Away from worries over Windows 10 Mobile itself not being quite 'finished', there's still the fascinating choice of which Microsoft flagship (and remember that these are arguably the last ever 'Nokia' designs) to buy. Usually there would be a specs vs size set of compromises, but in the case of the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, the specifications are so close that it really comes down to form factor and other aspects. As someone whose SIM card has been in and out of each device roughly 20 times in the last two months, rather indecisively, I thought I'd prompt more discussion and deliver my own - eventual - verdict.
Having done a camera head to head between the brand new Asus Zenfone Zoom and the classic Lumia 1020, on the grounds of zoom capability, what about widening the comparison to include the full gamut of what a smartphone can do? But which Lumia to compare the Zenfone to? Given the size similarity and the way I rated the all-round imaging of the Lumia 950 XL so highly, I went for this pairing - see below for my blow by blow comparison.
There's an interesting editorial over the pond by my nemesis in the USA, Paul Thurrott (you won't believe the number of times we're both tagged in the same tweets, etc.), talking about the way Windows Phone is indeed dead and has been dying since July. While the stats quoted are accurate, of course, I do think Paul is missing part of the picture. The revised picture, the concept, the vision, away from expectations of mass market sales in their millions.
Never mind taking in a whole scene - what happens when you want to get closer to the action, the details, to shoot more intimately? It's amazing how a little bit of zooming can help. Not that most camera phone owners would know, since most digital zooms aren't stellar. However, the Lumia 1020 (now over two years old) offered genuinely lossless 3x zoom, thanks to its underlying 41MP sensor. And the brand new 2016 Zenfone Zoom, from the Android world, goes down a whole different route, despite the cosmetic similarities, with integral 3x optical zoom. So, tech vs tech, here's how they trade blows in the search for a cameraphone zoom king.
Ah yes, the professionally-rated best camera phones of the world. In this case, DxOMark calling the shots. Here's a quiz: what have the still cameras in the Nexus 6P, Xperia Z3+, iPhone 6s, Blackberry Priv and Nexus 6 got in common, as tested by DxOMark? Answer, they're all way ahead of the Nokia 808 PureView and Lumia 1020 for still photography. Eh? What? I contend that DxOMark's testing is rooted in cloud-cuckoo-land and that a new 'realMark' is needed. (© Steve Litchfield, 2016!)
A month or so ago I published a feature highlighting the very best third party apps running on Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile. Running to many hundred recommendations, this feature is hopefully a useful and bookmarkable resource, especially when used directly on the phone. But... what about all the applications that AREN'T available on the platform?
On the recent AAWP podcast Rafe and I chatted about the 'app gap' in the context of Universal Windows Applications. With some high profile banks and other establishments mentioned, I realised that I didn't feel my life was that incomplete without them on my phone. Yet how much of this is because I'm not able to have them because of my platform choice? Are we, as Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile users, secretly rather jealous of the riches on Android and iOS?
For owners of relatively recent Windows Phone 8.1 devices, at least. I'm not pretending that vast quantities of Android or iOS users will suddenly want to use the platform (though that would be nice), and I do think that there's a case for some older Windows Phones to stay on 8.1 purely for performance reasons. But for everyone else, the over the air upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile is bringing significant advancements in sophistication and, despite regular gripes about bugs and quirks, having been using the very latest Insiders Builds ('63' is looking good) and application updates, I find it unthinkable to not upgrade a compatible phone...
Having recently had quite a bit of experience of restoring Windows Phone backups to devices after resets and upgrades, I thought I'd answer a few Frequently Asked Questions about this boring but surprisingly important subject. If all goes well, you can - in theory - restore the set-up of one Windows Phone 8.1 or 10 device to any other. With some caveats, of course!
If you use a Mac and run one of the newest Lumias, the 950 or 950 XL, or if you've updated one of your Insiders Preview devices to the latest OS, 10586 build 63, you may have been annoyed to see that Microsoft's 'Windows Phone' utility in the Mac App Store no longer connects through to the phone. So no music or media syncing, no browsing the phone's contents from a Mac. Except that there's a fix, helpfully suggested by AAWP reader Steve Forbes. So, with thanks to him, I've broken it all down into a tutorial below. Here's how to get Windows 10 Mobile and Macs talking again!