If there's one thing Windows 10 Mobile hasn't ever really had, it's good, premium mid-range hardware. More often than not, you'd only ever find Windows 10 Mobile on either extremely low-end devices, or high-end flagship smartphones. There hasn't ever been a comfortable middle ground, and that's a real shame. For a lot of people, mid-range smartphones are more than enough, usually being cheap while not sacrificing much in performance.
The lack of mid-range Windows 10 Mobile hardware may soon change, however, as German manufacturer Trekstor is hoping to release its own mid-range Windows phone early next year. The WinPhone 5.0 is a €249 Windows 10 Mobile handset that's smack-bang in the mid-range tier, packing a run-of-the-mill Snapdragon 617 along with 3GB RAM. This is a device that's as mid-range as you can get, that to me that's incredibly exciting.
Unfortunately, the availability of the WinPhone 5.0 LTE is going to depend heavily on you as this device is a crowdfunded project. If it doesn't reach its goal of €500,000 before the end of this week, the device will not be funded and as such; won't go on sale. We've been using a pre-release model of this device over the last week, and wanted to give our early impressions before you decide to put your hard-earned cash down for one.
WinPhone 5.0 specifications
|Display||5.0-inch 1280x720 IPS Gorilla Glass 3 Display|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 617|
|Camera||13MP rear-facing camera|
5MP front-facing camera
|Ports||3.5mm headphone jack|
|Dimensions||71.6 x7.6 x 142.4 mm|
WinPhone 5.0 design
I really like the design and build quality of this phone. It's your typical glass sandwich, with an aluminum frame around the sides keeping everything together. I wouldn't say this phone pushes any boundaries when it comes to appearance, but it certainly isn't a bad looking phone. In fact, it looks and feels a lot like the iPhone 4, which is a compliment amongst itself. I was a huge fan of the iPhone 4's design back in 2010, and I'm still a huge fan now.
This is a phone that will cost just €249, so this design is more than fine for what you're paying for. It looks and feels more premium than the Lumia 550, 650 or 950 series, thanks to the glass and aluminum combination that so many people love. I appreciate these materials over plastic, which so many mid-range phones often go for to save on cost. Now, since it is glass, it does pick up fingerprints fairly easy. It's not as slippery as other glass-phones, however.
On the back, we find a couple of logos, along with the camera module in the top left that sits flush with the glass. So many phones these days often have a camera module that protrudes slightly, which I loathe. So I'm delighted with the all-smooth back on this device. I will say there does appear to be an abnormal amount of logos and marking on the back, however. Very noticeable FCC markings, and writing along the bottom which would look better if they were better hidden.
Moving around to the sides, we're rocking an all-metal frame which feels and looks great. It's silver and cold to the touch, which I'm a huge fan of. It also has clicky buttons, but the buttons themselves are a little loose sitting in the frame. What I mean by this is if I shake the device, you can hear the metal buttons bumping against the metal frame. Keep in mind we are using a pre-release model, and even so, it doesn't affect usage in any way. The buttons still feel great to press down on, which is all I care about.
On the front, we're rocking a 5-inch 720p IPS LCD, which is fine. It's nothing spectacular by any means, and since it's not OLED, blacks aren't true blacks and colors don't pop as much. It's not a bad display, however, and still looks crisp enough thanks to its small screen size. The biggest problem I have with the front of this device is the screen-to-body ratio, which is just absurd. It has a huge chin and forehead, which are wasted space. There's so much room, Trekstor could've put capacitive buttons below the display, but they didn't. It's just an empty space, used for absolutely nothing.
I'm not asking for an 18:9 display, since I don't think Windows 10 Mobile even supports that aspect ratio, but at least minimize the bottom and top bezels a bit. It makes this phone feel way bigger than it actually is, which is never good. It's about the same size as my Lumia 950, but equipped with a smaller display.
In addition to the poor use of space, the touch-screen itself will sometimes miss taps. It doesn't happen all the time, but sometimes the sensitivity of the touch-sensor will drop and will cause me to have to press down harder on a button or when I'm typing something on the keyboard for the touch sensor to pick it up. Again, this could just be due to this device being pre-release, but it must be noted.
WinPhone 5.0 Windows 10 Mobile
There's not much to say about Windows 10 Mobile in 2017. It exists, but it isn't exactly doing anything. Microsoft has already confirmed it is no longer focused on building new features or functions for Windows 10 Mobile, and will only continue supporting the platform with bug fixes and security updates. This means there will be no more big features or innovations coming to Windows phone. What we've already got is all we're going to get.
This means that over time, Windows 10 Mobile will be left behind. As Windows 10 on PC continues development, Windows 10 Mobile will remain on an older release, and as such will eventually begin missing out on new apps and existing app updates. Microsoft will continue to support native apps, but there's no guarantee any new features or designs will make their way to Windows 10 Mobile.
Unfortunately, Windows 10 Mobile is one of this phone's biggest let downs, but that's not Trekstor's fault. Microsoft has abandoned this platform, and that's a real shame. However, if you're more than fine with Windows 10 Mobile today, and don't mind the fact that Microsoft won't be releasing any new features or big updates, then Microsoft's lack of focus on here should be a non-issue for you.
There is also no double-tap to wake option, and there isn't even an "extras" area in Settings for additional options. There's no Glance screen and no real hardware specific customization. The double-tap to wake thing is not of much concern to me, and a lack of Glance is obvious considering Glance is exclusive to Lumia devices. Trekstor could release a firmware update down the line with support for double-tap to wake, however, so not all is lost.
Outside of those issues, the software on the WinPhone 5.0 LTE is relatively stock. In fact, it's the most stock version of Windows 10 Mobile I've ever seen, with no 3rd party apps installed by default. That was a nice surprise, and one I hope remains if the device ever does ship publicly.
The Start screen is easily still the best home screen experience on any smartphone; it's just so customizable and good looking. I also really love the Notification Center on Windows 10 Mobile. To me, it's better than the notification center experiences on Android and iOS, which says a lot. And that keyboard. Hands down, the Windows 10 Mobile keyboard is still the best in the business.
WinPhone 5.0 performance and battery life
In my time using the WinPhone 5.0 LTE, I've had no real issues when it comes to performance. The Snapdragon 617 is a very capable processor, and as such handles Windows 10 Mobile with ease. App load times are fast, animations are smooth, and everything performs without much of a hitch. The addition of 3GB of RAM helps when it comes to multitasking and keeping apps in memory too, which means apps resume from sleep quickly. I'm glad Trekstor opted for 3GB over 2GB or 1GB like you find on most other Windows phones, and the difference is really apparent.
The Snapdragon 617 also supports Continuum too, which means you can wirelessly project your phone up to a TV or monitor, connected a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and use your phone like a PC. Of course, Continuum isn't as fully fledged as a real desktop experience, but it's still handy for when you need to edit a Word document or Excel spreadsheet on the go. The experience performed well. While not as fast as a Snapdragon 810 or 820, there wasn't any real performance issues that I encountered.
Gaming is a bit of a different story. Some games would operate just fine, but others would see noticeable framerate drops. I wouldn't buy this phone if you're planning to play any heavy mobile games, which is fine because this phone is aimed at businesses and as such isn't equipped for big, demanding games anyway.
Battery life is fine. It's nothing spectacular for 2017, getting me through a full day with a relatively average amount of use throughout; checking Twitter, Instagram, GroupMe, Reddit, and listening to a bit of music. I've used phones with better battery life, but as long as you're home in time for bed every day, you should be just fine.
The worst part about the battery is the fact that it doesn't support any form of quick-charge, meaning it takes hours to charge from 0% to 100%. If you forget to charge your phone before you head to bed, you're going to be in a spot of bother the next day. I'd go so far to say quick-charge is a necessity for all phones in 2017, and unfortunately, the WinPhone 5.0 LTE doesn't have it. Also, it uses MicroUSB, gross.
WinPhone 5.0 camera and sound quality
I'll be brief; don't buy this phone for its 13MP camera. It's not good. In fact, it's easily the worst thing about this phone. The camera itself is pretty slow, and low-light photographs are nothing but offensive to the eyes. Photos in well-lit scenarios are passable, but they're definitely not great. The front-facing camera is also rubbish. The camera can only do 720p video at 30fps, and there's no optical image stabilization to keep your video nice and steady either.
The down-firing single speaker is nothing to be excited about either. It's tinny, and sounds bad when the volume is turned up. You'll want to use a pair of headphones with this device, which is lucky because it does include a 3.5mm headphone jack. Overall, the sound and camera quality on this phone isn't great. If the camera on a smartphone an important feature to you, I'd look elsewhere.
WinPhone 5.0 final thoughts
I really like the WinPhone 5.0 LTE. I'm not a huge fan of smartphone photography anyway, so the terrible camera is a non-issue to me. I like this phones build quality and design, and the Snapdragon 617 along with 3GB of RAM is also an excellent addition to a phone that costs just €249. Unfortunately, since this is running Windows 10 Mobile, I can't recommend this phone to any normal consumer.
However, that doesn't mean I can't recommend this phone at all. I absolutely recommend this phone to Windows phone users who are still using a device with a Snapdragon 2xx and aren't planning to switch to a rival platform. If you must remain on Windows 10 Mobile and aren't bothered much about the camera, the WinPhone 5.0 LTE is probably the best new Windows phone you can go for without breaking the bank.
The only people who I expect will want this phone is business users with specific needs, and Windows phone enthusiasts who won't let Windows 10 Mobile go. If you fit into any of these groups, then I recommend you give the WinPhone 5.0 LTE a shot. For the price, you're getting a phone that feels great in hand with good performance. The camera still sucks though.
As a reminder, the WinPhone 5.0 will only go on sale if it reaches its crowdfund goal of €500,000. So if you do want to grab one of these, you better get your order in before December 15.
- Premium build quality.
- Good amount of RAM.
- Great performance.
- Terrible camera.
- No quick-charge.
- Abandoned platform.