Windows 10 Mobile review: A solid upgrade, but not shiny enough
Windows Phone 10 review: Continuum
Another unique feature of Windows 10 Mobile – and some would say its best – is Continuum. Plug a video adapter into the Lumia 950’s USB Type-C port and you can to hook the phone up to any monitor or TV and use it like a desktop PC.
All you need to add is a Bluetooth keyboard. A mouse isn’t strictly required, since the screen of your the phone transforms into a multitouch trackpad – and a rather effective one at that. However, for the full desktop experience, I’d say it’s advisable to get one.
Alas, I’ve not been able to test the feature out using Microsoft’s £79 Display Dock yet, which is equipped with three USB ports, plus DisplayPort and HDMI video outputs and a USB Type-C port for power supply. Ironically, though, I was able to get it to work with editorial director Ian Betteridge’s Apple USB Type-C to VGA adapter. This works at a rather coarse resolution – you need an HDMI or DisplayPort adapter to run at full 1080p – but, nevertheless, it works well.
It’s also worth noting that Continuum works with Miracast-compatible screens and adapters, although when I tried this out with an official Microsoft dongle, it felt horribly slow and laggy to use. I’d advise sticking with a wired connection if you plan on using the feature regularly.
So what can you do with your phone in Continuum mode? Strangely, not an awful lot. You can’t run full Windows desktop apps on the screen of your monitor, and neither can you run Windows 8.1 apps, although these will run on the screen of the phone while your pseudo-desktop runs on your monitor or TV.
The only apps that work, in fact, are Universal apps, and there aren’t too many of those around right now: just the core Microsoft productivity apps – Mail, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, plus Microsoft Edge, Maps, Films and TV and so on – plus a small handful of third-party apps. The Audible and Guardian apps work, but not a lot else.
However, for the apps that are available, the system does work well. There’s a file explorer app, which lets you browse files in local storage as well as drives that are attached externally via the Display Dock. It’s easy to get to grips with because the desktop is laid out in a familiar fashion to desktop Windows 10, with the Start menu in the bottom-left corner, notifications in the bottom-right corner and taskbar running all along the bottom of the screen. You can’t run apps in windows, though.
Does Continuum mean you’re going to start carrying around just your phone instead of a laptop? I can’t see it just yet. But Microsoft is at least trying to give you the option in certain circumstances.