Microsoft is going after the cash-strapped smartphone segment with its newly relaxed, less specification-demanding Windows Phone Tango build.

Companies like Nokia and ZTE have been quick to get in on the act, with the Nokia Lumia 601 and ZTE Orbit both announced at MWC 2012 and intended to mop up some of the low-to-mid tier phone customers around.

Tango does away with a number of Windows Phone features so that phones need only house 256MB of RAM – but at what cost? We went hands on with the new OS to find out.

Windows phone tango review

The good news is that we didn't notice any real difference in the performance of Tango compared to Windows Phone Mango at first play. There's no lag to speak of when zipping around the menu and opening various applications – fast and slick with the familiar Metro experience; this doesn't feel like a budget OS.

Windows phone tango review

Sadly there was no internet connection available so we weren't able to try out any connected features. There's a chance that as you load the handset up with pictures, video etc it would clog up and slow down but we can't say for sure.

Windows phone tango review

The messaging app in Tango allows you to add voice notes to your messages, as well as being better able to handle video and images.

Windows phone tango review

Sadly when we tried to attach a 4 second video to an MMS, it was deemed too large so we're not sure how useful these new features will really prove to be.

Windows phone tango review

Background apps won't work in the new OS given its target hardware's relatively low processing power and lack of RAM – however, we did try playing a music track while pootling around the OS elsewhere and that didn't seem to cause any problems.

Windows phone tango review

Early verdict

From our brief time with Tango, it looks like Microsoft has pulled off quite a coup – this is high end software on low-end devices with not much drop in quality from what we can see.

However, we'll reserve judgement on the tangy Tango until we can put it through some more serious paces in a full review – we've got a sneaking suspicion that prolonged use will throw up some more major annoyances.