We recently found out that Microsoft is aiming to launch a new console hardware generation in 2028, thanks to the recent FTC lawsuit aimed at blocking Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. It turns out documents filed as part of that case also revealed a discless version of the Xbox Series X.
While the current disc-enabled version of the Xbox Series X looks like a miniature mini-fridge, this one is a big cylinder. A bit like the old-school Mac Pros or some kind of air purifier. And despite still being an Xbox Series X, the materials for this console claim that it’s actually better than the current model. Even if it doesn’t look like there are any major upgrades to the console’s gaming capabilities.
The console is codenamed Brooklin, and is set to come with 2TB of storage — double that of the current disc-laden Series X. Presumably Microsoft will also include its expansion port at the back of the console, letting you add between 512GB and 2TB of additional storage space (so far).
Other documents mention the prospect of other storage options, but it's not clear whether this means in the consoles, or as expandable storage.
Materials also reveal the console will come with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 support, for better communication and lower latency when connecting to controllers and accessories. Wi-Fi 6E will no doubt be responsible for the faster wireless connectivity listed here, which is always a good thing.
Efficiency and sustainability is also said to be on the cards. A 6nm die shrink promised to help, and the console will apparently use 15% less PSU power during use. A new lower-power standby mode will also apparently be 20% more efficient than the current version. Oh and the packaging will be 100% recycled, which is pretty cool I guess, but there’s no word on any sustainable materials inside the console itself.
Other notable features include a USB-C port at the front with power delivery, a new “more immersive controller” and no change in price. Unlike the Digital PS5, which is $100 cheaper than the disc drive model, this console is the same $499 as the disc drive Series X. The improved internals have to be paid for by someone, and it isn’t going to be Microsoft.
The new Xbox controller — aka Sebile
You may be thinking that a new and “immersive” controller may have been Microsoft’s opportunity to release its own version of the DualSense — complete with the adaptive triggers and other features. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Sebile, as it’s known internally, but this new controller does appear to have a bunch of upgrades.
The first is a rechargeable battery, something Xbox has been failing to include for a ridiculous amount of time. But unlike a PlayStation controller, this one can be swapped out for a new one. So if the battery fails, you don’t need to decide between a pricey repair job or a brand new controller. The controller itself also appears to be built with repairs and easy disassembly in mind — meaning the pricey repair job might be something you can tackle yourself.
Microsoft has done some work on immersion, though. That includes “precision haptic feedback”, whatever that will entail, VCA haptics that double as speakers, a new accelerometer and less noise from the buttons and thumbsticks. Those thumbsticks are said to be modular, and have “improved longevity”. Hopefully that means drifting is less of a problem than it has been so far.
The controller also has “Xbox wireless “, Bluetooth 5.2 and something called “Direct-to-Cloud” — which, at the very least, tells us this controller has been built with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate’s cloud gaming in mind. Also mentioned is a new “seamless pair and switch” plus other features that let you see paired devices and the cloud, plus better management of devices and accessories.
Finally the controller has much the same design as current Xbox Series X/S controllers — also known as Merlin. It has the same shape and ergonomics, and the layout is more or less the same as every Xbox controller from the past 18 years. Though the share button has been slimmed down in the middle, and there’s a two-tone color scheme. It also has a lift-to-wake system, which should help you get to your gaming a little faster.
An upgraded Series S could also be on the way
These products aren’t just concepts and it looks like Microsoft has a very real intention of releasing both the Sebile controller and the Brooklin console. We may also see a refreshed version of the Xbox Series S arrive as well.
Microsoft’s launch timeline reveals that something called “Ellewood 1TB” is scheduled to launch at the end of August 2024 for $299. Given the price, it suggests that this is a new Xbox Series S — possibly one that has many of the same enhancements as the Brooklin Series X. So Wi-Fi 6E, lower power consumption and so on.
It’s a bit odd since Microsoft only just released a 1TB Xbox Series S without any additional changes. So if you had your heart set on that console, but haven’t picked it up yet, you need to decide whether you want it now or if you can afford to wait a year for a potentially better system.
The timeline also reveals that the Brooklin console will arrive later in the year, with a gap of at least 60 days. Apparently this is to “enable dialog with different audiences” and gives Ellewood “its own moment in the holiday timeline to maximize sales”. It sounds like the new console will also coincide with the end of life of the 512GB Series S, which could drop as low as $199 during the Black Friday 2024 sales.
One other console, codenamed Starkville, will also see the end of its life right before the Brooklin launch in (at the earliest) late October. This is presumably the current Series X, though it’s unclear whether another console with a disc drive will be available. I certainly hope so, because I sure as hell am not switching to digital-only gaming anytime soon. Especially with digital games being as expensive as they are.
Here’s hoping those old rumors of a standalone Xbox disc drive come to fruition, even if it’s only available as a standalone purchase.
The Sebile controller will arrive much earlier in the year, likely around the end of May for $70. This is right before the “Xbox Gaming Beat” in June, which is presumably a big event that we would have once seen at E3. It looks like both consoles will be announced around this time, and the plan is to unveil them both simultaneously.