Tag Archives: continuum

What I’d Like in an Ideal Windows Phone

The Lumia 950
The Lumia 950

In a recent article by Jason Ward, he posed a rhetorical question: “what does the perfect Windows Phone look like?”

The many comments the article received, reflect the varying requirements and preferences of the readers. Clearly there is not a single ideal phone that would suit everyone.

In the final analysis, they all look pretty much the same, right? As long as they do the job.

It is hard to cover the subject adequately in a short post comment. In this rather long post, I will express my thoughts on the matter.

My History

I have owned three Lumia phones: a 620, 830 and now a 950. The first two I bought because that was all I could get in Canada. I really liked the size of the 620 – it was with it that I learned what a smartphone could do. I was excited to learn that I could actually browse the web, and send emails and texts.

After a while I bought the Lumia 830 and was pleasantly surprised how much faster and more fluid it was – the 1GB of memory and newer processor made a difference. While I was happy with the 620, I was now much happier. With the better phone, I discovered I could do Netflix and read Kindle books; I was now a very happy camper. And I really liked the design of the phone, although the relatively sharp edges can become painful when holding the phone for long periods.

I did not need another phone, I was happy with the 830. But it did not have Continuum, which I did not really need anyway. Then Microsoft had a huge discount on the 950 and included the dock for free! So, I succumbed to the temptation and bought it. That was really a good move. Compared to the 830, this phone was even faster and smoother, a real joy to use! And Continuum turned out to be really useful – just ask my senior citizen eyes.

The Ideal Phone

So, what would the ideal windows phone look like? For me, the 950 is pretty close to it size and performance-wise. But I recognize that some people might prefer a smaller phone. Therefore, the phone has to come in several sizes. The 950 case design works for me as it is easy on the hands and allows for the battery to be replaced which is a huge advantage. I did like the looks of the 830 at first but the plastic 950 case is more practical and still looks professional.

While I think that the 950 is more than powerful enough for my needs now, experience tells me that more memory and a faster processor would be appreciated provided that the cost is still reasonable.

I believe that the camera is an important part of the ideal phone, both for business and pleasure use. A Zeiss lens and optical stabilization is essential. Being able to use an external microphone during video shoots is key (this is both a hardware and software issue). The front facing camera is used for more than just selfies so it should also be high quality.

Front-facing stereo speakers would be nice, though not essential, as long as the headphone drivers are good.

Software

Software is not really part of the phone but the operating system and core apps do determine the functionality of the phone.

Overall, I find Windows 10 mobile very nice. However, I would like to see the promised improvements in Continuum. In particular, it would be useful to have windowing and more features for the Office apps such as table of contents in Word for example.

In many ways, the native camera app is very good. I would like to see monitoring and manual adjustment of audio levels for video work added, as well as an option to select either internal or external microphones.

Part of the “ideal windows phone” would be for Microsoft to use its resources to 1) enhance marketing, 2) encourage third party app development, and 3) provide real technical support. This would be the subject of a separate post.

In Summary

While it would be presumptuous to tell Microsoft what to do. I believe they should still cater for the consumer on a budget though. I would like to see an affordable phone similar to the 830 but with more memory and a bit faster processor for around $200. This must be capable of running Continuum.

Next level up I would like to see a 2017 version of the 950 series (970?) with an 835 processor, and optionally capable of 4/6K ram and running Windows 10 Mobile Creators Update. This should still be “affordable” i.e. in the $400 – $600 range depending on options selected.

Like most people, I think incrementally and find it hard to imagine a new category of device like the rumored surface, phablet-sized, phone with foldable screen and what not. Maybe once I have one, I will again discover why it is useful as I had with each upgrade of my old phones. That said, I feel that a smaller but powerful 970 phone, with Continuum for when I need to work more productively, is the best of both worlds.

The Future is Continuum

I just had an unexpected “ah ha” moment. It was particularly unexpected as I was not looking for it. It started with a post on computers for seniors.
In this post I will describe how I came to believe that continuum is the future of smartphones.

What is Continuum?
Continuum can mean different things at different levels. At one level it means your Windows experience is the same no matter which size of device you are working on as the code is the same. On another level it means if you connect your phone to a large monitor, the display adapts accordingly (see Microsoft’s explanation here…)

I think this video of Jamie Ramsay illustrates it well:

My Experience
No, I have not actually used continuum. My old Lumia 830, even though it runs Windows 10, its hardware is not continuum-capable, however…
A while back in a post on computers for seniors I stated that if I could only afford one device it would be my Lumia smartphone! I was already using my Lumia extensively but then set about creating a series of online courses to formalize what I knew. The result is a spectrum of courses covering both everyday fun stuff as well as work-related stuff.

For the sake of completeness, I added a Bluetooth keyboard to make entering lots of text in Word easier. I was surprised how well it worked. Then for the Excel course I added a Bluetooth mouse and again I was pleasantly surprised.

At the end of the PowerPoint course, I felt I needed to show how one would actually do the presentation. For that I got a wireless display adapter for a large monitor.

It was then that it hit me—even though my Lumia 830 is a very basic smartphone by today’s standards, I was actually using it in “continuum” mode, and I liked it!

The Future
As manufacturers become more acquainted with continuum, I can imagine a range of accessories and services becoming available for continuum-ready phones. At the same time the corresponding continuum-ready programs will become more prevalent.

I have seen that I can be entirely productive with just my Lumia 830 on its own. Adding the Bluetooth accessories, when needed, enhanced what I could do.