Here, for April 2021, is the refreshed/latest news and comment on applications and services on Windows 10 Mobile - the OS itself has now had its very last security update, but it still works on the whole. This feature will summarise what's broken and what's not, along with workarounds where possible. Details and links have all been updated throughout. Note that I've kept the URL the same, so the last nine months of comments are all still here.
Recent Features - Windows Phone 8
With Google stepping back from their original vision for Google Photos, year on year, changes are afoot in the phone photo storage world. So I thought a round up of your options in 2021 would be worthwhile. This being cross-posted to AAWP, it's highly appropriate to suggest that Microsoft's OneDrive, as used originally back in Symbian (as 'SkyDrive') and then Windows Phone days, is still perhaps the premium repository for all your photos and videos. But there are alternatives galore...
Almost exactly a year ago, I was struck by the quality and beauty of one of Microsoft's official Windows 10 Wallpaper/Theme packs for Windows 10. Each with stunning colours and composition, and each with 15 (or so) wallpapers for your PC/hybrid to cycle through and generally take theme and colour cues from. So I wrote a guide for adapting these for Windows 10 Mobile, e.g. on a Lumia. Since then we've had dozens of similar packs, i.e. many hundreds of super-high-end images, so I thought I'd pick my top 20, in case you too feel like a wallpaper/theme change for your PC/phone.
The first smartphone that featured Qi charging out of the box was the Nokia Lumia 920, back in 2012, and ever since wireless charging has been a staple that most of us have required before considering a phone purchase. Making it ironic that the flagships that now support it have dropped other 'staples', including 3.5mm audio and microSD expansion, while lower end and mid-rangers have the latter but not Qi. But wait, there's an easy way to add Qi to any smartphone and I thought a reminder was in order...
In each of my previous camera shootouts from the phone world, I get people asking about the older, 2013 Lumia 1020 and even more so the 2012 Nokia 808, so why not throw these head to head with the state of the PureView art in 2021? 'PureView' was always about combining multiple pixels into one, about computational photography, to keep images as 'pure' as possible. Arguably, Google and Apple have done the best here in terms of keeping up this tradition, combining pixels in the time (as opposed to physical) domain. So here's a big 4-way shootout, for your interest and enjoyment!
One of the things I 'do' is roundups of cases for the various smartphones. For example, here for the Galaxy S21 Ultra and here for the iPhone 12 Pro Max. I couldn't countenance using any of these 2020/2021 smartphones without wrapping them in TPU - which got me thinking. I can't remember ever using ANY Windows phone in a case. Why would modern phones be so different in terms of carrying and casing, I wondered?
Internet security protocols evolve over time and this can scupper older platforms and their support tools. In this case it's Microsoft's rather handy Over-the-cable Updater utility. This runs with a command line interface under Windows and - in theory - updates any Windows phone (8.1 or 10) to the latest officially supported OS/firmware version. Very useful over the years, but security (TLS) changes at Microsoft's end have broken it - and it seems there's no hope at this stage of Microsoft fixing the tool to work seamlessly with the newer Internet security. Hence this slightly geeky workaround.
Regular guest author Nico brings us a look at using old Windows Phone 8.1 Lumias in 2021, in defiance of the Microsoft service removals. He concentrates on the battery advantages on staying with 8.1 rather than accepting (or hacking on) a Windows 10 Mobile 'upgrade', but he also gives a good flavour of what still works for him. In Nico's case, a Lumia 1320. A useful data point for others with older hardware - and, in this case, software!
The Nokia name has had a rough time over the last two decades, from market dominance in the early 2000s to an unsuccessful chase after the bottom end of the smartphone market with Windows Phone in the early 2010s - and then into oblivion between 2014 and 2016 after the sale of the business to Microsoft. But Finland-based HMD acquired the rights to the Nokia name in 2016 and announced its first Android-running smartphone in 2017 - four years ago. Long enough to form a verdict on HMD's performance with the brand...
It's a debating point as old as the hills... Should smartphones have storage expansion slots (e.g. microSD)? From earliest Symbian days to the era of Windows Phone and now Android and iOS, the answer varies according to which manufacturer and model you look at, together with the price point involved. Let's look at the pros... and the cons.