Windows Phone 8 vs Windows Phone 7.8 – What’s the Difference & Should You Upgrade?

Christian Cawley 28-12-2012

Windows Phone 8 vs Windows Phone 7.8 – What’s the Difference & Should You Upgrade? muo wp7vwp8 introAs a long term user of Windows Phone 7, the decision to upgrade to Windows Phone 8 was made all the more difficult by Microsoft’s revelation that they wouldn’t be completely abandoning the older release.


Instead, the older devices would be receiving an upgrade to what is called Windows Phone 7.8, an update that begins rolling out in December 2012 and which offers a bunch of improvements to the existing Windows Phone 7.5 release of the slick and stylish OS.

While the first generation devices (for example the HTC devices such as the HD7 and the Nokia devices including the Lumia 800) won’t be given the same feature upgrades as the new Windows Phone 8, there are still quite a few improvements that will be introduced…

Windows Phone 8: The Hardware Conundrum

One of the key issues with swapping a Windows Phone 7 handset with a Windows Phone 8 device is the basic fact that the new phones are designed for the future.

Windows Phone 8 vs Windows Phone 7.8 – What’s the Difference & Should You Upgrade? muo wp7vwp8 wp7

For instance, while Windows Phone 7 (above) has a single core processor What Is A Processor Core? [MakeUseOf Explains] Every computer has a processor, whether it's a small efficiency pro or a large performance powerhouse, or else it wouldn't be able to function. Of course, the processor, also called the CPU or Central Processing... Read More , Windows Phone 8 (below) is designed for multicore devices. While the OS has never been resource-heavy, various other hardware improvements (removable MicroSD cards How To Choose The Right SD Card For The Job SD cards aren't all about storage! In fact, there are several other factors to consider, and when purchasing your cards, you should make yourself aware of them. That said, SD cards aren't all created equal,... Read More , support for 1280×720 and 1280×768 resolutions, full NFC support) mean that Windows Phone 7 is already at a disadvantage.


Windows Phone 8 vs Windows Phone 7.8 – What’s the Difference & Should You Upgrade? muo wp7vwp8 wp8

Throw in over the air updates and integrated VoIP, and you can see that there are features that depend heavily on hardware that Windows Phone 7 devices just don’t have.

Shared Features

This isn’t to say that the two platforms are very different – Windows Phone 7.8 and Windows Phone 8 get to share a few much-needed features.

The most important shared feature for many will be the new UI settings, which enable users to alter the size of the Start screen tiles. Additionally, photography options are set to be increased, with timers, panorama tools, action shots and group shots all possible. Various Nokia apps set for release across the Windows Phone ecosystem will also be available on Windows Phone 7.8, such as Nokia Play To, Nokia Music, and Nokia Drive – an excellent satellite navigation tool.


Windows Phone 8 vs Windows Phone 7.8 – What’s the Difference & Should You Upgrade? muo wp7vwp8 nokia

However, it isn’t all good news. For instance, apps designed for Windows Phone Apollo (as WP8 is codenamed) will not be made available for Windows Phone 7 devices. While backwards compatibility is not possible, most apps purchased for Windows Phone 7 should run on Windows Phone 8, although some will be unavailable for various reasons (mostly updating for the new platform).

Windows Phone 8’s Winning Smile

In the end, however, Windows Phone 8 has the advantage. This should come as no surprise – it’s a new platform, a new iteration of the former, and as such supports more hardware technologies.

Secure boot and 128 bit encryption will protect the phones from intrusion – they’ll also make the work of anyone trying to hack the platform Jailbreak-style extremely tough. Remote device management and the ability for corporations and SMEs to add their own hubs will also be restricted to Windows Phone 8. Add to this everything that Windows Phone 7.8 can do plus the ability to take screen captures (at last!) and we’ve got a new mobile platform just waiting to take off.


The results are impressive. Indeed, in the eyes of some commentators, Windows Phone 8 is the platform that Windows Phone 7 should have been.

What About The Future?

With the release of Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 7 users are put on notice by Microsoft. Just as a first generation Android or iPhone won’t really cut it for running modern apps and games, so the devices originally launched with the Windows Phone 7 operating system and hardware are unsuitable for Windows Phone 8.

Windows Phone 8 vs Windows Phone 7.8 – What’s the Difference & Should You Upgrade? muo wp8review11

Windows Phone 7.8 gets around this by offering some features that are shared with Windows Phone 8, but beyond this, the future looks bleak for the platform. Beyond a few bug fixes and low key updates, it seems unlikely that the owners of Windows Phone 7 devices will be able to upgrade their devices again.


Once Windows Phone 7.8 is out there, the smart money – certainly for users in North America and Europe – is on Microsoft all but abandoning the platform (Windows Phone 7.8 is expected to continue as an entry-level platform for low-cost devices, mainly produced by Nokia, such as the Lumia 510). While this might encourage hackers and developers to improve the OS or even find a way to install Android on the devices, for most users grabbing a Windows Phone 8 handset or even jumping to Android or iPhone might be the answer.

A lot has been written about Microsoft’s desertion of Windows Phone 7 – many users are not happy, but ultimately, the change has to be made for the platform to compete…

Make a Decision Based On Your Needs

Windows Phone 8 vs Windows Phone 7.8 – What’s the Difference & Should You Upgrade? muo wp7vwp8 diff

Of course, we couldn’t encourage anyone to upgrade to Windows Phone 8 unless they were able to do so. Although this isn’t a review, the new version of Microsoft’s mobile platform is certainly worth seeking out in your local mobile phone or electronics store, just so you can get a good glimpse of what it can do. My review of Windows Phone 8 Windows Phone 8: The Complete Review Question: how do you improve on perfection? Answer: you wait for someone else to have a go. A quick look around the smartphone market reveals that Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems are top... Read More will give you some further background on this.

At the same time, however, if you’re happy with Windows Phone 7.5 and don’t have much need for NFC, integrated Skype, e-wallets, background multitasking or porting of apps to and from Windows 8 (the full version – Windows 8 RT Windows RT - What You Can & Can't Do Windows RT edition was discreetly launched about a month and a half ago with the flagship Microsoft Surface RT tablet device. Though visually indistinguishable from Windows 8, there are some key differences as to what... Read More doesn’t support syncing with Windows Phone), then there is little need to update your phone.

Microsoft has already planned a “controlled fragmentation” of the platform to enable Windows Phone 7.8 to carry on for a few years yet in lower spec devices for emerging markets – while future updates seem unlikely, support is expected to continue for a few years yet.

Related topics: Windows Phone, Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 8.

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  1. aju
    June 18, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    apps for windows 8 are compactable in windows 7.8.??

    • Christian Cawley
      June 18, 2013 at 6:04 pm

      Depends entirely on the developer. To find out if an app is available for your device, check the Windows Phone Store - if it is listed, it is available and compatible.

  2. tricia
    January 21, 2013 at 7:48 am

    I love my new Nokia Lumia windows 8 phone ! I just got used to my Motorola DROIDX .! Its smooth touch keypad helps me doesn't take me 5 mins to type 1 sentence anymore ....Im not able to transfer all my photos and telephone contacts ?I was able to transfer my Facebook account.. I tried the Bluetooth but it pairs but won't connect????? Any suggestions?

    • Christian Cawley
      January 21, 2013 at 10:49 am

      Hi Tricia - you can sync your contacts from your DROIDX to your Google account and sync this with your Lumia. Photos could be upped to Dropbox, or copied directly to your phone via a computer and a USB cable.

  3. Loki
    January 11, 2013 at 8:57 am

    WP 7.8 is already out on Nokia Servers and is available for download using Navi+. search on google on how to update using the Nokia Care Suite Software and do the update yourself. It's a complete legal way to update the phone because you will still be using a nokia software. If you can't do it and you don't have free time, a friend of mine just walked into a nokia service center and demanded to have his lumia 800 upgraded to 7.8. It cost him nothing, but i don't know if it applies to everybody.

  4. louise
    January 3, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    will lumia 800 have screen shot/capture built in on 7.8? this is the only let down for me

    • ogamawab
      January 4, 2013 at 12:21 am

      The answer is no... Again Microsoft has failed its users.

  5. tatu rean
    December 31, 2012 at 3:22 am

    Can my nokia lumia610 will be upgradble to windows 7.8

    • Leo
      January 2, 2013 at 12:27 am

      Yes, once the update is out

      • ogamawab
        January 4, 2013 at 12:20 am

        The update will be next year in 2014. When windows phone 9 comes out. I am windows phone 7.5 user... Very upset that the update taking forever. Microsoft has failed it users...

  6. Groover1971
    December 30, 2012 at 6:37 am

    I wanted to sync my WP7.5 with my Surface RT and was wondering if it would work after the 7.8 update. This was the reply from the "Microsoft Community".

    You will not be able to sync your WP7.x series device with a Surface RT.

    The Surface RT will not run the Zune software in desktop mode as it does not support Legacy Desktop applications.

    The Windows Phone 8 Sync Application from the Windows Store does not support Windows Phone 7.5 or 7.8.

    I have a Nokia Lumia with 7.8 Update and the Windows Phone Application still does not recognize the device.

    The only hope here may be that there is another update for this application further along in the pipeline, and perhaps this question may be resolved next year, but until then the answer is no. :(

    • Christian Cawley
      December 30, 2012 at 9:26 am

      I think the way MS are looking at it is that a W8 ARM tablet and a WP8 device are essentially the same. There is clearly a missed opportunity here though, one that a third party developer may be able to provide a solution for.

  7. Nicola De Ieso
    December 29, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    For the moment, I will have a Windows phone 7.8 device. In the near future, I will switch to a Windows Phone 8.

  8. promise
    December 29, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    can my nokia lumia 710 be upgraded to windows 7.8?

    • dude
      December 29, 2012 at 9:18 pm

      lumia 710 can be upgraded once 7.8 is out

    • Nicola De Ieso
      December 29, 2012 at 10:41 pm

      Yes, the lumia 710 can be upgraded to Windows phone 7.8. I hope that the update will come in the first days of 2013, so I will appreciate the new options and optimizations.

    • Subh
      February 7, 2013 at 1:03 pm

      Go get it... it's out in the market and yesterday I upgraded my NL510 to 7.8

  9. Kumar
    December 29, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    With more Windows Phone 8-only apps coming out daily, the 7.8 update is too little, too late for many. I'm fine with not getting the 8 update on my phone, but not being able to show the pseudo phone 8 look around to anyone thinking of getting a new phone seems like the biggest missed opportunity of all by Microsoft.

    Instead of releasing 7.8 earlier this year before 8 came out and turn all previous windows phone models into walking advertisements for version 8, Microsoft inexplicably apparently decided withholding it would lead to more early adopters dumping their phone for a new 8 model. It reminds me of the differences between the advertising of the election campaigns this year. Both spent loads on TV ads, but the winner had the better ground game. Here, I don't see a ground game by Mirosoft, just lots of TV ads and promises of updates maybe at some point.

  10. Ashwin Divakaran
    December 29, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Well! WP 8 will be a success and will be a big boost to Microsoft after W8 for pc is not upto the mark

  11. Arxadius Stark
    December 29, 2012 at 9:45 am

    No Jailbreak will definitely get more techies interested in this! XD

  12. Anonymous
    December 29, 2012 at 4:15 am

    what i really love is a clutter free start screen (desktop). That is why i will never upgrade to windows 8. I Love my android phone because i have no widget, icon or any thing else on my home screen.
    Hopefully Microsoft enable users to get rid of those tiles and android do with widgets. other than that i am a Microsoft fan and my most of desktop and web applications are Microsoft products

    • Mr. Marcus
      January 2, 2013 at 4:00 pm

      Then you know nothing about Windows 8. You might want to actually spend about 5 minutes with the platform before you start judging something you obviously know nothing about...

  13. Rajaa Chowdhury
    December 29, 2012 at 2:43 am

    FaceBook Question : For 10 points: what's the difference between Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7.8?

    My Answer : The version!!! :P

    Hahaha. where is my 10 points?

    BTW on serious note, nice article, well researched.

  14. Slashee the Cow
    December 28, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Something worth noting: the various Nokia apps are only available on Nokia's Windows Phone phones (the Lumia series) - definitely a point in their favour.