Here are the limitations of low-end Windows Phone handsets

Here are the limitations of low-end Windows Phone handsets
Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone Tango, the latest update to its platform, making pathways for cheaper WP phones with only 256MB of RAM. The company mentioned that only 5% of apps won’t work on these more affordable devices, but didn’t give out much about other limitations that such devices will face.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t any. Phones like the Nokia Lumia 610 and the ZTE Orbit that sport only 256MB of RAM will have some restrictions in their operations, but the big picture of buttery smooth Windows Phone core experience should be preserved. Here are all the restrictions that have been quietly showing up in Microsoft’s official Windows Phone How-to section:




  • Local Scout – Bing Local Scout is also unavailable if your phone has only 256 MB of RAM.



  • HD video playback – Videos compressed with certain codecs won’t work on phones with 256 MB of RAM.


Apart from these restrictions, Microsoft is also giving developers some recommendations. The two big things to take away here are optimized start time and reduced memory usage. The latter is particularly important for devices with less RAM and developers could achieve that by removing background agents and fast app switching.

On the positive side, the Windows Phone Tango update is introducing a couple of big novelties come Q2 2012 and the launch of the first Tango phones. Here are the improvements:


  • Better media messaging - You will be able to attach multiple pictures and videos, voice notes and ringtones to text messages. Those can be included in IMs too.

  • Location awareness icon - If an app accesses your phone’s location information, an icon right next to the battery icon will notify you about.

  • Export and manage contacts to SIM card - It seems like all Windows Phone devices will allow you to export contacts to a SIM card, or create and edit individual contacts on the SIM card. Weirdly, this only appears on Microsoft’s Chinese website, so you might want to check with your carrier whether that’s enabled.


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25 Comments

1. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Where are all of the posts from WPfans claiming that the reduction in functionality is really a 'benefit' to the user?

6. Accent

Posts: 3; Member since: Mar 08, 2012

I am an Android user and well you know what, even cheaper Android phones have some restrictions and don't support all apps. They are sometimes laggy.

7. cepcamba

Posts: 717; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

@Accent Yeah. I think more than 5% of android apps are not compatible with let's say a device like the Galaxy Y or anything similarly spec'd. Any reduction in functionality is never a benefit. But having an updated version sure is a good thing. Cheaper WP with Tango have reduced functionality compared to their more expensive and higher spec'd counterparts. BUT these cheap WPs have more functionality as compared to when they were with Mango.

8. nwright94 unregistered

I'm a huge WP7 fan but I don't see how this is a benefit. I know they will run better then low end androids though.

20. dhruba

Posts: 28; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

still. even the low end Androids have features like automatic photo uploading and that works without glitch

16. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

I'm right here Doug!! :-) Missing features will serve the Tango market better than an underperforming, underpowered option or a 3 year old outdated piece of crap. Microsoft needs to be honest to their buyers of Tango. The performance should sell itself.

22. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Hey, snow, better late than never. :-) I am not knocking the idea of reducing the O/S footprint to be able to offer a solution to a larger market. Google/Android have hinted at a similar effort to be able to enable Android's continued market expansion. I completely agree with you about the need for honesty. Then it comes down to an informed purchase decision.

23. Penny

Posts: 1869; Member since: Feb 04, 2011

I don't think that anybody would argue that having features taken out of an OS is good for the user. Personally, I would never go for Tango because I like the features of Mango and the hardware as well. However, having this option is a luxury that other people may not have, and these are the people that Microsoft is trying to cater to. Is it better to give the users a device they can get, but remove some of the cool features in the process, or is it better to give them your full product, even if that may greatly limit the amount of people that could obtain it? Is it better to be able to obtain a product, even if some of the cooler features have been cut out, or is it better to have the full featured product available, but you can never get it?

2. rg987

Posts: 130; Member since: Dec 29, 2011

WP is a C OS , chutia operating system

24. TryllZ

Posts: 3; Member since: Mar 09, 2012

andits not for chitias...either...u need an iphone in ur GAND...or better u need an iPad in ur GAND...got take it away...u makharda-di-phallo... kutay ki gand...

3. Jericho unregistered

expected from an indian using abusive language in hindi/urdu phonearena. Windows phone is a great os and is gonna take off when windows 8 pc's and tablets hit the market. Hopefully......

5. droiddomination

Posts: 203; Member since: Dec 01, 2011

i totally agree with your comment. say two years, when everyone is comfortable with desktop windows, and they invade the tab market and phone market..they will be on top i feel, of the mobile ecosystem.

25. theindianguy

Posts: 90; Member since: Sep 30, 2011

lol phonearena is available in hindi? :P and these people are actually annoying -.-

4. droiddomination

Posts: 203; Member since: Dec 01, 2011

i am starting to like the windows platform a lot more....have to check out the tango in the future!

9. hunted

Posts: 403; Member since: Sep 21, 2011

Everyone were using symbian a great os(many still love including me), looked for a change and came to android. Now everyone will start looking for a change & come to windows phones(as this os is catching up the market) definitely windows will come up & will be a threat to others :)

10. Bluesky02

Posts: 1439; Member since: Dec 05, 2011

A very important useful article. Thanks Victor. This is what precisely i wanted to know. So far it doesn't sound that bad.

19. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

Oops. That should be a +1. My bad. Feel free to thumb me down on a future post to get even. Sorry, Bluesky.

11. haseebzahid

Posts: 1853; Member since: Feb 22, 2012

Where is Static WIFI IP support ? still not done yet ? it is most simple thing if hardware dont block it

12. naveenstuns

Posts: 184; Member since: Feb 19, 2012

I have one question? lumia 610 have multitasking?

13. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

One further question - does the low end edition of WP support any kind of background processing? Like having Skype active, and waiting or an incoming call while the and set is used to review an Excel spreadsheet that was received as an e-mail attachment? When a Skype call is received, can the user receive the call and return to their Excel spreadsheet concurrently?

15. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Minor edit - ...waiting for an incoming call...

17. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

With that low end of a processor that will be on these cheap handsets and that low of spec sheet, bet on Tango being a one item at a time device. But again, most low end, underpowered Android freeze up like an ice cube if you ask them to multitask. Remember the market. These buyers don't expect the mobile world laid at their feet. They just want devices that work well. Most of these, poor hardware excepted,.will.

18. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

Okay, I think we can expect a mobile phone to have incoming call capabilities. If not, I will be right with you on that.

14. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

These restrictions are important enough to know, but not discouraging enough to scare away any potential buyers of the lower end phones. Prepaid carriers always have weaker, slower performing devices, and developing markets do not care about all the bells and whistles. Microsoft will push Tango as an affordable, smooth option in those price markets. This was extremely important to Nokia. WP 7.5/8 is to compete with the rest of the market.

21. Bluesky02

Posts: 1439; Member since: Dec 05, 2011

@snowgator Lol nevermind, Agree with your comments. Something interesting is that, without offending Android fan. This low range WP tango runs smooth whereas a low range Android would lag.

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