Continuum for Windows 10 Phones does require new Qualcomm hardware

One of the biggest new features of Windows 10 for phone – and the last feature to be announced before RTM – is Continuum. Revealed at Build this week, the new tech lets users adopt two modes for their phone and a second display.

For instance, you can use your phone as a remote mouse and keyboard for the second screen. However, other operating systems can already do such things. The more interesting addition is the ability to run your phone on the second screen, including all the apps. Moreover, since these are universal Windows apps, they scale up just like being on a full PC. This technology lets you turn any second display into a full PC, and it could change how we think about computing.

New Hardware

During the Build keynote, Microsoft's Joe Belfiore made it quite clear that new phone hardware would be needed to power the graphics of two displays. Continuum is, after all, not Miracast. What that technology is exactly, is currently not known, but it has to do with dual video output.

Likewise, during the private media event where members of the press were allowed to ask members of the Windows leadership team questions, they were very cagey on this topic. It was made clear to us though that new phones would be needed. In fact, Belfiore could not even demo the feature on stage, and neither could they during this private media event.

Microsoft's Gabe Aul also responded on Twitter to questions about Continuum, emphatically stating:

"Continuum for PC will work on any touch enabled device. Continuum for phones will require new hardware."

Later, as the conversation progressed he reiterated:

"No, it will require new hardware for Continuum for phones."

Going a bit further, Joe Belfiore mentions these things in the promo video explaining Continuum for phones. At the 1:35 mark, Belfiore says:

"And with new parts from Qualcomm, we have processors that can drive two screens separately in these new phone devices. And that is how we enabled the phone screen to work independently from the PC screen."

Even at the very beginning of the video, Belfiore refers to "carrying a new phone device in your pocket".

To be honest, we are not sure why there is debate about this topic. Microsoft has been clear about the new phone part since the keynote. Granted, getting any more detail out of them has been difficult, but on this issue it seems quite definitive. If current hardware could do this technology, Microsoft would likely have emphatically said so and not constantly refer to "new phone" devices.

Continuum may not even be ready at Windows 10 for phone RTM when current phones first get updated. Later, in the fall, Microsoft can launch new flagship phones sporting this technology, which will work great for commercials and advertising. These timeframes are the likely roadmap for Windows 10 for phone and Continuum, so do not get your hopes up too high for anything else.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • Seems I will be parting with 1520 sooner than I expected, hoping for a 6" 1540... I don't want a 5.7" that's tiny
  • You probably won't see any 6" from MS.
  • I'm guessing the specs for the 940 stores doesn't cover continuum hardware - that may be the q820... That's a chip slated for the end of the year! The 808 (6 core) and 810 (8 core) are not up to snuff... I'm surprised they're going Qualcomm. Surely the atom x serious would be ideal for this?
  • No not when theres little ram on the phones
  • 3gb? That's enough - though Lenovo and Asus now have 4gb...
  • Yeah. I honestly think they should ditch ARM altogether any go all-in on x64.
  • Main problem with Intel chip is maximum camera resolution they can handle is 13-16mp. So I don't think so that will go for that.. If they do some thing with that it will be amazing..
  • Well why don't you explain how a s4 runs a 41mp camera? Cameras can have their own chips you know?
  • excuse me, sorry i missed that feature on my S4. my wife's nokia lumia 1020 did have a 41 mp camera on it though, were you maybe thinking about that completely different phone, or am i just somehow confused? or do you really just not know your ass from a hole in my head, which, if that is the case,maybe you should just shut up about phones around grown folks. 
  • He wasn't talking about a Galaxy S4, he was talking about a Lumia 1020 that had a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 CPU and that it could run a 41 megapixel camera.
  • The chip itself, the s4 could not run a 41mp camera, but it also does not have its own chip for the camera. Nokia worked with Qualcomm to rewrite the code for the chip so that it could handle the 41mp. Technically speaking it is the same s4 chip, but it's also not the same because of the code change. So they would have to do the same thing with the Intel chips (at least). Inherently, the chips do not support 41mp.
  • That is just really strange.
    Here is the video of the session with continuum
    It's works there. With some hardware.
    If it's not just Miracast then they should better talk to each other for less confusing information.
  • Could be prototype newer CPU-equipped hardware from Qualcomm and/or more components from other manufacturers. Or, it's a fake so to speak, conceptual. If not, how about 640x480 resoultion or something like that, just to be able to output anything at all in a video segment? I am voting for conceptual.  
  • Miracast is one option to stream continuum to the monitor, but with todays devices you can only stream what is on the phones screen, so you won't have the ability to run the "PC-mode" on the second screen.   At around 25:30 she also states that the phone she is ahowing does not run the external monitor in that setup. Though I do belive the phone he used in the first demo did.
  • They clearly said these were simulations. Joe noted at Build he was hooking up HDMI when he plugged in the cable. There isn't a production Windows Phone out today that does HDMI, but even back in the WP7 days there were specially built devices you could project from in that way. Miracast is essentially a wireless HDMI, so it could potentially do the projection to the external monitor. I expect the hardware limitation is the ability to drive two independent screens, like Windows PCs do today via the HDMI port, or Miracast, allowing mirroring or extension.
  • The way Intel has marketed the X series is that the x3 is for smart phones, x5 for tablet, etc. Since the x3 doesn't exist on a product yet, it's more of a competitor against the snapdragon 820, and already the x3 has some limitations over the 810.... Storage is slower, camera is of less quality, GPU is weaker, and LTE is also slower. The x3 really looks like it's meant for the Low to mid range market. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • +1540 5.7 so small :/
  • I have a 1520 and I think 5.7 would be great
  • Love the 6" screen, but hate the 220 grams. 175-180 grams is more manageable.
  • They better, 5.7 doesn't fit my hands. The AR makes the keyboard too tight. 1520 is just past for me.
  • Probably won't see any 6" ever❓ I think that's purely just speculation.... Maybe, and I said MAYBE, the first round might consist of a 5.7" device, but that in no way means that MS isn't planning to make a 5.99"+ Lumia ever again....
    Non of us really know what MS's plans are, but don't you think it's a little closed minded to speculate that MS has capped all Lumia devices in the future at 5.7"❓ Why would they do that❓
    If anything, I would think that especially with W10 MS would be planning even larger devices, with them seeing mobile as an opportunity for real productivity, PC like computing... IMO 6"-8" Lumia's are highly likely, and sound just plain awesome❗
  • Of course Rod, it was only my humble opinion.
  • Oh.. Sorry.. Well, what do you think they should do❓ I mean, what they should do, besides what you think they will do..
  • In a beautiful world when MS has OEM friends where they put some options in the market well, no, MS wouldn't need to release a 6" phone. But back to reality, yes, I think they should release a 6" and even a 7" phone, they need to provide options. But ... They're losing money, so I still think, at least for now, they won't.
  • I see.. Makes sense...
    We'll all just have to wait and see.
  • There is already a 7 inch Windows Phone (for the Chinese market ONLY):
  • Yes, we already know about that device..
    How does this help❓
  • I'm also asking myself.
  • About that how is Microsoft losing money... They don't need a 6"phone to recover their loss. No offence but you guys with big hands are in minority. As you know Lumia 520 was a best selling device and it's not because of its price. It's because it perfectly fits into most peoples hands. So if Microsoft could release a high end device with less than 4.5"display that would be a bullseye hit. P.S. But yeah, we also need big phones for you big guys.
  • Dude, your whole comment is deeply flawed... Lol.
    Also,,, wanting a larger device doesn't always have everything to do with having bigger hands... SMH... Really❓
  • WHAT???
  • SMDH... Lol.
  • No, the reason the 520 was a hit is exactly because of the price. I gave my mom a 520, and her main complaint is that she wishes the screen was bigger. (no ffc for Skype is the only other complaint)
  • Lol... Why are people making thus complicated...
    Nokias Niche devices make headlines. Not the best sellers, but they stay in the news... 1320, 1020, 1520, all great devices.... Having a 940&940XL is a damn good idea, but also keep you niche devices, and don't kill what Nokia started...
    Instead of killing devices because they don't sell well, increase your feature set, increase available apps, and increase your marketing.... Seriously, increase your marketing. That's the key.
  • That is what I am waiting for. A WP with an Intel chip. To quote"awesome".
  • Exactly my question. Why would any company cap their phones at 5.7"? One of my friends who own a 4.5" phone saw my phones (Lumia 1520 and a Xperia Z Ultra) and sighed. He wanted a phone bigger than his phone where he could easily edit spreadsheets and type out emails without scrolling through the whole page after ever 4 lines. Small phones are well suited for new users and those who are not comfortable with huge phones. Huge being subjective here.  Playing HD game on a 6" phone is far better than playing it on a 5.7" and yes 0.3" does make world of a difference. You can cram more pixels into it. And everyone wants to go UHD on phones. What is the point of having UHD if you are not taking full advantage of it, read: a bigger display. Plus, you can add a hell lot of more hardware than a smaller phone. Yes, everything is going nano sized but we cannot deny the fact that we are expecting desktop quality on our cellphones. Bigger (huge) phones pave the path for smaller, compact phones. So, bigger phones for Rodney and me and everyone else can have a piece of the pie too, just smaller than ours. Also, is it just me or the demo video had a different flagship phone? I could be wrong... I paused the video and tried to figure out if my brain was desperately trying to find a flagship. Anybody else feel the same way? P.S.: Huge phones are still bad. Huge displays aren't. :) *edit* Nevermind. It is a black 930. :(
  • +1520
  • I'm with you. I want a 6" with less borders
  • Me too
  • I was very hesitant in getting a 1520, but it got to a "what the heck"-moment. Going smaller than 6" now is not an option for me, and it didn't take long until I realized that. So to others out there. Don't knock it til you try.
  • I am with you. When I decided I wanted a bigger phone and took the plunge for the 1520's 6" screen, I was a little scared. But now, I want the same size screen in my new phone. MS better just give us 1520 users a sweet killer upgrade and a 4k display :)  
  • +6" :)
  • 4k battery drain display? No thanks
  • hey someone else who gets it!
  • StevoPhilo speaks the truth. 4K is completely unnecessary. 2K or even 1080p would still look GREAT, although I wouldn't mind a 720p display either in my next phone.
  • ive comparted mjy 1520 and 920's screens a lot, and honestly, dont see a difference in sharpness.. not unless i bring them up th my eye in an unrelaistic way, and compared my 1520 to a display model of the lg g3, and actually found the screen a step down from the 1520, saw no difference in sharpness (not even if i put it up to my eye) anmd saw a more washed out screen on the g3.   high res screens is now a gimmick people, 720p is all thats needed on a 5" device.., anything else is jsut a specsheet gimmick that drains batteries faster..
  • Totally agree. I've been using my 920 as my Windows 10 test phone, alongside my 930 daily driver, and I'd basically forgotten about the difference in resolution until reading your post, so little difference it makes in actual use. I'm looking at my 930 screen now and cannot see any pixellation at all, so I'd be grateful if someone could explain what benefit a 4K display would bring to any device with, say, a sub-12-inch display.
  • Bragging rights and hand warmer. No need for anything higher than 1080p unless your an insect
  • Your comparison is fatily flawed. A store version of a phone is not what you should be looking at, but what the majority of people have. A properly executed 1080,2k,4k screen will always look better than any lower resolution screens when viewed side by side.. and just because you can't see the difference doesn't mean that there isn't any, only that you don't. Microsoft is doing something great with all of this and in all probability what we will see on our phones for resolution will be also seen on the larger screen ergo 1080 on the phone transmitting 1080 to the larger screen and hence the need for new chipsets in the phone.... Also just because you have a higher resolution screen doesn't automatically mean your going to have worse battery life.. The m8 has proven this false and so to will the newer chipsets once the software has been tweaked to utilize the newer chipsets. The only issue I see that will happen is the same argument that has been said in the past... Microsoft is abandoning us xxx users.. Except this time it will be really necessary to make everything work. I think that has been their plan all along, to get everyone who has one of their past flagship phones to hold off until these newer versions were available and to get all of those who bought the low end phones to move up. It won't set well as long as they keep selling all of the various low end ones but it never does... Microsoft has a great opportunity to capture the high end flagship market this fall and will be going head to head with the iconic ones that are coming out.. The Note and the iPhone and possibly the new LG... This new technology goes far beyond what is on what is considered flagship... provided everything else is a premium experience. I hope they succeed
  • Hell, yes.. Now you're talking.
  • I'm loving my 6" 1520. I carry a 1020 too. Boy does that 4.5" feel small.
  • Exactly,,, well said.... Give us a 6.2" Lumia 1540❗
    And, since the surface pen is sold separately now, make the next 1520 with support for the surface pen, or a pen specifically designed for the 1540.. Whatever, you know what I mean.. Make it special, do something the others don't.
  • Seems like the rumors of the 6core and 8 core phones might be true.
  • I agree. I've had two Lumia 1520 devices (red & currently green). I won't settle for a flagship WP with less than a 6-inch screen. Microsoft cannot ignore the Lumia 1520 users & refuse to release a successor 1530-1540. However, the rumored forthcoming 940 & 940 XL devices are only 5.2-inches & 5.7-inches, respectively. This suggests Microsoft may not release a 1520 successor this year, or even next year. Maybe it's retired this device permanently.
  • Sure MS can and will ignore the 1520 users...just like they did the windows phone 7 users, the 1020 users (MS h'aint gonna make another camera centric phone on the scale Nokia did), and the present group of high-end users by NOT delivering a new flagship on 2014.
  • How are those devices getting ignored? They are still getting Windows 10, just not continuum, which is understandable. We can't speculate off rumors. I'm sure the new phones released this fall will be great.
  • Read what I wrote, then read again...slowly. The devices may get updated, but specifically in the 1020's department, we will not see a NEW version of the 1020, a camera.centric phone.
  • The two rumored devices are great, and I'm glad MS is making them....
    But, I seriously DOUBT if MS has decided to NEVER make a device over a measly 5.7"... There's a market for Lumia's into the 7" range if they are designed, and marketed right... Surely MS isn't that foolish.
  • i think the 5" smartphone is enough
  • I think it is to small. My hands are huge. I bet I could pick you up one handed from the to of your head. Like a basketball.
  • You could just get a Surface 3 when they stick cell service on it.
  • Lol... MS should make a 6.5" Lumia, and get Shaq to advertise it... That would sell a lot.
  • And that's your opinion. It's truly not a fact!
  • Pretty happy with 5", bigger might be nice but not necessary for most users
  • Some people think a feature phone is enough.. So, if that's enough for them then why don't you use a feature phone❓
    I just don't understand the point in the kind of comments.
  • I definitely agree with you!
  • Me too, that's what i carry now, however, I might just keep it because it'll have Nokia brands which will be a classic
  • I personally can't wait to get a Microsoft branded phone so I can get rid of the junk Nokia brand name many people feel are throw away phone i ask my friend the other dah if he heard about the new Nokia phones running windows and he said you mean them 20 dollar throw away specials.
  • I agree... Give us a real 5.99"+ device to accurately replace the 1520, or go home..
    A 5.7" is terrific, especially for adoption, but there's those of us who don't buy products based on what everyone else has, rather than what we need, and like, and we need, and like, larger devices....
    For an example.. I'm a technician on a major train system at the airport, and I currently store a lot of electronic diagrams, maps, and instructions, on my device... Mostly word, and Excel documents, but the system is huge, and I have to move fast on foot... I don't have room, or time, to carry a tablet, or laptop, because it's a very mobile job.... In order to see some of these diagrams I have to pinch to zoom, and the largest screen I can fit in my pocket is a huge help... When I'm on the run, with limited time to fix problems, I don't have the time, or patience, to fiddle around with a "tiny" average smartphone screen..... That's why I wish for even larger devices, 6.2"-6.5", even 7" Lumia's... These are practical devices, there's a market for them, and MS should take advantage of W10, and the market for mobile productivity...... People that think that "Phablets" aren't necessary don't understand that not everyone uses a smartphone for just Facebook, and checking sports scores.... Some of us seriously use these devices for real world applications, and productivity..... A Lumia 1520 isn't just a toy, and I hope MS understands this....... Ill tell you what,, if MS is the only company selling 6"+ smartphones running W10 then they got that market sowed up.... When you look at it like that, it seems as though it would be dumb for MS to not make larger Lumia's....... It's all about catering to EVERYONE'S needs... That's how you make$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
  • A bezel less Lumia with 6.5inch screen ,is all what I need.
    Edit: Within a glass unibody and 4gb ram if possible :P
  • It's .3 inches differences lol
  • .3 is a lot when it comes to screen size.
    Do you ever tried 730 and 830 side by side ,difference is very less only .3 but you can easily notice what you're missing when it comes to day to day life :)
  • Well, it's like a 920 vs a 930.... Most people who use the 5.0" 930 would hate to DOWNGRADE back to the 4.7" 920's screen size..
    But, as selfish as they are, just because they don't care for larger devices they expect for us not to care about a .3" loss.... That's hypocritical and selfish...
  • What size device do you use today❓
    Doesn't sound like you understand how big a difference .3" makes.
  • 5.5~6.0" is fine, but once I got my 1520 for a year, it's hard to go back smaller screen size.
  • I had a 1520 and went the other way back to a 930 and couldn't be happier. Each to their own obviously! I think that Continuum may change a few minds about screen size though. Maybe a smaller, more pocketable phone for on the go and then you can plug it into a screen when you want to watch movies etc. Of course there isn't always a screen available when you want to watch media, so this wont be for everyone, but id bet this is what Microsoft's focus will be in the marketing.
  • Like I said up ⬆here.... Not everyone needs, or prefers a lager screen for media... A lot of us actually need a pocketable device for productivity, and it helps with work... Having to resort to another device is working backwards.. Continuum is awesome, but it's no substitute for an all in one solution, which are larger smartphones... There's no reason for anyone to justify why MS might not have a 1520 replacement right off the bat, rather let's just hope they do at some point.
  • Same here
  • if 5.7 is tiny, the thing that you'll want is something called tablet. They range from 7 - 12 inches
  • No I need a phablet which is at least "6 , did you hear me mention a tablet?? And yeah a 5.7" is small for a person who has been using a 6" for a year now and it feels very comfortable in my hand(one hand)
  • I know what you meant. I was just trolling with you.
  • Does it have messaging, and calling, apps like a smartphone❓ Does it have imaging capabilities like a smartphone❓ Because, nobody here is looking for a workaround, rather people just want what they want... And, there's nothing wrong with that..... Show us a 6.2" Lumia tablet with everything a smartphone has, and we'll agree with you....
  • Here, take a chill pill. I was just trolling earlier
  • Lol.. Well, that's some damn good trolling, because you did it just right...
    At least we see you understand that's the most frustrating comment ever...... Chill pill taken. Thanks.
  • Hey guys, just to be clear, Continuum should have been able to work with current hardware ;)
  • Not it shouldn't
  • How❓ Current hardware isn't capable of doing this... Like literally not capable from a hardware stand point.. It's not a decision MS made, rather they had no choice.
  • And Windows phone 10 should have allowed all phones to use LTE, even if they don't have the hardware. Damn those Micro$oft greedy bastards!
  • Yea, and they probably should have turned the camera flash into holographic projectors.
  • I have a Verizon 928 i finished paying for on contract it's now my backup smart phone until Verizon gets a Windows10 smart phone That has contium now verizon does not have a Windows 10 smart phone with contium GOOD bye VERIZON.Verizon already hurt it's Wibdows smart phone customers bad when it discontinued sedlling their "ICON". I have no Windows smart phone on the verizon network I can upgrade to unless I can buy a good used Verizon "Icon". Now I wont even buy the ICON i wiill wait for the Windows 10 flagship smart phones.
  • I don't think we can define 5.7 as tiny. I had the 1520 and, even if it's the best phone of the world, it's too big and too long to be used on a daily basis. Since my experience with a Note 3, I'm convinced that a good phablet must have 5.7 inches.  The QHD screen of the Note 4, with Surface pen capabilities and the design of the 930 will definitively forget you the 6 inches size. For finish, I'm convinced that Lumia will not go on the XXL screens, especially because Microsoft W10 licence is free on screens till 8 inches if I remember well, so I'm pretty sure the others hardware partners will develop alternatives for XXL power users
  • That's fair. I want a new 940XL anyway....
  • Can I have your old one?
  • I don't see how this is news. He said it right on stage.
  • This^
    I'm surprised some folks seem to be debating the issue.
  • It will replace a pc, so it really is a cost save. Upgrade and sell your current device when the tech arrives and ride the pathway to minimalism.
  • It's true.... It looks like this is replacing the PC.
  • It won't replace a PC except perhaps for the simplest of tasks.
  • Idk about that, you can get a pretty good laptop or tablet in the $600-700 range. It's more about convenience and mobility.
  • That's exactly why I'm waiting for the flagships. I also hope Microsoft wises up and offers some sort of trade in program. Don't they know you can increase market share that way too? Why do you think Apple offers trade ins
  • It makes sense between the processing and graphics power needed and that it would be a great selling point for a flagship. I think people have to accept this fact: A new flagship Windows 10 phone will be able to do things your current phone cannot do. People will have to deal with that and move on. I mean, if a new flagship couldn't do anything new and it was just a new phone, how is that even remotely interesting. But, Windows Phone fans...they always want it both ways ;)
  • So they had to make sure that some one or two major features won't work with even the premium phones to get many to upgrade! That's bs from them... I thought my phone would support everything upto like windows 20
  • This is good however... we need more users for this platform to survive and Microsoft just showed plenty of reasons why you should choose Windows instead of Android or iOS. They have to make something enticing to get those people to switch as well. I JUST got a Lumia Icon and I'm thrilled with it and will be even more thrilled when Windows 10 is available for it. Continuum will not work on it but that's not "b.s' it's simply technilogical progress. There will always be a next big thing.
  • Really, thank you for your comment.
  • So you will go straight to the L950 with SD830 next year while we stuck with our old L940 for a while then.  :-)
  • "So they had to make sure that some one or two major features won't work with even the premium phones to get many to upgrade! That's bs from them."
    Well, clearly you know more about this technology than Microsoft does. I suggest you go work for their engineering team to show'em how it's done. I have to admit, it is weird that a new flagship phone with a brand new OS would have features older phones could not do. Clearly, this is an unprecedented happening in technology. /s
  • Do you think the hardware required to do Continuum on Windows 10 phones will be limited to flagships or will it trickle down into mid-range or even low-range devices? Not sure how expensive it is.
  • Really wish the 840 comes with a snapdragon 618/620, I think these processors will be able to support continuum.
  • No use trying to elaborate. Maybe some guys would attempt to run full windows 10 on their Pentium III pc with 128 MB of RAM. And probably complain if it doesn't work.
  • Planned on buying a new phone once Win 10 for mobile was released anyway. ;-)
  • Yes Kevin. And please give your solution to this?
  • Which misleading part in the "needs new hardware" or "select premium devices" did ever exist?
  • "Solution is pretty easy: stop making misleading statements about what w10 "can do", and stop making outright promises that you have to backtrack on. -wpkevin"
    The only one here who is being misleading is YOU. Let's quote Microsoft back in January about upgrades, shall we? Or will that be too much "on the record" for you?
    "Like any upgrade to a new platform, not every phone will upgrade or support all possible Windows 10 features, and certain features and experiences will require more advanced future hardware" -Microsoft
    Guess what? Continuum is one of those features. Ain't life funny like that.
  • The app runs either way - that's the Universal part. Whether you can run it in a "desktop-like second screen from a phone" is a feature, not a fundamental promise of the platform.
  • Continuum has little to do with universal apps. It is a technology heretofore not seen, allowing a phone (not a tablet/laptop) to drive two independent experiences on the device and an external monitor. That allow the user to interact with a desktop-like environment with keyboard and mouse, with apps that look and react like full desktop apps...while still having full use of the phone device. Nothing about continuum changes anything that was said about universal apps. You would still have universal apps without the concept of continuum in this context. It is, a feature of Win10 OS on phones.