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Xbox Game Pass for Android review: The future of mobile gaming

Fallout 4 Xbox Game Pass Android Hero
(Image: © Jennifer Locke / Android Central)

Our Verdict

Bottom line: Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming is the pinnacle of game streaming on Android, delivering a library of popular titles directly to your mobile device at a low monthly cost. It only looks to get even better from here.

For

  • First and third-party games make up a stellar library
  • Included with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription
  • Supports controllers and touch controls in select games

Against

  • Still in beta with some input lag and connection issues
  • Slow loading times
  • Not all games are designed for mobile

Microsoft made waves across the industry with Xbox Game Pass, creating an affordable subscription service that sees new select AAA titles and exclusives launch into it the day they release at retail. The value is immense, and it only got better when Xbox Game Pass Ultimate added cloud streaming for its members. Though still in beta, Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming works fantastic on Android, allowing you to play your favorite console games on the go wherever you are.

I've spent some time testing it out in a variety of games that support either touch controls or dedicated controllers, and it works like a charm, even in first-person shooters. Though there are times where you'll encounter some input lag or latency as the connection buffers, these tend to be few and far between. As far as game streaming services go, this is the best you can get on Android.

Xbox Game Pass for Android: Price and availability

Gamesir X2 Bluetooth Mobile Controller With Phone

Source: Jennifer Locke / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jennifer Locke / Android Central)

Because Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is a subscription service, you'll need to continually pay a recurring fee of $15/month or $45 every 3 months, depending on which membership you purchase. Cloud gaming became an additional feature in the service in September 2020 and can be played on Android devices running 6.0 or later. Windows 10 users and iOS users running 14.4 or later can sign up for a limited beta as of April 2021.

Cloud gaming through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is currently available in the following 22 regions:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • South Korea
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Xbox Game Pass for Android: What's amazing

Razer Kishi With Phone

Source: Jennifer Locke / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jennifer Locke / Android Central)

Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming takes the console gaming experience and delivers it straight to your pocket.

Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming takes the console gaming experience and delivers it straight to your pocket. It's incredible just how well it works. You can find a section dedicated entirely to the cloud within its mobile app. It separates games into different categories like those recently added, those with touch controls, the most popular titles, and genre. You can also browse its full list that includes games in EA Play and titles from Bethesda.

I never imagined I could be playing games like Halo: The Master Chief Collection or Skyrim on my phone, but that's exactly what I can do. So long as you have a decent controller, like the Razer Kishi or a regular Xbox controller, you should have no problem playing first-person shooters on your phone. While there can be some latency from connection issues, these are few and far between.

Saves also pick up seamlessly between console and mobile, so you can get back into a game right where you left off. And for any achievement hunters out there, those are fully supported too. You're getting all of the benefits of the Xbox ecosystem at your fingertips.

Dishonored 2 Gameplay Xbox Game Pass Android

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

That cloud streaming is just an included benefit in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate makes it even more appealing. You're already getting a library of hundreds of titles that you can download directly to your console or PC without needing to pay retail prices for them. Cloud streaming just adds more that you can then play on a mobile device. The list of games available to stream may be smaller than that of Game Pass's entire catalogue, but it's still a couple of hundred titles and growing.

Tying everything into the Xbox ecosystem will surely make it easier for people to buy into, unlike Stadia. There are plenty of benefits and very few drawbacks when you consider this.

Xbox Game Pass for Android: What's not so good

Skyrim Characater Creator Xbox Game Pass Android

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Depending on your internet connection, you could run into some performance issues while streaming. After all, it's still in beta, and there are bound to be problems that pop up as Microsoft continues to develop the service. Despite this, you should be able to stream most games with few complaints. The biggest issue that I continually ran into was dreadfully slow loading times.

If you prefer touch controls, there's also a limited list of games supporting them. I personally prefer playing these games with a controller, so this didn't bother me too much, but this can't be said for everyone. Some of the biggest games that support touch controls right now are Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, Gears 5, and Sea of Thieves. If you plan on playing other games, you'll want to check out our recommendations for the best mobile gaming controller.

Many of these games weren't designed to be played on such small screens and have UI that can either make the screen cluttered or too small to read. This difficulty in reading what's happening on the screen can also extend to gameplay.

Xbox Game Pass for Android: Competition

Stadia Game Trailer And Announcements Android

Source: Jennifer Locke / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jennifer Locke / Android Central)

Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming's biggest competitor on Android is Stadia. Though Stadia comes with a free tier so that you don't have to pay monthly for streaming, you will have to buy each game you'd like to play. Stadia games aren't just available to you like they are on Xbox Game Pass streaming. Even when you subscribe to Stadia's $10/month option, you'll still need to pay separately for the games you want to play. It has a few interesting features — like State Share — that Game Pass doesn't have, but Game Pass more than makes up for that with its library of games.

While not supported on mobile devices yet, PlayStation Now is also a competitor on the PC front. It hosts a library of over 800 games, all of which can be streamed to PC. That said, its library tends to be comprised of older titles, as new games generally don't release into the service.

Xbox Game Pass for Android: Should you buy it?

Fallout 4 Xbox Game Pass Android Hero

Source: Jennifer Locke / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jennifer Locke / Android Central)

You should buy this if ...

  • You want to play first-party Xbox exclusives the day they release
  • You have an Android phone running 6.0 or later
  • You have an Xbox or PC and want to download your games

You shouldn't buy this if...

  • You want to wait until it's out of beta
  • You're only buying it for cloud streaming

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is something that I would highly recommend for most people. However, if you're only buying it for its cloud streaming capabilities, you may want to wait until it's out of beta. There are still some technical hurdles it needs to overcome before it's perfect. For everyone else, it's well worth the subscription price, especially if you have an Xbox or PC and want to play Xbox's newest exclusives right when they release.

4 out of 5

Microsoft has done the work to ensure that cloud streaming has a solid foundation in Xbox Game Pass. Aside from some latency issues and the fact that not every game was designed to be played on small screens, cloud streaming is simply amazing. This is something people couldn't have imagined 20 years ago, but it will be a huge part of Android gaming going forward.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Card

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (1-month)

Bottom line: As a part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, cloud streaming is a wonderful addition to the service. There's very little reason not to purchase an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership, and streaming on your Android device works like a charm.

Jennifer Locke
Jennifer Locke

Jennifer Locke is Android Central's Games Editor and has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things on Twitter @JenLocke95.

7 Comments
  • A friend of mine uses his Samsung Galaxy Tab A, 10.1" tablet with one of his wireless Xbox controllers to play Game Pass games. It is MUCH better on a tablet than on a phone. Prop the Tablet in "tent" mode on the table and play away, no more wrist fatigue from holding the phone+controller in your hands and a much bigger screen (he even uses the ScreenCast function to play it all on his 65" TV too.) YMMV.
  • Are you serious? You blatantly lied multiple times about Stadia. 1. There is a handful of games that YOU CAN play without paying. Literally just open the page in any browser and that's it. Destiny 2 I play all the time and never paid for it. You CANNOT use GamePass Streaming without a subscription period. What you said was the exact opposite of what is true. 2. The whole point of Stadia's 10$ monthly plan is mostly to access the Free for Pro library. Which you must have not known is a bunch of titles you can play for free as a subscriber -- you DO NOT have to purchase anything else besides the membership. This part of the plan functions identically to GamePass. I've tried all the services, and GamePass is great, but you're reporting straight up lies here dude. Did Microsoft pay you to write this or something?
  • Apologizing for coming off abrasively with my wording. Rough morning. It's been common ever since game streaming became a thing for people to misunderstand how it all works, just don't want misinformation spread. ✌️
  • "A handful of games" for free on Stadia is practically nothing. I also never said you can use Game Pass streaming without a subscription, so I don't know where you got that from. Stadia's whole thing is that you have to pay a la carte for most of the games you want to play. I'm well aware of the free library for Pro members. I was a Pro member. It doesn't hold a candle to what Xbox Game Pass offers. There are still games that Stadia Pro members need to pay for — a majority on the service, actually. No lies here mate ✌️
  • Jennifer, respectfully, if you are "aware" of Stadia's Pro library then you should have mentioned it. You just casually mentioned that Stadia has a paid tier without actually telling us WHAT you're paying for. As far as not "holding a candle to what Game Pass offers", that very much depends. With the Pro subscription, besides 4K an HDR, you get an average of 4 new games per month that you get to keep forever, as long as you're a Pro member. There isn't the risk of them being rotated out, like the vast majority of Game Pass titles. Unfortunately many articles about Stadia never mention this. Something that's usually mentioned even less is the fact that games usually stay as Pro offers for, at least, 2 months, many for 3. I've been using Stadia since December 2019, about 18 months. In that time I've had the initial 3 Pro months offered by Google, plus the 2 bonus ones during the height of the pandemic last year, and have subscribed (payed) about every 2 months since then. I have 86 games in my Pro library and, if Google keeps up the pace, will have more than 100 by year's end. Good article overall, I just think Stadia sometimes gets an undeserved bad rep in terms of the value it offers.
  • I understand what you're saying but even with a pro subscription, unless a game is part of those four free ones per month, you have to pay full price for the games. Game Pass doesn't have that requirement, even for games from EA Play. Where Stadia gets a negative rep from me is in the resolution promises, as most people can't stream using Stadia in 4K anyway.
  • Yes, but if you buy a game, it's yours. You can play it whenever you want, with or without a pro subscription, like if you had bought it on the PS or XBox digital store. Stadia was always meant to be a console in the cloud. The Pro subscription is more akin to Live Gold than Game Pass, with the added advantage that Pro games remain for more than a month, like I said before, so you don't have subscribe every month if you don't want to. And there's always a minimum of about 30 games to claim by new users to the service. That being said, I certainly wouldn't mind if Google introduced a "Pro+" tier for 15 €/month that gave a wider "bufet" of games to play immediately, besides the 4 or so that they offer every month to claim permanently. But, realistically. I think that will only happen when they have a bigger catalog of games. At the moment I believe Stadia is closing in on 200 games available in total, and they've offered 86 of them in Pro at some point. Stadia doesn't have EA Play, but it does have Ubisoft+. I payed for 2 months of the service and finished Immortals: Fenyx Rising plus the DLCs on Stadia. "as most people can't stream using Stadia in 4K anyway." Do you mean their internet doesn't support 4K, or the games themselves don't? You need about 35 Mbps for 4K. That's pretty reasonable, IMO. Stadia supports games up to native 4K, but it's up individual developers to optimize their games for the platform. Some games run a at 4K/60 natively, lately many games allow you to choose between a 1080P/60 (performance) or 4K/30 (visual) mode.