Microsoft is fast approaching the launch of Windows 10 Mobile, and that means new smartphones running the operating system are just around the way. While the company is set to release its own smartphone, it is also collaborating with manufacturers to produce third-party devices that can run the OS.
On behalf of device makers, Microsoft’s activities are part of an effort to render an ecosystem of handsets after reigning in its own aspirations in the mobile market last month. Friday morning, the company published a set of guidelines in chart form detailing the different expectations it has for each phone, tablet, and phablet devices running Windows 10. While they are not necessarily written in stone, they do offer a framework for gauging what mobile devices running the operating system will look like.
There are three categories smartphones fall into: value phones, premium phones, and value phablets. Value phones are designed for the budget-conscious user, and Microsoft does not even indicate that they feature LTE connectivity. The last two categories are aimed at mid- to top-tier users who want to experience the latest capabilities in the new mobile operating system.
One of the standout features that Microsoft expects for both premium phones and phablets is facial unlocking using Windows Hello. Consumers were first introduced to this capability with the launch of Windows 10 this summer. It allows users who have devices with an infrared camera to use their face instead of a passcode.
Although face unlocking is not a new feature in the mobile market—as Android has offered it for many years—Microsoft’s implementation on PCs seems to operate faster and with greater security. The feature could be alluring to enterprise IT managers who want to ensure that the end users they oversee are better positioned to secure devices without hindrance.
Beyond that, requirements are hardly surprising. The premium handsets are expected to have the new Continuum for Phones feature, allowing users to switch their smartphone to an external display and use it as a tiny PC. Another feature includes a state-of-the-art 20 megapixel camera for taking photos.
On the tablet end, the most interesting aspect of the guidelines is that Microsoft suggests users to opt for 7-inch tablets to run Windows 10 Mobile instead of its desktop counterpart. That means users who purchase the small tablets will be restricted to installing apps through the Windows Store, rather than opting for the all the tablet-focused features of the operating system designed for larger tablets and computers.