Internally, we’ve known that Windows Phone 8 Update 3 (aka GDR3) used to have an option for three columns of tiles for smaller displays. That layout is now only found in devices with displays 5-inches or larger e.g. the Lumia 929 for Verizon and the Lumia 1320/1520. Below 5-inches and Windows Phone 8 will return to the traditional layout, as seen in the 4.8-inch ATIV S Neo.
Exactly why that feature was removed is not too clear, though presumably there were some usability issues that the development team were unable to fix. Now, Nawzil has posted a photo of an early build of Update 3 running on a Nokia Lumia 920 that reveals three columns were possible. The toggle for it was found under zDev, a common tool often seen on development devices.
Nokia Lumia 929
We have had a separate source come forward a few weeks ago confirming as much, stating:
“I knew about the tile sizes for the devices with a screen resolution of the 920. During our GDR3 beta, we had the 3 row option available to us. A lot of us turned it on and loved it. During one of the updates, the option was removed. This caused a LOT of feedback to the WP Product group and they came back and said they would find a way to make it work.”
Of course, they didn’t find a way to make it work by the time Update 3 was released and the developer version many of you have is the final build. Devices like the AT&T Samsung ATIV S Neo, Huawei Ascend W2 and Lumia 1520 all ship with final builds of Update 3 on board as well.
Nawzil and our site has heard that this feature is still under consideration, and it may come later, presumably in Windows Phone 8.1. That update should go to all current Windows Phone 8 devices, though it probably won’t arrive until Spring 2014.
When we’ve shown people a device running with the new Update 3 layout, they all instantly find it more usable and prefer it over the old version. We’ll throw this out there even though we know the answer but, should Microsoft get this feature to work on all Windows Phones?