Late last year I posted about hacking the Lumia 920 and 1020 (from 2013 era) up to Windows 10 Mobile in order to keep using the phones, with working Store, and more. But as part of the hack, pretending to be a Lumia 950, it turns out that the later Windows 10 Mobile branches (1703 and 1709) were over the top for these old processors and even meant that some basic functionality (mainly Maps) was lost. At which point I wondered what would happen if the hack was adapted and shortened slightly, to leave the 1020 and 920 on branch 1607 (i.e. from late 2016), giving many of the benefits of W10M but retaining a working Maps sub-system?
Recent Features - Windows Phone 8
I speculate regularly in prose form on reasons why people may have chosen to go down the Windows Phone (and W10M) route in the past, even staying with the platforms until 2020, but I thought it would be both fun and useful to gather your thoughts in poll form. See below - what has been most attractive to you? [Updated with results]
It's an obvious trend that smartphone processors get faster with every year's new launches. True, their operating systems also grow in size and complexity, but usually at a slower rate. So, overall, things get snappier. Back in the day, Windows Phone 8.1 was itself very fluid and snappy, but the move to Windows 10 Mobile introduced a more heavyweight OS and a more sluggish experience - I wrote about all this here, back in 2015. We haven't had new first party hardware from Microsoft since early 2016 and then third party hardware later that year - so how does Windows 10 Mobile on 2016 phone hardware compare, speed-wise, with the best of 2020?
The question is a tantalising one. How would someone get on setting up a Windows 10 Mobile smartphone from scratch... in 2020? i.e. a starting point of up to date security but no more updates to come - ever, plus a patchy set of mainstream services. I keep the latter tabulated and up to date here, but I also thought it worth documenting how everything comes together (or not) on a freshly factory reset Alcatel IDOL 4 Pro, certainly the slickest and shiniest (and boy, is it slippery) Windows phone ever made.
With some social applications, comms apps and Microsoft services being phased out as time goes on, I thought a ready reference table of where Windows 10 Mobile stands would be useful. And I'll revisit this every month to update each section as needed. In summary, there's likely to be little disruption to 'normal' activities this year but a few more caveats in 2020, now that Windows 10 Mobile is out of official support. [This is the January 2020 update, a month on from the previous one.]
Microsoft warned Windows Phone 8.1 users, AAWP warned them/you too, so the final closing of the Store wasn't unexpected. After all, the 8.1 OS itself has been unsupported in terms of updates now for over two years. However, I was curious as to what would happen if a user tried opening the Store app on a phone running Windows Phone 8.1 after the 19th December deadline. Surely a friendly message explaining the situation and pointing users back to the Windows 10 Mobile upgrade or to a competing platform wasn't too much to ask? As it turns out, yes, this was too much to ask. Harumph.
With Facebook having stopped their first party (OSmeta-based and very bloated) applications for Windows 10 Mobile months ago, users have had to look elsewhere for their fix of family news and jokes. So what options are still working and what about Facebook Messanger and Instagram (also now part of Facebook's empire)? I investigate, in this last feature before Christmas. (AAWP will be back on December 27th.)
With the Store for Windows Phone 8.1 stopping working in a couple of weeks, users of the very popular Lumia 1020 have a problem. Yes, being love-smitten on the 1020 is an issue in itself, though you might also now consider the iPhone 11 Pro. But if you want to give the 1020 (or 920) a little more life in terms of applications then force-upgrading it to Windows 10 Mobile is about the only option, since the W10M Store is 'good' until at least 2021. My own 1020 has flip-flopped a few times between 8.1 and W10M, I always got put off by the latter's restrictions for the 1020 hardware, but it seems like Microsoft is now forcing our hand for good.
Exactly two years ago I presented my own 'Top 5', but the ecosystem is about to start winding down, the last branch of Windows on phones is about to receive its final update, so now would be a good time for a massive update to the idea. This time going with crowd-sourced data and not just my own prejudices! You might still not be surprised at the no. 1 below, but at least it's not just my own PureView love affair - several hundred others voted, with results below.
Most Lumias were produced under the Nokia brand, of course, with the final generation under 'Microsoft'. But I still find it interesting how the Nokia name has risen back up into the public consciousness under the seemingly capable hands of HMD Global, still based in Finland. I've covered the (disappointing) Nokia 9 PureView here before, but I now have in for review something that sits at the budget end of the spectrum (£230), yet is robust (plastic chassis, think Lumia 1520) and capable. And still has a 48MP camera. Here's my first look at the 'Nokia 7.2'.