Well, at least that's one mystery 'solved' in Windows Phone. And sorry if it sounds obvious, but it's something that had been bothering me for months, so thanks to the folk at reddit for stumbling over the issue as well. You see, having taken a photo with a Windows Phone, it's tempting to look at the snap on the phone and multi-touch zoom in and.... it's all rather blurry and underwhelming. Happily, it seems that this is simply a result of Windows Phone's attempts to keep performance high and isn't a reflection on the quality of the actual photo.
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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!
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.
I've done a lot of smartphone camera shootouts over the last five years on All About Symbian and All About Windows Phone, each revolving around taking the same shot with a number of different test units and then (at some point) cropping in to look at pixel-level detail. And each time I get called out for doing this: "Real users don't crop in to the level where they can see pixels". Here's my defence, aided by some rather nice example photos from a mystery device...
Why should consumers at the lower end of the smartphone spectrum put up with older versions of the operating system, older generation hardware, and feel like second class citizens? The short answer is that they shouldn't, and that's why I'm really glad that Windows Phone is able to deliver as well at the lower end as well as in those higher end devices.
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?
For an American mobile OS, Windows Phone has never caught on in its home territory. Unlike other territories, where Windows Phone is showing steady progress (Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom are worth pointing out), the American market doesn't seem to have taken to Microsoft's mobile OS from any manufacturer. Why?
As the latest firmware update for the Lumia range works its way around the world, I suspect that many of the hardcore users of the compatible phones are already exploring the 'Storage Checker' option newly added to the settings screen. This is Nokia's contribution to a slowly growing problem on Windows Phone 8 devices, but in solving the problem Nokia may have caused more damage to the Windows Phone ecosystem.
Anyone following the world of mobile phones will know that 'something' is up from Facebook on Thursday. The chances are we're going to see an updated Android application, potentially one that takes over the launcher UI of a handset, thus creating a 'Facebook phone'. We might even see a handset with this code bundled in from the factory. But if you want to see what a Facebook Phone would be capable of, you should be reaching for a Windows Phone.
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.