Recent Features

Camera head to head: Lumia 930/1520 versus Sony Xperia Z3/Z3 Compact (+1020)

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With slight apologies for the cumbersome headline.... You see, the exact same camera unit is used in each of the two sets of smartphones, meaning that this test applies to any combination. Nokia/Microsoft seems to have standardised on the 20MP, 1/2.5" PureView oversampling camera for its latter day flagships, while the Sony Xperia Z3/Z3 Compact uses a similar 20MP, 1/2.3" oversampling system, in theory outgunning the Nokias (for a change). And, this being me, you just know I'm going to throw in a wildcard....

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There's more to smartphone camera testing than test cards and statues

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I may get mocked for my 'party' mock-ups when testing smartphone cameras, but my tests represent a better look at real world photos, i.e. of people indoors. Moreover, I also take into account facilities like lossless zoom, whereas this slightly questionnable set of test results from the usually reliable DxO mark folks shows the new Apple iPhone 6 models to both be top of the tree, with the classic Nokia 808 in 6th place and the newer Nokia Lumia 1020 down in 10th place overall! Remind me to take the DxO testers down the pub sometime and explain how to really test phone cameras....

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How to save battery, increase responsiveness, by disabling unnecessary background tasks

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In installing a popular Windows Phone application, I was brought to a crashing halt by a worrying error message. Happily, the message was clear enough about what to do and, as it turns out, quite a few of my third party applications had quietly been installed with 'background' capability. Disabling these permissions could result in increased battery life and phone responsiveness.

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The PDF (Acrobat) Reader round-up for Windows Phone

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Something that we all need sooner or later, on any computing platform, is a way of reading through Acrobat (PDF) files. To my knowledge, no mobile OS has ever supplied this by default, though many manufacturers often opt to include a viewer in shipping firmware. For Windows Phone, we're actually spoiled for choice, so I thought I'd round-up your options and proffer some opinions.

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How to: Avoid burned highlights in (Nokia) Lumia Camera

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There is one aspect of Nokia Camera (soon to be just 'Lumia Camera', of course) which has been catching me out, despite all my smartphone camera experience. I know what I'm doing wrong, I just never remember to correct it when taking photos in the heat of the moment. Most users will know what I'm talking about when I refer to 'burned highlights'. Here's how to avoid them.

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The iPhone 6 proves that 'thin' may be 'in' - but the 'race to thin' is counterproductive

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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? 

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Where are the 1080p games?

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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. 

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The Phone Photography Plateau + experimenting with LED flash to freeze motion

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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?

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