Microsoft reportedly 'dabbling' with Xbox handheld

Razer Snapdragon G3x handheld
(Image credit: Qualcomm)

The brand new flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 mobile chip that should power the Samsung Galaxy S22 may have hogged the limelight of Qualcomm’s recent showcase, but the company’s Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 Gaming Platform could ultimately be more exciting for gamers.

Qualcomm is pitching it as a way for manufacturers to give Android gamers a console style gaming experience, with a bunch of features specifically designed with that target market in mind. Like the Nintendo Switch, the Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 Gaming Platform supports Display Out for docking, cooling fan technology and full game controllers. Unlike Nintendo’s handheld hybrid, it also supports 144fps, Stereo Haptics and 5G.

Pictured at the top of this article is the Snapdragon G3x Handheld Developer Kit which, as you can see, looks a bit like Valve’s Steam Deck and Nintendo’s Switch. It’s developed by Razer and gives you an idea of what such a device could look like. The front-facing camera is interesting, as it suggests mobile streamers could connect to Twitch far more easily than via Switch

 A handheld Xbox? 

But the Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 could be of even more interest to Microsoft, as Qualcomm specifically highlighted that the platform is capable of supporting Xbox Cloud Gaming and Xbox console streaming. And our well connected colleagues at Windows Central add that they’ve heard “Microsoft has been dabbling with Xbox handheld prototypes for some time now.” 

It looks like Qualcomm may well have taken some of the pain away from the R&D process with the G3x chipset. Indeed, it can’t have escaped your notice that Razer’s prototype looks a little bit Xbox-y, with its black matte design and Xbox-colored buttons in the firm’s favored XYAB layout. 

The sticky point is what kind of price such a device would command. While you’d hope it would be considerably cheaper than the $399 Valve is charging for the cheapest configuration of Steam Deck, it’s also far more limited as an Xbox solution if it only supports streaming: if your 5G/WiFi connection goes, then so does your game, while the Steam Deck will keep on trucking.

The Steam Deck, meanwhile, can not only play a bunch of Xbox games — albeit without Game Pass — but a whole host of PlayStation ones, too, making it a bit like the Vita 2 that Sony has thus far failed to deliver. The big downside? If you order today, the hardware won’t be in your hands until the second half of next year at the absolute earliest. 

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.