What You Need to Know About the Latest Windows 10 Phones
If you don’t want an Android smartphone or an iPhone, then going smartphone shopping can be a frustrating exercise in navigating a very limited selection. The problem is particularly obvious if you’re a Windows phone fan who wants a smartphone that runs Windows 10, but aren’t convinced on the Lumia 950 or the Lumia 550. Luckily, a few new Windows 10 smartphones are coming to the lineup.
As Vlad Savov reports for The Verge, CES generally isn’t a big show for smartphones, since top phone manufacturers generally wait to unveil their new devices at Mobile World Congress. But a few smartphone makers have bucked that trend in recent years, and two took the opportunity to introduce new Windows 10 phones at CES this year.
Acer unveiled the Liquid Jade Primo, a phone that draws upon the design language that the company has established with its Liquid Jade range of Android phones. The back of the phone features a prominent speaker and slightly protruding camera assembly, and the plastic back is curved and, in Savov’s assessment, quite comfortable to hold, a benefit that offsets its unremarkable appearance.
The Primo is powered by a Snapdragon 808 processor, integrates 3GB of RAM, and packs 32GB of internal storage. It has a 5.5-inch 1080p display, and the Gorilla Glass covering slopes at the edges, a design choice that’s coherent with the phone’s curved back. The smartphone uses a USB-C connector, and supports Microsoft’s Continuum feature, which can turn a compatible monitor into a desktop PC of sorts.
Savov reports that the Liquid Jade Primo will be priced at 569 euros, which makes it clear that the phone is aimed at the flagship end of the market. (The phone will make its way to the United States in the second quarter of 2016.) The phone falls between Microsoft’s 5.2-inch Lumia 950 and it s5.7-inch Lumia 950 XL, and not only matches most of their software capabilities but adds a high-resolution, 21MP camera. Savov notes that what the Primo lacks is the integrated wireless charging of the Lumia 950.
As CNET reports, Acer wasn’t the only smartphone manufacturer to unveil a new Windows 10 phone at CES. Alcatel introduced the OneTouch Fierce XL, the company’s first Windows 10 phone, and the beginning of a line it says will begin with low-end phones and extend up to “superphones.” The company has already introduced a Fierce XL that runs Android, and the Windows 10 phone features the same technical specifications, including the same 5.5-inch display, 8MP camera, 2500mAh battery, and 4G LTE capability.
Unlike Acer’s Liquid Jade Primo, Alcatel’s Windows 10 smartphone has lower-end hardware, including a 5.5-inch 1280×720 screen, an 8MP camera, a Snapdragon 210 quad-core processor, 16GB of storage, and 2GB of RAM. You can remove the back cover, which is a bright blue reminiscent of Nokia’s Lumia phones, to access the SIM and microSD card slots. The battery, however, can’t be removed. The Windows 10 Fierce XL will be exclusive to T-Mobile in the United States, and Alcatel intends to begin selling it in January or February for just $140, or $0 down with 23 monthly payments of $5.84 and a 24th payment of $5.67.
The Fierce XL lacks support for two of Windows 10’s headlining features, Continuum — which enables you to use your phone like a PC with a compatible monitor — and Windows Hello — which will scan your iris to unlock your smartphone. The device does, however, support features like Microsoft’s Cortana assistant, OneDrive cloud storage, and the company’s Office Mobile apps.
With Acer and Alcatel’s new Windows 10 phones, Windows phone fans have two new phones to look forward to, both devices that they’ll be able to get their hands on within a few months. But if you’re interested in learning about options that may or may not come to the U.S. anytime soon, you can also take a look at NuAns’s Neo, which Engadget’s Chris Velazco writes is the “prettiest Windows 10 phone” yet.
The device features a customizable split-back design, with 64 possible combinations of cover colors and materials. Though the phone is significantly thicker than most other smartphones are these days, that extra heft enables it to integrate a 3,350mAh battery, a specification that isn’t exactly matched by the phone’s mid-range octa-core Snapdragon 617, 2GB of RAM, and 720p screen. However, the phone is unlikely to make it to the United States anytime soon, if at all, since the LTE bands the device supports are specific to Japan and would need to be reconfigured for a U.S. release.