Although Microsoft took a pass on 1080p display support in Windows Phone 8, that support is looking more likely for later this year.
Justin Angel, a developer who formerly worked for Nokia and Microsoft, has discovered 1920-by-1080 resolution emulator files for Windows Phone 8 in a preview version of Visual Studio 2013. As WPCentral notes, these files will allow developers to see how their Windows Phone apps look on higher-resolution screens, using software emulation.
It's a logical step for Microsoft, which added 720p display support the platform last fall, but now faces competition from Android phones with even sharper displays. The lack of 1080p support has been a sticking point for phone makers such as HTC, which reportedly canceled its plans for a large-screen Windows Phone last year due to the concerns over display resolution. To date, no hardware makers have released Windows Phones with screens larger than 4.8 inches, and most phone makers have stuck with screen sizes of 4.5 inches or less.
With 1080p support, Microsoft may open the door to Windows Phone "phablets," which would compete with devices like Samsung's Galaxy Note and LG's Optimus G Pro. These devices may even get modified Start screens with room for an additional column of live tiles, ZDNet reported. Nokia is reportedly working on one of these jumbo phones for later this year.
Reports suggest that Microsoft will offer 1080p support as part of a special update for phone makers, dubbed GDR3, but the timing is uncertain. In any case, The Verge reports that a resolution bump will likely be a separate release from Windows Phone Blue, a consumer-facing update that may come several months after the final launch of Windows 8.1.