Recent Features - Hardware

The inverse square law and tracking down mysterious power drain

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I remain constantly surprised by the lack of knowledge of basic physics by those who write 'battery saving' articles across the web, in the context of smartphones. By far the most common bit of advice - reduce the frequency of email, PIM and social sync - seems to be given for all phones and all platforms and it's actually highly misleading. The underlying physics is far, far more important, if you want to keep your precious battery life while travelling. For 2G/3G/4G certainly - but also, almost counter-intuitively, for Wi-fi too.

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How to: The Art of Xenon

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Having a 'proper' Xenon flash in your smartphone (we're talking Nokia 808 and Lumia 1020 here) doesn't necessarily give you better low light shots of people - you have to know how to use the technology to best effect too. After criticism from some quarters about 'missed shots', I thought a 'how to' guide to Xenon might be in order, whichever of Nokia's flagship camera phones you own.

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Wrap-around security and the need to keep phones sized for homo sapiens

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I know it's probably terrible SEO tactics to link to a competitor, but in this case a) Windows Phone Central is a fine site (and hopefully they respect us too), and b) they're utterly wrong - in my humble opinion, on this particular issue. Yes, it's the thorny chestnut of phone form factors and, in particular a contention that 'it's time to redefine the smartphone: phablets are the future of mobile'. While I realise that this WPC article is probably just one voice among many writers, the concept itself is as interesting as it's possibly misplaced - and definitely worth exploring here, with quotes from past articles of mine on the subject and some new thoughts.

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Smartphone camera head to head: Lumia 1020 vs HTC One (M8)

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HTC makes a big deal of its 'ultrapixel' camera when talking about its 'One' series, with the latest variant, the 'M8' in-house for testing. Large pixels, a brand new 'ImageChip', etc. Perfect for setting its 4MP results up against the (similarly sized) 5MP results from the Lumia 1020. Ultrapixels versus PureView 'superpixels'!

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Smartphone camera physics part 2: HTC One M8 edition (vs Lumia 1020)

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It's a fair cop, this article is unashamedly camera-centric and mainly about a smartphone that runs a rival OS, i.e. the new HTC One (M8) running Android. But what I have to say includes the Lumia 1020 for comparison throughout, does reinforce previous features of mine and points out that the 'exciting' new featues in the camera of this Android flagship are centred around the kludge of all time rather than having their roots in better physics and optics 'done right'.

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Matching what your eyes see: PureView and a decent camera in your smartphone

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No, not quite the same as Nokia's famous "More than your eyes can see"(! here's that pop video) - more, in this case, matching what your eyes can see. As someone who swaps devices on a fairly regular basis, I have observed something in my own behaviour, about how and when I use the camera in my smartphone. Judging from the comments of a few others in the tech world (notably James Pearce), it seems that I'm not alone in having my photographic imagination realised by the hardware in my pocket.

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Your smartphone - the perfect pocket scanner and archiver that's always with you

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As the resolution and quality of cameras in smartphones has risen dramatically in the last five years, it's easy to forget that these devices aren't just for snapping people and things around us right now. With the technology now included - here demoed on the especially capable Nokia Lumia 1020, but this also applies to any other decent camera phone, of course - it's perfectly practical to archive and transfer printed images from older times. In this feature, I explain a use case that made a lot of sense to me and I pass on a few tips.

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Camera gimmicks help - but for best quality you need a (much) bigger sensor

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It's all very well seeing phone manufacturer after phone manufacturer adding faster image processors and (ever so) slightly larger sensors in their smartphone cameras. It's all very well them proclaiming in their marketing "the best phone camera ever". And, in extreme cases, even adding two lenses and two sensors. But, ultimately, physics wins. It always wins. Never mind the tiny sensors used in even the likes of the brand new Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2, use a large sensor like that in the Nokia Lumia 1020 and photos are immediately better, especially when allied to Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) and (when needed) also to a proper Xenon flash. 

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Ultimate smartphone/camera add-on head to head: Nokia 808 and Lumia 1020 vs Sony QX-100

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I didn't think this comparison would happen, due to the QX-100's price and availability, but we've been kindly loaned one and I set out to pitch it, chained to an Android smartphone, against the best of Nokia past (the 808 PureView) and Nokia future (the Lumia 1020). The QX-100, in case you hadn't been following the tech buzz, really is the guts of a high end standalone camera in a form that can be used directly by any compatible smartphone. Let battle commence!

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Camera phone flagship shootout: Lumia 1020 vs Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

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You'll have read my general comparison between these two camera flagships already - I'd given the 1020 the nod already, across the board, but then this is AAWP and you might be expecting that(!) What's more interesting is to put the camera units in the 1020 and Z1 Compact to the test across my usual range of scenarios and test cases. Sony claims super results and lossless digital zoom, PureView-style - but surely physics will win out in terms of the 1020's larger optics, sensor, OIS and Xenon flash?

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