Hands-on with Windows 10 Mobile build 10549

Earlier today, Microsoft finally sent out another release of Windows 10 Mobile for those on the Insider Preview program. Build 10549 is now available with various fixes and improvements. However, users need to downgrade to Windows Phone 8.1 first meaning you need to wipe your phone. That's a rather hefty sacrifice to make to get the latest build, but we took the plunge for obvious reasons.

We've been running 10549 for just a few hours, and so far, it does feel more stable and a little quicker for the core apps. Of course, we have been saying that for some time now, so hopefully we are nearing the end of this process.

Perhaps the oddest feature is the ability to adjust the text display size on Lumia 1520. Just like a PC, you can move a slider to make fonts bigger or smaller. Our default – and recommended – is 250%. However, we can slide it down to 175% and the soft-reset the phone. Doing so results in basically making the Lumia 1520 a desktop PC. The Edge browser literally switches to desktop mode with the address bar at the top, Outlook can now show the full spilt-menu view, the Store looks like the PC version and more. It is useable even if many of the touch elements are tiny. Consider it more novelty than anything, though we imagine some of you may give it a spin.

Other than that we are looking at some emoji changes with skin tone options, the ability to have more lines of text in a text message box and many bug fixes and general improvements.

Our phone still runs warm, and the battery seems to be taking a toll, so our early recommendation is still that this is not really for your daily driver or main phone. However, your experience may vary, and we'll be curious over the next 48 hours what many of you report back.

For now, check out our short video above (sorry, we're on assignment in New York City) and let us know what you think so far in comments.

Need more help or want to chat more about Windows 10 Mobile? Check out our busy Windows 10 Mobile forums to get assistance or share your tips!

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.

  • Does this build have openvpn support?
  • Does W10M have the middle finger emoji yet?
  • Not yet apparently.
  • LOL
  • Yes it does. Type "Fuck you" and look at the word suggestion.
  • Or "Fuck off"
  • It's not on the emoji keyboard.
  • This is really a core feature [ironic] ;)
  • It's had it since the first Windows 10 build, but it's not on the keyboard. It only shows up during prediction.
  • So grateful for that fact!
  • Lol
  • What's the point?  Only Windows users will be able to see it :^)
  • So can anyone tell me if this build has openvpn support - I'm not asking about the bally emoji situation!?
    Anyone tried to set up an openvpn based vpn?
  • Thanks for the article. I recently bought a 640XL and waiting for build that can act as a daily driver for me. This battery issue does not imbibe confidence.
  • Yeah hard to say if it's my phone, just because of the update, or a firmware thing. Just a friendly reminder I guess that this is still a beta build of the OS. Maybe it'll be better for others.
  • Actually, Gabe said it's  bug with cortana running as a BG task. Disabling it fixes it. 
  • Can you even get Cortana on any preview builds? I haven't Cortana on any build yet.
  • Wow, that is sincerely a strange question.  I have been using her for a while. Unless you mean "Hey, Cortana" that's a different story.
  • Same here! She does not exist on my phone at all! Is this a bug? I am running build 10536.1004.
  • What country? As a canadian I have to set it to US to get it, though it should show up with this build since its enabled (despite being there for Canada in 8.1 as Alpha). If its not set to US, I just have normal search, which sounds like what you're seeing.
  • Language packs for Canada aren't available to download. If you try, they'll fail. Not released yet. Once packs are out it should work in canada. 
  • When I updated, I just had Search instead of Cortana. When I opened it, it had me setup like Cortana. Its still called Search, but when you open it, its Cortana. Weird.
  • Gabe was suggesting that to people that does not even have Cortana... so, there's is something else.
  • My Lumia 640 XL tells me "Cortana isn't available in the selected region and language" (Austria) - so I assume it isn't running at all. Still massive battery drain. I took it from charger 5 hours ago and now I am on 76 percent. Just Whatsapp and Outlook is syncing. Nothing else. No gaming.
  • Try turning off notifications on everything except things you absolutely must have and set the Battery Saver to be active all the time. I'm getting 3 days on my Lumia 640 XL now since I turned a lot of that crap off. Also set the screen brightness for Low and auto. Low is quite adequate for most situations. If not, you can always crank it back up again. The problem is that apps keep running in the background and there is NO WAY TO TURN THE PHONE OFF. The " off " button DOES NOT turn it off ... it is actually a SLEEP button. Everything continues to run in the background. The ONLY way to turn the phone completely OFF is to PULL THE BATTERY.
  • Maybe not. I've been running it on my 1520 since the release. My battery seems fine. I can get through an entire day with normal use. Playing games or doing other battery intensive task seems to drain the battery rather quick, though. But, that seems to be expected, I guess.
  • If you believe me Daniel, Battery back up on my Lumia 638/635 is almost the same or better using WM10. My phone doesn't get hot much too. Hope this build also runs well.
  • !This build rocks!
    I have noticed that the little gift of Lumia Camera for Lumia 1020 is lost, after the reset to factory settings. I did reset my phone because i believed (and i guessed right) that my phone would run smoother. So i may do the rollback again and reinstall the build. What a waste of time though (but i really feel we are coming to the glorious end)!
  • Yea its an issue with background tasks...something /some app in there is effing things up. You turn off all the background tasks and the damn thing is rock solid
  • I'm running a 640 with windows 10 for the last month (since the last update) and it runs well... but with quirks.  Battery is great 
  • Are you serious. Its horrible on my 640. Pathetically slow opening of apps and that's after a hard reset. I've rolled back to 8.1 and I'm staying there until a breakthrough happens.
  • *shrug*.... yes the apps are slower to open.. yes there are weird bugs, yes apps crash on occassion... yes it's a big step back from 8.1.......   wait, what's the point of upgrading to windows 10 again?  
  • Lol... So true.
  • Honestly, at least for me, its not that big of a step back on the latest 2 builds. There is a bug here or there, and I have gone back to 8.1 after trying it out for a week, just cause certain bugs bother me, but the bugs aren't that big and I can live with them easily.
  • It likely depends on the device a person is using. Lower end older devices are cringe-worthy. Unfortunately, that group is the largest percentage of the total.
  • Indeed, here's to hoping the 950 will start the change!
  • I downloaded this build on my 521, and i'd say this build is running better on that then last build was on my 925. That's a super good sign! The only big issue i've had so far other than the Cortana issue that came with this build is that I can't view my downloads when I'm downloading more than 30 apps at a time, which I think very few people do haha, but they still install and once it's below 30 I can view the list.
  • There is no point, if you have no desire to suffer through bugs and glitches to test a Beta OS. Otherwise, stay on WP 8.1. Yes, the current OS is smoother and all features work properly. People seem to forget this is a TP and should only be approached as such. You can use it as a daily driver, but be warned, you will likely experience some frustrations. This isn't the early release that MS released with the current OS.
  • Take in mind that we are WAYYY to close to the release date of the 950/950XL to be talking about this still being a "Technical Preview". At this point on Windows 10 PC TP, things were REALLY solid and it felt like a completed OS despite bugs that still needed to be fixed. Anyways, I WOULD go back to 8.1 but I hate how long the process takes and I can live with W10TP. I like reporting bugs and such and the features and UI that 10 offers seems so much better than 8.1. Little things like a flashlight toggle, interactive notifications, universal apps, etc. It just really makes you want to stay on w10m. All we need now is solid patching to fully iron out the bugs and problems like battery life. 
  • true but they will have tested the 950/950XL they wouldnt waste time testing every device until its further down the road.
  • 8.1 has universal apps too.
  • The windows 10 mobile upgrade won't be released until next year.. This has been the story for a while now. Assumedly the new phones have a different branch that is already RTM.
  • Yeah, probably. But I dont get the reason why they dont continue development off of that RTM branch, so that insiders could feedback and help improve it. Going on a different branch would make sense if insiders are given new features to try out and report for fixes which can later be merged onto RTM, but obviously it's not the case either. I'm not sure of what this insider preview is about now... 
  • It does seem a long way off, they could still end up delaying if they dont make it.
  • This is not too close to the release date of the 950/950 XL to be called a Technical Preview. Even with the release of Windows 10 on the PC, there were bugs fairly close and we still have anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks to go, so its not necessarily that close. Hell, there were bugs *after* W10 released, just pretty small ones for the most part. If getting close meant it was supposed to feel finished already, then the release dates would be earlier, wouldn't they? Plus, rumors put Windows 10 Mobile, on phones other than the new ones, in December, so its possible that the issues many are seeing are running it on older hardware.
  • Interactive notifications, I still don't get it. Alarm notifications are just as interactive in WP81, and besides that there's only interactive sms notification? I can't remember when I last sent an sms.
  • I have hunch that Win10M will not be as solid and bug-free as WP8.1 when it gets released. I really do hope that it will, but up to now ...
  • What type of notification do you get?  I am presently using the iPhone 5 which only gives me a number beside the message icon on my home screen, no sound or flashing light, nothing!  Many have asked me if I did not get their message after I did not respond. My ATT contract is up in Dec so looking forward to the new 950 and M10M, I am so tired of Apple OS. 
  • But you're not really upgrading, you're beta testing. Important difference there.
  • It's a beta test. Are you seriously asking such a stupid question..
  • Do you even know what's the Insider Program is intended for? I really don't understand people complaining about this! If you go beta tester you have to be aware that you're doing this to report errors/bugs, and the program itself IS NOT directed for final users or, in many cases, noob users!    Don't like the way it does? Go back to 8.1, nobody is forcing anyone to go beta tester!   Sorry for my bad english! 
  • The short period I used 8.1 before upgrading to latest build made me shudder. Gotten so used to 10 that 8.1 was horrible. Just a tad smoother but otherwise seemed so outdated.
  • windows 10 preview, beta not yet ready for mass market only for people that want to try it as part of the insider program, thats prety much the point.
  • I'm getting 3 days on my battery now since I went in and turned off notification for almost everything. Only use notifications for things you ABSOLUTELY must have. App writers put notificiations in their apps and for many / most you can live without being notified instantly. Also set your screen brightness to Low and Auto. Very adequate in most situations. There is a double ton of crap that can be turned off in settings that is running by default and it IS NOT NEEDED. Set Battery Saver to run 100% of the time --- why not?  
  • @arizona disable everything that makes a smart phone a smart phone, and you'll get Great battery life.... lol  what the hell is the point of having a smartphone if you have to turn off everything and only view it in a dark room with no lights on.... that's some sumb sh*t there. 
  • Same experience here, even more laggy than the previous build on my 640. On 8.1 I get a day and a half of use on a full charge. Using the new build yesterday I got about eight hours. All looks very pretty, but it's not cold enough yet in the UK for me to need a red hot phone battery to keep my hands warm... Back down to 8.1, again! Thank God for backup and restore.
  • Is your motion data working on this new build guys? With 640
  • My motion days was working on previous build on Microsoft health (steps).
  • Same here, but now it's not working in motion data settings, also not in fitbit and ms healt...
  •  Fitbit currently has a bug that doesn't allow MobileTrack/Motion Data to work on Windows Phone. (They are supposed to fix it any day now.)
  • The build not stable, roll back to 8.1. Ms lost the tester, then next build we must roll back to 8.1 before up. Lot people curious and trying again.. Hahaha
  • I also have a 640XL and that seemed to be one of the bugs I started having after about a week or so with the builds. How long do you typically get with battery on 8.1 because when I first got this phone, the battery life wad very impressive. Now I'm wondering if something happened because even on 8.1 it seems like it doesn't last as long as it did.
  • Hey Cortana! What does IMBIBE mean?
  • I currently have it on my daily driver (1520). With little to medium usage, I get a day's worth. Anything more than that and I am charging more than once a day. So unless you have a monster battery it is advisable to not use these preview builds on daily drivers
  • Not sure if you will see this. Battery life is dramatically better. Idle usage before update was 4.5-7 ish. Now, almost 24 hours in, I am less than 3% idle usage.
    And FWIW, performance is also dramatically better.
  • My 640xl handles the preview well but cant say same for my 1520...There is slight improvement on battery usage on latest built compared to the last one.
  • hey ravi i have same mobile 640 xl and 10549 is running like butter. no issues and battery backup improved more.
  • I have no idea how they'll make it usable till November... Unless that's just some sort of side dev branch MSFT is feeding us with for still unknown to me reasons..
  • Agreed. This seems way off considering devices will ship soon. Windows 10 desktop "felt" good, 3 months out.
  • Cant compare the two.. For pc.. They can send out patches if stuff doesnt work.. For phones its built from the ground up. But I think its shaping up nicely.. Considering what a mess it was up until a couple builds ago.
  • They are developed in the same way. Patches can be released for mobile, too. Just like PC.
  • Actually Gabe had said that phones don't have the same servicing as PCs due to space issues. So issues with phone require a new build
  • Correct, actually this was a question for which he responded to me personally. That's why we have to always wait for builds on Phone whereas on desktop they're able to patch significant issues via WU.
  • Although I didn't have it, I constantly heard people hand-wringing about 10 up until the final release. And it does have a few bugs just like WP 8.0 w/ GDR1 & 2. I'm sure most of the main ones like battery life bugs will be resolved though!
  • Windows 10 was not all that great 3 months out, maybe in your specific scenario it was. However, I didn't feel like it was starting to get real solid until they had a run of builds towards the end. I had it running on an original Surface Pro and touch features took a loooong time to feel right. They didn't really get the start menu down until last minute as well.
  • Seriously, phones are due in a month, and the kinds of issues routinely reported here are just shocking that they're still in progress. Are we expected to buy the Lumia 950XL with the entire OS in beta form?
  • You've never developed software, have you? When I was a game developer (for 14yrs), we had crash bugs, issues with framerate, and graphical glitches up to the end. They have analysis tools that show the curve for bugs->fixes, and will pretty accurately predict when the project will be completed (or at least good enough to ship). You don't have that. You just have blind ignorance. Trust them to do their job.