Many people, including ourselves, have been disappointed by the minimal adaptations Microsoft has made to Windows Phone to support large screens.
AllAboutWindowsPhone have posted a video demonstrated the changes side by side with the Nokia Lumia 925, and while it is true that most screens only show slightly more content, there are also improvements in legibility of small text due to the large screen which I think overall means a better experience than simply displaying everything at half the size.
What can be seen from the video and screenshots above is that the way Microsoft has optimised Windows Phone 8 for display on large screen devices is relatively subtle….
Some of this is no doubt down to necessity. There is a limit to the amount of changes that can be made in a relatively minor software release. However, the variations in the way the bigger screen has been used (scaling, zooming, UI adjustments) does show Microsoft has put significant thought into the optimisations. It’s not just a simple matter of making everything bigger, or displaying more information, rather it is a marriage of the two.
The end result is a software experience that is optimised around emphasising a large screen smartphone experience. This can be contrasted with large screen smartphones, where an out sized screen feels like a means to an end.
Read more and see more screen shots at AAWP here.
PhoneArena have posted a comprehensive competitive review of the Nokia Lumia 1520 vs the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
They found the Nokia Lumia 1520 looks better, but the Note 3 has more features such as an IR Blaster and S-pen. In addition the user interface is better adapted to the larger screen on the Note 3, including being able to see two apps side by side.
When it comes to the camera, the Nokia Lumia 1520 took much better pictures than the Note 3, but its video was of poorer quality than the Note 3. Battery life was better on the Nokia Lumia 1520, and call quality was the same between the two handsets.
The Nokia Lumia 1520 however on contact was better value for money, costing only $100 on contact in the USA, vs $300 for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
We wrote earlier about the possibility of Windows Phone and Windows RT merging to address the need for a easy to use, long battery life, fool proof and differentiated mobile tablet operating system from Microsoft.
A move towards this has been the push to ever larger Windows Phones, and in a blog post on the Windows Phone Developer Blog Microsoft explained that these handsets could become as large as 7 inches, a size that is usually associated with the most popular tablets, with Peter Torr writing:
In theory, future Windows Phone devices might be even larger than this – up to 7" diagonally
However the Windows Phone UI starts making a lot let sense on such a large screen, with the need to increase the density of information presented on the interface, and not just to blow up the current UI.
Fortunately in GDR3 Microsoft has given developers tools to detect the exact physical signs of the screen, allowing them to keep actual content the same physical size independent of the resolution of the screen, as seen in the picture above.
Using these tools developers could even offer a completely different UI on large screened handsets, for example the screen shot below, which shows information being presented on two screens on the normal Windows Phone, but side by side on the large screened Windows Phone.
Concept Nokia Phablet
Mobiletoday has revealed some interesting titbits in a recent article.
According to their sources Nokia is shopping around for a “preferential UK operator” for a hero phone, after already confirming in their investor call that they will be pursuing the same strategy in USA.
EE originally had exclusivity on the Lumia 920 when it launched last year and Nokia also signed a deal with O2 for the Lumia 720 in red.
The identity of the new device was not revealed, but Chief financial officer Timo Ihamuotila said: ‘ So, you hear us talking a lot about imaging, and so, you should watch…for us to continue to advance the state of the art, like what is the best experience in imaging on devices.”
Nokia is rumoured to have a 41 megapixel Lumia handset in the offing, with the Nokia EOS rumoured for the June to August time frame.
MobileToday also revealed another very interesting titbit. Apparently Nokia is set to release a phablet in Q4 2013 which will be a massive 6 inches and which will sell for between £400 and £500
Mobiletoday quotes Stephen Elop as saying they were seeking to experiment with ‘broader form factors and different things that we can do’, adding ‘We have a lot of juice ahead, as it relates to the Lumia product lines.’
The exclusive carrier model is much hated by our readers. Are you surprised to hear it will continue? Let us know below.
At the the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference during a Q&A session on February 13 Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein told attendees that Microsoft was ready to respond to the direction the market was moving when it came to form factors.
When asked about Microsoft’s plans to address the tablet and phone market with device form factors ranging from 4 inches to 13 inches and beyond he said:
"We’ve done a lot of the hard work in the developer platform," Klein said. "We are well set up to respond to demand as we see it."
Currently the mobile Windows line-up has a massive gap between 4.8 inch and 10 inch screen sizes, currently filled on Android and iOS by phablets and 7 inch tablets.
Klein said applications can scale up and down based on form factors, and the company was well set up to deliver a versatile set of experience across form factors, and specifically mentioned 5 inch and 7 and 8 inch screen sizes.
He also mentioned a variety of price points, which will hopefully open the way for cheaper Windows 8 tablets.
He also mentioned the unified kernel between Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8, and said the company is evolving the underlying application programming interfaces (APIs) that will enable developers of these apps and services to get closer to cross-platform nirvana.
"We are getting closer and closer every day to write once and run anywhere," Klein said.
Microsoft has already made it clear in a job posting that they aimed to get Windows Phone applications to run on Windows tablets and vice versa, writing:
"(T)he code you write for Windows Store apps would just work on the Windows Phone and vice versa."
Windows Phone 8 does not currently support 1080p displays as found on many cutting edge phablets these days, a deficiency which Microsoft will hopefully rapidly address.
Are our readers ready for the clearly coming Windows Phablets? Let us know below.