If I've learned anything in 20 years in the handheld and mobile industry, it's that one needs to have a sense of perspective. Leading me to observe the imminent new Lumia flagships from far enough away that I can see the hill that they may - or may not - have to climb in order to be pronounced a success. Who, aside from AAWP-reading Microsoft (and ex-Nokia) enthusiasts is actually going to buy the new Lumia 950 and 950 XL?
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I can't believe that it was two years ago that the Lumia 1520 first became available - it still seems fresh and competitive in late 2015, thanks to the 'leap of faith' design decision by Nokia to go with a 6" display, leapfrogging the phablets of the day. In fact, they aimed a little too high (arguably), though it's evident in a world of ever-growing smartphones that a 6" display isn't as preposterous as it was two years ago.
Looking at the form factor, weight and flexibility of the new flagship Lumia 950, I spare a thought below for the original 'budget flagship', the Lumia 830, matching the newcomer in more ways than you might think. OK, so it's horribly outgunned at the end of the day, but commonly just over £200 now, would you accept that it's a bone fide 950 'lite'? Certainly with the replaceable battery and expandable storage it's perhaps a good bet for having a workable Windows 10 Mobile system without breaking the bank?
At the various preview events around the world, including the one Rafe attended, reported on in this week's podcast, people I trust have been handling, nay fondling, the upcoming Lumia 950 and 950 XL flagships and delivering informal verdicts on the form factors. And there's one common thread popping up - that they all say that, of the two, they'd go for the 950 XL. Which is counter to my initial gut feeling, but I can absolutely see why.
With the Lumia 950 XL, Microsoft has caught up with the pack in terms of smartphone specifications, as you'll see below. But has it done enough to tempt users from other ecosystems by virtue of sheer hardware and integrated brilliance? Time will tell in a month's time, when the first reviews hit, but in the meantime we can get a great idea by looking at specs, features and expectations.
One of the most popular requests here on AAWP has been to apply a little rigorous benchmarking to both 'old' and 'new' versions of Windows on phones. In other words, if a user of, say, a Lumia 925 (a flagship phone in its day) were to upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile from Windows Phone 8.1, would they see speed gains overall, or experience a slowdown? The results are shown below - on older devices, Windows 10 Mobile is significantly slower, though with the caveat that newer, Snapdragon x00-based devices don't seem so badly off.
The titled question is one that's being asked more and more, of course, as the universal OS gets closer and closer, first in new hardware but then as an over-the-air (or cable) upgrade to most existing Windows Phones, in due course. We've had scattered information from various sources, plus my own opinions and hunches, so I thought a 'best guess' table might be helpful here. And yes, we'll keep it updated.
The Lumia 1020 has held itself apart from the Windows 10 Mobile story and all the Insider builds, with writers like me saying 'Stay on 8.1'. The specialised camera hardware and Xenon flash, the 2GB of RAM allied with the older S4 processor, the iconic status and operation which no one wanted to ruin with a beta non-optimised OS. But recent developments and builds have let the 1020 back into this 2016 mobile OS and it works surprisingly well. It's no 950 in terms of performance, but the Lumia 1020's imaging hardware will still be unique through 2016, I predict.
Almost as soon as cameras started to arrive on smartphones (the Nokia 7650 was the first - I still have mine!), bright minds started to wonder if it would be possible to not only snap a scene, but actively zoom the shot before capture (as you would on a standalone camera). Early approaches were terrible, of course, but then we had a succession of interesting approaches, most of which are grouped in the photo below. And, a decade later, in late 2015, is there a consensus, a winner?
My last camera phone comparison for over a month, I promise(!), the arrival of the much-praised (in terms of its imaging) Xperia Z5 prompted another comparison across a range of test shots against the classic (Symbian) Nokia 808 PureView and the (Windows 10 Mobile) Nokia Lumia 1020 and Lumia 930. Apologies if you're not interested in camera-centric features (in which case move right along), but (with the very latest iPhone 6s here too) the opportunity was too good to pass up - a genuine 5 way shootout between some of the best camera phones in the world from the last few years.