Monday, July 18, 2016

New Devices Means Windows Phones Might Not Be Dead After All

When it comes to the smartphone race not many people are using phones with Microsoft’s Windows 10 Mobile operating system these days. In fact, for most just finding a device that supports the fledgling OS can be a chore. Even then the pickings are very slim with only a few devices clinging to life. It looks like that may soon be changing however, and we are sure glad it is!

Windows 10 Mobile's market-share may just be a blip on the radar these days, hovering between 1-3%, but the operating system is gaining new signs of life thanks to key additions from some major industry players. HP, Acer and even Lenovo are releasing brand new high end device running Microsoft's latest mobile operating system.

HP Elite x3

Taking another stab at the smartphone market for the first time in years, HP will soon start shipping their new flagship phone the Elite x3. First announced at the Mobile World Congress trade show in February the Elite x3 will feature some rather impressive specs that will put it in the same class as powerhouse Android devices such as Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and LG’s G5. It has a 5.96-inch AMOLED screen that can display images at a 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 chip, which has a graphics processor capable of processing 4K video, 4GBs of ram and 64GBs of storage space.

HP Elite x3 Specifications:
  • Dimensions: 83.5 x 7.8 x 161.8 mm 195g
  • Screen: 5.96-inch AMOLED display with WQHD 2560 x 1440 px resolution, Gorilla Glass 4
  • Processor: Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 @ 2.15 GHz
  • Storage: 64GB expandable to up to 2TB with microSD
  • 16MP rear camera
  • 8MP front-facing camera
  • Dual nano SIM or nano SIM + microSD via 3-in-2 card tray
  • Iris scanner
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • IP67 rating for dust- and water-resistance
  • MIL-STD-810 rating, assuring device protection for drops from up to 1 meter
  • USB 3.0 port with Type-C connector
  • 4150 mAh battery, non-removable

Lenovo SoftBank 503LV

Last year, when Microsoft first announced the release of Windows 10 for phones, it mentioned Lenovo as one of its hardware partners. However, we haven't hear anything about this from Lenovo - not until now. The company this week unveiled its very first Windows 10 smartphone the SoftBank 503LV. Unfortunately we have seen rumors this device might be available in Japan only, however one can hope that all this new interest and competition will mean it will make it to the US.

The SoftBank 503LV derives its name in part due to the fact that it is a collaboration with Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank, one of the biggest smartphone manufacturers in the world. Being Lenovo's first entry into the Windows 10 Mobile market the Lenovo SoftBank 503LV features some rather basic specs. which we see as rather unfortunate. It will have a 5-inch 720p display and is powered by a 1.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor (the same chipset that powers the Moto G4, Moto G4 Plus, and HTC One A9), coupled with 3GB of RAM and an internal storage capacity of 32GB that is expandable up to 128GB via a microSD card.

Liquid Jade Primo

Acer has been one of the few companies that has stood with Microsoft in partnership releasing multiple Windows Mobile phones dating back to early 2015 when they released their first Windows Mobile phone the Liquid M220. This year we have seen them step up their game, releasing not one but two new devices. Back in April we saw their first release with the Liquid M330, a $99 entry level device for the budget minded. This week they took things up another notch with the release of their newest 'flag ship device' the Liquid Jade Primo.

During the IFA conference at the beginning of September 2015, Acer first unveiled the Liquid Jade Primo, giving users a glimpse at what was at the time going to be the company's first Windows 10 Mobile handset. Featuring a Hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, 5.5-inch Full HD (1920x1080px) AMOLED screen and 3GBs RAM the Liquid Jade Primo packs an impressive punch.

Acer Liquid Jade Primo Specifications:
  • Hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor
  • 5.5-inch Full HD (1920x1080px) AMOLED screen
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB storage (plus microSD card support up to 128GB)
  • 21MP rear camera with dual-LED flash and 4K (3840x2160px) video recording
  • 8MP front-facing camera with Full HD (1920x1080px) video recording
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • USB Type-C connector
  • 4G LTE connectivity
  • Dual-SIM support
  • 2800mAh battery
  • 156.5 x 75.9 x 8.4mm; 150g

All three device will feature support for Windows Continuum, one of Microsoft's newest features which turns your phone into a pseudo-PC allowing you to run universal Windows apps directly from your phone on just about any large format screen. You can then connect a mouse and keyboard and use your phone just as though you would a laptop, tablet or desktop, all while keeping the full function of a phone.

Acer's Liquid Jade Primo and HP's Elite x3 will also features bundles that include a Desk Dock for not only Continuum support, but additional USB, power and networking connections as well. Pricing starts at $649 for the unlocked Acer Liquid Jade Primo with a dock, keyboard and mouse and $699 for HP's Elite x3 (though we don't believe that includes and extra peripherals).

I don''t know about my fellow geeks out there but I for one applaud Microsoft and their partners for continuing the fight for a 3rd smartphone platform. I'm a firm believer that competition brings innovation and right now we aren't seeing a ton of that coming from Apple or Google with iOS and Android. I think that should Microsoft succeed, in breaking into even a small portion of the market, we might see some great things. They definitely have a major mountain to climb and will need a lot of help from developers in getting apps made for the OS. I feel though once that is done they might have a chance.

What about you guys? Do these new devices get you excited for more Windows 10 Mobile, or do you think they'll just be another flash in the pan?

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