Over the years I've reviewed dozens of smartphone accessories, maybe even hundreds. And I've reviewed a fair number formally here for AAS and AAWP. But, of this mass of plastic, metal and, often, lithium, which accessories really made the grade? Which ones do I personally carry around with me on any trip out of the house of more than a few hours? Here's a glimpse into my standard kit.
Recent Features - Hardware
On the eve of general availability of the latest* flagship for Windows 10 Mobile across Europe and the wider world, it seems appropriate to recognise the significance of the Alcatel IDOL 4 Pro's chipset and where it fits into the wider picture of Snapdragon chipsets used in Windows on phones through the last five years. Will the extra power make much difference?
It's not often a smartphone flagship comes along that claims to match the Lumia 950's camera capabilities, but the brand new Android-powered Honor 9 has just such a unit, albeit needing two physical cameras to match the 950's one. The benefit is that they can be smaller and thinner, but can all the dual camera trickery match the 950's ZEISS optics, OIS, and so on?
Upon the Alcatel IDOL 4 Pro's official announcement, tech blogs were quick to ridicule the product's existence and price point and, while I can see where they're coming from, I think they're absolutely wrong. At least for the Windows phone enthusiast (they do exist, our own AAWP community is evidence of this) - here's my thinking. And the reasons why I just put down £420 of my own money...
The tech media has been falling over itself in the last week to talk about the ten year anniversary of the Apple iPhone, that moment when Steve Jobs revealed the shape of smartphones to come. All singing, all dancing? It really wasn't. Revisionist history says that the iPhone introduced all the features we see in today's smartphones, but that's not accurate...
In terms of imaging, the legendary Lumia 950 XL is still very relevant in terms of specs in 2017, I'd argue, even if it's hard to buy one new. In this case it's pitched at the new imaging darling of the tech media, the HTC U11, with multi-frame exposure and combination, latest GPU, OIS, large 1.4 micron pixels and a f/1.7 aperture. Can the 950 XL maintain its crown as the best camera phone in the world?
In terms of imaging, the legendary Lumia 950 XL is still relevant in terms of specs in 2017, I'd argue, even if it's hard to buy one new. Here I've pitched it against the very latest, hot off the press OnePlus 5, with dual rear cameras. The latter claims telephoto capabilities, but how will it perform against the world champion, especially since zoom is one of the 950 XL's few weak points?
The OnePlus 5 is the hottest ticket in the smartphone house right now, with Snapdragon 835 internals and dual camera with optical zoom, all at less than £500. And it's in the house for review elsewhere, so I thought a head to head comparison with the closest (though obviously ageing) Windows 10 Mobile handset was in order. And yes, don't worry, a camera comarison will also be along shortly...
With every rating that the much-quoted DxOMark site puts out for phone cameras, the more I think that it's missing a healthy dose of real world experience and use cases. Not to mention a few key phone models (e.g. Lumia 950). Given that I've tested the majority of recent smartphones for AAS and then AAWP, usually against the best of the competition, I wanted to aggregate my experience into my own 'Top 10' camera-phones of all time. 'SteveMark', if you will.
Yes, yes, I did a piece just over a week ago comparing imaging on the new LG G6 with the Lumia 950 XL and... well, it wasn't even close. But a) the Galaxy S8+ is also now in for review, with an acclaimed phone camera, and b) some commenters took exception to my using a particular resolution on the G6. So we have a new comparison, a three-way head to head, and all at maximum resolutions. Can the spanking new multi-frame Galaxy S8+ camera finally provide a challenge to the mighty Lumia 950 XL?