Phone by phone: WP8/Windows 10 Mobile official upgrade paths

Published by at

After many editorials and features, there still seems to be much confusion about exactly where each Windows Phone will end up - officially. So I thought I'd produce an upgrade grid, for easy bookmarking. And note that I'm ignoring hacks like fiddling with phone registries - we're keeping things 100% legitimate here.

There are several factors in whether a particular OS version/branch is pushed out to specific smartphones, with the principal one being not specs, but the age of the handset. Which makes sense in the commercial world, since this is the usual length of a phone contract and the minimum period for which vendors promise updates. Buts specs are a factor too (e.g. RAM), slong with manufacturer and willingness to support a phone.

Looking at the official list of devices which will get the Creators Update (RS2) pushed to them, then adding in previous update availability, here's the situation for most Windows-running smartphones.

Notes for the sake of clarity:

  • I've omitted devices that are too old to be relevant or which were too niche/region-specific/heavily-carrier-branded
  • I've ignored Windows Phone 7.x for the same reason
  • I've ignored Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2 as it was only for a handful of models and mainly offered cosmetic tweaks to Settings, plus a newer Bluetooth stack
  • If your browser can't handle the table then there's a downloadable image version
Operating system>> Windows Phone 8/8.1 various branches

Windows 10 Mobile branches

Selected/relevant
device(s)
Chipsets used RAM 2013-2015 Threshold 1/2
Late 2015 to Q2 2016 

Redstone
('Anniversary Update') 
August 2016 

Redstone 2
('Creators Update')
Spring 2017 
Samsung ATIV S Snapdragon S4 Plus 1GB Out of the box not recommended, even via Insider rings n/a n/a
HTC One (M8) Snapdragon 801 2GB Out of the box via Insider rings,
though was de-provisioned
in summer 2016
n/a n/a
Lumia 520, 525, 620, 625, 630
635 (512MB RAM version)
Snapdragon S4/400 512MB Out of the box never recommended, even via Insider rings
n/a
n/a
Lumia 720, 820,
920, 925, 1020, 1320
Snapdragon S4 Plus/400 512MB-2GB Out of the box via Insider rings,
though was de-provisioned
in summer 2016
n/a
n/a
Alcatel OneTouch
Fierce XL

Snapdragon 210 2GB Out of the box 
Yes, official Yes, official
Lumia 435, 535 Snapdragon 200 1GB Out of the box Yes, official Yes, official n/a
Lumia 635 (1GB) Snapdragon S4  1GB Out of the box Yes, official Yes, official never recommended, even via Insider rings 
Lumia 640/XL Snapdragon 400 1GB Out of the box  Yes, official Yes, official Yes, official
Lumia 550/650 Snapdragon 210/212 1GB  Out of the box  Yes, official Yes, official
Lumia 735, 830 Snapdragon 400 1GB Out of the box Yes, official
Yes, official via Insider rings (Release Preview only),
may be de-provisioned
at some point
Lumia 930/1520 Snapdragon 800 2GB Out of the box  Yes, official
Yes, official via Insider rings (Release Preview only),
may be de-provisioned
at some point
Acer Liquid
Jade Primo
Snapdragon 808 3GB Out of the box via Insider rings,
will be de-provisioned
at some point
n/a
Lumia 950/XL Snapdragon 808/810 3GB Out of the box  Yes, official
Yes, official
HP Elite x3/
'IDOL 4S w/W10'
Snapdragon 820 4GB Out of the box  Yes, official
Yes, official

I'll be accused of 'spinning' the situation somewhat here, but the abundance of green above shows that Microsoft hasn't done a terrible job of managing the various updates across the board.

The orange 'Insiders only' boxes are the most controversial updates, of course, especially the recent ones for the Lumia 735 through to 1520, but as I've said before, here it's more todo with handset age and chipset. And we don't know how long Microsoft will keep these devices on their server provisioning lists for Redstone 2 (Creators Update) - although I suspect we're only talking about weeks, it could equally well be many months. We just don't know!

We'll be able to extend this grid over the summer once it becomes clear what's involved in 'Redstone 3', the next possible branch of Windows 10 Mobile. This is aimed at Q4 2017, but you know how these things tend to slip...

Comments welcome - how does your device stable stack up on the grid and is its final resting place in terms of OS branch an issue for you?

PS. As per my opening paragraph, it's possible to hack the Windows registry to make a phone pretend to be something it's not... I even tried this myself here - but it's not recommended, unless you're 100% sure you know what you're doing and you're prepared for some things not to work properly. Be warned.