The Nokia 710

Windows Phone is Microsoft’s latest stab at the mobile phone market, and after years of trying it seems that they have finally got it right, offering a wealth of features and integration with popular services (both in-house and external) backed up with a functional and increasingly growing app store.

While the original 2010 release of the platform was missing a few vital features, the 2011 Mango update is the Real Deal, a super-functional operating system that relies on the fast and responsive Metro user interface that we’ll soon be seeing as the star attraction of Windows 8.

Microsoft’s original partners were HTC, Samsung, LG and Dell, and each of these electronics giants released a fair selection of devices that were easy to use and reasonably successful for a brand new mobile platform, if a little similar to other handsets that had already been released (such as the HTC HD7’s similarity to the HTC HD2).

In 2011, however, a new range of devices are available. These second generation Windows Phones come courtesy of HTC, Lenovo, Acer, ZTE and of course Nokia, and join the first generation devices which are all capable of running the new Mango release.

HTC

With five original devices such as the HTC HD7, Mozart, Surround, Trophy and HTC 7 Pro, HTC are expected to deliver improved handsets in the shape of the aptly named HTC Titan and the smaller HTC Radar. Both equipped with front facing cameras (presumably to support an impending Skype app) these devices look set to attract the HTC adherents to the second wave of handsets.

Samsung

Offering the Samsung Focus S – a cousin of the Galaxy S Android device – and the Omnia W, these two devices will again include the front facing camera along with 1.4 GHz processors. One of the beauties of the Mango upgrade is that it unlocks a lot of the potential from the first generation devices, which is why many owners of these original handsets might not be interested in the second gen phones. However Samsung have an edge over HTC by offering exclusive devices – the Samsung Focus S is only available via AT&T in the USA, while the Omnia W is also known as the Focus Flash; both names recall previous Windows Phones from Samsung.

Nokia

The legendary Finnish mobile phone manufacturer has had a torrid time in the past 5 years, since around the time of the launch of the iPhone (although its problems are more deep-root than that) but they’re hoping to turn things around with the launch of the Nokia Lumia 800 and Lumia 710 devices.

While the 710 is positioned as a mid-range Windows Phone handset, it is the Lumia where most of the attention is focussed, offering as it does a clear alternative to the much-vaunted but ultimately unsuccessful N9, and features a 12 MP Carl Zeiss lens.

Curiously, however, both Nokia phones are missing the front facing camera, despite having Windows Phone 7.5 Mango pre-installed.

Notable Mentions…

It isn’t just these big names that are bringing second generation Windows Phone handsets to the masses. Names that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with Microsoft such as Lenovo, Acer, ZTE and Fujitsu are all expected to release devices with Mango pre-loaded, although their availability outside of Asia will depend on various factors.

We reckon spotting an Acer device will be easier than getting hold of a ZTE handset outside of China, for instance.