Lumia Phones Get a Speed Boost from Windows Phone 8.1

Lumia 1020 Updates Make It Faster

One of the more painful aspects of owning a smartphone is the long, slow march toward obsolescence. For iPhone and Android owners, this is especially painful: update by update, your device gets slower and slower. Eventually, it’s no longer the joy it once was to use. Instead, all those new features turn into a usability nightmare. Ultimately, it’s what drove me away from Apple; they did it to my iPhone, my iPad, and eventually my Macbook Pro. I’ve seen the same thing happen to Android devices, both my own and others’.

In contrast, Microsoft’s devices over the last several years have tended to become faster with each update, and that remains true with the new Lumia Cyan update and Windows Phone 8.1 with Update 1. Yesterday, AT&T finally released the Cyan and 8.1 update for the Lumia 1020. As I was already on 8.1 Update 1 via the Developer Preview, I had to downgrade to Windows Phone 8.0 before I could upgrade to the Cyan firmware. So I thought this would be a good opportunity to gauge what sort of impact Microsoft’s latest firmware and software package would have on a year old phone, my Lumia 1020.


I kept things simple: Once I restored the phone to stock Windows Phone 8 with Lumia Black firmware (via Nokia Recovery Tool), I installed Antutu Benchmark from the Windows Phone store on my Nokia Lumia 1020. I ran the benchmark 3 times, expecting to average the numbers, but it turned out I didn’t need to–they were within just a few points of each other on every single run.

Then I updated to the Cyan firmware and installed all Windows Phone 8.1 updates, enabled the developer preview and installed the 8.1 Update 1 beta. I did a clean reset of the phone and restored my data from backup, then let the phone run overnight downloading all my apps and updates. Finally, this morning I rebooted the phone so it was in as clean a state as possible and ran the benchmark three more times. Again, I expected to average out the scores, but didn’t need to–they were all very close together. So the screenshots you see here are the last of the three benchmarks I ran.


Windows Phone 8.0 Windows Phone 8.1 with Update 1
 WP8 Lumia 1020 Benchmark  WP 8.1 Lumia 1020 Benchmark

As you can see, nearly all scores improved, across the board, except for storage read and write speeds, which remained constant. Everything else posted anywhere from minor to dramatic gains, for a total score increase over 2,400 points, or roughly 20%. I have to admit, I didn’t expect this significant of an improvement, though I have noted that, over the last 5 years, it’s been Microsoft’s tendency to reduce the footprint of its operating systems with each release.

Way back when I switched from iPhone to Windows phone 7, on my original Samsung Focus, I noticed the same trend, as each release added features and yet managed to increase device performance and reduce memory footprint. The same thing happened upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8, and even 8 to 8.1 on PC’s. It’s a trend I hope to see continue, because if there’s one serious piece of frustration when it comes to most smart devices, it’s knowing that they’ll gradually become slow and unpleasant to use. Windows Phone users, at least, don’t have to worry about that.


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