Microsoft loosens hardware requirements and camera now optional

It would appear that Microsoft has relaxed their hardware requirements (on September 23rd) to exclude the camera as a necessity. This would allow lower-end handsets to be brought out at a more affordable price, something we know Nokia wish to do (opens in new tab). In fact, these changes are already here. We already know the Lumia 800 has neither a front facing camera nor gyro and the HTC Radar has no compass or gyro on board.

Check out the revised hardware requirements below:

Standard Hardware

  • A common set of hardware controls and buttons that include the Start, Search, and Back buttons.
  • A large WVGA (800 x 480) format display capable of rendering most web content in full-page width and displaying movies in widescreen.
  • Capacitive 4-point multi-touch screens for quick, simple control of the phone and its features.
  • Support for data connectivity using cellular networks and Wi-Fi.
  • 256 MB (or more) of RAM and 8 GB (or more) of flash storage.
  • A-GPS
  • Accelerometer 

Optional Hardware

  • Compass
  • Gyro
  • Primary Camera
  • Front-facing Camera

Source: MSDN (opens in new tab), via: @manan, Mobility Digest (opens in new tab)

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a 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 on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • I'm not sure I like this, it seems like this is a move towards the chaotic nature of Android hardware.
  • Not really.First of all this isn't some haphazard move; it is a fully realized decision. Android is chaotic because that is its intent; to be open to anything, to be basically anything in any shape, size, and form, and as it turns out the experience varies, for better or worse. On the complete opposite spectrum, Windows Phone is specifically designed to have a unified and equal experience no matter what device you have. Things like these chassis are methods to keep a basic experience accross the line of all devices, and while this relaxes on the lowest end devices, it still will be the same experience from device to device.You won't see any device with these lowest specs except for in the lowest economies, where people simply wouldn't be able to afford it otherwise. So for the vast majority of the world you are still going to see all the normal specs, but in those places that normally wouldn't even have these phones you can at least have something, and that is only a benefit as it expands the platform and makes it even more universal.So while these super low end phone might not have a camera, they will still have everything else that makes Windows Phone amazing (as much as each feature is available in each market). You may have less storage, less ram, but when they designed WP7 and even more so in Mango, they designed it work well even on lower end hardware. And if tango has any truth to that, they are optimizing it even more to run on lower end hardware to get the experience to even more people who wouldn't have the option otherwise.It's not a move towards a chaotic Android world, it's a move to bring a more unified experience to all Windows Phone users, even those in lower end markets. It's not going to affect other high end markets in the slightest, other than to make Windows Phone more universal, which is a good thing for everyone.
  • couldn't reply better than this
  • Or moving towards blackberry... for corporate stuffs
  • While they were at it, I wonder why didn't they 'up' minimum storage and/or ram?
  • Why do u need more RAM? Wp7 does not use alot of RAM at all,most I ever used was 45.
  • Remember, this is for low end devices, but the one thing that keeps the "fragmentation" to a minimum will be the resolution. That would be where you would see a problem first (devs know that their apps will look the same across all platforms. What I am wondering is if Apollo will bring something simular to what we saw at Build with respect to them being able to write for several screen resolutions and the os would be able to adapt depending on what the devices resolution is so that it all just works.
  • even the cheapeast and dumbiest of phones has back camera. Removing camera from minimum specs is like asking to remove cpu from it, non-sense and i doubt anyone will do it.
  • No camera? On a smartphone? Doesn't make much sense to me...
  • Removing the camera as a required part could allow Windows Phone to be used by government/military people and employees of companies that work on classified or top secret projects and need high security clearance. Apparently people don’t know that in some work environments a phone with a camera on it is not allowed. I know someone that works at a naval ship yard and they are not allowed to have a phone with a camera in it. Because of this it makes it hard for him to own a smart phone because most of them have cameras so he has to use a basic cell phone.
  • Thanks for the clarification. I did not know that.
  • Exactly. This is the problem where I work. I work on a DOE facility and I'm forced to use a BB w/out a camera on the days I work. And there are a lot of BB's being used there. I'm constantly switching back and forth between my BB and WP7 phone. Thankfully I work a swing-shift so it's not every day I'm switching. And because just about every dumb phone has a camera, it's hard to find a phone.
  • Yeah, the guy I mentioned above has had that issue of just finding a basic dumb cell phone without a camera since they are getting harder and harder to find these days. I think one time he wasn’t able to find one so he got the cheapest basic cell phone and since it had a camera he drilled the camera lens out on the phone and filled the hole in with black epoxy.
  • Blackberry makes smartphone without cameras. This is for business/goverment devices.
  • Smart move actually. Specifically for business or government use. In my previous job I had to have security clearance in case I needed to go to a job and document something. I never actually used it. :(Anyhow, the person in charge of that department said they get cell phones sent to them daily. They were confiscated because people whipped them out to take photos of sensitive material. Make a phone without a camera and you needn't worry about that. :)
  • I would like WP to be more useful in business. I'd love to see the removal of the capacitive screen requirement, the ability to disable Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as well.
  • As mentioned before, the camera thing is for business/government use more than anything. If you look at Verizon's listings, every iteration of the BlackBerry Bold (including the Tour) has been available without a camera for this exact purpose (I'm sure other carrier have them too, but I know VZ actually offers them to regular consumers)
  • It could be for lower cost handsets, but the first thing that popped into my mind (and apparently I'm not the only one who thought this, given the other comments) was for corporate and government environments that don't allow your phone to have a camera on it.This would certainly open up some more enterprise and high-security environments for Windows Phone. An environment that Windows Mobile was very strong in, but something that Windows Phone hasn't been able to gain traction in.
  • It's suicide to release a consumer phone without a camera. No OEM is crazy enough to do it.
  • RIM does it all the time. For all the reasons stated above.
  • It's a smart move to gain traction in business/government sectors as told before, but WP7 is still missing some other essential things for these sectors such as VPN support, just to name one.
  • With particular reference to the the 800x480 resolution, I hope those are minimum requirements, not fixed. A resolution of 1280x720 is emerging as the new high end standard on other platforms. Consider the Galaxy Nexus.
  • it is a fixed resolution currently. there isnt very much yet using 1280x720, near everything you can buy right now is around 800x480 still so that doesn't need to increse for a while yet
  • I don't like this at all. Microsoft is starting to head down a path I disapprove of. How can they allow the camera button to be optional. This is one of the differentiators, currently all Windows Phones come with it standard whereas only some Android phones include it.
  • The camera..not the camera button..if you have the camera you need a button.