Windows smartphones not dead? Emperion teases Windows-on-ARM Nebulus phone that can run Android apps
Microsoft stopped supporting Windows-based phones like the legendary Lumia lineup and started hyping up the Windows-on-ARM program that is aimed at laptops equipped with ARM processors such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs in 2018. At the same time, official Microsoft mobile devices like the upcoming Surface Duo are going to run only on Android, and, even though it looks like Microsoft itself is moving away from Windows-based phones, there may still be independent OEMs out there willing to keep the Windows phone spirit alive. UK company Emperion, for instance, claims that it managed to port the Windows-10-on-ARM OS to a smartphone that can also run Android apps.
Emperion first teased the Nebulus phone back in November 2019, but analysts apparently did not really take it too seriously, since the company is fairly new. Spec-wise, the phone is not really that impressive, but the promise to resurrect the Windows-based phone niche was bold enough to stir some interest for the folks over at Windows Central who recently unveiled some more hot details.
First of all, the specs are premium mid-rangy at best. The Nebulus is powered by an overclocked Snapdragon 845 SoC, which is in no way bad, but could be somewhat problematic, as the first tests running Windows on ARM back in 2018 were performed on Snapdragon 845 chips and the results were not too encouraging. Emperion also added 8 GB of LPDDR4x RAM and 128 GB storage expandable to 2 TB via microSD cards, but not even these specs are guaranteed to run Windows 10 on ARM as smooth as the Surface Pro X or the Galaxy Book S laptops. At least the 6,000 mAh battery should help with a decent autonomy. Adapting the new Windows 10 on ARM OS for a 6.2-inch display was probably not that hard, and the imaging setup includes dual-13 MP cameras on the back and a 10.5 MP selfie cam. Additionally, there is a feature that allows users to connect a PC monitor via USB-C and benefit from a full-fledged desktop experience.
Regarding the claim that the Nebulus is able to natively run Android apps, we suspect that Emperion will be shipping these devices with a pre-installed emulator, meaning that full compatibility is out of the question.
Now, Emperion mentions that the phone supports WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC and 4G LTE networks. That is all fine until we realize that Windows 10 on ARM does not actually support telephony features over cellular networks, so we are not quite sure how Emperion is going to handle calls. Could be a custom solution or just plain VoIP calls through Skype or WhatsApp.
The Nebulus phone is supposed to go up for pre-orders at some point this year for ~US$710, which seems a bit too pricey for the specs. We are still waiting for an official reveal of the Nebulus with hands-on footage, as all we got from Empirion for now are a bunch of specs and some renders.