How To Play Xbox Games On Your Phone In 7 Steps

Mobile gaming is taking the industry by storm. With powerful phones now rivaling portable consoles and cloud gaming enabling Xbox to extend beyond the living room, playing console-quality games on your phone is a reality.

Global mobile gaming revenue reached $93.2 billion in 2021 and now represents a larger share than PC and console gaming combined according to NewZoo. Phones represent nearly ideal vehicles for enjoying both casual and rich AAA gaming experiences on the go.

For Xbox gamers, cloud gaming means Halo and Forza in your pocket wherever you have a screen and internet connection. Alternatively, remote play lets you directly tap into the full capabilities of your home Xbox Series X|S or Xbox One console to enjoy installed games streamed locally over WiFi.

In this guide, we’ll cover how to access your Xbox gaming library on mobile step-by-step for both remote streaming and cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass:

Overview Of Playing Xbox Games On Phones

Let‘s discuss how Microsoft is delivering Xbox games in new ways to phones and the reasoning behind this mobile gaming push.

Microsoft‘s Cloud and Mobile Gaming Strategy

As spending shifts toward mobile, Microsoft sought to bring Xbox gaming to where the players already are – on phones. With Azure data centers that provide tremendous computing power distributed globally, they developed Xbox Cloud Gaming technology to allow Xbox Series X hardware in Azure to stream immersive games to devices worldwide.

Simultaneously, updates to the Xbox console operating system enabled remote play, allowing you to stream from your own Xbox to any device. With these two technologies combined, Xbox gaming can now expand beyond the console into players‘ phones for gaming on the go.

Cloud gaming also provides Xbox with a distribution channel to reach billions of mobile gamers. As reported by Microsoft, over 3 billion people globally play games now in some form. Tapping into even a slice of this massive audience represents a tremendous opportunity to drive Xbox content subscriptions and software.

Now let‘s dive into setting up both Xbox remote play and cloud gaming solutions.

How To Set Up Xbox Remote Play On Your Phone

Remote play streams games directly from an Xbox Series X|S or Xbox One console on your home network to an Android or iPhone. Follow these seven steps:

Step 1: Turn On Your Xbox Console

First, turn on your Xbox console with the power button. Make sure it is connected to the same WiFi network that your phone will also join. You must keep your Xbox plugged into a power source and have sufficient ventilation during long remote play sessions.

[insert photo of Xbox power button]

Image Credit: Microsoft

Step 2: Enable “Instant On”

From the Xbox dashboard, navigate to Settings (gear icon) > General > Power mode & startup and select Power mode – Instant on. This allows the Xbox app to remotely wake your Xbox console over the internet when powered down. Confirm Instant On is enabled by checking this menu again.

[insert screenshot verifying Instant On setting]

Image Credit: Xbox Support

Enabling Instant On is crucial – without it, you cannot power on your Xbox remotely from the app, preventing game streaming. This setting keeps key components active when "powered off" so they can receive and execute Wake-On-LAN signals.

Step 3: Download The Xbox App

Download the free Xbox app from the App Store on your iPhone or the Google Play Store on your Android device. Sign in using the same Microsoft account associated with your Xbox Live profile and console.

[insert Xbox app download screenshot from app store]

Image Credit: Apple App Store

Microsoft frequently updates the Xbox app on mobile platforms with new features for gaming, social features, store purchases, and controlling your console. Keep the app updated for the best functionality.

Step 4: Connect An Xbox Wireless Controller

For control, turn on an Xbox Wireless Controller and pair it to your phone via Bluetooth. The latest Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One controllers support Bluetooth instead of requiring a dongle like the older Xbox One controllers.

Open your phone’s Settings app and select Bluetooth. Then press and hold the Pair button on your Xbox controller (between LB and RB buttons) until the Xbox button blinks rapidly to enter pairing mode. It will now show up for selection on your phone.

[insert controller pairing photo focused on phone screen]

Image Credit: Android Central

Using an authentic Xbox Wireless Controller provides an optimized gaming experience thanks to Microsoft‘s proprietary communication protocols between console, controller, and app. Off-brand controllers may exhibit lag.

Step 5: Power On Your Console Remotely

In the Xbox app, select the Consoles tab > My Xbox one console > See my games & apps > Power on to remotely turn on your home Xbox that has Instant On enabled. Give it 30 seconds to boot up.

[Insert remote on screenshot from Xbox app]

Image Credit: Xbox Support

Even when "powered off," your console remains slightly active allowing you to power it on over WiFi or mobile data thanks to Instant On mode’s Wake-On-LAN function. This enables the key remote streaming feature.

Step 6: View and Select Games

Now go to My Library > Consoles > [Your Gamer Tag] > See my games & apps. Here you can select from games and apps installed on your Xbox console‘s hard drive to stream over WiFi to your phone‘s screen.

[insert games list screenshot]

Image Credit: Xbox Support

One major benefit compared to cloud gaming is access to your full game library. If it‘s installed locally, you can play it remotely assuming the title supports remote streaming. Multiplayer works cross-platform too.

Step 7: Start Playing!

Select a game, wait for it to boot on your Xbox console over WiFi, then start playing it remotely on your phone! The Xbox controller connects wirelessly over Bluetooth providing a high quality, lag-free gaming experience.

[insert gameplay photo]

Now you can access your entire home Xbox game library to enjoy on a phone remotely thanks to WiFi game streaming. As long as your phone stays connected to the same local network as the Xbox, games play smoothly.

What Is Xbox Cloud Gaming?

Alternatively, Xbox offers a cloud gaming platform for phones and tablets that streams games over the internet instead of a local Xbox console over WiFi.

With Xbox Cloud Gaming included with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate at no added cost, subscribers can play over 100 popular Xbox console and PC game titles on Android and iOS devices without needing an Xbox.

It works by tapping into Microsoft Azure data centers full of Xbox Series X hardware to run games. Video streams encode in real time and send over the internet to your device while your inputs route back to the Azure server, enabling lag-free control.

You just need a stable internet connection capable of 10 Mbps speeds or higher plus Bluetooth controller. 5G provides under 10ms latency enabling a better experience than WiFi, but LTE around 30ms still plays smoothly.

The key upside lies in playing Xbox games truly on the go without proximity to your home Xbox. Paired with Xbox Game Pass for $14.99 monthly, cloud gaming offers a Netflix-style subscription for all-you-can-play mobile access to over 100 games with more added frequently based on Microsoft partnerships.

Now let‘s examine how to start playing Xbox games powered by the cloud.

How To Set Up Xbox Cloud Gaming

Follow these steps to enable Xbox cloud gaming on your phone or tablet:

Step 1: Subscribe To Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

You need an active Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription to access cloud gaming capabilities. This umbrella membership provides access to 100+ Xbox and EA titles for one monthly $14.99 fee including popular franchises like Halo, Forza, and Gears of War.

Cloud gaming runs off Xbox Series X server blades in Microsoft Azure data centers, so GPU performance matches the latest console rather than last-gen Xbox One visuals provided locally.

[insert Game Pass subscription screenshot]

Image Credit: Xbox

Game Pass Ultimate bundles Xbox Live Gold for multiplayer with Xbox Game Pass for console, PC, EA Play libraries plus cloud gaming access, representing tremendous value in gaming.

Step 2: Install The Xbox App

As with remote play, install the Xbox app from the iOS App Store or Android Play Store on your phone. Sign in to link with your Xbox gamertag.

Step 3: Connect A Bluetooth Controller

Cloud gaming requires an external gamepad controller. Connect an Xbox Wireless Controller to enable precise, lag-free inputs over Bluetooth. The Razer Kishi offers an alternate attachable controller for Android phones. iPhone options like the Backbone One also work nicely.

[insert controller pairing screenshot focused on phone]

Image Credit: Xbox Support

Unlike remote play where your Xbox console processes button inputs locally before streaming video, cloud gaming transmits inputs over the internet. Bluetooth keeps this lag in perceivable levels below 50ms.

Step 4: Select Cloud Gaming

In the Xbox app, select the cloud gaming icon (circled rings). Choose an Xbox Series X blade server in a Microsoft data center to host your gaming session by selecting Play on a game or Start cloud gaming.

[insert cloud gaming icon screenshot focused on phone]

Image Credit: Xbox Support

This icon replaces the console selection screen you see with remote play. Now cloud server resources replace local Xbox consoles for processing and rendering, enabling access to Xbox games entirely over the internet.

Step 5) Pick A Game To Play!

Scroll through featured titles or search the full catalog of over 100 games. Select one then press Play to launch nearly instantly since games run off the cloud rather than requiring downloads. Enjoy playing Xbox console games powered by Microsoft‘s global server infrastructure!

[insert game selection screenshot]

Now Xbox gaming can fit in your pocket thanks to mobile cloud streaming technology! Just bring a controller, phone screen, and internet connection allowing freedom to game on the go.

Remote Play vs. Cloud Gaming Comparison

Now that you understand setting up both Xbox remote play and Xbox Cloud Gaming, which offers the better mobile gaming experience?

Here is a full comparison of remote play from your home Xbox console vs. cloud gaming through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate:

Remote Play vs Cloud Gaming table

Key Takeaways:

  • Remote play streams your owned games locally off your console for free but only works at home without remote access tricks

  • Cloud gaming provides true portable Xbox gaming with a subscription but in a more limited catalog of ~100 popular online titles

"Cloud gaming services are all about gaming anywhere on nearly any device with no console required plus quick resume and play times," said Piers Harding-Rolls, research director at Ampere Analysis per Xbox Wire. "Microsoft’s service is differentiated through its ability to blend console, PC and cloud content libraries."

Based on your gaming preferences, utilizing both remote streaming and Xbox Cloud Gaming together enables the best overall experience with the advantages of each system combined.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some of the top questions about playing Xbox games on a mobile phone:

What phones work best for Xbox game streaming?

Any iPhone or Android phone released in the last 2-3 years should provide a smooth gaming experience. High-end phones like the latest Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, and iPhones offer optimal performance.

Do I need fast internet speeds for game streaming?

For remote play‘s best quality, home internet speeds above 25 Mbps down are recommended. With Xbox Cloud Gaming while on the go, an LTE or 5G connection providing over 10 Mbps enables sharp image quality and fluid movement.

What mobile controllers work with Xbox game streaming?

The Xbox Wireless Controller designed for Xbox consoles offers the most seamless experience but any Bluetooth controller would work. Attached controllers like the Razer Kishi provide a Switch-style mobile form factor.

Is Xbox game streaming really free?

Accessing your Xbox console‘s local game library with remote play is entirely free as an owner. However, Xbox Cloud Gaming requires the paid Game Pass Ultimate subscription, currently $14.99 monthly, to stream games over the internet.

Can I play brand new Xbox Series X|S games via the cloud?

Absolutely! With cloud gaming powered by Xbox Series X hardware inside Microsoft data centers, you can enjoy the latest next-gen games like Microsoft Flight Simulator, Forza Horizon 5, and Halo Infinite through the cloud on phones.

What games are available on Xbox Cloud Gaming? Is the library limited?

There are currently over 100 popular Xbox titles enabled for cloud gaming and more added regularly. This curated catalog includes first-party hits like Halo, Forza, and Gears plus third-party Call of Duty, Elden Ring, and sports games. Check the full list here.

Can I use a DualShock controller with Xbox game streaming?

Technically yes since most controllers connect via Bluetooth now, but performance would not be ideal. For the best experience, the proprietary wireless protocol and ergonomics of the Xbox Wireless Controller provide lower latency connects and recognize button prompts.

Start Gaming On The Go!

As you can see, Xbox now accompanies gamers on phones through remote play or portable cloud game streaming technology! With your Xbox controller paired to a phone plus Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, the power of cloud gaming lets you enjoy console-quality experiences on the go.

Give Xbox cloud gaming a try first with the $1 limited intro offer for Game Pass Ultimate, no credit card required. Or access your owned Xbox title library remotely free using the steps outlined for comparison.

Game on wherever life takes you with Xbox games in your pocket! Let us know which Xbox mobile streaming tech you prefer via @Xbox or comments below!

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