Almost a year ago, I covered this very topic, but it's just as relevant today, if only to answer the question of whether you can still bring an older Windows Phone up to the last major practical branch, the Creators Update, giving you updates until Autumn 2019. See below for some recommended prerequisitive reading, but the short answer is that yes, you can. No need to be stuck on the Anniversary Update!
Recent Features - Hardware
Huawei has been one of the unsung heroes of phone imaging for a while, pioneering the use of dual cameras in the main, and the new Mate 10 Pro has dual f/1.6 lenses with 12MP colour and 20MP monochrome sensors, with photos constructed from multiple exposures from both. In theory, with enough processing power, the Mate 10 Pro should be more than a match for the classic Lumia 950 XL here. How well will the 2015 Lumia classic fare against one of the 2018 front runners?
Back in mid 2015, two and a half years ago, Microsoft debuted the premium Universal Folding Keyboard (UFK) and I reviewed it here, pronouncing it massively overpriced (£100) and with poor Windows Phone support. Then, exactly a year ago, I briefly reviewed the UFK again in the light of a new price (£40) and Windows 10 Mobile's far more complete Bluetooth profiles - ending up recommending it to all. What's new here then? Not much, except that I've been using it for a year and I wanted to put into context - the UFK is more than a humble Bluetooth keyboard, yet (obviously) less than a laptop. So where does it fit in?
Back in October (2017) I published a feature mapping out the road map/state of play for all Windows phones, but since then we've had the full production release of a whole new branch of Windows 10 (Mobile), and even a new phone. Not exactly a maelstrom of activity, but certainly worth taking quarterly stock of models and branches supported!
Microsoft's patches for all supported branches of Windows 10 Mobile a few days ago were much welcomed, more of a show of force in the industry in the face of media concern over Meltdown and Spectre chip vulnerabilities, but the reality is that there was very little to worry about. Only a handful of phone models had the vulnerable chipsets and the attack vector even before the patches was infinitesimal. Note that, in my research, I also tried (and failed) to find evidence of any OS slowdown.
I go into some depth when testing smartphone (stills) cameras, I even occasionally test smartphone video capture. But I rarely test the audio that's captured. Whether you're videoing some live music in front of you or just shooting video at a party, the louder, clearer and higher quality the better - audio is often more important than picture quality, I contend*. Here's a quick test of seven contenders, back to back, play along at home and let your own ears decide!
With all the recent renders and patents seemingly predicting a 'Surface Mobile' this Spring, with double-hinged design allowing use as a phone or mini-tablet, I thought it appropriate to look back into the past - such a double hinged design was seen before on a business-aimed smartphone, back in 2007, just over a decade ago. And thanks to a kind reader, I've got the Nokia E90 in front of my camera again. It's not much actual use in 2018, but it's extra food for thought.
Twitter this week saw a number of very skillful CAD renders by designer David Breyer of what could be the 'Surface Mobile', ostensibly to be announced in the Spring. He based the renders on the very detailed patent filing by Microsoft a few days ago. The illustrations in the latter were such that we now have an excellent idea of what's coming, though questions remain and I'll have a go at answering them with some educated guesses below.
8 versus 8, etc. I've lost count of the number of times readers have asked me to pit the new Nokia 8 against its namesake, the classic Nokia N8, from 2010. However much a monster the latter was, surely 2017 technology can trump it? I'm also including the reigning champion, the Nokia-designed (and Microsoft-made) Lumia 950. This will win out overall, but it's a useful modern age benchmark for the others - I'm genuinely curious to see how a 7 year old phone does!
With the Nokia 8 arriving in for review, the highest specced of the 'new Nokias' (running Android), I wondered which Windows phone to compare it to. I settled in the end for the current Alcatel IDOL 4 Pro, though the Nokia nostalgist in me had me tempted for a while to go really 'old school'. See below for my thinking. And for the full blow-by-blow device comparison.