Windows Phone Tango and Apollo rumors suggest new screen specs

By Tom Warren, on 19th Oct 11 9:41 am with 42 Comments

Several new rumors surfaced on Wednesday concerning future versions of Windows Phone.

Tango is believed to be an interim release between Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” and the next-generation of Windows Phone, currently codenamed “Apollo.” Windows Phone build 7.10.8200 was recently discovered in server side logs of a Windows Phone application. A screenshot, believed to be a Tango build, also leaked and demonstrated a new device search feature for Windows Phones.

New rumors reported by WPCentral suggest that Microsoft may be preparing to bump its hardware specs for Windows Phone “Tango” and “Apollo”.

  • Chassis 1.5 (“Mango”) – Scorpion CPU, front-facing camera, gyroscope
  • Chassis 2 (“Tango“) – 480×320 BlackBerry style design, LTE support
  • Chassis 3 (“Apollo“) – 1280×720 resolution, dual core CPUs

There’s no evidence to back up the rumors but they certainly match up to Microsoft’s promises for Windows Phone in 2012. Andy Lees, president of Microsoft’s Windows Phone Division, recently promised that Microsoft would support LTE Windows Phone devices in the “not-too-distant future.” Lees also promised dual-core support for future Windows Phones.

Microsoft’s next step is to market Nokia’s new Windows Phone handsets. Both companies will unveil Nokia-powered Windows Phone devices at the Nokia World conference later this month. Microsoft is also expected to detail its future Windows Phone software improvements at Mobile World Congress 2012 in February.

  • Anonymous

    I just can’t see a BlackBerry style design working with Windows Phone at all.

    • Impartial

      Well  think of it as a current wp7 with a keyboard and a slightly smaller screen. No navigation via keyboard, but still 3 buttons and touch. 

    • http://www.twitter.com/wixostrix WixosTrix

      As long as they introduce landscape support on the Start screen and all the native apps it will be fine.  Abiete it will be a very tiny experience, but the people that buy those type phone already expect that.

    • J A

      Plus what’s the use, those sort of devices are old news and are dead along with Blackberries. I’m not sure why anyone in their right minds will be thinking about any such thing. And why all the various displya resolutions? Aren’t these sort of things that cause fragmentation since developers have to develop and test for each display resolution? Other than 4G LTE, FFC, & Gyroscope, I don’t believe any of these simply because they do not make any progressive sense.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, there would only be room for like 2 rows of tiles at most.  I like choice and all, but i’m not sure it would work.

    • http://twitter.com/oolong2 oolong2

      My guess is that everything will be more keyboard centric.  No live tiles, apps will be limited, and all the basic functionality will happen through text searches..

  • http://twitter.com/CrisRowlands Cris Rowlands

    It sounds about right, I havent checked out the 480×320 size, but I know for sure that 1280×720 (WXGA) is the next highest ‘standard’ resolution which is at the same aspect ratio as WVGA which is what WP7 currently supports; 480×800.

    I would be more than happy to get a WindowsPhone with WXGA resolution & as a developer, just changing the size, not the aspect ratio would make updating apps a breeze because then you can just update the graphics as long as everything else gets scaled up automatically, which considering how good the developer experience has been so far, wouldnt be too much of a stretch.

    • http://twitter.com/RobertCFP Robert Wade

      @Cris Rowlands, I’m not a developer, so I’m ignorant on this particular topic, but I was hoping you might answer a question.  One of the things that I think is a huge downside for Android is the fact there ARE different screens/resolutions there, so apps that work on one device may not work on another—the developers have to create a special version to work with that res screen.  This was partially an issue back on the Windows Mobile, if memory serves.  Does it seem like this would be an issue with WP7?  In other words, does it look like the OS can scale so that developers would only have to write one version of the app?  I understand if the APIs are there to be able to tell, I was just curious if there’s any hint in the current SDK.

    • http://twitter.com/grub5000 Graeme M

      It should be pretty easy if they just have say 3 types of screen.

      So there could be a flag which tells the program :old-screen: :black-berry-screen: or :HD-Screen:, then the developer can simply put:

      Ok if you have a :bb-screen: use interface A, if you have an :HD-Screen: use interface B.

    • phil jay

      Well right now developers develop for kinda one size in mind.. could get to problems if you bump up the screen size too much. technically it’s all vector based and you can easily set up relative layouts. BUT, developers still need to design with this in mind, there is no automatic tool nowhere, at least none that doesn’t take you a lot of flexibility away.

    • BucksterMcgee

      This would not be an issue specifically because Microsoft actively acts to prevent it from being an issue unlike Android.

      The reason for one screen resolution right now for WP7/7.5 is to make it easier to develop for as well as keep the experience across all Windows Phone identical, so no matter what phone you have you get the same great experience.

      Obviously Microsoft knows that it can’t keep the same resolution forever, and there even have been hints that Microsoft wanted to go with a higher resolution earlier on to start with, but were restricted for some reason, most likely cost and power consumption of the display available at the time. So keeping with their goals of easing development and a unified experience across all devices you can expect them make the transition as easily and as high quality of possible.

      I find it interesting that people question or even state that Metro wouldn’t scale well when Metro is actually the perfect interface for scaling.

      - Method 1: Given an identical aspect ratio to 800 x 480 like 1280 x 768, the easiest method is to simply use an upscale method to just make the UI fill the new screen basically identical to the current UI. There already is a real-time scalar built into XDA for use in games and is used to render games in a lower resolution then scale it up to 800 x 480. It is used to help with the performance on the rather weak gpu in gen 1 devices (Adreno 200) especially for games that require a lot of intense graphic rendering.

      Basically any app that ran on 800 x 480 before would automatically be scaled up to 1280 x 768 without any change to the code of that app. Using GPU rendering for text, etc the subpixel scaling would help to keep the UI perfectly identical, just now at a higher resolution and thus looking even sharper and more crisp then it is now. New apps could be written to take advantage of this new screen resolution, especially if the screen is physically larger as well, brings us to the 2nd method.

      -Method 2: What’s really interesting about metro is how modular it is. Each element is designed with a currently visible section as well as several sections that remain off screen or partially off screen. When the available screen width is increased, these modular parts can be repositioned on the screen to take advantage of this increased space, which is exactly what happens today when you go into a landscape view in any app that provides it. If you had a screen size of 1333 x 800 you could literally use the landscape view and just have a much larger vertical scrolling area, but even with a 1280 x 768 you could easily do the same thing with very little code change. The biggest issues would be with updating views that don’t currently support a landscape view, such as panoramas, and adjusting the UI further for a new landscape view that has a massive 1280 pixels to use; but again thanks to Metro these are actually fairly straightforward.

      This would not be an issue specifically because Microsoft actively acts to prevent it from being an issue unlike Android.

      The reason for one screen resolution right now for WP7/7.5 is to make it easier to develop for as well as keep the experience across all Windows Phone identical, so no matter what phone you have you get the same great experience.

      Obviously Microsoft knows that it can’t keep the same resolution forever, and there even have been hints that Microsoft wanted to go with a higher resolution earlier on to start with, but were restricted for some reason, most likely cost and power consumption of the display available at the time. So keeping with their goals of easing development and a unified experience across all devices you can expect them make the transition as easily and as high quality of possible.

      I find it interesting that people question or even state that Metro wouldn’t scale well when Metro is actually the perfect interface for scaling.

      - Method 1: Given an identical aspect ratio to 800 x 480 like 1280 x 768, the easiest method is to simply use an upscale method to just make the UI fill the new screen basically identical to the current UI. There already is a real-time scalar built into XDA for use in games and is used to render games in a lower resolution then scale it up to 800 x 480. It is used to help with the performance on the rather weak gpu in gen 1 devices (Adreno 200) especially for games that require a lot of intense graphic rendering.

      Basically any app that ran on 800 x 480 before would automatically be scaled up to 1280 x 768 without any change to the code of that app. Using GPU rendering for text, etc the subpixel scaling would help to keep the UI perfectly identical, just now at a higher resolution and thus looking even sharper and more crisp then it is now. New apps could be written to take advantage of this new screen resolution, especially if the screen is physically larger as well, brings us to the 2nd method.

      -Method 2: What’s really interesting about metro is how modular it is. Each element is designed with a currently visible section as well as several sections that remain off screen or partially off screen. When the available screen width is increased, these modular parts can be repositioned on the screen to take advantage of this increased space, which is exactly what happens today when you go into a landscape view in any app that provides it. If you had a screen size of 1333 x 800 you could literally use the landscape view and just have a much larger vertical scrolling area, but even with a 1280 x 768 you could easily do the same thing with very little code change. The biggest issues would be with updating views that don’t currently support a landscape view, such as panoramas, and adjusting the UI further for a new landscape view that has a massive 1280 pixels to use; but again thanks to Metro these are actually fairly straightforward to address.

      In the end, I think you’ll find that the transition to these higher (or lower) screen resolutions will be far better than other implementations of it. But, I wouldn’t get too excited about it now, because it’s probably up to a year away before we see it…. but we can always hope for it sooner :)

    • Riccbei

      You do not need to create a “special version” of apps for each resolution on Android. Properly developed apps scale based according to PPI not solely resolution. MS current method is quite old fashion & very similar to Apple, except they don’t have total control of the hardware so you get an “odd” enlarged experience on big screens phones with identical resolutions.

      MS has to do this, otherwise they can’t keep pace with Apple & not even close to Android.

    • Collins

      Exactly. If you don’t account for different resolutions specifically (the “special versions”), then android will simply scale your apps UI elements proportionately. That might be what you want, but it might not be. In my experience that is never what I want and as a result I would need to make a special version for each resolution I expect my app to run at.  I have no idea how iOS handles this, but this is certainly rudimentary compared to silverlight on WP7.

    • Collins

      I have heard that Chassis 2 will not support the installation of 3rd party apps. As a result screen resolutions of 480×320 wouldn’t be of concern to anyone outside of Microsoft’s phone division. This is not something I know for sure, but I would go so far as to bet on it.

      Chassis 3 is a different matter. Games running on WP7 render their graphics to frames of varying resolutions, usually lower then 800×480 (600×360 is very common). Scaling each frame to the displays physical resolution is done by a dedicated hardware scaler. This allows frame rendering and physical display resolution to be completely independent of each other. As a result games (or any application using DirectX) will work just fine on high resolution displays. However 1280×720 uses a different DAR (display aspect ratio) than current WP7 phones, so the hardware scaler would also add black bars (top+bottom or left+right). Avoiding the black bars would require that developers make their apps   DAR aware… not a huge deal, but still a bit of work. If the DAR doesn’t change between current and future WP7 phones, then the whole black bar issue is moot.

      The silverlight API used to generate the more traditional WP7 user interface elements (textboxes, checkboxes, hubs etc.) was
      specifically designed to work well in the face of varying physical display resolutions and pixel densities. Unfortunately, just because WP7 enables the development of resolution
      independent user interfaces doesn’t mean that is what all developers
      have done. Many developers will need to rework their UI’s to display correctly on next generation displays. We are in for some pain here. This also applies to developers making android apps. However, where an android developer must work to get their app to display correctly using yet another display resolution, a WP7 developer must work make their app resolution independent. From that point forward the WP7 developer shouldn’t need to worry about new display resolutions while still being able to benefit from extra screen real estate when available. Although android 4 (ICS) also claims to be resolution agnostic, their
      concept of resolution independence is inferior to WP7′s and not comparable.

    • Anonymous

      Actually 1280×800 would be closest in aspect ratio (16:10) to 800×480 (1.6 to 1.66666667).  1280×720 is 16:9 ratio or 1.77777778.  That being said, there may be other considerations that steer them to the 16:9 ratio 720 screen size.

  • http://www.riagenic.com Scott Barnes

    Didn’t they promise not to screw around with screen sizes in their authentically digital *hand jerk / roll eyes* pitch?

    • Harsha G11

      But they can’t use 800*480 forever, they should upgrade the phone specs

    • http://www.riagenic.com Scott Barnes

      Agreed, just wondering where they were on the whole commitment thing? i’d like to see them at least retain some discipline here though… like a normalized up/down scale and not have it like the current monitor screen size variations we have today… as a designer..you kind of want to have a sense of control..even if it is an illusion ;)

    • Anonymous

      they should maintain aspect ratio so that apps won’t become fragmented. 1280 x 720 is not the same as 800×480, should be at 1280×768.

    • Guest

      This is the new, more positive, Scott Barnes?

  • lasse

    Does hardware on current devices support the higher resolution, when the updates arrive? I mean, are the current devices only limited by the software, or also the hardware?

    • Penta2100

      No. the pixels won’t change size. You have to get a new phone. The hardware I don’t think is changeable. It may be saudered into place.  I DO NOT HAVE A WINDOWS PHONE BUT I KNOW ALOT ABOUT COMPUTERS.

    • http://profiles.google.com/kroenen.karl Aurélien Ramondou

      while I agree with the fact that you can’t change the resolution of a phone via a software upgrade (!) your last sentence proves you don’t know anything “about computers”… in this world the more you know the more you discover you don’t.

    • Penta2100

      I was just trying to state that most devices I have come across (not computer wise like PS3s, ect.) things that have stuff sauderd into it so it couldn’t be tampered with. Why I was doing this you may ask? I’ve got the knack

  • GP007

    Tango being for lower end devices would make sense to support a smaller res so you can have those BB type WPs which Nokia does infact make right now, but with Symbian on them.    

  • http://twitter.com/StefEBear Stefan R. G.

    It might in the cheap phone (feature phone) area for those that can’t afford the full experience

  • Blackatana

    I am imagining of small squares with LiveTiles enabled (Blackberry size icons).
    Man this will be interesting !!!!!

  • Anonymous

    1280×720 is a terrible resolution to use. Not viable at all to manufacture for screen sizes under 4.5″.

    • http://www.twitter.com/wixostrix WixosTrix

      Why is it so terrible?  Isn’t it the same aspect ratio as 800×480 so apps would easily scale and easily upgradable?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonathan-Marston/542557737 Jonathan Marston

      Actually, either 1200×720 or 1280×768 would be the same aspect ratio. 1280×720 is slightly off…

    • http://www.twitter.com/wixostrix WixosTrix

      Oh I see. Thanks for the enlightenment, which I could have obviously figured out myself with a simple web search, lol.

    • Anonymous

      So maybe those “HD” screens will be targeted for phones 4″ and larger, while smaller phones will stick with 800×480.  I doubt the 800×480 screens will be going away.

  • http://twitter.com/OldCongress Gamer

    If this is on mango, HTC titan won’t have the horrible 198 ppi already, what a missed opportunity.

    • Anonymous

      Oh, come on, let’s not get overly dramatic here.  198ppi is not “horrible”.  It’s not retina display density, but geez, my 22″ 1680×1050 LG monitor has a pixel density around 90ppi and looks fine and I’m only about 3 feet away from it.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think (nor hope) that Microsoft will allow lower resolutions, because it would it would minimize the greatest strenght of WP: the metro UI. All the fonts and sharp edges would look ugly. I think there will be a higher resolution screen when WP8 arrives though.

  • Anonymous

    there is no way in hell that they will cut down the resolution. wp7 apps are already crammed up under 800×480 and while developers find it easier to scale up, scaling down means a lot more work. I myself have published wp7 apps and are aware that while youc can use the render transform objects to scale down on a vector basis, pixel interpolation causes weird UI artifacts.

    plus 800×480 is no longer considered high resolution and with ever cheaper screens into 2012, there is just no need to make life difficult for everybody.

    I really hope chasis 2 will be ignored just as the other chasis for wp7 first launch was.

    • Collins

      I have heard that Chassis 2 will not support the installation of 3rd
      party apps. As a result screen resolutions of 480×320 wouldn’t be of
      concern to anyone outside of Microsoft’s phone division. This is not
      something I know for sure, but I would go so far as to bet on it.

  • Anonymous

    Why not use 1200 x 720 pixels, 1.5 times the current resolution. According to the specs, all margins must be even (see http://www.jeff.wilcox.name/2011/03/metro-design-guide-v1/) therefore the new margins can be easily upscaled without rounding. The developer has to use the old unit and every app looks correct on all devices. It is only required to have also high resolution images. (Of course games and pixel dependent apps are another story).

  • OMG55

    Like the article says, “There’s no evidence to back up the rumors”. So I am just going to give it a week to see if MS come out and discredits this rumor or let everyone know this is some of the freedom they alotted to Nokia only.

  • Anonymous

    I would kill for an Apollo windows phone. That needs to be out by next year at the LATEST 

  • Bburke33609

    What does blackberry type device mean? Nontouch? That sounds like a bad idea. I think low res screens are fine. I have a peice of crap android that is low res and the screen is fine and would probably run great and bring the cost down a whole bunch and make it easy to do a free phone without it being a massive loss leader.

  • J. Davies

    Those high-res screen specs are a winner. I just don’t know how long I can hold off getting a smartphone.