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Full HD and quad-core chips come to Windows Phone (Updated)

We’ve been hearing about the next generation of smartphones running Windows Phone for several months now, but the software update which will make these devices possible hasn’t been confirmed by Microsoft. That’s all changed this week, as the company has announced the third major update to its mobile OS, known only as Update 3.

In a blog post written by Microsoft’s Corporate VP of Windows Phone, Darren Laybourn, we’re told Update 3 will usher in, “Incredible new Windows Phone devices,” and enhance the OS through the addition of, “new capabilities for current users.” He also sings the praises of Windows Phone’s performance in Europe, where market share has reached 10 percent.

So, the best news about Windows Phone 8 Update 3 is that it will bring support for both 1080p screen resolutions and quad-core processors. Finally, you’re thinking, and only a year or so behind Android. This should confirm the specs we’re expecting to see on the Lumia 1520, the Lumia 1320, and the HTC Harmony – all of which have been leaked with one or both of these features listed.

New software features and updated hardware support

The larger, full HD screens will see Windows Phone now be able to fit up to six small Live Tiles across the display, three normal size tiles, or a double and a single tile. We’d already seen a leaked image of the Lumia 1520 showing exactly this feature, so expect to be able to busy up your Home screen quite considerably after Update 3’s introduction. As for the quad-core power, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 is mentioned by name, which will ensure Windows Phone keeps pace with the majority of other smartphone/tablet hybrids, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

Moving onto the software additions, the leaked Driving Mode has been confirmed, along with ringtone customization, a screen orientation lock, Bluetooth improvements, the chance to connect to a Wi-Fi network during setup, an app closer in the switcher menu, and a way to manage storage space. Also, a new app to help improve accessibility will be added.

Microsoft won’t confirm exactly when Update 3 will be coming to a Windows Phone near you, only that it’ll start sending it out in a few weeks and that the program is expected to last several months. Also missing is a list of which phones are compatible, so we’re hoping it’s going to be all Windows Phone 8 devices. New hardware with Update 3 installed out of the box should start to appear closer to the end of the month, starting with Nokia on October 22.

Updated on 10/23/2013 by Andy Boxall: Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore, who heads up the product design team, has tweeted that the three column Live Tile layout seen in Windows Phone Update 3 won’t be coming to all Windows phones. It’s going to depend on the size of the screen, but has only gone on to say it has to be, “Large.” Initially, he tweeted the screens would need a 1080p resolution, but has since taken this back. Will this include hardware with 4.5-inch screens? We’ll have to wait and see, but it could be down to the manufacturer to decide if it suits the phone or not.

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