Recent Features - Microsoft

Head to head: Lumia 950 XL vs iPhone 12 Pro Max

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It's the big one... the largest iPhone ever with the largest, most sophisticated camera ever. In an iPhone, at least. But it looks pretty good so far - an imaging shootout is coming next (of course), but in the meantime here's a specs feature. Yes, the 2015 Lumia's outgunned, but it gives me an opportunity to go over what's in the new iPhone flagship against a known bookmark. 

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Smartphone wired audio/DACs... (2020 update)

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Despite Apple's (and then Google's) attempts to quosh the humble wired 3.5mm audio jack on modern smartphones (and copied by many others), plenty of decent smartphones are still sold with jacks and with DACs feeding whatever wired headphones you care to plug in. Potentially higher quality, and certainly no issues with drained batteries or lost AirPods (etc.) In this update of an article from 18 months ago, I test some of the 'jacked up' smartphones that I've had in for testing in 2020. Any conclusions, any winners?

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2020 imaging head to head: Lumia 950, Pixel 5, iPhone 12

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Something a little different here, with a three way test - just because I have the very latest from Google and Apple here. Pitched against the classic Lumia 950 (from 2015), because this is AAWP, after all, I've taken a number of test scenes in all light conditions - which will be the purest of PureView cameras? Do note that the 'big one' on the iPhone 12 imaging front is November's 12 Pro Max, so that'll have its own camera showdown in due course...

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Mid-priced head to head: Lumia 950 vs iPhone 12

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OK, it's a fair cop, the comparisons are starting to get a little stretched now in terms of raw power, but the brand new (out today) iPhone 12 is almost the same size as my trusty Lumia 950 and might well be a device that many are aiming for, or at least aspiring to. No, it's not the iPhone 12 Pro Max with the next-gen camera stuff, but it's not a million miles off. So how does it spec up to a Lumia that you'll all know and love?

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Continuum-esque Windows hot-desking, 2020 style

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I thought this might be of interest, from someone who was all in on Windows 10 Mobile and Continuum (or Android and Samsung DeX) as the way forward four years ago. Even though Windows 10 Mobile had the rug pulled out from under its feet by Microsoft and then died the death of (lack of) a thousand apps, the dream of hot-desking lives on in other guises. Witness my data point below - it's not a perfect solution but it's technically elegant.

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The Z Fold 2 arrives to take on the Duo, but still plenty of caveats

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So, here's a puzzler for you... What has two screens, folds to (almost) any angle, has multiple 'poses', allows for multi-pane displays within individual applications, and is integrated tightly with Microsoft applications and services? Answer? The Surface Duo The new Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, which arrives a mere week after the first review Duos hit USA-based reviewers. There are a huge number of similarities - plus a huge number of differences, and I thought it worthwhile breaking them all down. Both are, of course, stupidly expensive - but here's my take, regardless.

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Surface Duo: Here's why it exists, and what else you'll need!

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Having slammed the Surface Duo utterly for its initial specs, price and availability, I did want to address the balance and point out (some of) the things it will be able to do well. And who's going to buy it. There absolutely is justification for the initially crazy price tag - it's just not a justification that brings it remotely within recommendation range for most people reading this. Plus I have some serious Duo-centric questions about the core of 'productivity' - entering text.

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Showcasing the camera champion Huawei P40 Pro set up with the latest Microsoft Launcher

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Never mind Huawei's infrastructure woes, the company's handsets will carry on being made and supported, though not with Google Mobile Services. Which is a huge disadvantage for most people in the Android world, but I still maintain that the app and services situation is 99% fine for someone coming from a Lumia and dependent on Microsoft services and apps. I've previously showcased the P40 Pro with everything installed and accessible from the default Huawei launcher, but I've now discovered that it's trivial to get the official Microsoft Launcher for Android installed and working. Giving even more of a Microsoft flavour to this imaging-centric Chinese phone for Western markets.

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Live tiles, widgets. Could iOS 14 finally master the idea?

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The arrival of genuine homescreen 'widgets' in iOS (see the screenshots below) has prompted more thought about the concept and about which mobile OS has mastered them, if any. Symbian and Android both had home screen widgets in 2009, while Windows Phone reimagined the idea completely for its 'live tiles' in 2010. And, a decade later, the iPhone joins the widgets party. But have any of these mobile OS really delivered? I say no. Or at least, not yet, with iOS 14's new implementation looking promising for the future.

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