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Smartphone wired audio/DACs... (2021 update)

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Minor apologies for two quick updates to this 'reference' article in a few days, but I've added the rather excellent Samsung Type C to 3.5mm DAC/dongle, plus made numerous extra tweaks to the table, including quoting maximum sample rates and resolution where known. Here I look at wired audio quality from smartphone 3.5mm jacks (where they have one) and from add-on, plug-in DACs/dongles (where digital output is the only wired way forwards). Worth bookmarking, hopefully, and coming back to later in 2021, since I'll keep updating it as needed.

# Posted by Steve in Features || Comments

LG Mobile officially shuts down, ends 15 years in smartphones

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Starting off (in the smartphone world) with Series 60 (on Symbian) handsets, transitioning through Windows Phone 7.x phones, and ending up on Android, LG has officially closed its Mobile division, with the short statement quoted below. It's been a rocky road for LG, but even back in the mid 2000s at the Symbian shows, I never really felt their heart was in it, at least in terms of selling to - and supporting - the West. Some thoughts and a few looks back below.

# Posted by Steve in News || Comments

Review: Apple/Cubilux: a tale of two Type C DAC/dongles...

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Yes, yes, it's a confusing situation. I blame Apple, for taking away the 3.5mm headphone jack from their flagships (to boost sales of their new AirPods) and then I blame other companies for copying Apple. Happily, most phones under about £400 still come with jacks, but for anyone wanting an Android flagship for the last two years and who isn't all-in on Bluetooth, some way of getting wired audio out of a Type C jack is worth researching. Online, you can get 'adapters' from £1 to £100, which means that you might like some guidance from AAWP. Here, I test two candidates and am blown away by one in particular!

# Posted by Steve in Reviews || Comments

Status report for April 2021: services and apps on Windows 10 Mobile

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Here, for April 2021, is the refreshed/latest news and comment on applications and services on Windows 10 Mobile - the OS itself has now had its very last security update, but it still works on the whole. This feature will summarise what's broken and what's not, along with workarounds where possible. Details and links have all been updated throughout. Note that I've kept the URL the same, so the last nine months of comments are all still here.

# Posted by Steve in Features || Comments

Netflix and Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile... lives again!

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A year ago, Netflix stopped working on all Windows-powered phones - the fear was that this was a conscious decision by Netflix to axe streams to specific platforms. In fact, it turns out that something was just 'broken'. And clearly the broken bit affected enough customers on enough legacy platforms that Netflix's engineers tracked down the bug and fixed it - Netflix works again on Windows 10 Mobile!*

# Posted by Steve in News || Comments

Camera head to head: Lumia 950 XL vs Xiaomi Mi 11 5G

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Xiaomi is now no. 2 in Europe by some metrics in the smartphone world and it's easy to see why, with great value, high spec handsets - and, to my delight, with good image processing in their cameras. And now we have the first of the next generation Xiaomi flagships, the Mi 11, currently £650 inc VAT on Amazon UK. So not cheap, but also not crazy Samsung or iPhone flagship pricing. Last week I looked at overall specs, here I test out the Mi 11's imaging against the usual staple, the Lumia 950 XL.

# Posted by Steve in Features || Comments

Head to head: Lumia 950 XL vs Xiaomi Mi 11 5G

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Another year, another Xiaomi flagship, good value for money compared to the Samsungs and OnePlus of this world. Except that there are several variants, two of which have yet to be announced (next week should see the 'Pro' and 'Ultimate'). Regardless, I have the standard Xiaomi Mi 11 5G in hand and here I do a head-to-head against my standard benchmark device (for AAWP), the Lumia 950 XL. Imaging is next, don't worry.

# Posted by Steve in Features || Comments

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...

# Posted by Steve in Features || Comments

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...

# Posted by Steve in Features || Comments

My Top 20 free Microsoft Windows 10 wallpaper/theme packs

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Almost exactly a year ago, I was struck by the quality and beauty of one of Microsoft's official Windows 10 Wallpaper/Theme packs for Windows 10. Each with stunning colours and composition, and each with 15 (or so) wallpapers for your PC/hybrid to cycle through and generally take theme and colour cues from. So I wrote a guide for adapting these for Windows 10 Mobile, e.g. on a Lumia. Since then we've had dozens of similar packs, i.e. many hundreds of super-high-end images, so I thought I'd pick my top 20, in case you too feel like a wallpaper/theme change for your PC/phone.

# Posted by Steve in Features || Comments

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