In fact, ignore the title, because I've included no less than five top camera-toting smartphones in this group test. In addition to the big three, the Nokia 808 PureView (still reckoned to be champion by most people), the Nokia Lumia 920 (the flagship Windows Phone until tomorrow!) and the Samsung Galaxy S4 (brand new and top-rated), I also wanted to include the 2010 Nokia N8, since its sensor's megapixel count and performance should be a close match for the SGS4, plus last year's Galaxy S III, so we can see how much of a difference Samsung have made in terms of their camera tech. Let the fight rage!
Recent Features - Page 7
Now I know what you're going to ask: "What's the point? If you're at home then you can use a real TV or a desktop/laptop, and if you're mobile then you probably don't want hours of mobile TV swallowing up your cellular bandwidth!" All very true, but say you're mobile, some breaking news is happening and you're frustrated that all you can see are headlines and textual reports. Wouldn't it be nice to see what's going on by tapping into a live TV stream? With, admittedly, a UK focus, I investigate a few options. I'm sure readers from around the world can chip in with links to solutions for Symbian that work in other areas?
Now, I've been eulogising about 'proper' flashes in smartphone cameras since the Nokia N82, back in 2007. And by 'proper', I mean a Xenon flash, just as you'd find in a standalone camera. The Sony Ericsson Satio and Nokia N8 and then 808, all running Symbian, kept the rant alive, but elsewhere Xenon flash has been almost non-existent. Yet now we have rumours of new Nokia Lumias, running Windows Phone 8 and (allegedly) having Xenon bulbs, along with (also rumoured) Sony's upcoming 'Honami' handset and Samsung's Galaxy S4 'Zoom'. In short, 2013 is (probably) about to become the year that Xenon flash finally makes the journey from Symbian into Windows Phone 8 and mainstream Android.
The E6 may look a bit diminutive in today's world of monster screens, but it's still a popular concept in some circles. Not least chez Litchfield, which is why, when my E6 started playing up (after one app install too many!), I decided on a change and went looking for custom firmwares. Here's my report on the appallingly lengthily named 'Nokia E6-00 v3 - 111.140.58 -Belle Refresh Enhanced by Luna Updated' - what does it offer, over and above the final official Nokia firmware, how did the flashing go and how well does it work in practice?
Purists, look away now, because this is going off at a slight unofficial tangent. Almost two weeks ago we had a batch of five new homescreen widgets deployed through SW Update to Belle Feature Pack 2-powered phones - very useful additions and I did note at the time that there seemed to be no technical reason why the same widgets couldn't be installed on the older Symbian^3/Anna/Belle/Belle Refresh generation devices (N8, E7, etc.) Indeed, the SIS files had been intercepted by one enterprising soul already and installed on an E7 with success. I've waited a fortnight and these still haven't been 'pushed' to the older phones officially - which is why I thought you might like a walkthrough of grabbing and installing them unofficially. If you haven't already done so, of course!
I've done a lot of smartphone camera shootouts over the last five years on All About Symbian and All About Windows Phone, each revolving around taking the same shot with a number of different test units and then (at some point) cropping in to look at pixel-level detail. And each time I get called out for doing this: "Real users don't crop in to the level where they can see pixels". Here's my defence, aided by some rather nice example photos from a mystery device...
I've moaned about Nokia Store issues before - sometimes things gets fixed, sometimes they don't. But it all leaves the average user with a frustrating experience and, often, something that's simply 'stuck' downloading. Is there a recommended way to proceed? Well, not an official way, but see my workarounds below.
We're almost exactly a year on from our first hands-on with the Nokia 808 PureView, hailed by me, somewhat tongue in cheek, as Nokia's custom design for me, from my own personal checklist. Insane camera, Xenon flash, replaceable battery, FM transmitter, large OLED screen, deafening speaker, and so on. All present and correct. One year on and, thanks to a brace of updates and third party additions, I find myself just as in love with the 808 now as when I first popped my microSIM card in...
I'm someone who is fascinated by numbers and data points, in this case stats from a well known Symbian developer, Hugo van Kemenade, author of Mobbler, which has been around for all varieties and interfaces of Symbian for years. Meaning that looking at his download numbers and breakdown is very interesting indeed. I wonder if a few other developers might share their numbers too? In the meantime, a little extrapolation brings up charts and stats which will be surprising to many.
In the second of an occasional tutorial series (here's the first part, looking at a murky scene-made-good taken on the Nokia Lumia 920), I take a recent photo of mine, also shot on a smartphone, in this case the Nokia 808 PureView, and show the quick-fire thought processes that went into creating it. Again, the tutorial is applicable to all phone camera users and again my aim is to get you thinking more when you next want to snap something photogenic. Comments welcome if I've helped and/or succeeded!