Steve is the editor at All About Windows Phone, which means any typos that slip through in the main stories are his responsibility (although, ultimately, you can still blame Rafe). He’s also one of the main writers, specialising in the camera and multimedia side of things when it comes to reviews and tutorials. When not working on AAWP and All About Symbian, Steve writes, produces and stars in The Phones Show, a fortnightly video show reviewing phones and smartphones in detail.
Recent Content by Steve
I have to apologise if I'm producing too many editorials which classify as 'rants' these days, but it's hard to keep one's strongly felt opinions inside sometimes. In this case, the trend towards ever-thinner smartphones in the wider industry (Windows Phones aren't, thankfully, the worst offenders here), as evidenced by the recent launch of the mass market Apple iPhone 6, at under 7mm thick, and the current record holder, the imminent Gionee Elife 5.1, at 5.1mm thick. Is it me, or is this march to 'thin' both counterproductive and impractical?
One of the most appealing aspects of Android smartphones of the last couple of years is that everything at the top end has been 1080p resolution (or above), meaning that there are a large number of games that really impress with graphical detail. It's partly why my main SIM often lives in a (somewhat hacked) Galaxy S4. With the Lumia 1520, then Icon and 930 all sporting 1080p displays, it's clear that Windows Phone has well and truly arrived in the high-def world, yet there are almost no leisure titles to use the capability.
I noted from yesterday's lengthy Apple announcements (of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus) that the cameras in each had been upgraded, to (allegedly) 1/2.6" sensors and, in the Plus's case, OIS as well. Which, in imaging terms, brings the iPhone at last up to near the top of the Nokia photography tree - the Lumia 1520/930 camera is very similar in size and specs (even if the image processing techniques are very different). Have smartphone cameras plateaued? And can anything be done to improve LED flash results?
We've heard a lot about PureView imaging, a new, faster Lumia Camera application, Moment Capture, Dynamic Flash and Rich Capture, buzzwords aplenty over the last few days at IFA 2014. And the mix of all of this in the upcoming ultra-slim Lumia 830 does looks very tempting. But I thought a few words about what will and what won't happen to the existing imaging flagship, the Lumia 1020, might be in order.
One of the biggest bug-bears on Windows Phone in recent times, for me, has been the performance of Skype, especially in light of the emphasis on the application in hardware launches, e.g. for the Lumia 730/735 here. The issue is that, when returning to Skype on anything but the newer 2014 Windows Phones, even if we only just let the screen timeout and unlock it again, or even if we use the multitasking carousel, we still see completely unnecessary 'resuming....' dots, as shown in the video below.
In AAWP Insight #109, Rafe reports back from the huge IFA 2014 show, with impressions of the new Lumia 735 and 830, plus thoughts on Lumia Denim and Nokia/Microsoft imaging improvements and innovations.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, it seems, and my attempt at simplifying the situation in terms of applications and Windows Phone 8.1 multitasking/optimisation was rightly picked at by a number of developers, who live and breathe this stuff. So I got in touch with one of them, Sarah Fegert, and asked some of the more pertinent FAQ-style questions....
If you're a fan of smartphones - or at least enough of a fan to be reading this - then the chances are that you like gadgets too, specifically radio-controlled gadgets. In a pretty good simulation, in 'Helidroid 3 : RC 3D Helicopter' you're effectively left to play at home (with swimming pool, too!) and no interruptions, with three r/c helicopters and a variety of challenging 'missions' to accomplish. Easy to get started with, hard to master (in terms of time and stars), my only complaint here is that I'd like to see more variety and more missions.
The Nokia Lumia 530 is here - and, showing the long time scales upon which phones are developed, there's no mention of 'Microsoft Mobile' anywhere on the box - you actually have to remove the battery to see the first evidence of Microsoft's involvement in the hardware. It's the new bottom end of the Windows Phone range and in some ways it shows, but there's still plenty of value for money for buyers.
Yes, 8.1 and Cyan are a big leap forwards for this platform, but it has to be said that there's one aspect of Windows Phone that continues to annoy and frustrate just about everyone. The title probably gives the game away - having your user experience ruined by continual loading and resuming messages, interspersed by animated dots.... Happily, things are about to get a lot better, real fast, as I explain below.