Microsoft’s Windows 10 Mobile software for smartphones will run on a wide range of devices, including phones with entry-level hardware and premium devices that have specs that are competitive with those for other high-end phones.
But not all phones that run Windows 10 will be able to support some of the operating system’s key new features.
Microsoft says all phones will include the Cortana digital assistant, allowing you take notes, make searches, set reminders, and perform other actions with your voice. But only premium phones will support Continuum for phones, the new feature that lets you connect a Windows 10 phone to a keyboard, mouse, and display to run Universal Windows Apps in a desktop-style environment.
Mid-range and premium phones will both support Windows Hello, another new feature that lets you unlock your phone by looking at the camera, thanks to facial recognition technology.
So how do you know which phones fall into which categories? Microsoft has a chart.
Basically there are three types of phones:
Premium Phones like the upcoming (and as yet unannounced) Lumia 950 will feature 2GB to 4GB of RAM, 32GB to 64GB of storage, 4.5 inch to 5.5 inch full HD or higher-resolution displays, 802.11ac WiFi, NFC, Bluetooth LE, 4G LTE, 20MP cameras with optical image stabilization, 5MP front cameras, and 2500 mAh or larger batteries.
Value Phones will have 3.5 inch to 5 inch screens with resolutions ranging from 800 x 480 to 960 x 540, 1GB of RAM, up to 8GB of storage, 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth LE, 3G or 4G LTE, 5MP rear and 0.3MP front cameras, and 1400 mAh or larger batteries
Value Phablets feature 5.5 inch to 7 inch displays with 1280 x 720 pixel or higher resolution screens, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 802.11ac WiFi, 4G LTE, Bluetooth LTE, NFC, 5MP rear cameras, 0.3MP front cameras, and 3000 mAh or larger batteries.
It’s worth noting that all three device types should get at least 1 day of active battery life, according to Microsoft, and each device category includes a microSD card slot for removable storage.
Universal Windows Apps will work on all these phones… but you’ll need a premium model if you want to run those apps in desktop mode.
It’s interesting that Microsoft doesn’t have a category for “Premium Phablet,” even though that’s the category the rumored/leaked Lumia 950 XL would likely fall into, since it has the specs of a Premium Phone, but a 5.7 inch display.