Having featured a number of tips, tutorials and accessories over the last year, I wanted to round up perhaps the biggest ten, in terms of getting more from a Windows 10 Mobile smartphone. Newcomers, start here (including anyone coming over from Windows Phone 8.1 via the official upgrade program), and maybe even old hands will find some of the links and comments of interest, at least.
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The budget end of the smartphone market is almost as interesting as the flagship end in many ways, helped by the fact that phones costing £150 or less are far easier to recommend to others than £700 monsters (cough, Elite X3....) It's true that one's brand new (the Swift 2) while the other is reaching the end of its sales life (the Lumia 650, after only 9 months, thanks to Microsoft's strategy changes), but you can still buy the latter readily brand new, so it's still a very valid comparison. Most tellingly, both feel like they should cost twice what they actually do...
There have been several people online pointing out that you can't buy a Lumia 950 or 950 XL flagship from Microsoft in the UK anymore - they're now firmly 'out of stock'. Noted, and I've done some research and discovered, in an update to an article I did two months ago, that the stock position of the two flagships has become sparse across many other Microsoft device stores online. See the table below.
When it comes to business phablets, we're talking premium construction, extra OS level security and higher-than-expected prices. And both the new HP Elite X3 and even newer Blackberry DTEK60 fall into this camp, on Windows 10 Mobile and Android respectively (that's right, Blackberry no longer uses its own OS). But how do they stack up across the board?
Well, it isn't often that I feature a Blackberry smartphone in a head to head on AAWP - their abilities and cameras have never been top notch. But, ironically, since Blackberry decided to quit making its own hardware and merely tweak someone else's, some aspects of its branded hardware have improved in quality. Such as the new DTEK60, with 21MP main camera. Aimed at businesses, the logical comparison here might be to the HP Elite X3, but that's stuck in HP's self-imposed 10MP land so I've plumped for the Lumia 950 XL instead. Just how good is the high-res shooter on the DTEK60?
As I finish a couple of weeks with the HP Elite X3, and with four review parts now complete, I tried switching back to the Lumia 950 XL for a few days. Which gave me the impetus to do a direct comparison at every level between the two smartphones. Yes, one's far more business-focussed than the other, so they're really not competitors except here on AAWP, where enthusiasts will be (hopefully) interested in my deliberations below.
Taking a slight tangent from the core review coverage of the HP Elite X3, and in answer to numerous requests for a direct imaging head to head with the Lumia 950 XL, now that the X3 has had its camera firmware fixed up, here's a look using our interactive comparator. The winner can probably be guessed, since the X3 isn't claimed to have the best camera, but the device does have a few tricks up its sleeve....
We've had the Lumia 1020 and 950/XL winning camera phone shootouts for years on AAWP and still haven't found anything to touch them, least of all the new Pixel XL, whatever claims Google makes for it. However, the 1020's ancient now and the 950 is no spring chicken. What about the brand new HP Elite X3, priced for business and built like a tank. Does its camera prove a better match for the Google darling?
Back in March this year, Microsoft released the official Windows 10 Mobile upgrade to all eligible devices - so that's a whole load of Snapdragon 2xx, 4xx and 8xx-based smartphones* all right up to date with the latest and greatest OS, and all now on the Anniversary Update, right? Actually no, the vast majority of Windows Phone 8.1 users, many with fully W10M compatible phones, are still on 8.1 because Microsoft hasn't told them about the upgrade.
Having set up expectations that Google's HDR+ computational photography in the new Pixel flagship can be considered 'PureView take II', or thereabouts, I thought it time to put this to the test. So I took three PureView flagships from various eras: Nokia 808, Lumia 1020 and Lumia 950 XL, and pitched them against the new Google Pixel XL. The aim, away from trivial sunny shots (hey, suits me, this is the UK in October!), is to really stretch the pixel combination systems, in reducing noise and finding detail and colour.