At a time when a huge smartphone hit would help HTC, the company has reportedly dropped plans to make a large-screened Windows Phone. Bloomberg’s source suggests a single reason for the change in plans: Microsoft’s mobile platform doesn’t support a high enough resolution, topping out at 1280 x 768. HTC does have a 5-inch smartphone with 1920 x 1080 resolution, the Droid DNA, but as the name suggests, it runs on Google’s Android platform.
Indeed, Android supports a number of display resolutions, offering far more consumer choices at various price ranges. Such variances, however, can cause headaches for developers because their apps can appear visually different on a device-by-device basis. Google has made it easier to code for this by allowing apps to dynamically change based on a smartphone’s display size and resolution, but it’s not a foolproof solution based on my own experiences.
That explains why Microsoft supports a relatively meager number of screen resolutions: 800 x 480, 1280 x 720 and 1280 x 768. By limiting support to these three options — essentially two since the later pair are extremely similar — Microsoft guarantees the app experience from a visual standpoint. Windows Phone apps will generally look the same and offer the same experience across all devices.
This type of limitation from Microsoft can make it difficult for handset makers to stand out from the pack, but it is possible. Nokia does this through add-software and excellent camera hardware. HTC has Beats Audio and a perfect complement to that could be a 5-inch smartphone, regardless of the 720p resolution limit. I watch HD movies on my Galaxy Note 2, for example, mainly because of the more immersive experience on the 5.5-inch display, even though it has a 1280 x 720 resolution.
As a result, I think HTC should actually continue on with a large-screened Windows Phone, for a number of reasons. That’s an arguable opinion, but it’s clear that there’s a growing movement towards smartphones with bigger screens. See the Galaxy Note, Droid DNA, or Apple’s latest iPhone as two prime examples. And I find that the Live Tiles offered in Windows Phone actually work more effectively on larger devices. Maybe that’s just personal preference, but I generally have a better experience with Windows Phone on bigger screens.