Judging by the last gaming console generation’s longevity, the silicon under the Xbox One’s hood is just short of middle age. But Phil Spencer, head of Xbox at Microsoft, has indicated that hardware refreshes could come more quickly this time around, and new FCC filings would seem to support that contention. Two documents filed by Microsoft in March, first spotted by a German user at popular gaming forum NeoGAF, conspicuously hint at revised Xbox One consoles.
The first, a docket for a wireless radio with part number 1683, includes a PDF user manual that makes reference to the original Xbox One’s model number (1525). Furthermore, the manual’s the same size (202kB) as the user manual submitted with the Xbox One’s FCC filing in 2013. But perhaps the smoking gun is the filing’s embargo date: June 25, a few weeks after Microsoft’s press conference at the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo.
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The second set of documents, one for a dual-band radio with the equally ambiguous designation 1682, lacks any sort of obvious link to the current Xbox One, but does include a user manual identical in size (213kB) and file name to a PDF in the 1683 filing. And the filing has a confidentiality request that lifts just one month later, on July 29.
The timing of the first filing’s embargo, in conjunction with its comparatively few number of accompanying exhibits, suggests it points to the component of an ever-so-slightly revised Xbox One — one potentially slimmer and less expensive than the model currently on the market, but with improved connectivity. The wireless chip in question, MediaTek’s MT7612U, supports 802.11ac, a step up from the current Xbox One’s 802.11n.
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The identity of the second filing’s device is more firmly shrouded. Given recent developments, though, a more powerful Xbox One isn’t out of the question. Sony’s reportedly on the cusp of debuting a new PS4 — a “PS4.5” — that’s said to support resolutions of up to 4K. And rumors persist that Nintendo’s upcoming NX platform will support resolutions and frame rates at least on par with the current generation of consoles, if not better. Put simply, there’s more than enough incentive for Microsoft to keep pace.
Then again, “1682” could be something entirely different. A report last year suggested that Microsoft would launch a slimmed-down, Xbox-branded box to compete with the new Apple TV, Roku, and other streaming set-top devices. It’s too early to say for certain whether that’ll come to fruition — indeed, similar predictions arose ahead of the Xbox One’s launch in 2013 — but the market’s an attractive one; Apple saw record sales of the Apple TV in the first quarter of this year.
Whatever the new Xbox devices’ form, it likely won’t be until this summer until we learn more.