New Windows Phone form factors revealed

A few days ago, a video featuring Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore – intended for use within the company and among its hardware partners – revealed a huge amount of information about its next-generation mobile operating system, Windows Phone 8, also known by its development codename, ‘Apollo’. One of the juiciest details uncovered was that the new OS would bring much broader “scale and choice” on the hardware side of things.

In addition to support for multi-core processors and removable microSD storage, four new display resolutions were also promised. Information highlighted by TechRadar appears to offer the first hints at new form factors that will soon populate the Windows Phone ecosystem. Albert Shum (pictured below), who heads up Microsoft’s Windows Phone Design Studio, appeared at a Nokia event and previewed the expansion of today’s Windows Phone expanding into a varied range of devices, alongside larger Windows 8-based tablets and PCs.

The slide previews six form factors that Nokia will apparently be developing with Microsoft operating systems. It appears to confirm the inclusion of a Windows 8 tablet device (not Windows Phone 8, as Microsoft has explicitly ruled out its phone OS being used on tablets) on the Nokia roadmap, along with a larger touchscreen phone handset with no hardware buttons (perhaps competing with the 4.7” HTC TITAN 2 Windows Phone and 5.3” Samsung Galaxy Note Android handset). It’s likely that larger displays will also usher in higher resolutions, including high-definition support; currently, only one resolution – 480x800px, or WVGA – is available for Windows Phone device manufacturers.  

Three smaller form factors are also revealed here. A smaller touchscreen – presumably with a lower resolution display – is shown; this will likely be a new class of lower-cost Windows Phones designed primarily for developing markets, and which are expected to be launched later this year with the next interim update for the OS, codenamed ‘Tango’. Another new form factor is one that has a fixed hardware QWERTY keyboard below the display (similar to most BlackBerrys, or Nokia’s E6 Symbian phone).

Perhaps the most interesting new form factor is the smallest one of them all. This appears to be an ultra-compact device with a display of between one and two inches in size. Could this be some sort of Windows Phone version of Apple’s iPod nano?

While there’s no indication of exactly when these new devices will materialise, it’s exciting to see that Microsoft and its partners already have a clear idea of how they’d like to expand the Windows Phone ecosystem alongside that of Windows 8, as the company's operating systems for phones and larger devices grow closer together.

Image from Nokia event via TechRadar

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Being that Nokia are showing an Asha form factor for future wp devices shows that RIM need to open their eyes and realize their BB10 is a 'burning platform'

I will tell you exactly what that small form factor is. It's a WATCH! I was the first one to use the MS Outlook compatible watch over 10 years ago, and I used it all the time!!! I would be so excited for MS and Nokia to finally finish this project that I have see NO ONE come back to! This is very exciting!!!

Does that big form factor look like a Tablet? A WP8 styled tablet would be great! (might even be better than the current W8 metro implementation..)

Tony. said,
Does that big form factor look like a Tablet? A WP8 styled tablet would be great! (might even be better than the current W8 metro implementation..)

Since this is a Nokia slide. I'm guessing they are going to be doing an ARM tablet running Win8.

Possibly a PMP device in the works to replace the ZuneHD? I really really REALLY hope so. I don't like using my phone as a media player. My ZuneHD is awesome but how much longer can it last? Please do this MS. Hey, one can dream, right?

First one: Some Ipod Nano like device maybe? or a watch type of device...
Second one: Buttonless Front? Like the N9?
Third one...: Nokia Asha like?
fourth one... Current Design?
Firth one.... HTC Titan Like Device?
Last one.... Galaxy Note like device?

This form factor thing is just nokia would be interesting to see other manufacturers pull theirs out.

Noveed said,
First one: Some Ipod Nano like device maybe? or a watch type of device...
Second one: Buttonless Front? Like the N9?
Third one...: Nokia Asha like?
fourth one... Current Design?
Firth one.... HTC Titan Like Device?
Last one.... Galaxy Note like device?

This form factor thing is just nokia would be interesting to see other manufacturers pull theirs out.

Last one seems more like a full fledged tablet dude!

Good news. I'm glad to see Microsoft is continuing to diversify the hardware designs. This will only help them gain market share.

W8 and WP 8 in same year
new tablets ,new hybrid laptop\tablet devices ,ultrabooks ,new WP devices from wide range of sizes

maaan i love 2012

Shane Ekanayake said,
W8 and WP 8 in same year
new tablets ,new hybrid laptop\tablet devices ,ultrabooks ,new WP devices from wide range of sizes

maaan i love 2012


2012 love you too

As much as people are complaining about fragmentation, I am sure that each of the different form factors will have their own strict set of hardware requirements. Also, it's fragmenting hardware, not the OS, that's a big difference compared to Android on all the devices released right now.
You don't hear anyone complaining that there is fragmentation with Windows 7 Starter up to Windows 7 Ultimate/Enterprise. They all received the same updates via the same updating methodologies (Automatic Updates, WSUS, SCCM, etc). Why is having the one Phone OS going to be any different on 6 different hardware platforms. Just means the phone (OS) will have a bigger HAL and HCL, nothing more.

yeoo_andy_ni said,
.... Just means the phone (OS) will have a bigger HAL and HCL, nothing more.

Yeah it's called NT.
When these new form factors come out, WP8 will have NT inside.

I just want a phone that can make phone calls, and send/receive the occasional SMS message. Oh wait, I have one of those... and I think Verizon hates me because I have had it for almost 5 years now.

I am super excited about WP8. But it will be depressing if they do not bring the update to the second generation mango devices.

psreloaded said,
I am super excited about WP8. But it will be depressing if they do not bring the update to the second generation mango devices.

If they can bring Windows 8 to the same minimum spec systems as Windows 7, almost 4 years later, they can bring Apollo/WP8 to my 1st Gen HD7, I have faith in MS on this one.

*EDIT* Just because it's going to add Dual Core support, doesn't mean the OS needs it.

yeoo_andy_ni said,

If they can bring Windows 8 to the same minimum spec systems as Windows 7, almost 4 years later, they can bring Apollo/WP8 to my 1st Gen HD7, I have faith in MS on this one.

*EDIT* Just because it's going to add Dual Core support, doesn't mean the OS needs it.


Agreed. I fully expect to get an update. We'll have to see what happens, but I do not think it will be an issue.

I thought one of the core tenets of Windows Phone 7 was a rigid screen size/ratio/resolution? And the driving force behind this was so that developers didn't have to worry about this kind of fragmentation and users would always have the same experience between different devices?

Is this no longer what Microsoft wants?

spacer said,
I thought one of the core tenets of Windows Phone 7 was a rigid screen size/ratio/resolution? And the driving force behind this was so that developers didn't have to worry about this kind of fragmentation and users would always have the same experience between different devices?

Is this no longer what Microsoft wants?

At the end of the day, the transition is purely gone from 1 specific resolution, to 5. Even the iPhone has 2 or 3 different resolutions. These are still rigid resolutions and aspect ratios, so I wouldn't worry about fragmentation. The only time you'd really have to worry about this is games that really push the bleeding edge, these games are few and fad between.

The beauty of WP development is that its all run through abstraction layers, so you can have an ecosystem of Qualcomm, TI, nVidia, etc processors all running the same windows phone software nicely.

That biggest phone seems to cater to the titan and note screen sizes anyway, which is the same ratio as current devices, simply bigger. Being able to push 1280x720 means that screen will look nicer, the ratio remains the same.

spacer said,
I thought one of the core tenets of Windows Phone 7 was a rigid screen size/ratio/resolution? And the driving force behind this was so that developers didn't have to worry about this kind of fragmentation and users would always have the same experience between different devices?

Is this no longer what Microsoft wants?


Developers should have little to worry about with the framework in place. Microsoft should do all the heavy lifting.

M_Lyons10 said,

Developers should have little to worry about with the framework in place. Microsoft should do all the heavy lifting.

Exactly. Microsoft will put it in the framework and development environment like Apple has done in XCode. So long as the various screen configurations are known and not left to the OEMs, it should be OK.

Shadrack said,
Exactly. Microsoft will put it in the framework and development environment like Apple has done in XCode. So long as the various screen configurations are known and not left to the OEMs, it should be OK.

It's XAML today which is already a declarative language for vector based rendering, which scales nicely over fixed, known resolutions.

Rafyelzz said,
I don't like this. Too much fragmentation. Do not want.

They really are after market share. They can't make big gains, if they don't do this.

And I believe that it will be much more controlled, than Android.

Rafyelzz said,
I don't like this. Too much fragmentation. Do not want.


Choice != fragmentation in this case. The OS will be the same. Hardware options are not a bad thing.

Rafyelzz said,
I don't like this. Too much fragmentation. Do not want.

Fragmentation, specifically Android fragmentation, doesn't come from hardware with different specs, but the fact that Android OEMs slap on skins, delaying the rollout of new versions of the OS. There's also no minimum hardware spec that guarantees a certain level of performance. This causes problems because developers can't take advantage of newer APIs because everyone is still stuck at older versions of the OS for months at a time.


Perhaps the most interesting new form factor is the smallest one of them all. This appears to be an ultra-compact device with a display of between one and two inches in size. Could this be some sort of Windows Phone version of Apple's iPod nano?

they already had the zune project, basically killing that off to work on windows phones more and will sneak them back in at some point by the looks of that.

mbowman said,
they already had the zune project, basically killing that off to work on windows phones more and will sneak them back in at some point by the looks of that.
I really hope so. I love my Zune HD, but it's a little annoying that the UI is different from my Windows Phone. Also, I want to transition my girlfriend to Windows Phone from iPhone, which she seems willing to do, but I am not going to drop $150 on a Zune HD when she already has an iPhone and an iPod touch for working out.

Speaking of Zune, I wonder why they have not put a Zune app on iOS. It would certainly make the Zune Pass a little more worthwhile for me. Then I'd have my Zune HD (listen at work), WP7, iPod touch (planned iOS development), and her iPhone and iPod touch.

It would be a good shakeup to the market and maybe make Apple start to add features to their lineup again. I can understand the holdup as they work to catch up in the mobile arena first, but I do hope that they re-transition back into the Zune hardware world.