In the interview below, I fire a load of questions at Leila Martine, Head of New Devices for Microsoft UK, concerning the new Microsoft Band and the company's ambitions for it. As you might expect, the reponses are guarded and defensive, but they still make interesting reading. Plus, I get in some more comments of my own along the way.
Recent Features - Hardware
Having reviewed the Microsoft Band recently, and been wearing it every day, I'm amassing quite a lot of data and experience. And, with Microsoft having released a Band SDK, we're starting to see all sorts of useful applications pop up in the Store that can take the accessory further. Here's my top 10, as at the end of May 2015, anyway. I'm sure the list will need updating in six months time!
Two years ago, it was accepted that Nokia led the camera phone market by some way. Devices like the niche 808 PureView and Lumia 1020 were way out in front and even the slightly cut down Lumia 930 and 1520 (with 1/2.5" sensors) were leading the rest. However, the latest iPhones and, in particular, the latest Android flagships, in the Galaxy S6 and LG G4 have now matched the Nokias and even exceeded them in terms of aperture, processing speed and functions. In this feature, I put the Lumia 930 (and later, the 1020) head to head, pixel to pixel, against the newest and best Android smartphone camera, in the LG G4.
Once upon a time there were 'smartphones' and 'phones'. Or 'feature phones' for the latter name if you were being a bit snobbish. Then we got to the stage where virtually all phones were 'smart' (i.e. online, apps, converged functions), so the distinction went away. And now, with the likes of the excellent Lumia 640 XL, we're on the cusp of seeing the same thing happen to that hated term 'phablets'. They'll all just be called 'phones' from 2016 onwards, you mark my words.
With eight years since the classic Nokia N95 was selling in the mainstream, with one of the first five megapixel cameras in the phone market and the best, with 1/2.5" sensor and 'Carl Zeiss' optics, I thought it would be interesting to see how far the technology has come. After all, the Lumia 930 occupies pretty much the same photo-enthusiast consumer spot, at least in the Windows phone world, yet it outputs at a nominal 5MP still. But how different would the pixels themselves be, with eight years of sensor, optics and processing tech improvements under the 930's hood?
The G4 is the very latest Android flagship and I'm comparing here with all we've got (for the time being) in the Windows Phone world, ye olde Lumia 930, now around a year old. Half the price as well, as a result, you'd expect the Lumia 930 to come off somewhat second best, but there are still things to chat about below, don't worry! With the 930 armed with WP 8.1 Update 2, I gave it my best shot...
I have to confess to spreading a little casual misinformation about smartphone screens. I was making a point at the time, in fact several times on AAWP and on the podcast, pointing out the advantages of 'full RGB' screens over 'pentile' displays. Not that I was entirely wrong, I was just exagerating, but I thought it worth pointing out in print that pentile displays are not as horribly flawed as you might think. It's all about sub-pixel rendering, you see....
By popular demand, another camera phone head to head using our comparator. With the launch of the Lumia 640 XL with '13MP' ZEISS camera, in a budget phablet frame, quite a few people seem to have been eyeing up the 640 XL as a cheap replacement for their older high end Lumia. The obvious comparison is the mid-tier 830, which also uses ZEISS optics and also eschews oversampling. And then I threw caution to the wind and chucked in the cheaper Lumia 640 as well. Read on for my verdict...
With the main review of the Lumia 640 out of the way, it's time to pitch it against one of its main competitors from the Android world, the Honor Holly, roughly the same price (depending on where you look), almost identical specifications, and yet still plenty of detail to differentiate the two handsets, not least the choice of OS.
After my last batch of camera phone imaging comparisons, there were a few requested in the comments and, with some nice weather in the UK spring, I wanted to tackle a few over the next few weeks. Starting with the classic Lumia 1020 (no compromises but a little old and slow) versus the Lumia 930 (fitted out with the latest Lumia Camera 5, blazingly fast, background processing and 'next gen' algorithms).