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Emperion teases a 'phone' running Windows 10 on ARM that can run Android apps

Nebulus Phone Windows 10 on ARM
Nebulus Phone Windows 10 on ARM (Image credit: Emperion)

What you need to know

  • Emperion teased a "phone" that runs Windows 10 on ARM.
  • Windows 10 on ARM can't make phone calls, however.
  • The "phone" can also run Android apps without an emulator or switching between operating systems.
  • Microsoft allegedly worked with Emperion to "put the Nebulus together."

Updated February 19, 2020: We've added more details from Emperion regarding phone support and Android app support.

Windows Phone fans might have a reason to rejoice. Emperion teased a phone on Twitter that runs Windows 10 on ARM. This would be the first device of its kind and opens the doors for the mobile experience of Windows. Jeremy Sinclair reached out to Emperion and got more details about the device. He was kind enough to share those details with us for this article. Emperion refers to the phone as the Nebulus in its discussions with Sinclair.

Before diving into the device further, it's worth highlighting that this news is a single tweet and some follow up answers. Emperion did not release a press release or an official statement with the information. With that being said, let's take a look at what Emperion says about the phone.

There's plenty of information to digest with this device, but here are a few key takeaways. First, the device is running Windows 10 on ARM with Emperion's own UI. It runs on an overclocked Snapdragon 845 processor. Emperion states that "Microsoft have been instrumental in helping us put the Nebulus together and they've been a great help!"

Emperion will sell the phone SIM-free through its website and are currently in negotiations with a cellular provider in the UK. The company has plans to ship the device in the US.

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The Nebulus will be able to able to switch to a desktop mode through USB-C or wireless, similarly to Continuum.

Emperion also specified that the Nebulus will be able to run Android apps, stating, "We've included the ability to use Android apps from within windows without an emulator or having to switch between operating systems.

We reached out to Emperion, which shared a bit more on how the phone runs Android apps, stating, "The Android App system will be native, we can't say much more currently..."

The device will be single SIM and carrier unlocked. It will have expandable storage up to 2TB through microSD. It also has a headphone jack.

We also asked Emperion about if the Nebulus will be able to natively make phone calls. Emperion said "It will have native calling and SMS etc." It also alluded to the fact that some people's guesses on how this will work are close to accurate. It's unclear what that means exaclty.

Emperion will offer just one model of the device. Emperion states that they "feel that a flagship should remain so for the lifetime of the product in our range."

Finally, we should note that Windows 10 on ARM does not have native telephony abilities meaning we're not sure how this can actually be a "smartphone" in the traditional sense. Perhaps they will use Skype and LTE for calls and messages, but for now there are still many more questions than answers including whether it will be any good (or if it's just all hype).

Sean Endicott
Sean Endicott

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

44 Comments
  • Um heck yes I wanna see what that looks like in action.
  • Also how would you use things like WhatsApp that rely on connecting to a phone? If this can't do WhatsApp or calls, it's really no good as phone.
  • I'm not sure exactly how it works. I suppose it it can run Android apps without an emulator then maybe you could do it through that?
  • Can't wait to see this, I suppose it is not impossible that they added the phone part from Windows Phone to handle the calls as both were ARM based it wouldn't be that hard.
  • It was a driver. Anyone who's interested enough and knows how to make drives could put them back, but making drivers ain't worth doing for free, since it ain't easy and time consuming. Judging they have assistance from MS they could've made a telephony driver stack themselves for this. OEMs develop drivers for specific things all the time (HP, DELL etc...) So I can see this possible if an OEM was motivated enough.
  • Question: "Is this a PC shaped like a Phone?" or is the Windows Surface X a "Phone shaped like a PC?" Answer: Yes.
  • How do they want to do this did they implement all Android APIs or does it run both OS and Kernal at the same time as they can't run o e OS in an sandbox because this would be emulation? Is this even legally possible?
  • They're probably using WSL under the hood which is a very thin layer from the Windows OS and not an emulation layer. And either they've developed a distro flavor that can run Android (not an easy task) or they collaborated with MS to make (AOSP) Android Open Source Project run on WSL. The former is more likely but still not that easy as Linux and Android while share the same kernel has quite the differences on how it handles resources. I'm interested on how they made this work. ARM emulation isn't needed for WoA since it's running ARM already, the only requirement they need is to make it run Android OS somehow via WSL or a container (Ala Win10X).
  • I noticed they said it would run Android, but there is no mention of the Google Play store. So this might be more like a Kindle Fire type of android? It would require downloading android apps from a third party store? If my suspicions are right, this is close and may be more powerful than google android alone. Amazon app store I think is open through their shopping app, at least they did in the past. So best case, you get a great deal of functionality from Windows and nearly everything else through Amazon or other third party store. You lose google tracking you everywhere. Yet third party apps aren't always the most up to date. You may not get first party Google services, but you can get those through a browser. I'm optimistic and hope for the best for this company. It seems this phone might sway the scale slightly to Microsoft's favor. But is it enough? Microsoft + Amazon or third party app stores > Google play alone?
  • This is a scam just like the Cerulean phone was. Just wait. It will turn out EXACTLY the same and some Indiegogo campaign is going to appear suddenly to scam people that were dumb enough to believe some obscure company is achieving what Microsoft attempted but failed to build.
  • Gustave Monce has been able to hack Lumias running WoA to be able to call and SMS text on versions of Windows where MS has removed the telephony stack (all releases for the past year or so). I know that MS doesn't want to call these phones, but they really need to put telephony back in the OS, there's no downside, and a great advantage for the millions of users who would like to have a portable computer in their pocket, which runs apps (this ability to run Android apps is huge) and which can make and receive calls and SMS texts.
  • Hmmm judging from the replies on telephony there are two possibilities here. Either MS will add back the telephony stack to Windows 10 or that Emperion will develop the telephony drivers themselves with the aid of MS devs. I'd think the latter is quite possible since the telephony stack on Windows 10 was a driver and there's no one stopping companies from writing them back into Windows 10 if they wanted to. The more interesting part here would be how they're gonna run Android on top of Windows as they claim, could it be using WSL with a custom Linux / Android distro flavor? WSL ain't an emulator that's for sure, but that's a big undertaking to make a distro for that. Or maybe they'll containerize the Android OS on top of the Windows Host like Chromebook does. None the less interested to see a working device in action as a dev.
  • What/who is Wharton Brooks?
  • https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/cerulean-moment-smartphone-for-window...
  • Windows Phone Central is Daniel Rubino and Zac Bowden or BUST. They are the only sources I trust.
  • I was just about to mention that this sounds like a repeat of Wharton Brooks and their never released Cerulean phone.
  • Lmao shots fired
  • I will quite literally only believe this when I see it.
  • Sadly, me too. I really wanna see this, maybe even buy it, but it sounds too good to be true.
  • Does anyone know why it will launch with an 845 when the 865 is nearly out now?
  • Cost and/or stability. If the 845 was what they started designing with/for then any change would require significant additional testing at least and possibly a redesign.
  • HTF are you supposed to navigate full windows 10 on a phone screen?
  • Probably with a mobile shell on top of it, same way the Windows on ARM project on the Lumia 950/XL do it.
  • The UI of Windows on ARM (its shell) is purportedly quite scalable.
  • Windows 10 is scalable to mobile
  • Most Windows apps aren't, though.
  • Most "Windows Apps" are Win32 apps and do not run on Arm regardless of the fact that the apps don't scale to a phone size or touch UI. The UWP apps that do are basically non-existent
  • I'll give it a shot, better than the moronic folding M$ droid device due later this year. When did we stop calling them 'droids? That needs to come back.
  • This device isn't actually a thing. I also think the Surface Neo and Duo will be massive flops because developers won't invest in the engineering cost to support all the stupid layouts.
  • I think it was a Verizon brand actually. There were HTC and Samsung "Droid" phones.
  • Droid was a brand, sure, but people would refer to all of them as droids, that needs to come back. One less syllable to have to worry about is worth it.
  • I just logged in to twitter for the first time in 6 years to like their post, lol. Twitter is dead.
  • A PC shaped like a Phone is a phone and is the one that I want and pro users need
  • Will this supporr Google play services? BB10 supported Android apps without play services most of the apps didnt work.
  • It literally could not support google play services because the OS would have to be Android at minimum. This device is just pure BS anyway, though
  • I would expect this device to have significant shortcomings but it is a step in the right direction with regards to what Windows fans want in a phone. If it's good enough and gets support then additional steps can be taken. One would expect that Windows 10X would be a better option, once that supports ARM.
  • This site is trash. Surface phone, Centurion Aloha Prime something phone, band 3, Xbox music. They pump out MS' half baked marketing with no product insights. Plain click bait for ads
  • Why are you here then?
  • Why is ANYONE? I saw this on my Google feed and it's simply yet another site I need to block from my feed. What's the point in reading about products that aren't really going to launch?
  • Say it again!
  • You only named one ms product on that list and said product had full marketing and services when rebranded to groove.
    The rest was entirely on you. This site only reports stuff that generates interest across the tech stratosphere. That's literally the point of an enthusiast site.
  • If it really manages to have a full windows OS running with Andriod apps on a windows platform without any emulators it would be considered a breakthrough right? I would definitely wish it works but we also need to see what kind of camera, display, etc are integrated as now a days its not just a phone. Even Surface had a teaser launched of the dual screen coming holiday 2020. What is the price point they expect to launch? I personally think based on the initial look Emperion may be priced at around $750 or there about. If it goes higher not sure. I think we need to wait for the pricing and other specifications before final deciding. But quite happy and would definitely consider it as my future phone if it has the right camera and Play store works. I dont want to end up downloading from some 3rd party site.
  • This is all hype. If this were a real possibility, Microsoft would have simply done this a while ago or would have bought the company. This is a fantasy and is precisely what Microsoft had attempted but abandoned
  • This is actually pretty interesting.... 🥁