There’s more than one Xbox One. You can already buy the Xbox One S, a redesigned Xbox One with a few upgrades. Microsoft is also working on a major upgrade named the Xbox One X, which will arrive on November 7 and was codenamed “Project Scorpio”.
All Xbox One models will play the same Xbox One games. However, newer models may play those same games with more detailed graphics and smoother framerates. Here are the main differences.
Xbox One (Released November, 2013)
You’re probably already familiar with the original Xbox One. The console itself is a a large, black, VCR-style box. All Xbox One packages originally included the Kinect, Microsoft’s solution for voice recognition, motion tracking, and controlling your cable box or other TV service with its integrated IR blaster.
The Xbox One was released a week after the PlayStation 4, and the two consoles directly competed with each other. The Xbox One was a bit slower and $100 more expensive than the PS4 (no thanks to those TV and Kinect features). As a result, Sony pulled ahead in sales.
Microsoft has shifted gears since then. Microsoft dumped the Kinect from most Xbox One bundles and matched the PlayStation 4’s price. In fact, Microsoft has all but abandoned the Kinect. You can still buy a Kinect for about $100 and connect it to your Xbox One afterwards, if you like, but don’t expect to see any new Kinect-enabled games any time soon.
Xbox One S (Released August, 2016)
The Xbox One S is a streamlined, slightly faster Xbox One with some other improvements. It costs around $299, about the same price as the original Xbox One now costs, although Microsoft sometimes cuts the price. For example, Microsoft cut the price by $50 when the Xbox One X was announced.
Where the original Xbox One was black, the Xbox One S is white. The console itself is about 40% smaller than the Xbox One, and it doesn’t have the Xbox One’s massive power brick. The console has been redesigned in small, smart ways. There’s now a USB port on the front of the console instead of on the side, for example, making it easier to plug in USB sticks. You can also stand the Xbox One S up vertically, if you like.
The Kinect is missing in action here. No models of the Xbox One S ship with a Kinect. The Xbox One S does not have a dedicated Kinect port on the back of the console, as the original Xbox One does. If you buy a Kinect and want to use it with your Xbox One S, you’ll need to get a Kinect-to-USB adapter from Microsoft.
The new controller bundled with the Xbox One S is white, too. It includes a few minor improvements, such as a textured back for easier grip. It now supports Bluetooth, which means you can connect it directly to a Windows PC without buying the Xbox Wireless USB adapter. However, you can use any model of Xbox One controller with any Xbox One console.
Under the hood, the big new improvements are support for 4K resolution and HDR color. You’ll only be able to see that 4K improvement if you have a 4K TV, and you’ll only get HDR content if you have a 4K TV that supports HDR-10. You won’t notice any difference otherwise. If you have a TV that supports only Dolby Vision HDR instead of HDR-10 HDR, you won’t be able to view HDR content. Blame your TV’s manufacturer for not supporting both.
The Xbox One S isn’t actually powerful enough for 4K gaming, unfortunately, so games will still play…