Microsoft & .NETUnderstanding the Hardware Capabilities of WP7 Devices

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With the new Windows Phone platform announced by Microsoft last year, Microsoft completely revamped its mobile operating system offering. No longer was direct access allowed to internals of the mobile operating system. There were a bunch of specifications mandated by Microsoft even on the hardware front to ensure that Windows Phone users would have a fantastic experience on their mobile devices.

Hardware Specifications

Let’s take a look at each of the hardware elements mandated by these specifications.


The Windows Phone devices have a large display factor supporting the WVGA resolution of 800 x 480. These specifications means that users will have a fantastic experience with the Windows Phone devices which are able to deliver content in a cinematic aspect ratio.

Capacitive Touch

Like most modern smartphones, the new Windows Phone devices sport capacitive 4 point multi-touch screens. This allows for better touch experience. The earlier Windows Mobile devices had resistive touch which was not a very user-friendly experience.

Hardware Acceleration

Windows Phone devices support a minimum of DirectX 9 hardware acceleration. This allows the device to support high definition audio/video. DirectX is a Microsoft technology for multimedia tasks.


The Windows Phone devices come with a nice set of sensors:

  • A-GPS – This allows improved startup performance of GPS-enabled phones and allows for tracking location of a call phone to emergency call dispatchers.
  • Accelerometer – This allows measuring device movements.
  • Compass – It determines the direction in which the device is moving
  • Light sensor – This is used for flashing when taking photos of lightly illuminated areas.
  • Proximity sensor – It helps to detect presence of nearby objects without any physical contact.

Only A-GPS, camera and the accelerometer can be accessed by developer APIs.

Digital Camera

The Windows Phone devices come with a 5 MP or better camera for taking high resolution pictures. They also come with a flash.

Hardware Buttons

All Windows Phone devices come with a few hardware control buttons.

  • Start
  • Search
  • Back

The devices can come with more buttons but that is not mandated by the specifications.

Data Connectivity Options

Each Windows Phone comes with in-built support to connect to cellular networks at 3G speeds and to WI-FI networks.


The Windows Phone devices come 256 MB or more RAM. Typically these devices come with 512MB RAM. Also, all devices come with 8GB of internal flash storage. At this time, the specifications do not specify details about external removable storage for the devices.


In this article, we looked at the minimum hardware specifications as defined by Microsoft for the Windows Phone devices. This should help developers create Windows Phone applications which can take maximum advantage of these hardware features.

About the Author

Vipul Patel is a Software Engineer currently working at Microsoft Corporation. He is currently working in the Office Communications Group and has worked in the .NET team earlier in the Base Class libraries and the Debugging and Profiling team. He can be reached at

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