Recent Features - Hardware

Camera head to head: Lumia 950 XL vs POCO X3

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The POCO X3 (NFC) - to use its full title - is the mid-range smartphone of the moment, offering flagship features in most cases, at under £200 (for the 64GB version), brand new and inclusive of VAT, in the UK. It's a stunning phone and I featured it last week in a head to head with the Lumia 950 XL, by way of something AAWP-relevant to compare it to. But imaging was an unknown at that point. So, how good is a £200 2020 Android phone's camera system compared to the champion/classic from 2015?

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Head to head: Lumia 950 XL vs POCO X3 (NFC)

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It's brand new and it sets new boundaries for high specifications and low price in the smartphone world. £199 (inc VAT) for the 'POCO X3 (NFC)' in the UK is all it costs to get something which all but competes with other smartphones costing three times its price. But where are the compromises, if any, and how does this Android newcomer compare with the classic Lumia 950 XL, still the benchmark for many here on AAWP?

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Battle between the last bastions of Windows 10 Mobile

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Guest writer Nico brings us a retrospective specs and user experience comparison of the three Windows 10 Mobile 'flagships'. My favourite was the Alcatel, despite some imaging misses, because I just love the screen contrast and colours, and the stereo speakers - but here's Nico's take, borne of personal experience of all three (I - Steve - don't have an Elite x3 anymore, sadly)... Which of the three (or four, depending on how you count) is/was your favourite?

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An unofficial Windows 10 Mobile branch guide

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Drawing on guest contributor Nico's experience, here's our guide to where each Windows Phone (8.1) and Windows 10 Mobile smartphone should end up. No, not Microsoft's official 'end of support' branch for each, but where an enterprising geek like yourself might take them with the aid of the usual interop tools and phone ID spoofing. 

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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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How to: 'Unlock' Lumias 550, 650, 950 and 950 XL

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Guest author Nico brings us a guide to 'unlocking' any of the Microsoft Windows 10 Mobile Lumias, with the example aim of replacing the boot and closedown graphics, but I'm sure there are more practical things possible. Yes, we've reached that 'hacking' stage of an OS, where the manufacturer isn't interested anymore, so it's down to users to play around under the hood, it seems. 

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The problems of scaling Qi to three billion smartphones

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I've been a long time proponent of Qi wireless charging, starting with the Lumia 920 back in 2012 and then spreading through other Lumias out to the Android world (notably Samsung and LG) and then even to iPhones in the last three years. And it's still ultra-cool and more or less a must-have on any smartphone over about £500 these days - pop your phone on a wireless pad and bingo - it's (trickle) charging away. But many people are now arguing that we have to be careful - if three billion people end up using Qi as their primary charging system then the undoubted power inefficiencies inherent in the technology may become a big problem at that worldwide scale.

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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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Camera head to head: Lumia 950 XL vs Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro

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One of the most important phone features for a Lumia owner that needs replicating in the wider world of Android and iOS is the camera, of course. And I've established that if you pay a lot of money (e.g. £1000 for the iPhone 11 Pro) then you can match and exceed even the Lumia 1020 and 950 XL. But what if you're a bit strapped in this crazy world of lockdowns and redundancies? The new Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro is in for review, with a (nominal) quad camera setup including a 64MP main sensor and it's only £249. It's great value for money, but can the camera set-up get close what a Lumia owner might expect? i.e. can you really save money and still take great photos?

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Underestimating the appeal of ultra-wide angle cameras...

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Camera 'angles' are an odd thing. Back in the day (2005-2015), all a phone camera needed to do was shoot a single, standard (90° or so) photo of a scene, as well as possible. Job done. Various smartphones experimented with zoom (notably the famous 808 and 1020 pair), and from 2015 smartphones with extra telephoto lenses started to appear. But LG went in a different direction with its G5, building in a 130°+ wide angle camera as the phone's 'secondary'. And the idea caught on, with as many dual camera phones coming out in 2020 with 'main and wide angle' as 'main and telephoto'. Could it be that I, for one, underestimated the appeal of a true wide angle camera?

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