The Xbox One was initially launched in 2013, but in 2016 and 2022 the line expanded to three main models. The two most recent models are Xbox One S and Xbox One X. Although the three main models can play the same games, there are many differences between them.
If you're curious about the differences between the consoles, you've come to the right place. Which model you get depends on your goal, whether it's 4K gaming or watching 4K Netflix and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Keep reading for the details.
Xbox One Models Guide
As mentioned above, there are currently three consoles that carry the Xbox One name. We'll start with the first 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 shipped in 2013 and directly competed with Sony's PlayStation 4 console. The Xbox One originally shipped with the Kinect system, allowing users to play certain games and control their set-top boxes or television services.
However, that was $100 more than the PS4 with slightly slower hardware, so the PS4 reigned supreme. Since then, Microsoft has changed course and adapted. Newer Xbox One consoles no longer ship with the Kinect, and there has been a price reduction to match the PS4.
In fact, the Kinect system has already been phased out. Microsoft no longer makes the Kinect add-on, though you can still buy them online and hook them up to your Xbox One to relive the good old days.
The original Xbox One can't play video games in 4K, and you can't watch 4K UHD Blu-rays either. However, you can watch normal HD Blu-ray movies without modification.
The maximum this console can support is 1080p60, and we wouldn't recommend getting one in 2022. Unless you can find a good deal, you're better off going with the newer models.
Xbox One S
Between the Xbox One and the Xbox One X sits the Xbox One S, which you can think of as the middle of the pack. It was introduced in 2016, offering several upgrades from 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 a clever redesign compared to the original. Even with a smaller size, the console is around 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 slightly improve the quality.
Like the new Xbox Ones, the One S does not come with the Kinect. It even goes beyond that, as you can't plug the Kinect device into it at all. If you insist on using the add-on, you will need to purchase an adapter specifically for Kinnect use.
The controller that comes with the Xbox One S is also white. It benefits from some improvements, in particular by using a Bluetooth connection. Even so, you can use any model of Xbox One controller with any of the consoles in the line.
In addition to playing 4K UHD Blu-ray discs, the Xbox One S can also upscale select games to 4K UHD and use HDR color. You will of course need a 4K TV or monitor for this. However, the display must support HDR-10 instead of Dolby Vision HDR only, so be sure to choose 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 really want to play at that resolution.
Xbox One S All-Digital Edition
This version of the Xbox One S is unique in that it does not have a disc drive. Instead, the only way to play games is to download them to the internal hard drive or an external storage device. This console is a great alternative to the original Xbox One S for gamers who don't like physical copies.
Compared to the first Xbox One S, you can't get this console with less than 1TB of memory. This requirement makes sense, as your games are going to be stored digitally.
The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition was released in 2022, making it the last edition in the Xbox One family. However, it is not considered a primary console, as it is more of a variant.
These consoles come with three free games pre-installed: 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 only the lack of an optical disc drive. Otherwise, you can expect the same as with its original counterpart.
Xbox One X
Of all the consoles in the Xbox One family, the Xbox One X is the most powerful. It can play 4K games thanks to the premium hardware. Gamers can buy their own Xbox One X since November 7, 2022. Notably, gamers knew it as Project Scorpio before its global release and announcement.
This console can support true 4K UHD gaming instead of the upscaling capabilities of the Xbox One S. Games are rendered in true 4K for the best viewing 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've covered, the Xbox One X can play the same games. However, many games have better improvements. Besides using HDR, some games may 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 normal. After all, the Kinect had long since been discontinued when the Xbox One X was released.
The Xbox One X is about 4,5 times more powerful than the original Xbox One, which is the reason for its high native resolution and 60FPS compatibility with all games. It is also the most powerful console in the model family.
Even though it boasts an incredible processing speed of 1MHz and a large storage space of 172TB, it is the smallest Xbox console currently. Size really 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 focusing much on console VR games 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 best suits their needs. Here's our little buyer's guide to help you make the best decision between them.
The original Xbox One is quite dated, though its graphics still hold up well. That said, unless you can find a good deal, you should stick with the Xbox One S or X. Both of these 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 massive performance boost, but it's still better than the original console. You can also watch 4K media there if you own or stream it.
The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is a surprising alternative for gamers who don't like stacks of discs and covers. It's not really a replacement for the original Xbox One S, but you don't have to worry about physical media copies with it.
However, if you value having a record to collect, you shouldn't buy one. There's no way to get the All-Digital Edition to run physical games, and you're stuck with 1TB of storage space.
The Xbox One X was easily the king of consoles before the next-gen consoles were introduced in 2022. It can play games in 4K natively and even boost older titles to 120FPS if supported. Plus, it has pretty much everything old consoles have.
If you use the appropriate add-on, each of the four consoles in the Xbox One family can play Kinect titles. However, you will need an adapter for the latest three consoles.
Overall, the Xbox One S and X are the best picks out of the four.
Microsoft's mighty consoles
Your games can look great with any console in the Xbox One series, and Xbox One X is a great choice if you're not ready to upgrade to next-gen consoles. The original model is being phased out, making 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 good idea on Microsoft's part? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.