The Xbox One was initially released in 2013, but in 2016 and 2017, the lineup expanded to three main models. The two newer models are the Xbox One S and Xbox One X. Although all three main models can play the same games, there are many differences between them.
If you’re curious about the console differences, you’ve come to the right place. The model you’ll get depends on your focus, whether it’s 4K gaming or watching 4K Netflix and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Keep reading for the details.
There are currently three consoles that bear the Xbox One name. We’ll start with the earliest Xbox One model and cover its main details. After that, you’ll find out what the other two bring to the table.
The Original Xbox One
The first Xbox One consoles were shipped out in 2013 and directly competed with Sony’s PlayStation 4 console. The Xbox One originally shipped with the Kinect system, letting users play certain games and control their cable boxes or TV services.
However, it was $100 more expensive than the PS4 with slightly slower hardware, so the PS4 reigned supreme. Since then, Microsoft has switched gears and adapted. Newer Xbox One consoles no longer came with the Kinect, and it had a price reduction to match the PS4.
In fact, the Kinect system has already been quietly phased out. Microsoft no longer manufactures the Kinect add-on, though you can still buy them online and connect them to your Xbox One to relive the good old days.
The first Xbox One can’t play video games in 4K, and neither can you watch 4K UHD Blu-rays. However, you can watch regular HD Blu-ray movies without modification.
The best this console can do is 1080p60, and we don’t recommend getting one in 2021. Unless you find a terrific deal, you’re better off with the newer models.
The Xbox One S
Between the Xbox One and Xbox One X is the Xbox One S, which you can consider the middle of the pack. It was introduced in 2016, offering several upgrades to the original Xbox One console. Notably, it has better hardware and new, quality-of-life changes.
The Xbox One S is around 40% smaller, thanks to an intelligent redesign compared to the original. Even with the smaller size, the console is about 7% faster than its predecessor. The Xbox One S is also white, compared to the old black console.
Playing some games on this console may also result in slightly improved quality.
Just like the newer Xbox Ones, the One S doesn’t come with the Kinect. It even goes beyond this, as you can’t plug the Kinect device into it at all. If you insist on using the add-on, you’ll have to buy an adapter specifically for Kinnect use.
The controller included with the Xbox One S is also white. It has some improvements, notably employing a Bluetooth connection. Even so, you can use any Xbox One controller model with any of the consoles in the lineup.
Besides playing 4K UHD Blu-ray discs, the Xbox One S can also upscale some games to 4K UHD and use HDR color. You’ll need a 4K TV or monitor for this, of course. However, the screen has to support HDR-10 instead of only Dolby Vision HDR, so make sure you pick the right one for the task.
The console isn’t powerful enough for 4K gaming, which is why you shouldn’t buy it if you’re serious about playing at that resolution.
Xbox One S All-Digital Edition
This version of the Xbox One S is unique in that it doesn’t have a disc drive. Instead, the only way to play games is to download them onto the internal hard drive or an external storage device. This console is an excellent alternative to the original Xbox One S for gamers who dislike physical copies.
Compared to the first Xbox One S, you can’t get this console with less than 1TB of memory. This requirement is logical, seeing as your games are going to be stored digitally.
The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition was released in 2019, making it the latest edition to the Xbox One family. However, it’s not considered a mainline console, as it’s more of a variant.
These consoles come with three free pre-installed games: Minecraft, Forza Horizon 3, and Sea of Thieves.
In terms of hardware, the processor chip and other parts are identical to the Xbox One S. The main difference is solely the lack of an optical disc reader. Otherwise, you can expect the same thing as with its original counterpart.
Xbox One X
Out of all the consoles in the Xbox One family, the Xbox One X is the most powerful. It can play games in 4K, thanks to the superior hardware. Gamers have been able to buy their own Xbox One X since Nov. 7, 2017. Notably, gamers knew it as Project Scorpio before its global release and announcement.
This console can support actual 4K UHD gaming instead of the Xbox One S’s upscaling capabilities. The games are rendered in true 4K for the best visual experience. It can also watch 4K content on Netflix or from 4K UHD Blu-ray discs, just like its predecessor.
Like the other three consoles we covered, the Xbox One X can play the same games. However, many of the games have better enhancements. Other than using HDR, some games can get an FPS boost of up to 120 FPS instead of using the industry standard 60 FPS.
The Kinect port and add-on are also missing, which is to be expected. After all, the Kinect had been discontinued for a long time when the Xbox One X was released.
The Xbox One X is around 4.5 times more powerful than the original Xbox One, which is the source of its high native resolution and 60 FPS compatibility with all games. It’s also the strongest console in the model family.
Even though it boasts an incredible processing speed of 1,172 MHz and an ample storage space of 1 TB, it’s the smallest Xbox console right now. Size truly doesn’t matter when it comes to the Xbox One X.
Currently, no other console can run high-fidelity VR games. In a way, the Xbox One X is the only console that can run VR games, and unfortunately, Microsoft isn’t heavily focusing on VR games for consoles right now.
Which One Should I Buy?
With three main consoles and one variant in the Xbox One family, some gamers may not know which one fits their needs the most. Here’s our short buyers’ guide to help you make the best decision between all of them.
The original Xbox One is quite dated, even though its graphics are still holding up well. That said, unless you find a good deal, you should stick with the Xbox One S or X. These two are more powerful and can run games better.
If you can’t afford the Xbox One X, the Xbox One S is a great choice. It might not offer a considerable boost in performance, but it’s still better than the original console. You can also watch 4K media on it if you own or stream it.
The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is a surprising alternative for gamers who dislike piles of discs and covers. It doesn’t truly replace the first Xbox One S, but you don’t need to worry about physical media copies with it.
However, if you value having a disc for collectability, you shouldn’t buy one. There’s no way to make the All-Digital Edition run physical games, and you’re stuck with the 1 TB of storage space.
The Xbox One X was easily the king of consoles before the next-gen consoles were introduced in 2020. It can play games in 4K natively and even boost older titles to 120 FPS if supported. What’s more, it has practically everything the older consoles have.
If you use the proper add-on, each of the four consoles in the Xbox One family can play Kinect titles. However, you’ll need an adapter for the three latest consoles.
Overall, the Xbox One S and X are the best choices among the four.
Microsoft’s Powerful Consoles
Your games can look great with any of the Xbox One series consoles, and the Xbox One X is a wonderful choice if you’re not ready to move on to next-gen consoles. The original model is slowly getting phased out, making the newer consoles better choices despite the Xbox One X’s lower price.
Which of these consoles do you own? Do you think removing the Kinect port was a great idea on Microsoft’s part? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.