Windows Phone 8 will reportedly get 1080P support later this year

In perhaps not a surprising move, Microsoft is expected to add 1080P resolution support for Windows Phone 8 displays later this year with the General Distribution Release (GDR3) software release to OEMs. Currently, Windows Phone can only support up to 768 and 720 resolutions, which while a marked improvement over its predecessor is still far behind Android.

The resolution will reportedly only be for displays 5 inches and greater, allowing OEMs to expand their Windows Phone offerings into the new “phablet” designs like the Samsung Galaxy Note I, II.  That’s also presumably done because supply constraints on manufacturing will also limit initial 1080P displays to certain sizes, though that will change in the future.

HTC was supposed to release a ‘Zenith’ Windows Phone with a 4.7” display but has cancelled that phone, at least for now, due to it being lower resolution than its popular selling Android devices. Pressure from Microsoft’s OEM partners may have played a role in the Windows Phone team pushing this feature to the GDR3 release, expected within the coming months.

No word on what this will mean in the long term for developers, who will now have to start to think about new graphics for their apps and games later in 2013.

Source: The Verge

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Hmmm....928 or wait a few more months....
  • It will be hard but id say wait.
  • April to November is not a few months. Get both and resell old phone on eBay.
  • Buy now if you really need it
  • "few more months" meaning in Nokia's case announcement around September in Nokia World and release October-December for both Nokia and HTC. There's still around 6 months or more.
    The Verge talks about 2013 holidays for GDR3. WPCentral just forgot to mention it.  
  • I told a friend of mine to wait as well, lets see what the late summer/fall brings. Probably going to be some great new offerings around the blue release.
  • Summer won't bring 1080p. Expect that around November time frame.
  • Both
  • You think Verizon is going to get another High End Lumia this year? I doubt it. Maybe from a different manufacturer.
  • I wonder how much horsepower that would have.:P
  • If you choose to wait, your always gonna be choosing to wait as something better will always be on the horizon, I say get the 928, if its anything like my 920 you'll love it
  • Should be noted that it might be longer for Verizon, since the 928 hasn't been released yet and all it is a updated 920.
  • And quad core please.
  • Screw that I want at least 8 maybe 16.
  • I want 32 cores and 16GB RAM and a 4K display.
  • Why not the maximum potential that NT can do? 64 cores?
  • you'll miss loading screen if ever
  • The verge said they will be quad core.
    They must be because new processors from Qualcomm can really only mean 600 and 800 series. 
  • I was surpirsed non of the OEM went with quadcore, even though WP8 OS can handle 64 cores. but its still smooth enough and lot better then the dual core found in some androids 
  • The kernel can handle many cores, but the real thing is to build drivers for it, that Microsoft hasn't done.
    They only support 2 SoC's for Windows Phone 8 and need to bring new SoC's with new udpate. Nothign the OEM's can do. 
  • I wonder if Microsoft ran out of time to add support for qwerty phones :|
  • I can't wait. My phat fingers miss the 4.7 titan. 5" Lumia bring it!
  • I think you meant 768, not 763
  • He has made that mistake a billion times.
  • 3 is almost 8 :))
  • Rom-o-meter Dan?
  • I'm hoping for a sub-5" 1080p phone with thin bezels. That would be a deal for me!
  • You and me both. Unfortunately Microsoft has shot themselves in the foot again and made some arbitrary decision not to support 1080P below 5". HTC One here I come. 
  • Hmm, i doubt this 5 inch thing because adroids with 1080p are also 4.7 or something around that.
    Now we need more customization, different Tile colors etc, different backgrounds. i understand that the Tiles and b/w Backgrounds are a design thing but it could attract more people, just add the option.
  • I wonder how your start screen looks like to put a background picture in there that you can actually see :O.
    did you get on windows desktops also the chance which colour your icons are ? :)
  • I saw a prototype with a background (can't find the link) what they did was remove the boarders around the screen and made the tiles a little smaller and have bigger dividers between them. Also the tiles were a little transparent so you could make out the image behind them.
  • That sounds like normal icons to me.
  • The HTC One had a wp8 variant. Microsoft plz speed up just a tad, holiday times are not quite around the corner. Give me a HTC 8X'2, same design but bigger, more ram, snapdragon 6-800, and 1080p.
  • Thank you!
  • Totally agree and make it before the end of summer.
  • Why and how would MS limit to over 5 inches? If a supplier can supply smaller, why would MS care?
  • For UX reasons (e.g. battery life, cost, etc.)
  • The source article doesn't really say that, sounds like the intepretation of wpcentral. I don't think it'd really make sense to put that kind of limitation in place.
  • If they are limiting it then there will probably a certain tweak to the UI. Maybe 5 small tiles wide on the home screen.
  • That's just typical MS lame thinging and box itself in and as a result always a follower.  Why on earth limit the screen size since the OS is good at scaling already?
  • Surprised to see Microsoft putting yet another restriction - 1080p on 5" plus devices only? Why do they always find a way to tie OEMs hands? A 4.7" zenith or a Lumia variant with 1080p display would be a great phone. Just can't understand the way MS thinks sometimes.
  • Maybe because nobody can tell the difference between 720p and 1080p on a sub 5" display, and MS wants to force the use of large enough batteries?
    1080p offers absolutely no benefits on a sub 5" display (beyond spec pissing and marketability to low information geeks). It's actually detrimental, as it incures much lower frame rates in games, requires more battery power to drive the GPU and it makes app development more expensive.
    Even at 5" 1080p is still overkill, and just like the 13MP smartphone camera (using pixels at 1.1 micron) ends up making some aspects of the device worse.
  • +@1,000,000. Wish more android users would realize that kind of stuff
  • I can tell. Just trying do some readings or surf some busy web pages and you will appreciate higher resolutions. MS is just not forward looking and always follows others.
  • There is a difference between being able to tell on close inspection and being being able to tell in daily use. With enough squinting I can tell too, but the difference is entirely unspectacular. I don't notice any worthwhile difference, even while browsing high contrast web sites.
  • Having way more PPI than the human eye can easily make use of isn't forward looking so much as it's piss contest looking (yes, "peepee eye"). It's not anywhere close to practically useful and it's detrimental to battery life, making it the opposite of useful.
    So tired of people going on about 1080P on little devices.
  • +1
  • Its wrong reporting by wpcentral, Read the source, its supported for any size.
  • Wondering will the current phones get a software update for this or will I have to buy a new phone? But I do like how, Microsoft is finally getting the ball rolling.
  • You'd have to have the hardware to support it. A software update won't magically make your 768, 720, or 480 display 1080p.
  • (Very) Late to the party, as usual...
  • 1080p on a phone is WORTHLESS. Maybe Microsoft is sick of pandering to stupid people who don't know better? This is comming from someone who owns 2 1080p Android phones.
  • That still doesn't take the fact that they are late to the game.
    They need to be part of the gamer if they wanna win it. I think we have been proven more than right that the strickt hardware restrictions don't at least bring any success. 
    Likes of Nokia and HTC can bring great hardware innovations to their own devices, while HTC has already said they can't bring the HTC One camera to WP8 because of camera kernel restrictions. Nokia in a other hand gets it's first change to bring actual PureView SENSOR to Windows Phone with the new Qualcomm 600 and 800 series processors. Something it was able to do with Symbian 18 months ago already by doing whatever it wanted sticking extra GPU into to 808 PureView and playing with the camera kernel as it pleased.
  • Defensive WP8 Fan strikes again
  • Doesn't change the fact I am right. 1080p is worthless. Or change the fact I own 2 Androids and an iPhone 4s.
  • +1, Worst of all, people at MS need to spend time on this worthless marketing ploy, taking time away from other things that would actually be useful. :-/
  • I don't think it's defensive. WP is getting it and I still think 1080p on a 5" screen is a worthless feature that will just require bigger batteries and more powerful gpus without providing any perceivable benefit.
  • How is this Very late.
  • I have used Sony Xperia Z .. I found the screen pretty similar to Lumia 920
  • 1080p phones came out just 5 months ago, at least in the US. I think Asia had them sooner. I've seen several reviews where they state the 1080p screen offers little improvement over 720. It is just a marketing thing. Bigger numbers make the device sound better.
  • Only 5 good 1080 res. Phone r in the market right now... And all are Android. Droid DNA, Butterfly, ONE, Xperia Z, S iV iPhone is still behind WP with only 720P .. We hv 768p in L920. So, Ecosystem wise WP is 2nd to support 1080.
  • Iphone is only 640 pixels, so we are already ahead of iPhone on that (admittedly probably meaningless) front.
  • Not sure if I'd like a 5" phone, but I'd definitely take a 4.7" from HTC! I love the builds of HTC phones as opposed to Samsung. I was thinking about the Ativ S mainly for screen size, but it was a bit too much plastic for me once I looked at it for hours, so hopefully they will reinstate the Zenith. There are people who like the "sweet spot" of 4.5"+. I do think with a great ppi, a 5" phone with beautiful blacks and the wonderful fluidity of WP8 would be fabulous to see! :)
  • I'm definitely content with the 4.5" of the 920. Hopefully they find a way to keep a model around this size but still incorporate a 1080 display.
  • Hmm I wonder if Samsung plan to go full force on WP since now MS allow 1080p on WP8
  • That 5 inch or more limitation seems stupid to me. HTC can right now squeeze 1920x1080 pixels into a 4.7 inch screen and by the end if the year they might be able to get it into a 4.5" screen. I would prefer that to a 5" monster
  • This is wrong reporting, Read the source, all sizes will support 1080p resolutions.
  • I don't feel 1080 is needed on phones... Seems like a bragging right more than anything.
  • > bragging right
    So, for a lot of people, needed .
  • Having a 1080p smartphone is fine, but bragging about it = compensating for other deficiencies.
  • I think the Lumia 920 has a perfect screen. So crisp that 1080p will just be a minor enhancement. Will be nice for bigger screens.
  • I can just imagine what Nokia will be able to do with the increased specs....
  • I read about this on January and tipped wpc about it. Qualcomm is reserving 800 snapdragon for incoming system later this year. Gonna have to look for that article again
  • I actually like the fact that they gave it a limit - although I think starting at 4.7 inch would be better. Smaller screens whith that resolution just cost you battery life (which is short) and don´t give you anything (as you can´t see the difference with your eye anyways)
    Just recently I saw a comparison of the Galaxy S4 screen and the HTC one screen where they actually used a microscope to show the difference - I mean really??!! who is going to look at his screen with a microscope?! everything above 300ppi is sufficient, more than 400ppi is ridiculous. just my opinion!
  • Could someone please just slap newer hardware in the old ZuneHd body and sell it to me. I like bigger phones, but that was the nicest design and felt the best in hand.
  • +1000
  • Imagine carrying that as a phone with at least 4 inch screen. I'll be the happiest customer ever.....
  • +1  I would love to have that as well.   Such a fantastic design.
  • Please HTC, for the love of everything, give me that 4.7" 1080p follow up to the Titan II. And throw in some Ultrapixels while you're at it. I've been waiting for you!
  • We don't need 1080p on a small screen
  • Needs got nothing to do with it.  It is about wants. 
  • I'll be honest: I'll welcome the 1080p as long as it's for recording only. I really don't see the need for a 1080p phone screen. Like many here, I'm a tech geek when it comes to many forms of technology, even smartphones. But in all honesty, I really don't see a vast difference between 720p and 1080p on the same screen, be it 4.3 to 5.1 inch screens. Not trying to troll here, just wanting to say how I feel about the subject.
  • Most apps still don't even match the resolution of the current top tier windows phones. The interface and native apps will look awesome, but games and such will just be stretched.
  • Besides, who is saying that this spec is for phones only. How about getting into the 7" tablet arena. Just because the OS is Windows Phone, doesn't mean that Microsoft is thinking about phones over 5", although, they are sure to appear. A 7" mini tablet with phone ability will put it in a crowd of portable, lightweight media consumption devices. E reader, video player, games, music etc. all at 1080p for best resolution in consumers eyes. The article also states that the 5" limitation was due to availability of the panels, unless I misread it.
  • Imagine: a 7" tablet with 1080p resolution, new Qualcomm 600-800 or Tegra Grey processor, priced below/equally as the Nexus 7
  • Feeling pretty glad now that re-created all of our graphics as vectors for our Windows 8 version - But it does still make it a royal pain in the ass!!
    There must be a maximum pixel density that our eyes can there any point other than marketing for making screens that good???
  • Nope, just as you said, the almighty dollar.
  • No. Purely marketing BS, and as evidenced here, many fall for it. With their 4MP camera, HTC had the courage to take a stand in the senseless smartphone camera MP race (see anandtech review of the HTC One), but unfortunately nobody did it for smartphone displays.
  • Thats...what I'm talking about!  Great news.  Specs, specs, specs.  Keep bumping them up.
    Now let's get rid of carrier exclusives, and bring on the flagship phones. 
  • I suspected this.. Now, its time to work on a 2k screen.. Lol!! No comments please..
  • I have checked the Verge source article and it states "(...) that brings support for the 1080p resolution and new 5-inch and higher devices"!
    What the article mentioned about screen sizes is independent of the resolution: WP8 will support 1080p resolution. No screen size restrictions. AND WP8 will support screen sizes larger than 5-inches.
    Hope this clears it and we stop arguing about a non-issue! ;)
  • will the Lumia 920 receive this Blue update?
  • Yes. MS clearly stated that wp8 is upgradeable :-) 
  • I would love to have even > than 5" (with 1080p). My vision makes it hard to fully enjoy using my Lumia 920. I hope I'm not alone.
  • Read the source article, 1080p will be supported for all screen sizes, just error in the article here.
  • This is exactly what I said.. I would love to have it!
  • From the original article...
    HTC had originally planned to release a "Zenith" flagship device with a 4.7-inch display and quad-core processor, but the company reportedly canceled their plans as the device would have a lower resolution than its competing Android models
    So GDR 3 will support 1080p as well as 5+" displays. It will also support quad-core processors.
    Anyone see that HTC Zenith under their Christmas tree this year?
  • Too late
  • Nokia will release a 1080p phone this year I'll bet on it
  • Man they should have already done that. Now I have to wait for two years. Wtf!
  • Blue.
  • Finally, big screen windows 8 phones are coming back.
  • By the end of the year? We won't see new models with 1080p and quad core, and phablets till 2014! Just too long! Please let the eos not be the recent rumors!
  • Eh... Personally, I think a 4.5 inch screen is more than enough for anyone, unless you're the size of the WWE's Big Show. Not thrilled with the idea of phablets invading the WP platform. I just saw the Galaxy Note II the other day and handled it and pretty much laughed. Other than giants, who needs a phone that ridiculously huge???
  • For real though. My 4.7" Titan is the perfect size for a phone screen. All the more reason I'm cheering for the HTC One. 1080p in a nice 4.7" form factor.
  • I have a note 2 as well as my Lumia 920. I carry them both on a daily basis. They both fit my hand, and no, I am not a giant, nor are my hands overly large. If Samsung would bring a Note type device, with the s pen included, and Windows Phone on it, I would swoop it up in an instant. But that is because I utilize it for work as well as play. If I didn't care so much for things like Xbox integration and my MS email accounts that I have had for years as well as office, I would use the Note all of the time. Once you use the Note for a short while, the 4.7, 4.8 argument becomes moot and you wonder why all phones aren't 5" or larger.
  • Someone who wants a phone that huge????
  • A Nokia quad core Windows Phone phablet at 1080p? OH HELL YES!!!!
  • Really getting tired of the 5" or better trend. Unless you're 120 years old, I'm sure you can see a 4.5-4.8" screen just fine. Sometimes technology just for the sake of having it (1080p screens) just makes things more complicated.
  • Nope, I am 43 years old and wear contacts daily. Looking at bifocals next year, so a 5" screen helps me see the screen clearly as well as being accurate on taps and typing. Besides, that's also why I have a 46" 1080p tv in my living room that I only sit 20 feet away from.
  • Ok so I exaggerated a little here but the point is that either way, glasses or pretty good vision, you can see the phone. Otherwise just by a tablet. If people were using smaller phones and could see the screen, I'm pretty sure they can see them on a 4.5-4.8" screen.
  • What I want is a Droid DNA body with Windows Phone. I held the DNA yesterday and couldn't believe that it had a 5" screen. The device feels really small and my hands which is on the smaller size can still reach all parts of the screen one handed. If that is how HTC plans on delivering a 5" screen i'm all in.
    I do think the 5" requirement is rather significant. The HTC One is 4.7" and is superb. I'm not sure I want to see a 5" Nokia device. They aren't the best at making the lightest or thinnest phones.
  • Does everyone realize that this is quite clearly to supports phablets and smaller tablets?
    Here’s what we know: Microsoft wants to extend functionality of Windows to 7 inch tablets. HTC wanted to make a 4.7 inch (lets call it 5) phone but did not due to lack of support for higher resolutions. There is also rumors of an “Xbox” tablet in the works.
    Now that all the systems (including the new Xbox) is on a single kernel the developer experience can be converged more and more so that it is truly “code once run everywhere” (at least in terms of Windows devices). My predictions is that Windows Blue will introduce more “WinRT” APIs to BOTH Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 (not necessarily all but definitely more). Perhaps even the ability to Windows Phone 8 apps on Windows 8.
    What does this mean for the next generation (half-generation?) of Windows devices? The idea is to allow for middle-sized devices that can run both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps. This way the app store is already filled up and these devices have a strong start.
    My guess is that developers (which I am) will be able to target this middle ground devices and have apps running both on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. That means the back-end can be coded once and then we just need to check for the current size and run the appropriate UI code. Similar to how Windows 8 apps behave when snapped. We have already seen this in action with the new Ubuntu platform.
    This way when developing apps we could choose to just aim at one of the platforms. The key part will be this: in order to account for usage on phones and computers/large tablets there will be incentive to develop the applications so that they scale up or down to the devices needs. This way developers on either platform become developers on the other. If they want to have a great experience within their app they well need to develop for everything.
    For Microsoft this means killing two birds with one stone: get more apps in the marketplace (W8 → WP8 and vice versa) AND provide a consistent unbroken experience for their users.  
  • It's probably not Microsofts partners pushing for 1080p resolution, but Microsoft itself trying to stay current with the rest of the industry. They want Samsung, Nokia, HTC, et al pushing out as many devices as possible.
  • I kinda take issue with saying 768 screen is far behind 1080. What would you say about the iPhone screen then which isn't even HD or 720p yet? BTW Daniel have you heard our local radio ads that claim the iPhone has an HD screen with resolution that surpasses any other phone?
  • Windows Phones are not that far behind android. Yes they do 1080p but only a small hand full actually run that resolution. It is disappointing to see it limited to 5" devices and above. 
  • Forget the resolution support.  Fix the multitude of other issues we're having. 
  • The support should have come with Windows Phone 8 to begin with. Their own RT tablets don't even support 1080p. Why Nokia tied itself down with a dinosaur company and dinosaur operating system is just ridiculous.So much for a clean break and earnest resurrection from Symbian and the grasps of old business men who know more about handling money than handling technology. It's too much corruption at the executive level, with Elop's strong ties to Microsoft and then his subsequent hire into the CEO position. Do you think all the options were exactly given a fair shake? That the better decision was made? It's like how the US government has no bid contracts with HP, because of corruption and money exchanges and investment holdings from the top. Conflict of Interest. Their whole computer system is proprietary, archaic, and not nimble, versatile, or functional enough. Not to mention it cost up the ass, since its no bid. Your tax dollars going to waste.
  • I'm thinking the 5" limitation is due to UI scaling issues, although I don't see why they don't give UI scaling over to the OEMs so they can work it out themselves for their particular device. The other possibility is that they enable 3 standard tiles wide for the home screen.
  • Its funny how people think Microsoft are not moving and doing thing fast enough. It's only been 5 months since wp8 launched and we want the world from MS. Just keep up the support and watch this space.
  • 1080p on a 5" screen on a phone is a waste, its a marketing ploy and nothing more but i see why they need it for marketing. I can understand it on 10" tablets but on a phone? I would like to see better colour reproduction, scratch resistant screens and easier to view in direct sunlight that before any screen res increase.
  • I wish the phone you used in the picture would get Windows Phone 7.8!  AND, I wish HTC would make another 16mp phone. Lumia 920 photo quality my ass!  Titan II, FTW!
  • Just... why though?
  • does anyone else find Titan II attractive looking?
  • I hope they make a phablet by the end of this year.
  • Microsoft has to do this to stay in the game.  They need a 5 inch phone to compete with Samsung Galaxy series.   It should be Nokia Lumia 1000 series.
  • I do not see why they cannot expand the 1080p to smaller size screens.  If Android has it; why not match it for the smartphone?