Latest Windows Phone 8 update adds phablet support

Last month, Microsoft's newly minted Windows chief hinted that Windows RT was coming to phablets. Earlier this morning, Microsoft announced its third update for Windows Phone 8—which, you guessed it, introduces phablet support.

According to the announcement on the Windows Phone Blog, the update "paves the way for future Windows Phone devices with 5- and 6-inch touch screens." It enables support for resolutions of up to 1080p with "jumbo-sized Start screens" that allow for as many as six Live Tiles side by side—up from four on current handsets.

Windows Phone 8 Update 3 also supports Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 system-on-a-chip. As it happens, that's the chip rumored to be used by Nokia's upcoming Lumia 1520. PhoneArena says the Lumia 1520 will pair the Snapdragon 800 with a 6" 1080p screen and 2GB of RAM. The Lumia won't be the first Snapdragon 800-powered phablet, though. According to Android Authority, that distinction belongs to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

Phablet support isn't all users can expect in Windows Phone 8 Update 3. Microsoft has souped up the operating system with a number of new features and tweaks, as well. Among those:

  • A Driving Mode, which keeps incoming calls and texts off the lock screen until you're parked.
  • A suite of accessibility apps, including a screen reader.
  • Bluetooth Internet sharing.
  • An orientation lock setting.
  • A "new category view" that shows what's using up the storage on your phone.
  • More ringtone customization options, including the ability to set special ringtones for certain contacts
  • An option to close apps in the app switcher.
  • Bluetooth connectivity improvements.
  • And the ability to use Wi-Fi during a phone's initial setup.

You can learn more about the changes in Windows Phone 8 Update 3 by perusing this post on the Windows Phone Blog. As an iOS user, I'm a little surprised to learn that there was no official orientation lock setting until now. I guess Microsoft is still in the process of catching up.

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