GADGET WATCH: Windows Phone 8

Microsoft has been making big strides in its Windows Phone line, and the OS has been one of the best examples of cohesive design from the company in some years.

But it hasn’t been enough to make the OS popular enough to compete with Android or iOS. Can the Windows Phone 8 update tip it over the line?

Hardware and features

Windows Phone 8 brings a suite of new features to the OS, including background multitasking, support for MicroSD cards, along with support for new CPUs of up to 64 cores.

Other features include NFC support, native code support, and remote device management. In-app purchases are now allowed, along with some third-party involvement for camera apps and native screen capture.

Some new resolutions are also supported, including 1280x720, and 1280x768. New carrier controls have also been introduced.

What’s the consensus?

Over at The Verge, the publication had some great things to say about the design scheme here, noting there wasn’t a “hint” of lag.

It also said the fact the Metro design manages to look fresh is a testament to its solid design. “It’s great for Microsoft that you can still look at a Windows Phone today and feel as though you’re looking at something genuinely different (and new) compared to Android and iOS,” it said.

The biggest tweak is that the home screen is flexible, so users can make tiles bigger or smaller. That enables more customisation – and as The Verge notes, it’s a great move.

“It’s not a stretch to say that Windows Phone 8 has the best home screen — the perfect combination of flexibility, design, and simplicity — of any major platform right now.”

At TechRadar, it noted some improvements to Bing’s search results and mapping features, which were all welcome, including the ability to download maps to use offline.

However, it did say that the Maps app still isn’t a market leader, although for now it actually has a lead over the deficient Apple Maps app.

Engadget had good things to say about syncing up with Windows 8, but lamented the fact there weren’t many upgrades to the email system.

Overall, it said there were a number of great features included – but it wonders how developers will respond to the new and improved platform.

However, all these publications all noted a key sore point – current Windows Phone users won’t be able to upgrade. To use Windows Phone 8, they’ll have to buy an entirely different phone.

Who’s it for?

If you’re a Windows Phone fan and are looking at getting a new device, then Windows Phone 8 is definitely an upgrade worth getting.

If you’re using other operating systems, then it may take a little more convincing for you to switch over. But if you’re looking at changing up your smartphone usage, then Microsoft has introduced enough features here to make Windows Phone 8 viable. It’s definitely worth investigating.

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