Microsoft's next Xbox, Scarlett: leaks, rumours, and everything we know so far

The next Xbox is already looking like it is going to be a very special system. But will it beat the PS5?

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The Xbox One line might currently be languishing in the shadow of the PlayStation 4, but Microsoft has plans for the next Xbox... big plans... and it just might have enough power and style to beat the PS5. So what exactly can we expect from the next chapter in the Xbox gaming story?

Here we've collected together your ultimate guide to every leak, rumour and announcement about the next Xbox, and we'll be updating it all the way to launch day. From specs and design to price and games, here's what we know about the Xbox Two console codenamed "Scarlett" so far.

Next Xbox Scarlett: release date

Next Xbox Scarlett

What's next for Xbox?

A quick history lesson: the original Xbox One went on sale in 2013, and then the small bump that was the Xbox One S showed up in 2016. The significant Xbox One X mid-gen refresh arrived in 2017.

What does that tell us? Maybe not much, but five years is a decent amount of time for a company to be thinking about a new console – by 2019 and 2020 a new machine is going to start feeling a little overdue. It seems that Microsoft agrees, because Xbox boss Phil Spencer has said a new Xbox is on the way. In fact, he's hinted that multiple devices could be incoming.

With the PlayStation 5 apparently not launching before 2021, industry analysts reckon 2020 is a good bet for the next Xbox Scarlett, and that release window has now been confirmed by inside sources. It looks like the next Xbox is going to get a head start on its rival from Sony.

Next Xbox Scarlett: price

Next Xbox Scarlett

The current generation Xbox consoles, the Xbox One S and Xbox One X.

What's the next Xbox going to cost you? You can currently pick up an Xbox One X from £420-£450 (or $450-$480) depending on where you're shopping. Microsoft will want to pack in lots more power but at the same time won't want to put people off with a price that's too high.

In other words, the price of the next Xbox is likely to come in at about the same level, or maybe a little bit higher. Advances in manufacturing processes and internal components should even out the extra oomph the Scarlett console will provide under the hood.

Bear in mind that Microsoft currently offers a two-tier system for console buyers, with both the S and X models on sale at the same time, depending on how high-res you like your games and how much you want to spend. It's possible that we'll see the Xbox Scarlett in two variations as well, at different price points.

Indeed, as we alluded to above, whispers from deep inside Microsoft suggest a "family of devices" is on the way. Does that mean multiple Xboxes? Or a portable console? At the moment we're not sure.

Next Xbox Scarlett: design

Next Xbox Scarlett

The distinctive Xbox logo. We will soon see it on a brand new games console.

Smaller, slimmer, sleeker – those are the overriding trends we're seeing in tech hardware as the years go by, and you only need to look at the difference between the Xbox One S and the original Xbox One to see where this trend might take the console in the future. We're not expecting too many surprises here, just a compact and elegant-looking box that slots in under your television set.

We can't give you any leaked images of the next Xbox – it's possible that the design has yet to be finalised, so if you do see any pictures on the web, they're most likely to be concept images made by fans. Remember that the design could be one of the latest pieces of the jigsaw to fall into place, after all the internal components have been finalised.

Despite the advancements in cloud computing, local storage will still be a must, as will some powerful graphics hardware, so the box won't end up being too tiny. We'll even stick our necks out and say it'll have green or white highlights. According to Jez Corden from Windows Central, the next Xbox's design has been in development for at least a year now.

Next Xbox Scarlett: specs

Next Xbox Scarlett

We loved the Xbox One X on review, giving the system a maximum 5-star score.

The next Xbox Scarlett will boast more processing performance and graphics power – more than the six teraflops currently inside the Xbox One X, at least. Expect to see more and more games pushing that 4K resolution limit, which should be more of a fixed standard by 2019 or 2020 (though 8K will still be a way off).

Something that should feature prominently on the next Xbox main console (and maybe other "Scarlett" devices) is game streaming – the Xbox Game Pass launched last year and it seems Microsoft is going to push ahead with this "Netflix for gaming" idea. That could open up access to a host of older games, as well as enable the Xbox Two to play cutting edge games even after its original hardware has become dated.

At the same time though, top-level on-board components will still very much be required. Both the Xbox Two and the PS5 are being tipped by those in the know to have a separate graphics chip, rather than combining the CPU and GPU on one piece of silicon. That should mean faster frame rates at higher resolutions, and enough in the way of performance to get even the most demanding games running smoothly.

Thanks to a job listing posted on the Microsoft site, we know that the company is keen to get some cutting edge graphics installed in its next console, and that will go for the other components as well (as much as 20GB of RAM has been mooted).

So far we haven't heard anything else specific about the specs for the next Xbox, but we know for sure it's going to eclipse the mighty Xbox One X – though maybe not by a huge amount, considering that console only launched last year.

Next Xbox Scarlett:  games

Next Xbox Scarlett

We hope the Xbox Scarlett gamepads look this funky.

Microsoft will definitely want to tempt in potential Xbox Scarlett buyers with some top-tier games, and we'd expect the usual suspects to feature prominently. The likes of Minecraft, Forza, and possibly an update to Halo 6 may well be on the cards, giving gamers more reasons to want to lust after the new hardware.

Since E3 2018, we know a lot more about the games heading our way for Microsoft's console – the likes of Just Cause 4 and Gears of War 5 – though most of them are likely to arrive before the 2020 launch window for the Xbox Two.

Cyberpunk 2077 is one game we're particularly looking forward to playing, though we seem to be no nearer getting a release date for it, even after six years (and counting) of development. Betheseda's Starfield is another game that's been tipped to appear on the next-gen consoles.

At the moment we haven't heard anything concrete about the next Xbox's launch games, and it's probably too early for anything to leak out – even if there are rumours that developers already have Xbox Two kits provided by Microsoft to test on. We'd bet that a few exclusives like Sea of Thieves will be in the pipeline.

We've touched on streaming already, and from everything we've heard so far it sounds likely that the next-generation series of consoles are going to use a combination of the two. Downloading games or streaming them over the web is of course very convenient, as Xbox execs have said, but when it comes to 4K graphics it's still easier to use physical discs and it doesn't look as though they'll go away completely anytime soon.

Next Xbox Scarlett: other rumours

Next Xbox Scarlett

The Xbox One X is the most powerful video game console in the world right now.

Rumours about this next Xbox console are starting to gather pace, and that's only going to increase in the months ahead. We can also make a few educated guesses about what's heading our way – Microsoft has heavily invested in virtual reality and augmented reality (or "mixed reality" as it calls it) and the Xbox Two is likely to add to that.

Sony has the PlayStation VR and Microsoft has its mixed reality headsets for Windows 10, so we expect those headsets to make the jump from computer to console with the arrival of Xbox Scarlett (given the extra processing power it's going to be packing). Look for a lightweight and relatively affordable AR/VR headset to launch alongside the new system.

Backwards-compatibility with older Xbox systems has been rumoured and looks likely given recent comments from Microsoft. We're also expecting stronger integration with Windows 10 and everything that the desktop OS offers – which is really something of a no-brainer for Microsoft.

We're definitely excited to see where Microsoft takes the Xbox next, and we'll bring you all the news as it's announced, right here. Stay tuned for more updates direct from Microsoft and the rumour mill as 2020 approaches.