “Connect”.
Xbox Phone Controller
Now at this point you’ll likely be prompted to connect a bluetooth controller. There’s a few methods here. You can of course use a bluetooth-enabled Xbox One controller, but only a select range of these are compatible: early launch era Xbox One controllers won’t work.
Syncing it is the same process as doing so with your console: press the sync button on the top of your controller while searching for new bluetooth devices on your phone. The connection process is the same.
The alternative way is to purchase a third-party controller-clip or controller. There are multiple variants out there, but the Razer Kishi is arguably the best given it’s an official Xbox-branded product.
Once you’re setup and ready to go you can use your Android device as a mini-Xbox One console! Unfortunately, early stages of the beta have excluded Xbox and Xbox 360 backwards compatible titles, but expect them to come later on.
Streaming Xbox games over the cloud
This method is a bit simpler, but it isn’t available in every region yet. Here’s what you’ll need.
- An active Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership in a supported market
- An Xbox Bluetooth-enabled controller or another supported controller
- An Android mobile phone or tablet with version Android 6.0 or higher
- A Wi-Fi / LTE data connection with at least 10Mbps down-speed
- The Xbox Game Pass Android app, available from Samsung Galaxy and Google Play app stores.
Most titles in the Xbox Game Pass library are available to play on your mobile device directly from the cloud.
The current eligible regions are: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States
You can keep across the update list of regions cloud gaming is available in via the official Xbox website.
Once you load up the Game Pass app on your device, select one of the eligible Game Pass games, and the option to “Play” will be present within the game.
As with console streaming, controller compatibility will vary depending on what you have access to, but the Razer Kishi is a highly recommended accessory.