Windows Phone “Tango” 256MB RAM device limitations and new features officially confirmed

Windows Phone TangoMicrosoft revealed the next update to Windows Phone 7.5, codenamed “Tango”, during Mobile World Congress this year. However, the company had been particularly silent about this update, mainly due to the fact that the update is targeted at bringing the OS to lower device requirements (such as supporting Qualcomm 7x27a processors and 256 MB of RAM) rather than bringing new features.

Certain restrictions were placed on devices with 256 MB of RAM, and while the company mentioned 5% of current apps in the marketplace won’t work on these devices, they haven’t been talking much about the other restrictions. However, Microsoft had been silently updating their Windows Phone How-to website, and these restrictions are now officially confirmed in these documentations. We’ve pulled them all out for you here so you don’t have to go digging:

  • Windows Phone Marketplace app restrictions – Some processor-intensive apps have memory requirements, and won’t work on phones with 256 MB of RAM. You can check how much memory you have on your phone by tapping Settings > About.
  • Podcast Subscriptions and Video Podcasts – You won’t be able to manage podcast subscriptions on your phone or watch video podcasts if your phone has 256 MB of RAM.
  • Local Scout – You won’t be able to use Local Scout if your phone has only 256 MB of RAM.
  • Fast app switching – This feature will not work if your phone has 256 MB of RAM.
  • SkyDrive automatic photo upload – You won’t be able to upload pictures automatically to SkyDrive if your phone has only 256 MB of RAM.
  • HD video playback – You won’t be able to play video compressed with some of the listed codecs if your phone has 256 MB of RAM.
  • Background agents – To free up RAM for the foreground on 256MB devices, generic background agents (PeriodicTasks/ResourceIntensiveTasks) are disabled.

However, unless you intend on buying the Nokia Lumia 610 or ZTE Orbit, these limitations probably won’t affect you. Fortunately, the updated Windows Phone How-to website (via The Verge) also detailed several new features that are coming. We’ve also listed them here, together with the link to the actual page that describes it:

Better media messaging. Now you can attach multiple pictures and videos—along with voice notes and ringtones—to text messages. You can include a video, picture, voice note, or ringtone in an instant message, too.

Location awareness icon. When an app is accessing your phone’s current location information, an icon will appear next to the battery status indicator:


Export and manage contacts to SIM card. All Windows Phones allows you to import contacts from a SIM card, but only some phones allows you to export contacts to a SIM card, or create and edit individual contacts on the SIM card. For more information, please contact your mobile operator. (Strangely, this feature is only documented on the Chinese version of the website. The English version states that “you can’t save contacts from a Windows Phone to a SIM card.”)

Have you noticed anything else new from the Windows Phone How-to website? If you have, let us know in the comments below!