It might not feel like it, but the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are now both approaching their fourth year on the market having hit shelves back on November 10, 2020. This means it’s about time that Microsoft started thinking about releasing some kind of new model.
The first major hardware revision of the Xbox 360, the super beefy Xbox 360 Elite, arrived just two years after the release of the original console. More recently, the Xbox One S, a much smaller edition of the Xbox One that came packaged with an updated version of the Xbox Wireless Controller, launched three years after the original Xbox One first entered the scene.
This means that there’s an established precedent and pattern for hardware revisions at around this time in a console’s life cycle. While there is very little official word about the imminent arrival of any new system from Microsoft, it’s always worth making some expert predictions about the kinds of things that might be in store.
1. It’s time to ditch the fridge
One of my biggest gripes with the current Xbox lineup has got to be the overall aesthetic. Sure, the Xbox Series S is pleasant enough with its impressively slight form factor, but the Xbox Series X has never been my cup of tea.
It’s a big, bulky block of black plastic that sticks out like a sore thumb in any gaming setup. Although it can be placed on its side, the console is so clearly designed to stand upright that it manages to look even more ridiculous in that horizontal configuration. Following the example of the Xbox One S, I would love to see a slimmer revision that cuts down the form factor by a substantial degree.
2. The controller is due a refresh
While we’re looking towards the Xbox One S for inspiration, I think an updated Xbox Wireless Controller would also be a real blessing. Although I love the shape and feel of the current design, the implementation of Hall effect thumbsticks would be a serious boost to its longevity. Some more premium features, like back paddles, could even make their way over from the Elite Wireless Controller Series 2.
Even though Microsoft offers an official rechargeable battery pack for their controllers, not to mention the abundance of similar third-party options, it’s also about time that a rechargeable battery is included in the controller by default. Having to drop everything and run to the store for a pack of batteries in the middle of a game of Fortnite is something that I would really like to leave in the past this year.
3. Give us more color
Another thing that is sorely missing at the moment is any real alternate color options. There have been a small handful of special edition consoles so far but it would be superb to see some of the fantastic Xbox Wireless Controller color schemes brought over to the system in the future. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to get their hands on an Xbox in that stunning Electric Volt colorway?
You could even have support for Xbox Design Lab which would offer a degree of customization unlike anything else on the market. There are already some official console wraps, suggesting that Microsoft is open to gamers customizing their consoles, but sticking some colored fabric to your system with velcro just isn't the same.
4. Don’t leave physical media in the dust
If there’s going to be a revision of the Xbox Series X, the disk drive has to remain a prominent feature. Despite the success of the Xbox Series S, continued support for physical games benefits almost everybody. It allows titles to be preserved much more easily and also offers consumers the chance to secure bargains on second-hand or in-store sales.
Still, there are some interesting things that Microsoft could do with the disc drive while keeping it firmly in the equation. If the intention is to cut down the size of the system with a new revision, it might be worth taking a leaf out of Sony’s book by copying the PS5 Slim and making the disc reader a separate accessory entirely. Such an accessory could even be made compatible with the Xbox Series S (or a future version of it) which would dramatically increase the appeal of that console too.
5. Please sort out the storage
There’s also the matter of what I consider Microsoft’s biggest mistake with this current generation: the miserable situation surrounding storage expansion cards. For those not in the know, a storage expansion card is currently the only way to expand the internal storage of your system. Portable HDDs and SSDs plugged in via regular USB ports are still supported, but cannot be used to play anything other than backwards-compatible Xbox One games directly.
Paying the regular sale price of about $150 / £150 for 1TB of storage with something like the Seagate Storage Expansion Card is not acceptable now that most SSDs have fallen in price considerably. You can easily pick up one of the best SSDs for PS5 with 1TB of storage and top-of-the-line specs, for example, the brilliant WD Black SN850, for much less.
It certainly wouldn’t hurt if Microsoft continued supporting the storage expansion cards down the line, allowing those who have already invested in one to continue using them on any new machines. That said, the extra addition of a single easy-to-access M.2 expansion port would put the issue to bed for good.
6. A price cut would be killer
Then there’s the price of a new console. It’s no secret that the Xbox Series S is selling like hotcakes, while the Xbox Series X flags far behind. Any measures to lower the asking price of $499.99 / £479.99 for the higher-end system could go a long way to close the gap.
The Xbox Series X is already quite good value, especially when you factor in bundles or the regular discounts of around $30 / £30 that it receives, but a further price cut of around $50 / £50 alongside the arrival of a shiny new revision would make it an even more tempting proposition.
If Microsoft is really serious about helping a new model sell, they could even consider a third version of the console in between the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X. It could be something like the Xbox 360 E (the slightly obscure 2013 model of the Xbox 360) and draw certain design cues from the Xbox Series X while cutting features like the USB-A ports or storage capacity to keep costs down.
On the other hand, if the new model keeps that $499.99 / £479.99 price tag I would want to see some kind of performance increase to justify it. Whether that’s a boost to the capabilities of the CPU and GPU or just just the addition of some more RAM, anything that could help enhance how games run could tempt me to an upgrade. Oh, and an accessible high-speed USB-C port or two like those found on the front on the PS5 Slim would be brilliant for high-end accessories.
There’s certainly a lot that Microsoft could do to improve the experience for Xbox gamers. With rumors of a Switch 2 and PS5 Pro also gathering pace, I’ll certainly be keeping my eyes peeled for any announcements from the company this year. If a new console does indeed come, I’m fairly optimistic that at least one or two of these suggestions will wind up being true.
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Dash is TechRadar Gaming's Hardware Writer. Before joining TechRadar, he was a print journalist writing articles for some of the UK's biggest gaming magazines including PLAY, Edge, PC Gamer, and SFX. Now, when he's not getting his greasy little mitts on the newest hardware or gaming gadget, he can be found feverishly devouring the latest Nintendo Switch otome.