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How to Stream Xbox Games to Your Phone or PC With Remote Play


Image: Microsoft

If you have an Xbox, it goes without saying that the best experience is sitting on your couch in front of a big HDR TV with good gaming features. But sometimes your TV isn’t available—maybe you’re out of the house, someone else is hogging the living room, or you’re just too lazy to get out of bed for some Gears of War. Microsoft has you covered with Remote Play, allowing you to stream games from your Xbox right to your phone, tablet, or PC.

It should be noted that this is different from Xbox Cloud Gaming (formerly xCloud), which streams games from Microsoft’s own servers to your device. Remote Play renders those games on your home Xbox to another device. The feature doesn’t require an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, but you will need a compatible controller.

Remote Play is a convenient feature that is easy to use, but you will have to set it up first. Here’s how to get started streaming your Xbox games locally.


Prepare Your Xbox for Streaming

xbox settings

Remote Play is supported by the Xbox One, One S, One X, and the newer Xbox Series X and Series S (with some caveats, which we’ll get to in a moment). On your Xbox, open Settings > Devices & Connections > Remote Features and check the Enable Remote Features box. Ideally, you should also change Power Mode to Instant On (so you can turn the Xbox on from afar). Then click the Test Remote Play button to ensure everything is set up properly.

It will let you know if there are any weak links in your system that might lead to a poor experience. You don’t need a fast internet connection if you’re playing at home, but you do need a stable one, so I highly recommend hooking your Xbox up to your network with an Ethernet cable, if possible. (And if you do so, you’ll want to go to Settings > General > Network Settings and disable the wireless network you were connected to before.) 

An Ethernet connection will ensure the stream is as stable as possible, so you can game without status or lag. You will probably be stuck on Wi-Fi if you’re streaming to a phone or tablet, so make sure you have good signal from the router from wherever you play. If you want to play your games away from home, you would need a fast enough internet connection to stream that video from your Xbox.


Stream Xbox Games to Your PC (Xbox One Only)

pc streaming

To play your Xbox games on a laptop or desktop, you can stream them through the pre-installed Xbox Console Companion on Windows 10. Unfortunately, this only supports Xbox One consoles for the time being, so owners of the latest Xbox Series X and S are out of luck for now. However, Microsoft is currently working on a new app that will support both xCloud and local streaming from the new consoles.

Open the app and select the Connection option near the bottom of the left sidebar. (It’s the icon of an Xbox with some radio waves coming out of it). You should see your Xbox listed in the main window; click on it and power it on, if it isn’t already running, and then click the Stream button to begin playing. You’ll want an Xbox controller hooked up to your PC as well.

If you need to adjust the streaming quality, head to Xbox Console Companion’s Settings in the sidebar, click the Xbox One tab, and change the Video Encoding Level. Microsoft recommends Low if you’re on a 2.4GHz wireless network, Medium if you’re on a 5GHz wireless network but far away from your devices, or High if you’re on Wi-Fi with a very strong connection. If you’re connected over Ethernet, try Very High for the full 1080p/60fps experience.


Stream Xbox Games to Your Phone or Tablet

phone streaming

For on-the-go Xbox gaming, download the Xbox app for your Android or iOS device, sign in, and connect a controller to your phone. An Xbox One controller will do nicely, especially paired with a foldable clip, though you can also use mobile controllers designed for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices like the Gamevice. (The Xbox Series X controller will have full support in iOS 14.5, which is due out in March 2021.)

From the Xbox app on your phone or tablet, tap the Connection icon in the upper-right corner—it’s the one that looks like an Xbox with radio waves coming out of it (or go to Library > Consoles to see a list of your Xboxes). Tap the console in question, then choose Remote Play on This Device to start a remote session. Remember, the closer you are to the router, the better your experience will be over Wi-Fi.

Note that the Series X may have one or two quirks at this time as well, though in my experience it can vary from game to game. Forza Horizon 4, for example, currently has a bug when streaming from the the Series X where moving the joystick also presses the corresponding D-Pad button. Other users report audio crackling when streaming with the latest Xboxes. 

While it is now physically possible to stream from your new console to a mobile device, it hasn’t been perfected yet. Hopefully, Microsoft and developers will continue to improve the experience as they roll out more streaming support for the Series X and S.

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