Recent Features - How To

Why pixel peeping is important... even though it's not!

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I've acquired something of a reputation of being obsessive about ultra-naturalistic, pixel-perfect photo quality and blind to the overall picture - after all, don't 'normal' people look at photos as-is, complete? And, with this in mind, I'd like to set a few things straight - I'm not against image effects, I'm not against post processing, and I'm certainly not advocating others go around looking at their photos under a magnifying glass or zooming them in to see individual pixels. But there is method in my madness...

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Charting the hill that WP 8.1 has to climb to get decent battery life (vs Symbian/iOS/Android)

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"It's just got to get me through the day" is something often heard in relation to smartphones. And it's something that's very true - almost everyone has at least one opportunity in each 24 hour period to plug and charge a smartphone up. But, in an effort to assess complaints about battery life in the Developer Preview of Windows Phone 8.1, I set about a little scientific data collection - and uncovered the scale of how much Windows Phone needs to improve in terms of battery life... [updated]

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The Journey From Symbian To Windows Phone

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Guest writer Keir Brython reports back on his four months with the Nokia Lumia 1520 after a year with the Nokia 808 PureView. It's safe to say that he didn't find the journey from one platform to another all plain sailing and it's telling that he now has to carry around both smartphones, since the Windows Phone won't yet let him do everything he wants a smartphone to do.... Brickbats and bouquets abound in this real world testimony.

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How to: The Art of Xenon

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Having a 'proper' Xenon flash in your smartphone (we're talking Nokia 808 and Lumia 1020 here) doesn't necessarily give you better low light shots of people - you have to know how to use the technology to best effect too. After criticism from some quarters about 'missed shots', I thought a 'how to' guide to Xenon might be in order, whichever of Nokia's flagship camera phones you own.

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How to sync Symbian Contacts and Calendar with Google in 2014

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One of the services which many of us had relied on for ages, Microsoft Exchange sync of PIM data with Google, stopped working for most of us back in 2013 (though some with paid Google Apps accounts may still have access), prompting an article from me on switching to Microsoft for cloud PIM sync. However, as teased in the original news posts about Google's plans, there's a third party solution that restores full two-way sync to the Google cloud to Symbian handsets for 2014 and beyond. Here's a walkthrough...

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Your smartphone - the perfect pocket scanner and archiver that's always with you

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As the resolution and quality of cameras in smartphones has risen dramatically in the last five years, it's easy to forget that these devices aren't just for snapping people and things around us right now. With the technology now included - here demoed on the especially capable Nokia Lumia 1020, but this also applies to any other decent camera phone, of course - it's perfectly practical to archive and transfer printed images from older times. In this feature, I explain a use case that made a lot of sense to me and I pass on a few tips.

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Camera gimmicks help - but for best quality you need a (much) bigger sensor

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It's all very well seeing phone manufacturer after phone manufacturer adding faster image processors and (ever so) slightly larger sensors in their smartphone cameras. It's all very well them proclaiming in their marketing "the best phone camera ever". And, in extreme cases, even adding two lenses and two sensors. But, ultimately, physics wins. It always wins. Never mind the tiny sensors used in even the likes of the brand new Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2, use a large sensor like that in the Nokia Lumia 1020 and photos are immediately better, especially when allied to Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) and (when needed) also to a proper Xenon flash. 

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How to: use PureView zoom to produce stunning macros on the Nokia 808 and Lumia 1020

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Due to the large sensors, wide angle optics and relatively long focal lengths, Nokia's 808 PureView and Lumia 1020 haven't traditionally been thought of as great for 'macro' photography, i.e. this is seen one of the only weaknesses of these two 'PureView' cameras. However, it's worth noting one top tip for achieving great results anyway - and, thanks to our friend Olivier Noirhomme, we have some stunning examples of the technique in action, as proof!

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How to: Back up your offline country maps for Nokia Maps

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With components like Weather stopping working recently from the Nokia Maps suite in our Symbian smartphones, a very good question to ask yourself is what would happen if Nokia took its map servers offline too? Hopefully they'll be in place until 2016, but you never know, especially with the Microsoft takeover. Which is why I've been investigating how to back up your downloaded offline country maps.

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How to: understand camera phone megapixel resolutions

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Imaging enthusiasts like me live and breathe resolutions and jargon like 'oversampling' and 'Back Side Illumination', but it's easy to lose track of more mundane questions and issues from those for whom their smartphone camera isn't one of the biggest features. In this case, I'd had emails in asking why their 12MP (i.e. 12 megapixels) camera was only outputting 9MP and their 8MP device outputting 6MP. Why were their smartphone cameras performing under par? I thought a little clarification was in order.

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