Published in Mobiles

Qualcomm powers all Windows 7.x phones

by on26 October 2011

Snapdragons and antiquated hardware under the bonnet

We just realized that every single Windows Phone 7 as well as Windows Phone 7.5 handset is powered by Qualcomm processors, even the latest Nokia Lumia phones. There are parts from Texas Instruments, Nvidia, Marvell or any other player, just Qualcomm, top to bottom.

The whole Windows Phone market is using single core Snapdragon S1 and S2 processors. Older phones feature S1 series processors, most of them clocked at 1GHz, with Adreno 200 or Adreno 205 graphics. Newer phones have S2 processors, 45nm that has either old 205 graphics or later generation of current S2 comes with dual channel memory and Adreno 220 graphics.

The latest Nokia Lumia 800 and 710 phones come with MSM8255T chip that works at 1.4GHz, coupled with venerable Adreno 205 graphics, dual-channel DDR2LP 333MHz memory support as well as support for all mobile connectivity including HSPA+.

This means WP7 and 7.5 phones simply don’t ship with dual core chips at all, and judging by the listing here, all phones feature the same WVGA resolution displays. This applies to the €172 LG E900 Optimus 7, the cheapest handset we could find, as well as the pricey €488 HTC Titan. The good news is that all of them have CPUs faster than 1GHz, but only two ancient Acer phones have SD card slots. They are doing fine on cameras, up to 8MP cameras and all Samsung Windows 7 models have Super AMOLED displays, but none of these phones have LTE support.

Overall Mango lacks dual-core chips, something that even Apple has these days with iPhone 4S and it lacks LTE, something that’s been present on many Android phones for a few quarters now. A quick search reveals there are 273 phones listed in a few select European countries, the cheapest starts at €76.95 and has 416MHz ST Ericsson processor. Twenty three phones have dual core where cheapest of them LG Optimus P990 S starts at €295.89.

Granted, Windows Phone is somewhat less demanding to run and its resource management might be superior to Android or iOS, but for a brand new OS like Mango, some more advanced hardware would also be nice. Flagship iOS and Android devices already feature higher resolution displays, dual-core processors with vastly superior graphics and more storage at competitive prices. Most WP7 devices ship with just 8GB of storage on board and no microSD support, which is hardly impressive in this day and age and if you want 16GB, you have to go for pricey high end phones and in that case you are probably better off going for an iPhone or high-end Android handset.

It seems like Microsoft tried to copy the best features of both Android and iOS. Upgrades are easy and quite frequent, just like with iOS devices and just unlike most Android phones. However, just like with Apple gear, you are stuck with integrated storage, but in the Apple world this means up to 64GB, while on WP you can get just 16GB. Like some iPhone variants, many Windows Phone devices feature previous generation technology, including processors, graphics and displays. Luckily, the prices are at Android levels, but it seems Microsoft is going a step too far in imitating iOS and Android – as it also includes some of the worst features found on both platforms. It's a pity really, Windows Phone is a nippy OS and it has a lot of potential, especially looking in the long run, but hardware seems to be the limiting factor, especially in terms of storage and screen resolution. WVGA screens and 8GB to 16GB of storage just won't cut it in 2012.

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