Recent Features - Android

All About... Bluetooth music

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No, not another site(!), but a genuine attempt to dig into Bluetooth music, i.e. hooking up your smartphone to Bluetooth headphones and the gradual increase in audio quality over the last decade. When did it get so good and what are the underlying protocols and numbers? Here's where you need to know your codecs from your acronyms and your kilobits per second from your profiles...

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2021 Smartphone photo storage thoughts

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With Google stepping back from their original vision for Google Photos, year on year, changes are afoot in the phone photo storage world. So I thought a round up of your options in 2021 would be worthwhile. This being cross-posted to AAWP, it's highly appropriate to suggest that Microsoft's OneDrive, as used originally back in Symbian (as 'SkyDrive') and then Windows Phone days, is still perhaps the premium repository for all your photos and videos. But there are alternatives galore...

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It's the bits and bytes - not the chips and components!

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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.

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A 2021 'PureView' battle: 808/1020/Pixel/iPhone

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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!

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4 years on - the verdict on HMD's version of 'Nokia'

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The Nokia name has had a rough time over the last two decades, from market dominance in the early 2000s to an unsuccessful chase after the bottom end of the smartphone market with Windows Phone in the early 2010s - and then into oblivion between 2014 and 2016 after the sale of the business to Microsoft. But Finland-based HMD acquired the rights to the Nokia name in 2016 and announced its first Android-running smartphone in 2017 - four years ago. Long enough to form a verdict on HMD's performance with the brand...

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

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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.

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Live tiles, widgets. Could iOS 14 finally master the idea?

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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.

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Top 10 tips for taking better photos on your phone

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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?

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A six way imaging head to head: Realme X3 SuperZoom vs Nokia 808/1020, etc.

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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.

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