I'd never have expected to write this piece so soon, but with the launch of the Surface Duo 2 last week we - surprisingly - have a true competitor to Samsung's all-conquering Galaxy Z Fold 3. I use the term 'all-conquering' with caution, of course, because these are hyper-expensive devices that won't approach mass market volumes. But it's still fun to pitch them head to head and see which comes out on top. Plus I look ahead to the Surface Duo 3. Yes, you read that right!
Recent Features - Microsoft
Last year's Xperia 5 ii (read as 'mark 2') was almost a perfect match in terms of specs and expectations for a classic 'Nokia/Windows phone' user - excellent audio, excellent imaging, not too large or heavy, fully water and dust proof, and so on. But we now have the brand new Xperia 5 iii, sporting internal upgrades plus (nominally) the same dual-focal-length telephoto camera from the Xperia 1 iii - let's hope it performs better at its upper zoom factor than the flagship did! Here's the specs breakdown, anyway. [Note that this is cross-posted to AAS as well, as it's a modern equivalent to the best of the old Nokia Nseries, I contend...]
Here, I'm not going near indvidual image pixels - the aim here is to look at the smarts in the multi-frame image processing from both Apple and Google (iOS and 'pure' Android) in terms of them helping out to render tricky scenes and lighting. After all, the vast majority of regular people's photos are only ever seen at 'screen' resolution, so let's look at photos as-is and not get too hung up on pixel level purity. Just this once, eh? As a benchmark for vanilla photos without any smarts or modern processing, I'm also throwing in some (by necessity) single exposure Lumia 1020 shots taken at the same time.
This phone camera shootout has been hotly anticipated, not least because the 2021 Xiaomi flagship promises 'PureView' quality images and with a larger (1/1.12") sensor than even the legendary Nokia 808. Add in top notch image processing and immense power, plus a high megapixel 5x periscope telephoto, and going into this first test with the Mi 11 Ultra should see it triumph overall. A lot will depend on how much emphasis I place on zooming, of course, but let's keep things sensible and balanced - for now!
Yup, it's the new Nokia - ruggedised, fully specced, and - well - rather huge. There's a lot to like, but there's one big question for old-Nokia, Lumia and Windows fans: how does its camera arrangement perform? Given the Nokia name, I just had to return to a Lumia as the comparison, my trusty 950 XL, which I pitched spec-for-spec against the new Nokia last week.
What's this? A Lumia up against a new Nokia? Yep, and it's something rather different this time round. The XR20 has all the gadgets one might expect from a flagship smartphone for 2021, plus it's utterly milspec durable. Yet it starts at under £400 inc VAT. What's the catch? Screen technology, mainly, but if lack of AMOLED isn't a showstopper for you then the XR20 might very well be the large and tough 2021 contender you've been waiting for.
I've done PureView shootouts in the past, but there are a few tweaks here. From the 2012 Nokia 808 PureView, which I've allowed to be tripod mounted here for low light shots (there being no OIS), through the trusty Lumia 1020 and the good all-rounder that is the Lumia 950, then to the iPhone 12 Pro Max in full ProRAW 'pure' shooting mode and the latest Sony Xperia 1 mark iii with 'Photography Pro' app and dual telephoto. It's the widest shootout I've ever done, in terms of timescale and is provided more for interest than to try and score generational points!
Following my imaging head to head between the fixed-up Sony Xperia 5 ii and the new camera benchmark, the iPhone 12 Pro Max in ProRAW mode, there was demand for a quick return to the Lumia 950 as the comparison device. And, with the weather set fair in the UK summer, I'm happy to oblige. As before, Sony has upped their game since the Xperia 5 ii's release, with updates, so can the 2020 multimedia champion also now best the 950 in imaging?
Just as I was enthusiastic about Windows 10 Mobile's Continuum back in 2015/2016, I'm enthusiastic about Samsung's DeX to this day - it keeps getting updates and more functional, month on month. But how does it fare in daily use, as at July 2021? Admittedly there's the continuing bottleneck of the hardware component (I'm fortunate enough to own a rarity, below!), but how does the software fare when faced with a typical 'laptop'-like workload today?
Please excuse a slight, a very slight devation from 'Mobile' (as in smartphones), but it's all very relevant. We have (very mobile) ultra-light 2-in-1s and notebooks running Windows, we have Android phones linking into Windows, plus old-time AAWP fans will be interested in Windows' evolution. And I'd like to weigh in on the worth - or otherwise - of the recently announced Windows 11, since opinions seem divided, with tempers fanned by Microsoft's draconian minimum specifications for the free OS upgrade.