Recent Features - Comment

Pixel 6 Pro - imaging hardware that's finally worthy of study

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For years people have praised Google's 'HDR+' (and then 'Pixel Camera') image handling and processing. Originally designed for Google Glass, to make a terrible, tiny camera produce good results, the multi-frame algorithms worked wonders on many phone cameras too, even by side-loading onto generic Android hardware. The system was much copied by all other phone makers, so that multiple frames per image is now commonplace. However, Google's imaging hardware has been lacklustre, even poor, in the last year, so it's a great relief to see all that good software now paired with genuinely competitive camera hardware. So, ahead of my various review tests and comparisons (versus iPhone, Sony, and yes, Lumia), I thought I'd 'focus' in on what's under the hood in my review Pixel 6 Pro...

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

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Last year's Xperia 5 ii (read as 'mark 2') was almost a perfect match in terms of specs and expectations for a classic 'Nokia/Windows phone' user - excellent audio, excellent imaging, not too large or heavy, fully water and dust proof, and so on. But we now have the brand new Xperia 5 iii, sporting internal upgrades plus (nominally) the same dual-focal-length telephoto camera from the Xperia 1 iii - let's hope it performs better at its upper zoom factor than the flagship did! Here's the specs breakdown, anyway. [Note that this is cross-posted to AAS as well, as it's a modern equivalent to the best of the old Nokia Nseries, I contend...]

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All About... Zeiss T* lenses

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Carl ZEISS, later shortened to just 'ZEISS', has been an optics brand associated with cameras and then phone cameras, the latter since 2005 and the Nokia N90 transformer smartphone, but then used in over a dozen Nokia camera champions over the next eight years. And one can understand that ZEISS might have had a hand in designing and tuning the lenses in these pioneering devices. But there's a ZEISS trademark that's a little more mysterious and we've been starting to see it on phone cameras in the last couple of years - T*, with the legend often in a dark orange or red. So what exactly is T*?

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Almost a decade apart: Nokia 808 vs Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

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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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Preparing the way: imaging on the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

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It's not often that a camera-equipped smartphone comes along that goes so far 'up to 11' (pun intended) that even running through the imaging specs needs an article of its own. But with the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra in for review at All About Towers over the next week or two, it's probably a good idea to lay the imaging bare, especially for fans of classic Nokia imaging phones like the 808 PureView and Lumia 1020 - the Mi 11 Ultra is right up in the same ballpark, at least in theory, while having massively more horsepower and massively newer components. Which should bode well...

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Pure, pure, pure? Five phone cameras from 2012 to 2021

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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!

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The big, big 2021 All About sites accessory review update

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Over the last three years on the All About sites, I've reviewed dozens of useful smartphone accessories. Most of which I still own. But, as I've bemoaned before, accessories have a habit of ceasing to be available, frustrating those who follow slightly older review links and hit a brick wall. Begging the question - what's still available and how has it held up in week-on-week use? Here's everything you need - and links which all work (where possible)!

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Should you take 'zoom' a lens at a time?

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It's potentially a technological hot potato, yet 99% of the world has come down on one side of the argument and Sony on the other. And it's not something we've ever covered in any detail. Essentially, what should go through your mind when using zoom (or ultra-wide) in a smartphone camera? Specifically, should you think in terms of using a particular lens for a particular shot or should you 'wing it' and fiddle with the interface until framing is perfect? Here I demonstrate that the latter approach is fraught with image quality problems.

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2009 to 2021: Did 'Smartphone Essentials' verdicts stack up?

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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.

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2006-2007: my most exciting personal 12 months in smartphone history

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I know what you're thinking. I'm about to parrot other journos by declaring that the smartphone world started in 2007 with the launch of the Apple iPhone. Err... no. Not even close. Although the iPhone gets a small footnote below, smartphones were a 'thing' several years before, culminating in the period from July 2006 to August 2007 when three devices came along in quick succession that knocked me for six. They all ran Symbian OS in the guise of 'S60 3rd Edition', but they had very different characters and USPs. In each case, I was left breathless with excitement in even touching them. Hyperbole? Maybe, but let me expand...

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