Chancing upon a very old smartphone industry magazine from 2009 while having an office clearout, I thought it would be interesting to pluck out half a dozen data points, especially in terms of review coverage. A lot has changed in 12 years, but there's still enough here that's recognisable. And, although I used to write for Smartphone Essentials myself from time to time, I'm not quoting any of my own material here - I'm checking to see how right or wrong the opinions of other writers of the time proved(!) Highlights? Verdicts on the Nokia N97 and N96, loads of Windows Mobile 6(!), an iPhone, and the earliest Android handsets.
Recent Features - Windows Phone 7
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.
The more time goes on, the more I appreciate what Microsoft and Nokia did all those years ago. In a big update to a previous article, I'm still amused that the tech industry is falling over itself in the modern era to embrace concepts that were commonplace back in the early days of Windows Phone - from well over seven years ago. For every naysayer that slams Windows Phone for its weaknesses, remember that it also led the world in several ways, not least UI responsiveness, dark themes, offline maps, augmented reality mapping, and social integration!
The really interesting thing about Windows 10 Mobile is that it's fully backwards compatible with old Windows Phone 8 software. Even for games. Which you really wouldn't think after browsing the Microsoft Store, since many of the classic titles aren't there anymore. But that's no reason to be disheartened, especially if you're prone to a little installing and unzipping, since there are archives of classic WP8 games online and it's the work of moments (once you've got everything in place) to 'sideload' these titles to your Lumia 950 or similar in the current day.
Exactly two years ago I presented my own 'Top 5', but the ecosystem is about to start winding down, the last branch of Windows on phones is about to receive its final update, so now would be a good time for a massive update to the idea. This time going with crowd-sourced data and not just my own prejudices! You might still not be surprised at the no. 1 below, but at least it's not just my own PureView love affair - several hundred others voted, with results below.
I have to say that I find it quite amusing that the tech industry is falling over itself in 2019 to embrace concepts that were commonplace back in the early days of Windows Phone - from well over six years ago. For every naysayer that slams Windows Phone for its weaknesses, remember that it also led the world in several ways, not least UI responsiveness, dark themes, and augmented reality mapping!
In a week of 'tangential' articles for AAWP, here's another - Windows 10 live tiles seem to be on the way out. No, not on Mobile, that UI is fixed in stone and only getting security updates each month. But on the Desktop. A leaked future build of Windows 10 showed a Start menu with simple icons and this does seem to make sense - of all the relatives and friends you've helped set up Windows 10 on a laptop, how many have ever customised their tile layout? Exactly.
After yesterday's specification and performance head to head, here's what (possibly) more people have been waiting for - an imaging head to head, and with the (now benchmark) Lumia 950 XL. With the Sony 48MP main sensor and 3x telephoto lens, plus a good wide angle set-up also in place, can the new OnePlus flagship's imaging compete at the top end in terms of photo quality?
Back in early 2010 I was part of a panel of people giving feedback on different aspects of phone functions, software and hardware, run on behalf of Nokia. The latter section was about handling a variety of unmarked (non-running) prototypes and saying what we thought about the physicality. Two, in particular, caught my eye, with QWERTY keyboards and slide'n'tilt displays. One went on to become the Nokia E7, running Symbian, the other (larger, which I preferred) went on to become the Nokia N950, running MeeGo. And now, in 2019, inspired directly by these designs, we have a new Communicator, shown off at MWC.
AAWP reader Brady Nielsen contributes material to the Anatomy of a Lumia photo series here, with no less than nine photos, with comments. Though he bent the rules slightly, as I once did, by using photos from a HP Elite x3! All good snaps and hopefully we can all learn from his comments below.