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article imageDell's Stack was a Windows Phone that could have be a gamechanger

By James Walker     Nov 9, 2016 in Technology
Dell and Intel collaborated to create a 6.4-inch mini-tablet running Windows 10 Mobile, according to a report this week. The two companies had big plans for the device, the fate of which is unclear. The phone was built around Microsoft's Continuum tech.
A few days ago, renowned smartphone leaker Evan Blass tweeted a concept image of an unnamed Windows 10 Mobile device. It was later identified as a Dell product, a company that does not currently sell phones. In an article published on VentureBeat yesterday, Blass detailed "Dell Stack," an ambitious attempt to shake-up the smartphone market being developed in conjunction with Intel.
At the heart of Stack is the 6.4-inch phablet shown off in the concept artwork. The giant phone, essentially a mini-tablet, had specifications unlike any mobile device seen before. It was a Windows 10 Mobile phone with the internals of a typical laptop. Whereas the vast majority of smartphones use ARM processors, Stack was powered by an Intel x86-based Kaby Lake chip.
Even more unusually, customers would have been given a choice of processors. In similar fashion to the options available on new laptops, buyers would have had their pick of Core m3, m5 vPro or m7 vPro CPUs. 4GB or 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage accompanied the processor.
Concept images of the Dell Stack Intel-powered Windows 10 Mobile smartphone
Concept images of the Dell Stack Intel-powered Windows 10 Mobile smartphone
Evan Blass
For a smartphone, these parts take "overpowered" towards the extreme. Stack was no ordinary phone though. It was built specifically to take advantage of Microsoft's Continuum technology, a hero feature of Windows 10 Mobile. It allows compatible phones to drive a desktop experience on an external monitor. Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps intelligently resize and display their desktop experiences, providing a true "PC in your pocket" experience.
Stack would take Continuum a step further. It was designed to be a single device to power desktop, laptop and tablet experiences. You could use your phone to drive all your online interactions. When docked as a laptop or tablet, Stack's x86 processor would allow it to power a full Windows 10 experience. This would be the final evolution of Continuum, the ability to run Windows 10's desktop interface from a mobile device.
Concept images of the Dell Stack Intel-powered Windows 10 Mobile smartphone
Concept images of the Dell Stack Intel-powered Windows 10 Mobile smartphone
Evan Blass
Dell and Intel envisioned Stack as a way to "significantly streamline the transition" between devices that typical business users and consumers face each day. Stack would allow you to access your data on any display, in a view suited to the screen you chose to use. It would offer something truly unique in the smartphone market, offering a compelling reason for people to choose the struggling Windows 10 Mobile. The platform could become a lot more appealing if it could be your single device, including a desktop PC.
It is currently unclear what has happened to Stack. Dell was intending it to launch in spring next year, according to internal documents obtained by VentureBeat. However, it remains unknown whether the project has been shelved or delayed. Intel recently axed its mobile division, which could have impacted Stack. Its use of desktop x86 processors from the Kaby Lake series suggests it could have endured this loss though.
Blass' unveiling of the phone attracted a storm of positive attention on Twitter, indicating there is demand for such a radically different device. Essentially offering a Windows PC in your pocket, Stack could be the opportunity that Dell, Intel and Microsoft need to get all three names established in the mobile space. Dell could have created a success story never to see the light of day.
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