It's an idea that I've toyed with over the years, and prompted by a recent submission for review of a solar-powered smartphone power bank (link below, it had a design flaw!) Now, I'm in the UK and the sun isn't exactly a reliable resource, but hey, picking a sunny day or two in early Spring here, I applied some science to the solar idea. Using my trusty Choetech 19W tri-fold panel, I've been taking measurements and doing some maths...
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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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.