Nine and a half years apart, we have two phone camera systems with near 1" sensors. Yes, it has taken the rest of the phone world a decade to catch up to the Nokia 808 PureView in terms of sheer sensor size. But a lot has changed in terms of processing power and multi-frame capture, enabling true HDR and night modes. So how, in terms of photo results, does the 2012 808 PureView match up to the very latest 1/1.12"-sensored Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra?
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I've done PureView shootouts in the past, but there are a few tweaks here. From the 2012 Nokia 808 PureView, which I've allowed to be tripod mounted here for low light shots (there being no OIS), through the trusty Lumia 1020 and the good all-rounder that is the Lumia 950, then to the iPhone 12 Pro Max in full ProRAW 'pure' shooting mode and the latest Sony Xperia 1 mark iii with 'Photography Pro' app and dual telephoto. It's the widest shootout I've ever done, in terms of timescale and is provided more for interest than to try and score generational points!
Chancing upon a very old smartphone industry magazine from 2009 while having an office clearout, I thought it would be interesting to pluck out half a dozen data points, especially in terms of review coverage. A lot has changed in 12 years, but there's still enough here that's recognisable. And, although I used to write for Smartphone Essentials myself from time to time, I'm not quoting any of my own material here - I'm checking to see how right or wrong the opinions of other writers of the time proved(!) Highlights? Verdicts on the Nokia N97 and N96, loads of Windows Mobile 6(!), an iPhone, and the earliest Android handsets.
No, not another site(!), but a genuine attempt to dig into Bluetooth music, i.e. hooking up your smartphone to Bluetooth headphones and the gradual increase in audio quality over the last decade. When did it get so good and what are the underlying protocols and numbers? Here's where you need to know your codecs from your acronyms and your kilobits per second from your profiles...
In the last few years, the whole core of what a smartphone means to me has changed. In one sense, a lot of the excitement about new phone launches has worn off, while in another, I’ve never been so invested in my phone and how tightly integrated it is into my everyday life. Let me explain - in text or (if you prefer) video form! You see, the value in your smartphone in 2021 isn't - surprisingly - in your £1000 hardware, I contend.
In each of my previous camera shootouts from the phone world, I get people asking about the older, 2013 Lumia 1020 and even more so the 2012 Nokia 808, so why not throw these head to head with the state of the PureView art in 2021? 'PureView' was always about combining multiple pixels into one, about computational photography, to keep images as 'pure' as possible. Arguably, Google and Apple have done the best here in terms of keeping up this tradition, combining pixels in the time (as opposed to physical) domain. So here's a big 4-way shootout, for your interest and enjoyment!
The arrival of genuine homescreen 'widgets' in iOS (see the screenshots below) has prompted more thought about the concept and about which mobile OS has mastered them, if any. Symbian and Android both had home screen widgets in 2009, while Windows Phone reimagined the idea completely for its 'live tiles' in 2010. And, a decade later, the iPhone joins the widgets party. But have any of these mobile OS really delivered? I say no. Or at least, not yet, with iOS 14's new implementation looking promising for the future.
I get asked every so often to condense my years of (ahem) photographic wisdom into digestable form - and set against the background of phone camera hardware and software which is constantly improving. It has been six years since I did something along these lines on AAS or AAWP, so let's put that right now. Your typical 2020 smartphone camera system will take pretty good photos in full 'auto' on its own, but what can you do to take the next step?
The arrival of the Realme X3 SuperZoom, another smartphone with much hyped zoom camera system had me scurrying for some zoom favourites of yesteryear for AAS and AAWP readers, plus I also threw in the current champions, the iPhone 11 Pro and Huawei P40 Pro, for good measure. Six contenders then and I'll throw various zoom and low light use cases at them. Note that it's not all about extreme zoom, as I contended in an editorial last week, sometimes it's about zoom versatility.
A blast from the past, but I had the pleasure of interviewing Juha Alakarhu on my most recent Phones Show Chat podcast, published yesterday and embedded below. Juha is, of course, the man who co-crafted the cameras in the Nokia 808 and Lumia 1020 (and various Nseries and the Lumia 950 before and after) - and is respected as something of an imaging guru in the industry. Do have a listen, he reveals some of the background to the two champion 41MP camera phones, including just how hard the 1020 was, in particular, having to combine the 808's power with the expected OIS after the Lumia 920's release.