NFC (Near Field Communications) is something we've only touched on briefly on the All About sites. You know it as a way to pair quickly with compatible Bluetooth accessories and to tap-for-info on an object, but the scope of NFC is widening all the time. In the first of several articles on NFC, I explore the world of NFC tag writing, looking at some common practical uses. Comments welcome if you can think of ways the technology would enhance your life too.
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Regular listeners to the 361 Degrees podcast will have heard many times of Rafe's legendary 'six year rule', when referring to smartphone platforms and ecosystems. With Blackberry seemingly imploding before our eyes, with Nokia having been snapped up recently by Microsoft and with Symbian increasingly being forgotten in the marketplace, I thought it worth both expanding on Rafe's rule of thumb and also charting it graphically. A mosquito lives for a week, a hamster for a year or two, smartphone operating systems about six or seven years, and (happily) human beings about 70 to 80 years. Life and death, all in 1000 words? It can only be an All About (sites) editorial....
With the Nokia 808 vs Lumia 1020 articles, I thought that I was done in terms of camera phone comparisons for a while - yet there was tremendous demand for an N8-1020 shootout. In retrospect, this shouldn't be surprising, since the N8 sold in far greater numbers than the 808 (which was almost still-born at Nokia's end) and most N8 owners will be champing at the bit by now for something more up to date. Can the best of 2010 beat the class of 2013? Read on...
Although some local 'sync' options are available for our Symbian smartphones (e.g. locally to Nokia Suite on a Windows PC), for most of us 'sync' now means synchronisation to an online service. In the good (bad?) old days, this meant messing around with SyncML, but things have moved on and new protocols have emerged as standards. So where do Symbian handsets stand and is there a solution that is future proof? Could it be that the changes at Google's end are unwittingly nudging many of the hundred million Symbian users into a Microsoft-centric solution, following Nokia into the brave new world of Windows Phone?
It's a fair cop, I'm firmly in camera geek territory again here. We see a lot of smartphone camera comparisons online (not least here on the All About sites), but all this talk of optical formats and pixel sizes rather gets in the way of the man in the street understanding the simple physics involved. To help out, I've summarised all available data on smartphone camera sizes and apertures and present the result graphically. So the Lumia 1020 has a 1/1.5" sensor - what does this mean? And how does it affect the ability of the device to gather light? This and much more below...
From a Symbian enthusiast's point of view, the scare stories over availability of spare parts for repair and the ever-dwindling stock of new hardware across the world are something of a wake up call. Yes, no doubt all of us are still keeping an eye on developments elsewhere in the smartphone world, but until someone else comes up with hardware as good as Nokia's Symbian flagships and with an OS that's as flexible and feature-packed, there's a very valid case for keeping a look out for a 'spare' for your 808 or E7 or E6, or whichever Symbian-powered device you're currently depending on.
Having done a number of real world photo comparisons between Nokia's new Lumia 1020 and various competitors, including its own 'predecessor', the Nokia 808 on Symbian, I wanted to break down the word 'oversampling' and try to demonstrate what is - and, particularly - what isn't going on inside each of these camera-toting smartphones and their applications. Where do the photo pixels come from and does it matter which application captures them?
I've handled a broad strokes comparison of the two 41 megapixel camera flagships of the smartphone world before, notably here (when I declared them roughly equal in merit though with very different processing pros/cons) and here (as part of a four way test, but with very similar conclusions), but what I wanted to do here was to push them both to the limits in real world low light situations. Would the benefits of Optical Image Stabilisation outweigh that of a larger sensor? Would a BSI sensor compensate for a smaller Xenon flash? Is the hardware oversampling engine from the Nokia 808 missed on the Lumia 1020?
It seems that Tuesday's news of Microsoft buying Nokia's devices arm, lock, stock and barrel, generated something of a storm of comment, mostly on conspiracy lines. But, this being All About Symbian, I wanted to address the question of whether the news will have an direct impact on the Symbian world. Read on for my thoughts.
You know, the more the world centres in on large touch-only smartphones, the more I continue to appreciate the genuinely different hardware we've had in the modern age in the Symbian world. Yes, the OS is effectively now frozen in stone (though, despite yesterday's buy-out news, Accenture will still hopefully be under contract to provide support/patches etc. for another two years at least), but there's really very little in the smartphone world that can compete with the 2011 Nokia E6, with its 'QWERTY candybar' form factor. Here then, for your consideration (and celebration) are five under-appreciated design features, over and above the highlights we've covered before. And perhaps extra reasons why you might like to buy up an E6, even if as a backup smartphone or for your 'collection'(!)