I’ve been thinking about this for a while and my prediction for this phone (or whatever it will be) is that, no, it will not run full x86 apps. At least not in the sense that you pull it out of your pocket and fire up a full-blown Windows app. No matter what people say, I can’t see how running full Windows apps on your phone results in a great user experience.
What I expect this phone to do is allow you to run full x86 (or x64, whatever) apps in Continuum mode when it’s docked. That would make more sense to me and would be a direct progression for Microsoft’s plans with Continuum. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is some kind of hybrid, where an ARM chip handles everything when you use it as a phone, and the x86 chip takes over only when the phone is docked. Or there is a single hybrid chip with ARM cores AND x86 cores. This is important, as the phone would be docked and charging anyway, so battery life wouldn’t be an issue. This also makes a lot of sense with Microsoft’s free Display Dock offers right now…if this really is a premium device, then that’s a $100 accessory that people won’t have to buy to get the full user experience for this phone, as the fans that Microsoft is targeting with the 950/XL will probably have the dock by next year.
In my opinion this hybrid setup fits in perfectly with Microsoft’s Continuum/UWP/always-mobile vision for future computing. You have a completely traditional phone when you are using it in that mode…a phone…then you have a complete PC-in-your-pocket capable of running traditional apps when you want to dock it, all running the exact same code base, a la UWP apps. What everyone needs to keep in mind here is that Continuum is extremely 1.0 right now but, given another year to evolve with updates, something like this makes perfect sense. I wouldn’t be surprised if this could run full Windows apps ONLY when it’s docked and in Continuum mode because that is exactly when having that capability is useful. I see a lot of potential with where Continuum is heading and the transitional state Microsoft is in with getting Windows 10 out there, and the device I just described above definitely sounds like something I would be interested in. Microsoft has a lot on its plate with this but if done right, Continuum can truly be a game-changer on a phone like this. This is the perfect kind of setup for UWP apps to reach their potential.