Microsoft confirms required minimum specifications for Windows 10 Mobile

Microsoft has detailed the specifications Windows 10 Mobile will require for future mobile phones to run the operating system. It's a strong insight into what we can expect to see from future hardware, released not only by Microsoft but partnered OEMs too. As an added bonus point, Intel is included for x86 support on phones (as well as Intel-powered tablets).

It's also pretty major for the platform as a whole as specifications are fairly similar to what was previously required for Windows Phone 8.1, though the company has relaxed them slightly. Microsoft clearly wants to compete in the low-end segment of the market where the company still feels there is much to penetrate in terms of marketshare, while catering for consumers who require the absolute best in a mobile phone.

Windows 10 Mobile

The low-end Windows 10 Mobile hardware will be able to sport a screen resolution of just 800x480, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage, a VGA shooter (without a front-facing camera), and there's no requirement for an accelerometer or Bluetooth. Buttons for back, home and search will be required for said low-res displays.

Judging by experiences with current generation of hardware, we'll assume that mobile phones with the basic setup should be able to run Windows 10 Mobile just fine. At least we're now aware of what's to come for the low-end market.

Source: Microsoft (opens in new tab); thanks, WPit, for the tip!

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • 64-bit ARM not supported?
  • Well we already have Windows Phones with 64-bit CPUs in them, right? The CPUs will probably be supported, but if W10M is only 32-bit it won't benefit. That's maybe what's being said there?
  • Yes sadly, this appears to be the case. Despite running on 64-bit ARM SoCs, it looks like Windows 10 Mobile will not be able to benefit from the performance boost of the new 64-bit ISA. Edit: In fact, it seems to be limited to 32-bit on Intel platforms as well (it only mentions support for x86, not x64).
  • 64 bit on phones is useless...
  • Depends on how the software takes advantage of it.
  • But...but...Apple...64-bit...something
  • Really? What is the advantage of 64-bit besides being able to support >2 GB RAM?
  • Bigger RAM support is only the tip of the iceberg of 64 bit advantages, and eventually we will move there in coming years. Microsoft could just wait tho as always, while Apple 'invents' it, and catch up later, probably. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Unless apps specifically cater for any additional advantage the availability of more memory is really the only one which is somewhat automatic.. In reality every app woudl need to be rewritten to take advantage of 64bit featureset and then the app becomes incompatible with 32bit devices.
  • There is a HUGE drawback from 64-bit that most non-programmers love to ignore: 32-bit apps use more resources on a 64-bit system (up to 2x the RAM, and up to 2x the CPU time). Additionally, it isn't completely true that 32-bit is limited to 4 GB (it's mostly true, specially in Windows, but there are ways around it...) So unless Microsoft required all apps to be recompiled and resubmitted to the store for 64-bit, there would be little to gain and a lot to lose by moving to 64-bit only. Apple can do it because they are the only game in town, so they can guarantee all phones running their software are high-end, but Microsoft wouldn't be able to do that without losing customers from the 500 and 600 series Lumias, the Blu Win Jrs, the Samsungs, etc.
  • The RAM limit is what the average public knows about, but 64 bit also allows for longer instructions to the CPU allowing you to do more per clock cycle. Now depending on how the 64bit program is written, the difference might be large or small but 64bit does improve performance even without increasing the amount of RAM.
  • The average public thinks RAM is a truck... dont go giving too much credit to the "average public" when it comes to tech
  • 64 bit isn't intrinsically faster.  Sometimes the 64 bit of register space is just wasted which can slow things down slightly.  I would say on average it's a wash.
  • That's not really an argument:
    1. The x86 architecture has multiple different instruction lengths.
    2. There's a variant of the ARM architecture called THUMB that uses 8 bit instructions.
    3. The whole RISC thing.
    4. Being able to encode extra information in the instruction doesn't magically mean the processor can do more in a cycle, chances are it'll be able to do less because of pipelining and having so many more instructions to decode.   On top of all that 64bit programs typically take up more space than 32bit:  
  • Which is funny given the iPhone only has 1GB. You sometimes gain more instructions and registers which can end up with a slightly higher performance.  If I remember perhaps 1-10%.  However executables are also larger too which is a negative on mobile. 32bit is the right way for the next couple of years.  Except possibly if they start to release x86 based devices which are full mini-PCs.
  • 32-bit can support up to 4 GB memory, where most of it is RAM, but there are other things in a system which needs to have some addressing space as well. Others have already pointed out a couple uses where 64-bit provides better performance and there is also a benefit to be able to load and use 64 bits at a time in the CPU registers. In short, there are several advantages to 64-bits other than addressing space, but the OS / programs need to take advantage of them for them to make a difference.
  • It's like a lot of people don't understand that ARM Cortex A7 CPUs can support way over 4GB memory even though they are 32-bit. It's called 40-bit memory addressing :)
  • Encryption speed. And this is where we are headed.
  • Success for apple iphone is not it's 64 bit ARM Soc but per core efficiency for better performance
  • Yea, it will just take another 2 years until Windows (for phones) needs to get rewritten totally again like with 8.0 and 10. But that time then it'll be a big success! /s
  • One advantage of 64bit processors is that they have MUCH faster hardware-accelerated encryption (Assuming the software takes advantage of it, of course), which is huge if you want to secure your device without losing performance.
    The difference between 32bit and 64bit is a bit more complex than RAM. I definitely think it's time for Microsoft to enable 64bit architecture for mobile. Correction: I believe this is rumored to already be in the works for the Lumia 940 and 940 XL, is it not? Rumored to be running on 64bit Snapdragon 810 processors?
  • Snapdragon 410 is missing from supported list. Only new ones supported are 810,808,615&210. But I heard some OEMs bringing s410 win 10m phones
  • Not with Continuum it's not.
  • Is this the new "640kb is enough for everyone"?
  • Actually, I think it's the new, "We will never make a 32-bit operating system." - Bill Gates.
  • For sure. WP barely got to 2 GBs and this year flagship will probably have 3 GBs. Oh well.
  • Minimum hardware requirements...
  • No it lists what is supported by OS.
  • No it shows minimum.  It even shows high res requiring 4 gigs or more which indeed would hit the 64-bit territory.  
  • Still 1.1.3 shows what is supported, not minimum.
  • 2.1 shows current SOC's out in the market that are supported.  64-bit MSM8994. 
  • What's the point anyways. You can't tell the difference anyways on Phones. All that's important is the support for 64-bit Intel chips.
  • WP7 should be also supported, at least high end ones...
  • Minimum requirements.  And it only shows 32-bit for the ARM chips while x86 is open.  I think Microsoft's future is x86 anyways.  That's part of continuum and turning phones into mobile pc's.
  • Yeah it doesn't say minimum on the graphic. The title of the article is the only spot that says minimum.
  • You're looking at the full article and reading it or just scrolling?  Anyways if you look at the existing supported SoC's, the MSM8994 is supported.  If it didn't support 64-bit then this would not be a supported chipset.  This is not a chip that is an extension of 32-bit registers but a true 64-bit chip which means you can only use it as 64-bit.
  • Looking at full article section 1.1.3. Perhaps its not correct.
  • The article is talking about minimum requirement.
  • Yeah... But x86 SoC so 64bit systems will be Intel powered which should bring all kinds of Continuum goodness with it
  • The way I read the article is that those are minimum requirements. BLU resent WP uses qcsp 410 which is a arm 64. My daughter has that phone as we speak.
  • x86 architecture can be 32bit or 64bit. So, for now it can go either way.
  • minimum specifications
  • That's good to know... But I'm going to wait for the flagships later this fall.
  • Well basically every current Windows phone will be able to update to Windows 10.
  • I realize that. But I don't want to get rid of my 8.1 device. Nor do I just want to update. I want a fresh NEW W10 device.
  • You have a good point. With the exception of the 1520: All Windows Phone 8 era hardware is getting extremely long in the tooth, and isn't really optimized for the new software features. Sure it technically works but then again: The iPhone 4S will technically run iOS9, doesn't mean that will be a great experience either. Windows 8.1 era will be significantly better off, but of course, the best experience is always by buying hardware designed for the software, and vice-versa.
  • VGA camera in smartphone in 2015 what kind of bullshit is this
  • It's for India.
  • Not everyone needs a 20Mpxl camera. For older people a VGA camera will just work fine ;-)
  • Like my grand ma
  • my mother is almost 50 and she cant use a featured phone you except old people to use smartphones
  • Yeah that's what I was thinking, but I think it's to aggressively compete in the ultra-low budget arena. I used to like Windows Phone because of its strict requirements as it allowed to get a quality phone at the price point with a consistent experience, but I guess they don't have enough demand to command that sort of requirement like Apple or Android does.
  • One of my biggest gripes to this day: Windows Phone 8.1 relaxed the hardware requirements. Yes, it brought us great phones like the HTC One M8, but it also brought us the Lumia 630, so...
  • its only the Minimum genius, it means it goes uo fromt here if VGA cam phones exist  
  • THANK YOU for pointing out the KEYWORD lol...i was going to say it earlier to put some senses on that person's post, but you said it first.
  • yea i know but what smartphone come with vga camera
  • Never saw a Smartphone in the 50 60$ price range???
  • the most cheap phone i have see is 40 euro Vodafone Smart Mini and it has 2MP camera
  • I believe it's for tablet...Windows 10 mobile is for smartphone and small tablets... a cheap tablet could come with a VGA cam... just to have one..
  • It's really aggressively low requirements especially for 2015. Even for developed countries that kind of phone is highly undesirable. They should just let the dead-cheap Android devices have it, anyways most Android with those specs are actually old devices anyways. Especially the optional requirement of accelerometer and proximity sensor are really strange omission.
  • Yaaayaaayaaaa... And no1 talk about making windows "home" button to notification led... Right... Super...
  • That's actually a pretty neat idea. Have you joined the insider program and suggested it to them?
  • Yeah a Lot of people already did that
  • yeah WP's with a round home button like Apple with LED notification would be cool 
  • Round? But....but, the home button is 4 squares. Not sure the company is going to redesign their icon just to be more like Apple.
  • I'm thinking surface phone x86 here I come. If the called it lumia it will add confusion like RT did to consumers. X86 phones will be true continuum phones. My 1520 can hold out until the phone is released.
  • It seems like there are many people holding onto their current phone, waiting for the new Windows phones. I want the continuum features in my next phone.
  • Waiting for a successor to the 1020, nothing less will do. Once you try a 41mp camera and the stuff you can do with it, you will never want to go back to anything less.
  • Agree
  • Am with you on this one. 1020 all the way
  • If the 1020 had micro SD I would still be using it as my daily phone.  I need the micro SD for my music, all 80 gigs of it.  Because of that I use a 635 with a 128gb micro SD card.  It does the job.
  • I agree it was a huge mistake by Nokia not to include microSD support on the 1020, but at least for me 32gb is doable, after all I don't need my whole music collection on my phone, althought given the option it would be nice to have it and not have to plug in and swap stuff around every few days. I also hope MS puts a lanyard hole on some more flagship devices, its a really great thing to have when you are taking a photo in positions and places where one small slip is the end of you device forever.
  • Exactly - I would've bought a 1020 but skipped it due to no SD. For a normal phone it's slightly forgivable, but for a dedicated camera-phone it was ludicrous!
  • They're really pounding the "low end" market.  I'm hungry for some news on the rumored flagships.  Been holding on to this Lumia 822 for almost 3 years now.
  • Wonder if they pound the low end of the female market
  • 512MB RAM? I thought they were running away from that?
  • Microsoft might be, but that's not to say everyone will follow. Remember, these are minimum specs.
  • Keeping minimum too "minimum" would just validate other OEMs' excuse to produce cheap WP having 512 RAM. But hey. I might be wrong.
  • It doesn't mean that , Windowsphones with 512 MB ram would still appear... It says that Windowsphone 8 entry level devices are capable of running the O.S smoothly
  • Think China
  • It's to support current low end phones I would guess. Whether new ones will appear lets see.
  • I thought this was about what is supported in new devices? Personality I think the minimum should be 1gb, even for low end. 512mb is already splitting the apps as is.
  • Does this mean that my trusty 635 will good to go?
  • It already is. It's what many people are using to test the previews on. Us included.
  • Obviously... Even 520 can run flawlessly... As per this Hardware Requirement
  • Good. My 520 is indestructible. I hope it lives forever, even if I use something else as the daily driver.
  • I was about to post that W10M is running smoothly on my 635, then the Windows Central app crashed...
  • Feeling a but better now.. Was a bit doubtful about my 620... Was kinda considering a newer Lumia that was advertised: "Windows 10 ready"
  • It seems like minimum hardware requirements for Windowsphone 8 .
    Bravo Microsoft....!!!! Hope my 1320 speeds up after update , just like it was in Lumia Black.... Denim is running horribly... sometimes Lara Croft: Relic Run lags...
  • It's a lackluster game even in nexus 6
  • Anyway ma Lumia730 Not VgA CamEra....!!
  • I hope they start supporting 64bit architecture for Windows 10 mobile to take true advantage of 64bit ARM and x64 SoCs.
  • extremely low end or not front camera should have been an obligatory requirement for video conferencing and skype.
  • Not even slightly necessary for low-end phones. Believe it or not, some people just use their phones to make phonecalls
  • Yeah! But the phone somehow feels incomplete without it whatever the individual usecase might be.