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This is your Windows 10 Mobile phone using Ethernet for blazing network speeds

Windows 10 Mobile is just Windows 10 with some UI changes. With the latest Insider preview release, Microsoft is enabling something we knew was possible and coming eventually: Ethernet support. With this ability users can plug in an Ethernet adapter to either the Continuum Display Dock or even directly into the phone itself using a USB Type-C adapter.

I decided to give it a try and here are our results!

What works?

Microsoft noted that build 14322 brings some support for Ethernet adapters on Windows 10 Mobile with more support on the way. Luckily, I already have two USB Type-C Ethernet adapters on hand to try out and so far I am two for two as both worked without any hitches. I didn't even see the alleged 'warning' that will be removed in the next flight.

Hubs

Hubs (Image credit: Windows Central)

Here are the two adapters I used for this test:

Certainly the Anker one is more expensive (nearly twice as much) but you are getting three USB 3.0 ports, which also all work when plugged into a Lumia 950 or Lumia 950 XL giving you a lot of options. The Anker one is also aluminum, and they are a company that makes reliable products.

The Aerb is not only cheaper but smaller too making it more ideal for travel or throwing it in your pocket.

Personally, I'm looking to get this new Anker device, which is basically Continuum in your pocket. It has two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI, and it has a spare USB Type-C port for charging. [Edit: Whoops! This Anker has no Ethernet, but I suppose you could plug a USB Ethernet adapter into one of the ports!]

See at Amazon - Anker Premium USB-C Hub with HDMI and Power Delivery (opens in new tab)

How fast?

I connected both adapters directly to my Verizon FiOS router, and my download rate should be 100 Mbps.

For the test, I turned Wi-Fi and Cellular Data off in the Action Center to make sure that the Lumia 950 XL was not using either. Later, I even put the phone into Airplane mode (Ethernet still works in this setting too).

Microsoft noted in the release notes for build 14322 that there is no visual indicator yet for Ethernet connections, which will make this process simpler in later versions of the OS.

All three results (two shown above) had the phone downloading at around 90 Mbps (98-95 Mbps) using the Microsoft Network Speed Test application from the Windows Store (opens in new tab). Uploads were at around 60 Mbps.

Using the same setup on a quad-core Intel Core i7 PC netted similar results with downloads nearing closer to 100 Mbps.

For a real world example, I used Hulu to watch a video. There was no lag between starting the video nor randomly jumping around the video stream, which never even hesitated to buffer. In a blind test, you would think the video was playing locally instead of streaming.

Conclusion

The ability to directly connect Ethernet to a Windows Phone is a small milestone in the merging of desktop and mobile functionality for 2016 and beyond. As more phones begin to support Continuum being able to get high-speed internet directly to the phone setup will be crucial for the paradigm to be taken seriously.

The forthcoming HP Elite x3 will be one of the first devices to really leverage this Ethernet ability as their Desk Dock has an Ethernet port built right into it.

There is no doubt that those in enterprise will be able to take advantage of this feature and even for consumers it offers a nifty way to do very large downloads. Case in point, doing OS updates to Windows 10 Mobile could go much quicker when connected to Ethernet as well as restoring from a backup, reinstalling apps, mass download of a music collection, and more.

What would you do with Ethernet on your phone? Let us know in comments!

More info on USB Type-C, OTG and more!

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

160 Comments
  • Daniel, you never fail to deliver. I was waiting for this post!
  • While you're summoning Daniel.... Just for ***** & giggles, is this feature available on either iOS, or Android❓❓❓
  • Yes. Been on galaxy for awhile. Posted from PornHub
  • Wow. Not too bad. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    ROJO > ARLINGTON, TX > LUMIA 1520 ≥ 950... WAITING FOR 6.2" SURFACE PHONE
  • Yes it is available for iOS, I think Apple showed it at their iPhone SE launch. They used a lightening to USB adapter and USB to Ethernet adapter. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • So, MS got it working about the same time as Apple. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    ROJO > ARLINGTON, TX > LUMIA 1520 ≥ 950... WAITING FOR 6.2" SURFACE PHONE
  • No. I have seen videos on YouTube that are over a year old. However I don't believe that Apple officially acknowledged that it would support this. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Heck it was available on wm 6.x
  • Me too. I love using the Ethernet instead of wifi or wireless. Having my phone as a literal Ethernet-connected desktop will be great. Speaking of this, the post mentions continuum and USB -C. I wonder how this will work, because there is no physical difference between a standard USB (which I already have) and USB-C ethernet-USB converter. I hope that my standard converter will work.
  • Agreed. I now know which one to get. Thanks  
  • Does it work in Lumia 540?
  • No.
  • Might be tricky without USB-C.
  • rather impossible
  • Not impossible. Galaxy's been doing it with micro usb for some time. Posted from PornHub
  • On 640 xl??
  • ^ "Might be tricky without USB-C".
  • Aaaaaaand we have your daily winner!
  • oh maybe I'll ask if it works on a Lumia 520 or an Compaq iPAQ? Like never Posted via Universal Windows App on W10
  • It used to work on my MicroVAX
  • Well if you use a PC with wmdc installed and a rather large usb cable yes
  • Personally, I'll probably never plug my phone in with ethernet, but it's really cool that it can now.
  • I was thinking the same thing, but then I started thinking about how there were times I really could've used this when I used to do telephone work in Boston. No cell cervice in the basements of buildings there, so no data if you needed to get a file or something. I'm actually pretty excited about the idea of this even though it's not something I'll need any more.
  • I got faster speed on wifi no point in ethernet
  • The point is we will have that option.
  • Same here, even on 802.11N WiFi. 
    http://i.imgur.com/2cHOX5X.jpg
  • With which technology? When is wifi faster than equally new ethernet?
  • When it's AC
  • Yes and no. 10 Gbit ethernet is out there but not for consumers. AC standard wi-fifi is gigabit capable, but it is all about the obstacles: in reality you will gigabit ethernet speeds with super-high reliability, while AC will be great but because of the nature of radio, it will never achieve perfect reliability. So, what matters is, what you need it for. Hard to beat the convenience of wi-fi. Good enough in 90 out of 100 situations. In the other 10 situations, ethernet will be fantastic, so you will be happy to have it available.
  • It is not the Ethernet that limits the speed, it is the transfer speed of the USB cable that limits the speed. I have just watched a video by Josh Drew on YouTube that shows that his WiFi gives better speed than Ethernet on his Android phone through micro USB 2. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Re: Jole bogdan,
    Good for you, but my Comcast wired eithernet is rock solid fast and mostly constant. Comcast Wi-Fi is inconsistent, sometimes great, sometimes slow. Ethernet will be a welcome option for me.
  • But I'm getting the same speeds with the same phone and app Daniels babbling about using WiFi at home... Posted from PornHub
  • What's sad is it could be done on wm6.x(except instead using a computer with wmdc in between)
  • That is blazing fast!! Good article, Daniel.
  • My wifi is faster
  • So what when you don't have WiFi. Or just Visitor WiFi. Or need the most reliable and stable network. Ethernet beats WiFi any day on those point. Open up and see the possibilities.
  • Uhm...the likelihood of someone who blocks guest WiFi allowing you to plug in is unlikely... Posted from PornHub
  • Are you on a mission? We heard you. Ugh.
  • Wow, that's interesting! Can Android or iOS do this, even?
  • It's possible on Android, though it's not very consistent and is pretty buggy, especially when you don't turn off Wifi and cellular data.
  • Yes iOS can by using lightening to USB and USB to Ethernet adapters. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • This is what exactly I asked a month ago ( http://www.windowscentral.com/hp-elite-x3-faq#comment-2286028), it didn't take long to see it done!
  • I actually saw the x3 as a sort of forshadowing of this feature, becuse of the dock.
  • I am still waiting for USB tethering and reverse tethering which are more convenient to me.
  • Me too, my modem is not reliable so i'd like to use my phone instead
  • Well tethering is possible but the reverse hasn't been available simce 6.x unless you have bt ap
  • The office hot desk is an ideal place for Ethernet where security restricts use of Wi-Fi. Reduces latency on remote desktop connections and makes network drive access quicker. Yes, that has to be coming.
  • This is the lead in to a really effective universal remote desktop app, which will turn the phone into a functioning PC experience.
  • This is what I thought too. I wonder where this goes in the future. I could imagine somthing like the graphics card dock from Razer. A dock that adds computing power to the phone when it's connected.
  • You will need 2 USB-ports (and circuitry) if you want both external processing and networking though...
  • Ethernet for the dock makes very much sense. ​Wi-Fi coverage is not necessarily a given
    or there might be reasons one does not want to use Wi-Fi. It is no so much the speed that is of interest 
    but rather a consistent availabilty and reliablitly. I still remember trying to use Wi-Fi in an Silicon Valley 5-star hotel in SanJose where I stayed for a week.  Hotel stuff had no idea as to why Wi-Fi would not work in my room (respectivley my part of floor) and referred me to AT&T.
    The hotel was totally booked out because of several weddings and conferences. I talked to AT&T every day of my stay. 
    What should I say: to no avail, total waste of time. 
    They gave me a free coupon for their service for another place and another time. Only had my iPad with me, thought it might be worth a try to travel with just an iPad. Stupid idea as I learned.
    Won't happen any more (and I won't get an iPad any more anyway.    
       
  • ​I wonder if one can enable wifi sharing while on ethernet. so you could plug your phone in, and let your ipad etc run over the wifi. that would be genious
  • Didn't the latest update for Windows 10 (not mobile) let PC's and tablets do just that? If so, I don't see why a phone running the same OS wouldn't be able to, even if in the near future.
  • 8.1 had the ability to share cellular data with PC
  • Yeah, and 10 can do that too. However, different kind of data that we'd like to share. Thanks though.
  • Hopefully they somehow enable that, on the PC one has been able to do it for quite some time (i think since vista?) by using command promt and the 'netsh' command. Windows central did an article on it http://www.windowscentral.com/how-turn-your-windows-10-pc-wireless-hotspot    
  • I read your comment as if it were a poem, actually (lol!). It had a certain rhythm. In any case, valid points. Despite wi-fi N and AC availability and "very good" stability, ethernet offers perfect stability and low latency (both being very important with SIP/voip/skype and online gaming, among other things).
  • I think for those people claiming MS has given up on the phone space or that they don't take it seriously will be eating humble pie in the next few years. The merging of OS to one platform really is the future from what I can see. The one thing I don't understand now though is Anti Virus. Does WM have defender by default? Enterprise surely would not want it's LAN infected from a phone connected to it and if the OS is truly a single OS then a phone is as vulnerable as a PC or am I seeing it in the wrong way?
  • Viruses typically aren't made for Windows on ARM devices, so this won't be an issue directly from the start. Coupled with the fact that Windows 10 Mobile only runs apps from the Store by default and only runs them in a sandbox, it's not as easily breached. The issue would mostly arise from a user who downloaded an infected attachment to their phone and copied it over to their computer, but the majority of enterprise users would either be protected from this anyway or just wouldn't do that because of how few people use their phone as a flash drive.
  • Good points. That said, if the long rumored Surface phone comes out with a 64bit processor then we may have something to worry about. Many breaches of a LAN come from email downloads and that could open up a whole new era of AV for phone. I am told that phone should have a 64 bit OS in the near future.
  • 64-bit cpus are better protected than 32-bit cpus. Like @aschletter wrote, viruses stem from open platforms. When you have a Store and restrict third-party "open" downloads of executable code, you will be fine. Coupled with sandboxing in every Store app, every app has their own file system (not literally - but most easily explained anyway!). We will all be fine. And, again, you can infect Windows 7 users on PCs if you want, but you will not see any damage dealt to your phone, just like how Windows users cannot run OS X executables downloaded from a website, but still download them and send them to OS X computers to run the code there. Maybe not the most fair comparison, but still.
  • Besides MS neutered the bt stack
  • Regarding anti virus sorry in WM10, technically all apps are sandboxed which prevents apps from behaving badly. Plus all apps from the Windows App store are vetted too. The only way to get malicious apps on a WM10 device is if you side load it yourself.
  • The phone isn't vulnerable in all the same ways a PC is, for example the UWP apps are sandboxed and that's one benefit of them in general over more traditional desktop applications. You could still download a file to a phones storage that was infected, but in theory it would be a lot more difficult to execute malicious code that could affect other machines on the network from a phone. There could be a benefit to something that scans the files stored on your phone, other mobile platforms do have anti-virus / security tools available.
  • Only if the phone ran an intel chip. The windows phone OS on arm is a sandboxed OS like iOS and does not require any anti virus. Now if the mythical surface phone comes out in early 2017 that ran an intel chip and full windows 10. THEN it would NEED an anti virus.
  • The CPU manufacturer is irrelevant to that. Store apps are sandboxed on the phone, like they are on the PC. An Intel chip will not change that.
  • Seeing it the wrong way. Posted from PornHub
  • This would be a cool video demo on YouTube hint hint :)
  • The Anker you listed with Hdmi didn't list Ethernet. Are you sure? http://www.amazon.com/Upgraded-Anker-SuperSpeed-Recharging-Specification...
  • Yeah, jumped the gun on that. Article has been updated.
  • Does that work on lumia 640 xl?? Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • Obviously not. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Anker Premium USB-C Hub with HDMI and Power Delivery: Can it be used as a Microsoft display dock? 
  • Seems like this bodes well for Xbox One controller support directly on the phone (as opposed to having to use it in continuum mode) in the anniversary update.  Was support for Xbox One controller outside of Continuum ever confirmed? I picked up a microusb to microusb OTG cable to use with my 1520, hopefully it won't require USB type-c or one of the new phones that support continuum.  I'm looking forward to playing Minecraft Pocket Edition on the 1520 with the xbox one controller and the Nyko Smart Clip, would really suck (for me) if it is only coming to the newer phones.
  • This is a really cool feature that I didn't even notice was announced or coming. NOW they can really start to leverage Win10 Mobile as a computer on the go with ethernet + continuum.
  • Sigh... I got the update yesterday... W10 mobile is still horses&%$, crashing apps (including windows central) crashing Edge, etc etc.   I don't care about any of this.... I just want a smooth OS for christ sake
  • Then you should not be trying the insider builds. Download the latest update for retails devices which is not a redstone build and you will not face moat of the issues. Sent from Lumia 930 using U-WinCentral app
  • I have yet to experience any of this with the Redstone builds (but I always do a hard reset after each update).
  • There's a solution for that...
  • You probably have to wait another one year to get that stable update and new features. Or about 6 months.
    But win10m has much potential than ani other OS.. MS is not bringing new features daily so we have to wait.. And btw.. Stick to wp8.1 .. My advice. Posted from Nokia 3310
  • Then go back to windows phone 8.1 or get an iPhone.
  • Or just get the latest W10M retail build (he runs Insider build) Rock solid here.
  • Complete opposite for me, I have the latest retail build and my phone constantly resets itself.
  • Which phone? maybe you should do a hardreset. 950 xl here without one single crash or unpredicted restart in 2 month in the production build.
  • 950 xl. I don't particularly want to reinstall dozens of apps, wasting gigabytes of my data allowance, hell I already had to do that once after an update, didn't have to hard reset but now if my installed apps worked any more, I had to reinstall everything. This OS definitely has a lot more gremlins than 8.1.
  • Which phones support this feature.....??
  • Lumia 950, 950XL (for starters) they both have USB-Type C.
  • Does it work on lumia 640 xl??
  • No only 950 & 950XL.
  • So it is only for phones which support usb type c...??
  • Yes. As long as those phones support Contiuum.
  • To be honest the connection shouldn't matter, so long as the USB input/output is at least USB 3.0 it should be feasible.
  • No. Usb-c has different protocols in the transmission and can transfer not only data but audio, video, network and data over it. It may be emulateable somehow but since the protocols are not available for normal usb you would need a software-converter in each of the devices you connect. Very unlikely that you'll see that coming.
  • Cool, I stand corrected.
  • I would assume any windows 10 phone with a USB Type C connection. As it is a OS feature that requires to ability to connect to ethernet cable.
  • 950&950XL
  • That's wonderful
  • the only thing continuum for windows 10 mobile need is