PS4 vs Xbox One: which is better?

The definitive showdown between Xbox One and PS4

When it comes to apps Xbox One is in the ever so slight lead

When it comes to apps, Xbox One is in the ever-so-slight lead

Xbox One vs PS4 apps

  • Very little to differentiate the two consoles in terms of apps.

The Xbox 360 and PS3 proved to be more than just gaming machines and Xbox One and PS4 are no different. Of course, most are shared across both platforms.

All next-gen gamers have access to Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, Crackle, Vudu and Redbox Instant and baseball subscription service MLB.TV.

Xbox One corners the app-filled market with ESPN, Fox Now, FX Now, NFL, Ted, The CW, Twitch, Univision Deportes, Verizon FiOS TV and YouTube. It also has Microsoft's own soon-to-be-defunct Internet Explorer, OneDrive, Skype and Xbox Music and Xbox Video services.

That contrasts with PS4. Sony's console features Crunchyroll, Epix, NBA Game Time, NHL GameCenter Live, YuppTV, the WWE Network and the free music video playing app VidZone.

Initially, Xbox One had first access to HBO Go before PS4, but now both consoles have the premium channel as an app. At least, if your cable provider isn't Comcast. Neither system has HBO Now, which remains exclusive to Apple TV.

More niche apps are expected as time goes on, so this is hardly the final list of apps for Xbox One and PS4. Sony backers who are also HBO subscriptions can expect equal next-generation treatment for the the premium on-demand network "eventually," which just cements Xbox One's app-filled advantage.

Are PS4 and Xbox One backward compatible?

  • Xbox One backwards compatibility list is growing.
  • PS4 offers backwards compatibility through PS Now streaming service.

The Xbox One vs PS4 comparison got interesting at E3 2015. After teasing Xbox 360 emulation, Microsoft announced Xbox One backward compatibility for Xbox 360 games.

"We won't charge you to play the games you already own," jabbed Microsoft at Sony during its E3 press conference. Over 100 disc and downloadable Xbox 360 titles will work on Xbox One this year, and the features of the newer console - like streaming and taking screenshots - crosses over to older games.

Microsoft launched Xbox One backward compatibility in November last year and a recent update saw its functionality expanded to include multi-disc games. Since then the manufacturer has continued to bring more and more games to the console. 

Sony's PlayStation Now service, meanwhile, is a streaming service that costs money to rent games. That's a bummer if you already paid for The Last of Us, God of War: Ascension, Dead Space 3 and Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes on the PS3.

Sony has expanded its video game streaming service to PS Vita, PC and PlayStation TV, and has even expanded it to include Sony and Samsung made TVs, and then include PlayStation and PS2 to the so far PS3-only lineup.

None of these options are foolproof yet. That means you'll need to keep your Xbox 360 and PS3 in order to play more niche games that haven't been made backwards compatible on Xbox One or haven't been added to PlayStation Now.

You can't sell the old systems, and that means people won't be able to readily buy them - they're more likely to purchase them directly from Microsoft and Sony.

Other PS4 and Xbox One differences

  • Both consoles charge for online multiplayer.
  • Other media player features offered by Xbox One.

The look of the console, the feel of the controller and the appeal of the games list are the main differences from which consumers will decide on PS4 and Xbox One. However, there are other factors at play one should consider before buying into a new system. At the top of that list is a significant question: Where do most of your friends play?

Since there's no such thing as cross-platform multiplayer, you may be split up when playing Call of Duty on PS4 when all of your friends own it for Xbox One.

Both Microsoft and Sony are charging for multiplayer this console generation, whereas PS3 gamers got to log into matches Scott-Free.

Sony sadly moved closer to Microsoft in this way, while Microsoft moved closer to Sony by tearing down the Xbox Live app paywall. You no longer have to subscribe to stream Netflix and other apps.

Microsoft also supports MP3 and DLNA playback with the Xbox One, whereas Sony neglected to add such compatibility. It's promised to rectify that in a future firmware update, but hasn't supplied us with an update in several months.

The PS4 vs Xbox One comparison has evolved in the last three years, mostly because Microsoft's plans have shifted, from Xbox One price drops to more lenient paywall policies to graphics specs upgrades.

These two next-generation consoles are now on a more even video game playing field, which means Sony and Microsoft are going to start throwing Uncharted 4 to Halo 5 Guardians at you, and that's a win for all gamers.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Swider is TechRadar's gadget-savvy, globe-trotting mobile editor in Los Angeles. As an expert in iOS and Android, he owns over 120 phones that someone keeps setting the alarms on – simultaneously. He received his journalism degree from Penn State University and is never seen without his TechRadar headphones.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jon Porter is Techradar's UK Home Technology Writer covering everything from TVs to Hi-Fi, gaming and home automation. He's also super into keyboards, and I think we can all agree that the obsession has gone a little too far at this point.