Having looked at Windows 10 Mobile build 10512 on the top spec Lumia 930 (2GB of RAM) and on the 'budget flagship' Lumia 830 (with 1GB of RAM), it's time to look at the new OS on something even lower spec - the two year old Lumia 630, with only 512MB RAM. Common sense tells us that Windows 10 Mobile should be more limited in this context - and it is in terms of big name games - but surprisingly the overall smartphone experience is very decent indeed and indistinguishable from the Lumia 830's, thanks to the lower screen resolution (WVGA).
Recent Features - Hardware
Having been looking so far in detail at Windows 10 Mobile performance and issues on the fastest Snapdragon 800-powered devices, the Lumia 930 and 1520, I thought it time to check out how the OS was faring on something with a Snapdragon 400, in this case the otherwise pretty decent Lumia 830, with 720p screen and 1GB of RAM. In fact, the 830 isn't being made anymore, with a new breed of similarly specced budget devices coming up on its heels, but it's still a good test case for how Windows 10 Mobile will fare with less horsepower under the hood.
It's true I haven't done a camera head to head for months here on AAWP, but I wanted to put that right with a look at a brand new camera-focussed Android device, the new Moto X Play, designed by Motorola to give users a top end camera and top end battery. The latter is subjective, since it depends on use, but I can test the former. The Moto X Play comes in a £270 inc VAT in the UK, coincidentally about the same price that you can now pick up a new Lumia 930, and with the camera (full) resolutions being identical it's absolutely a fair 'fight'.
These snapshots of a mobile OS in progress seem to be popular and, using it day to day, I'm in a good position to comment on how Windows 10 Mobile is coming on. My last report was three weeks ago here and I'm happy to say that most of the issues I reported on then have been addressed in build 10512, with some screenshot proof below, along with shots of (ahem) a few new issues. That I can use W10M day to day now shows that the OS is definitely 'getting there' though. Your comments welcome!
There are three kinds of Windows Phone owner. The hard-core enthusiasts who will have been putting on every Insiders build of Windows 10 Mobile and they know all the tricks of the trade. Normal users who just want a phone that works and who will wait, blissfully ignorant of anything new on the horizon, until they're promoted with an official notice. And everyone in the middle, who quite fancies installing Windows 10 Mobile to see what all the fuss is about and to skip a probable four month wait for the finished article, but is scared stiff of what's involved. This article is for the third group and is intended to be the definitive guide!
Yes, yes, I've been trying to avoid the term 'budget flagship' for months, but I can hold off no more. You see, there's a new breed of Android smartphone in town, with 5"+ 1080p screens and high specification processors, but coming in at not that much more than £100 in the UK on pay as you go. Jaw dropping value, so I thought I'd take one such example device and compare it to the natural contenders in the Windows Phone world. Here's the Vodafone-branded Smart Ultra 6 against the Lumia 640 and 640 XL - they're significantly outgunned, but can the component choices and OS make a difference?
There's a sweet spot for everything, whether it's the quantity of beer you buy in one go (e.g. a 'pint'), the number of children your family has (2, in the West, allegedly!) or, indeed, the number of megapixels in your captured photos. There will always be exceptions and regional variations, but taking the megapixel example in the context of camera phones, the tech world is now moving into uncharted areas of what I've often called the 'megapixel myth'. From this point onwards, it's mainly pain and little gain, I contend, unless manufacturers start to do cleverer things with all those pixels, in the manner of PureView classics like the 808 and 1020...
It's some what ironic to see the gradual creep in size across the smartphone world, edging up to that of the original Lumia 1520 and 1320, 'phablets', announced in 2013. But, crucially, with one or two niche exceptions, nothing's got close to that 6" screen size. And for good reason, perhaps explaining why the 1520 and 1320 never really achieved significant success.
After a few questions on social media, I wanted to clear up a few misconceptions about Microsoft's Continuum feature for phones, announced at BUILD a few months ago. The idea was that 'new premium phones' plug into HDMI-capable screens, hook up to Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, to run their applications at full desktop resolution. And, most importantly, none of the existing Windows Phone hardware will be compatible with Continuum, but there are good technical reasons for this.
There's something of a blanket assumption that everyone currently using Windows Phone 8.1 will upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile - after all, Microsoft has been promising that 'majority' of users will join the Window 10 ecosystem. But, after a few recent experiences of mine with budget devices, I thought it worth sounding a note of caution and reality - I'd put money on the actual conversion numbers to Windows 10 Mobile being significantly less than 50% and maybe as low as 15%...