Lately I’ve been delving into the mysterious world of Windows 10 Mobile. I’ve invested a lot of time into Android, probably more time into iOS at this point, and very little into Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile lately, and I felt like the up-and-coming platform deserves a little more attention. I haven’t been able to fully commit to Windows Phone in the past due to its lacking app ecosystem, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still hope that the current renaissance of the platform has a bright future ahead.
Still, it already feels like it has been a bumpy ride for Windows 10 Mobile. While the operating system is now available in the new flagship Microsoft Lumias, the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, as well as the lower end Lumia 550, the rest of the Windows Phone world is still left hanging when it comes to an official Windows 10 Mobile release. Owners of older Lumia smartphones were supposed to receive official updates to Windows 10 Mobile as of December of 2015, but that date has since been pushed back to “early” in 2016. Until then, they are allowed access to Insider Previews, which are like beta access to Windows 10 Mobile. Depending on the phone and the build, though, users are warned that the preview is likely unstable, and not particularly great at being daily drivers.
Although this only affects users of older Windows Phone devices, I feel that upgrading old Lumia devices is key to really getting the ball rolling for Windows 10 Mobile; not many people are willing to dive in head-first to the world of Windows 10 Mobile with an expensive flagship like the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, or even with a device like the 550, which still outs you $139.
There is rumor (and now supporting evidence) that another Lumia, the mid-range Lumia 650, will soon be available to users who are looking for a more affordable Windows 10 Mobile experience; however, if rumors prove to be correct about the Lumia 650’s alleged specs, the device may still end up leaving much to be desired.
The Lumia 650 is rumored to run on the Snapdragon 210 processor, which is the same processor that the Lumia 550 runs on. The 650 would also allegedly have 1GB of RAM, a 1280 x 720 LCD display, and an 8MP rear-facing camera. There’s not yet anything on whether the device will feature quick charging capabilities or if it will feature wireless charging or not. All in all, there is a lot up in the air about the Lumia 650.
One thing that is discussed often about the 650 is its rumored design, which is said to be more “premium” looking than its fellow Lumias. This is an area that may boost morale given that Lumias have mostly been designed using polycarbonate, including the latest Lumia 950 duo (although these devices also feature a metal frame around the body). Still, Lumias have never really been known to have a “premium” design, so if the 650 ends up exhibiting a more premium design it may garner more attention for it.
Could the 650 succeed due to looks alone? The alleged specs for the 650 are already present in other low-end and mid-range Lumia devices, meaning that a premium design is really the only thing that makes it different. If anything, I can almost see this backfiring due to the fact that the 950 and 950 XL had designs that weren’t considered “premium” by today’s standards, and they’re fairly pricey smartphones that probably deserved a premium design.
But the thing that I believe most people are waiting for is an app store that more closely resonates with Android or iOS’s app stores, as Windows Phone’s app store is notorious for lacking in that area. Windows 10 Mobile, on the other hand, is universal with Windows 10’s (for PC) app store. Not only that, but Microsoft has also targeted iOS and Android developers by offering a type of cross-platform compatibility with Windows 10 Mobile. These decisions will hopefully result in a more fruitful Windows 10 Mobile app store.
At the end of the day, I feel like the state of Windows 10 Mobile thus far is fragmented and in a confusing state.
It wouldn’t make sense for the premium-designed smartphone to be on the lower end of things unless it is also part of the flagship design as well – which in this case, it isn’t. While I’m sure Lumia 650 hopefuls would be pleased to have a premium design, 950 and 950 XL owners might feel slighted. Perhaps the next Lumia flagship will feature a premium design as well, assuming any of these rumors hold any truth.
It’s also discouraging that Windows 10 Mobile has yet to officially be released for previous Lumia owners. Although I’m in no way saying I think a laggy or buggy release would be better than none, it just feels like the Windows 10 Mobile “release” that Lumia owners have been promised is long overdue at this point. To quote J.R.R. Tolkien, it just feels “thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”
Finally, the state of the app store is still uncertain. While much has been promised, not much has been given. Just because the tools will be available for developers of other platforms to use doesn’t mean they’re necessarily interested. Admittedly, the app store on the Windows 10 Mobile preview (on my old Lumia 928) does seem much more organized than the Windows 8.1 version, so at least there is that. However, when it comes to actual app selection, there’s still much to be desired.
I’ll continue to keep my eye on Windows 10 Mobile. I have always felt that the look and feel of Windows Phone, and even more so with Windows 10 Mobile, is excellent for people that enjoy minimalism. Cortana is a pretty solid voice assistant, despite being late to the party behind Siri and Google Now. I still love the fact that you can get rid of unnecessary bloatware with ease on Windows Phone. There are elements to admire about Windows 10 Mobile and Windows Phone, but there’s also a lot that Microsoft could do to make things better.
Readers, what are your thoughts on the state of Windows 10 Mobile?