Windows Phone 8 hardware requirements – is 512 RAM the new “Tango” of WP8?

Windows Phone 8So we all know that Windows Phone “Tango”, or officially just the Windows Phone 7.5 CR3, was aimed at bringing the hardware requirements down for lower-end Windows Phone 7.x devices, allowing devices with as low as 256 MB of RAM to still run the OS, although with certain restrictions placed to ensure that the experience is still smooth and fluid. However, one might be wondering what about the minimum hardware requirements for Windows Phone 8, which is now based on the Windows 8 OS core? A review from Engadget offers the answer:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor
  • Minimum 512MB RAM for WVGA phones; minimum 1GB RAM for 720p / WXGA
  • Minimum 4GB flash memory
  • GPS and A-GNSS; GLONASS is supported if OEMs decide to include it
  • Support for micro-USB 2.0
  • 3.5mm stereo headphone jack with three-button detection support
  • Rear-facing AF camera with LED or Xenon flash, optional front-facing camera (both need to be VGA or better) and dedicated camera button
  • Accelerometer, proximity and ambient light sensors, as well as vibration motor (magnetometer and gyroscope are optional)
  • 802.11b/g and Bluetooth (802.11n is optional)
  • DirectX graphics hardware support with hardware acceleration for Direct3D using programmable GPU
  • Multi-touch capacitive touch screen with minimum of four simultaneous points

From a RAM perspective, it appears that the minimum hardware requirements is dependent on the screen resolution. However, note that this is the “bare minimum” that Microsoft allows its OEMs to have in their Windows Phone 8 hardware, and we noticed that on the official Windows Phone 8 “How-to” website, a line raised our attention:

Memory (RAM). Some apps and features won’t work on phones with less than 1 GB of RAM. To see how much memory your phone has, check the manufacturer’s website or your phone’s documentation.

Microsoft did not specify exactly which apps or features won’t work on phones with less than 1GB of RAM. However, looking at the list of all announced Windows Phone 8 devices in our Windows Phone Gallery, we can see that most devices out there will not be affected by this limitation (Nokia decided to put 1GB of RAM for its Lumia 810, 820 and 822 phones despite having a WVGA resolution), with the exception of the HTC 8S. The lower-end HTC 8S is currently the only announced Windows Phone 8 device that features only 512 MB of RAM, which means that it may have some software limitations similar to the 256MB devices in the Windows Phone 7.x era.

We do expect there will be more lower-end Windows Phone 8 devices that features only 512 MB of RAM however, such as the rumored Nokia Zeal, Nokia Flame, as well as the Huawei Ascend W1. Perhaps we might find out more about what these limitations are when the final Windows Phone 8 SDK gets released during BUILD 2012 tomorrow.