How to upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile from Windows Phone 8.1

Windows 10 Mobile is now available for Windows Phone 8.1 handsets and here are the step-by-step instructions to upgrade your supported phone to the latest version of the operating system.

Windows 10 Mobile running on a Lumia 950 in the Microsoft Store NYC

Windows 10 Mobile is officially available for Windows Phone 8.1 handsets. The new version of the mobile operating system is available for existing handsets, but on select supported devices, and there are a few requirements you need to be aware of before upgrading.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to backup all the data from your phone, the minimum requirements, which devices are supported, and how to upgrade your Windows Phone 8.1 device to Windows 10 Mobile.

It’s worth pointing out that while the mobile version of Windows 10 is available starting March 17, 2016, not everyone will receive the upgrade at once. Microsoft is proactively working with manufacturers and mobile operators to make the operating system available on supported phones as soon as possible.

How to upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile

List of supported Windows Phone devices

The first thing you need to do is make sure your phone is in the list of supported phones: Lumia 1520, Lumia 930, Lumia 640, Lumia 640XL, Lumia 730, Lumia 735, Lumia 830, Lumia 532, Lumia 535, Lumia 540, Lumia 635 (1GB), Lumia 636 (1GB), Lumia 638 (1GB), Lumia 430, Lumia 435, BLU Win HD w510u, BLU Win HD LTE x150q, MCJ Madosma Q501. (Note that Windows Phone devices with 512MB of RAM won’t be getting Windows 10 Mobile)

Make a Windows Phone 8.1 backup

Before you upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile, you have to make sure to do a full backup of all your accounts, apps, settings, and files. Windows Phone 8.1 comes with the necessary tools for the job, and you can use this guide to create a backup of everything on your phone

Download the Upgrade Advisor app

Microsoft is making available the Upgrade Advisor app to help verify if your Windows Phone device is compatible to receive the Windows 10 Mobile upgrade, it will update your phone, and it also will help you free up space as necessary.

  1. Download and install the Upgrade Advisor app from the Store. You can also download the app by opening the Store and doing a search for Upgrade Advisor, and then install.

  2. Run the Upgrade Advisor app.

  3. If compatible, simple select Enable Windows 10 upgrade.

  4. Tap Next.

  5. Tap Done.

Here are a few requirements:

  • Device must be running Windows Phone 8.1 GDR1 QFE8 or later version of the operating system.
  • Device must have at least 1.4GB of free space to allow the Windows 10 Mobile download.
  • A Wi-Fi connection with access to the internet is also required to download and install the upgrade.
  • Device has to be fully charged before the upgrade.
  • It’s important to note that while most apps, in-app purchases, and settings will migrate over to the new installation, but some others may not migrate during the upgrade.

Install Windows 10 Mobile

Using the Upgrade Advisor is similar to the “Get Windows 10” app — it’s  just a way to reserve the copy of the operating system –, when the upgrade becomes available do the following:

  1. On Start, swipe to the left to open the App list, and tap on Settings.

  2. Tap Phone update and install the upgrade.

You should be able to install Windows 10 Mobile immediately or postpone to a later time.

The installation process can take up to an hour depending on your phone and apps installed.

Once the upgrade completes, make sure to open Settings > Update & security > Phone update > Check for updates, as new updates may be available for your phone.

Windows Insider information

If your phone have the current version of Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview build, then you don’t need to do anything. You’re running the latest version of Windows 10 Mobile. However, if you want to stay with stable version, make sure to open the Insider Hub app and switch to the Production ring.

If your phone is not on the list of supported phones, but you are running the latest version of Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview, you can keep using the operating system in an unsupported state. However, Microsoft says that it “will not be offering build updates beyond the Current Branch build 10586,” which means that in a near future, unsupported phones will stop receiving Insider builds. Once updates are not longer available for unsupported phones, you will need to roll back your device to Windows Phone 8.1 to keep getting updates. 

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].