Windows 10 Mobile review

The future of Windows Phone is here

Windows 10 Mobile
Windows 10 Mobile

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Windows 10 Mobile has taken a lot of what makes the Windows 10 software great and packed it into a phone-sized package, but there are still some glaring issues.

The real question is why you'd choose this platform over the ease of Android or iOS.

Microsoft has brought in a plethora of new features and enhancements to existing ones, but there's no killer feature to make up for its numerous imperfections.

We liked

The highlight of Windows 10 Mobile is the new design. The introduction of new customisation elements means you can really make your Windows phone your own.


While the ability to resize tiles isn't new, I still love being able to move apps around apps easily, and change the functionality of my home screen.

The new colour scheme, photo and transparency options enable you create a look and feel that's genuinely different to what you get from Android or iOS.

Action Center is another highlight. It's long been an irritation that on Windows Phone you could spend 10 minutes trying to change settings that should be adjustable in a matter of moments.

Being able to swipe down and have the Settings menu at your fingertips is a welcome addition, and makes the platform much more usable than previous iterations.

While Continuum isn't without its faults, it's a worthy attempt at a USP for the software, and I hope it continues to improve with the addition of support for more apps in the coming months.

Once you're able to play games and use more popular apps on your bigger screen, this will be a genuinely attractive feature.

We disliked

Transfer My Data and Reading List promise a lot more than they deliver. Both features have been implemented on Android and iOS without fault, so it's disappointing that Microsoft hasn't managed to get either of them right.

The ability to migrate to Windows 10 Mobile easily would have made jumping ship to Microsoft's OS a much more attractive proposition.

Lumia 950 and 950 XL

Microsoft Edge doesn't feel like enough of an update to justify a change of name for the browser. A lot of the added features have been done already – and better – elsewhere, and it feels like Microsoft is playing catch-up on its mobile browser rather than moving ahead of the pack.

And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the lack of apps is the biggest let-down on Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile alike.

Microsoft is right to say things are getting better – look what was missing from the platform this time last year and look at it now, and you notice how much Windows 10 Mobile has improved.

But Redmond still isn't getting it right – Microsoft needs to give developers a greater incentive to build for the platform and bring in those must-have apps.

Final verdict

Windows 10 Mobile is far from perfect – it does feel like we're encountering the same old Windows Phone issues, especially with the lack of some big-hitting apps – but this update is the biggest improvement we've seen to the platform for quite some time.

Microsoft has its work cut out for it in trying to bring people back to Windows Mobile, and retain existing users, with its Android and iOS competition offering an experience that's nigh-on perfect.

Those platforms still offer so much that Windows doesn't. But this update has at least seen Microsoft take a step in a different direction, with Continuum and the extensive customisation features offering something distinct from its rivals.

And if you're invested in the Microsoft ecosystem at home or at work it makes perfect sense to add in a Windows 10 Mobile handset on top. Consistency and connectivity are big selling points, and the new Windows platform as a whole offers much more than the sum of its parts.

If, however, you don't have a Windows laptop, Xbox One or other Windows device, I find it very difficult to recommend Windows 10 Mobile. There's no good reason why you wouldn't choose a handset running the more ubiquitous and accomplished iOS or Android systems.

Plus, with Microsoft's roll-out of Windows 10 Mobile being so painfully slow, it's going to be a long time before big app developers even take notice of the platform. At the moment there are only three phones running the software, with no official word on when it will be more widely available.

That's a poor showing from a technology giant – and if Microsoft doesn't get its act together very soon it may have to kiss goodbye to any hopes of ever becoming a serious player in the mobile world.

First reviewed January 2016.

James Peckham

James is Managing Editor for Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.