Recent Features - Comment

Mobile MicroSD Musings - and the iPhone zeitgeist

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It's a debating point as old as the hills... Should smartphones have storage expansion slots (e.g. microSD)? From earliest Symbian days to the era of Windows Phone and now Android and iOS, the answer varies according to which manufacturer and model you look at, together with the price point involved. Let's look at the pros... and the cons.

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Steve's Top 10 phone-related gadgets/accessories

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Yes, yes, a personal Top 10 - and yours will no doubt be very different. But here goes anyway - at the very least it might give you some good ideas (and links). We love our smartphones. And we love our gadgets. So let's link the two up, with gadgets and accessories that help the smartphone work better. Much, much better. Powered, connected, productive.

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Head to head: Lumia 950 XL vs Sony Xperia 5 ii

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Cross posted here to AAS as well, because the Sony Xperia 5 ii is possibly the Android phone that most closely matches how I'd hope a classic Nokia smartphone would have turned out after half an extra decade of evolution. Think of it, perhaps, as a modern day Nokia N8 or how the Lumia series might have ended up if it gone down the multi-camera route. From display to multimedia to overall performance, the Xperia 5 ii is a bit special. Here's my initial impressions and specs round-up, watch this space for an imaging head to head as well.

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Underestimating the appeal of ultra-wide angle cameras...

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Camera 'angles' are an odd thing. Back in the day (2005-2015), all a phone camera needed to do was shoot a single, standard (90° or so) photo of a scene, as well as possible. Job done. Various smartphones experimented with zoom (notably the famous 808 and 1020 pair), and from 2015 smartphones with extra telephoto lenses started to appear. But LG went in a different direction with its G5, building in a 130°+ wide angle camera as the phone's 'secondary'. And the idea caught on, with as many dual camera phones coming out in 2020 with 'main and wide angle' as 'main and telephoto'. Could it be that I, for one, underestimated the appeal of a true wide angle camera?

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Live tiles, widgets. Could iOS 14 finally master the idea?

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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.

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Top 10 tips for taking better photos on your phone

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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?

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A six way imaging head to head: Realme X3 SuperZoom vs Nokia 808/1020, etc.

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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.

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Juha Alakarhu on the Nokia 808, Lumia 1020, and more...

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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.

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A possible AAWP future?

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Forgive the thought flight into the unknown, but most readers will be aware by now that AAWP's infrastructure is less than efficient - see below for the various things that are actually broken. Anyway, I thought I'd profer a small glimpse into one idea. Your comments welcome, perhaps now more than ever!

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Head to head: Lumia 950 XL vs f(x)tec Pro1 (plus Nokia E7)

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It's... another head to head article for AAWP... with a difference. Because the smartphone here is different, a direct descendant of the Nokia E7 (2010, running Symbian) and N950 (running Meego, which ended up still-born). Now, a spec comparison between 2020 and 2010 would be farcical, so I'm still going to compare the f(x)tec Pro1 to the Lumia 950 XL, so that specifications are at least in a similar ballpark. But I'm throwing in plenty of Nokia E7/Pro1 comparisons in photo form too, hence the AAS cross-post(!)

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