Recent Features

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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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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DSLR vs camera phone, 2021 - are we there, yet?

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Something a little different, here on the All About sites (including AAM, still yet to launch - ahem). Over the years various attempts have been made to pitch the best of the camera phone world against a DSLR - I've tried myself at least once. But with the top of the class in the phone world, the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max in ProRAW capture mode, I have high hopes that we're at last getting 'there', trending towards the point where shutterbugs really don't have to lug around a heavy DSLR. The fight is on...

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Just how practical is solar power for keeping your smartphone going?

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It's an idea that I've toyed with over the years, and prompted by a recent submission for review of a solar-powered smartphone power bank (link below, it had a design flaw!) Now, I'm in the UK and the sun isn't exactly a reliable resource, but hey, picking a sunny day or two in early Spring here, I applied some science to the solar idea. Using my trusty Choetech 19W tri-fold panel, I've been taking measurements and doing some maths...

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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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