In fact, ignore the title, because I've included no less than five top camera-toting smartphones in this group test. In addition to the big three, the Nokia 808 PureView (still reckoned to be champion by most people), the Nokia Lumia 920 (the flagship Windows Phone until tomorrow!) and the Samsung Galaxy S4 (brand new and top-rated), I also wanted to include the 2010 Nokia N8, since its sensor's megapixel count and performance should be a close match for the SGS4, plus last year's Galaxy S III, so we can see how much of a difference Samsung have made in terms of their camera tech. Let the fight rage!
Recent Features - Symbian 3
Now, I've been eulogising about 'proper' flashes in smartphone cameras since the Nokia N82, back in 2007. And by 'proper', I mean a Xenon flash, just as you'd find in a standalone camera. The Sony Ericsson Satio and Nokia N8 and then 808, all running Symbian, kept the rant alive, but elsewhere Xenon flash has been almost non-existent. Yet now we have rumours of new Nokia Lumias, running Windows Phone 8 and (allegedly) having Xenon bulbs, along with (also rumoured) Sony's upcoming 'Honami' handset and Samsung's Galaxy S4 'Zoom'. In short, 2013 is (probably) about to become the year that Xenon flash finally makes the journey from Symbian into Windows Phone 8 and mainstream Android.
In the second of an occasional tutorial series (here's the first part, looking at a murky scene-made-good taken on the Nokia Lumia 920), I take a recent photo of mine, also shot on a smartphone, in this case the Nokia 808 PureView, and show the quick-fire thought processes that went into creating it. Again, the tutorial is applicable to all phone camera users and again my aim is to get you thinking more when you next want to snap something photogenic. Comments welcome if I've helped and/or succeeded!
Sitting in my office, taking the backs of a number of Nokia phones (as you do), it struck me that something was missing - holograms. For the last five years or so, the presence of an official Nokia hologram has been a pretty good indication that a battery is genuine (and not some Far East-sold fake). Yet Nokia has been shipping phones over the last 12 months with hologram-less batteries. Photo proof below, but I have to ask - not for the first time - how on earth one might be able to tell these new official batteries from the replacement fakes?
So 2013 saw the first 6"-screened 'phone' (the Huawei Ascend Mate). Greeted with a degree of shock by most, would you be surprised to know that my 'smart' device of choice back in 1997, a whopping sixteen years ago, also had a touchscreen with a 6" diagonal? Now that your jaw has hit the floor, let me suggest you glance at the chart below, proposing that large screened devices have, for tech fans preferring to live on the cutting edge, always been available and that impressions of a gradual size creep are more for the wider market.
Throughout the history of PDAs and smartphones (so we're talking 20 years), one particular design battle has been raging, seemingly without a victor. From which you have to conclude that the battle is quite evenly matched. Yet I disagree, arguing that, from the user's point of view, there's a very definite winner, while manufacturers have a different preference and slant on this particular aspect of design.
With the arrival of the HTC One for Phones Show review, and with its imaging pretensions ("ultrapixels"!), what better opportunity than to put it up against the best camera-toting smartphones on both Symbian and Windows Phone? In the shape of the Nokia 808 PureView and Lumia 920. Oh yes, and, by popular request, I introduce an imposter from 2007 to the competition, the Nokia N95 classic, the world's first smartphone with a decent camera (and sensor size and megapixel quotient that's still comparable). How will that fare against the class of 2012 and 2013?
You may have seen my recent stills shootout between the elderly Nokia N8 and the new Sony Xperia Z? What I hinted at in that text was that I took the same shots with the 2012 Nokia 808 PureView and Lumia 920 as well, i.e. the best and fastest of Symbian with the generally-considered Windows Phone flagship. This being a camera result comparison, I'm expecting the Nokia 808 to win, of course, it's far more camera-centric than the other two and has a relatively huge sensor (plus proper flash), but I'm interested in the margin of victory and also as to how the best camera phone on Windows Phone matches up to (more or less) the best on Android, given that the sensor sizes are the same. Read on!
The trendy thing to talk about in the smartphone world is 'market share', of course. Thinking about the industry as 'business', its' all about current sales, how many units were shipped in the last few months, how much profit was made, and so on. Flip this on its head, looking at smartphone platforms from the user's point of view though, and a slightly different picture emerges. What I consider below is the 'active installed base' of each platform, i.e. the numbers of compatible handsets being used on a daily basis around the world.
Forgive me for going all generic and chatty and, for once, abandoning technical details and platform specifics. For this topic is applicable to all phone of all prices and OS persuasions. Well, maybe not all prices, as you'll see. I'm, quite simply, intrigued by the eternal battle between style and protection. Let me explain...