One aspect of the Lumia 930 and 830 which I haven't commented on so far because I'd thought that it was either me being too fussy or that maybe my review hardware was less than perfect, was that of noisy Qi wireless charging. No, not electrically noisy - audibly noisy. I've even tried to record the sound (using my trusty Lumia 1020, of course), so that you can hear what I hear. Others have confirmed the issue, begging the question: what's going on? It turns out that a) this is 'normal' and b) there's a perfectly good (if technical) explanation. Read on....
Recent Features - Hardware
Is Apple's iPhone 6 Plus a 'phablet'? No, let's not go down that naming route. The Lumia 1520 definitely feels bigger in the hand though, and more deserving of the term. But the two are most definitely close enough for a detailed comparison, in terms of specs, features and imaging abilities. Even as a Windows Phone enthusiast, the iPhone 6 Plus does feel more mature, thanks mainly to its ecosystem and ability to work completely in landscape/tablet mode and with the likes of Bluetooth keyboards. But let's look in more detail. A lot more detail.
Apple's iPhone camera image processing algorithms have gotten really good in recent years, certainly up with Nokia's, though of course the hardware hasn't always been quite to the same level. With the iPhone 6 Plus, though, a 1.5 micron 1/3" sensor with OIS looks like it could provide a good challenge. With some tech sites proudly proclaiming the iPhone 6/6 Plus to be the best phone imaging in the world, I thought I should pitch in with the Windows Phone champion, the (famous) Nokia Lumia 1020. Below is my analysis, complete with interactive comparators to help you see the imaging differences for yourself.
Buried in the apologetics table in my article looking at the pros and cons of AMOLED versus LCD screen technology (summary: LCD wins overall) was a specific AMOLED advantage that deserves its own highlight spot. Is it enough to tip the balance for most users? Probably not. Is it enough for yours truly? Absolutely yes, and this time I have photographic proof...
“What an oddball pair of smartphone cameras to compare!” I hear you say. “One from several years ago, one with greatly different ambitions from the current month!” Indeed, though the question I was really asking myself was whether improvements in sensor technology and image processing since about 2011 could compensate for a seven times smaller sensor. In other words, could refined tech and intelligence trump physics?
As an AMOLED fan for years, it's been fascinating seeing the way technology in the LCD world has caught up in terms of contrast and colours. In fact, judging from my tests and tables below, it seems that the choice of screen technology for smartphones is now pretty clear cut. My advice to go for AMOLED three years ago was sound, but it seems that things are now reversed. This article features the Lumia 1020, 830 and 1520, by the way.
Is it the shiny, shiny phenomenon of something new? Or the feel of cold metal and the satisfaction of larger screen and as much storage as I wanted? Either way, I find myself compromising one of my deeply-held 'must haves' (in the 1020) and using the Nokia Lumia 830 as my main smartphone, following on from my review and other tests. It's an Autumn miracle, perhaps?
The headline might lead you to suspect a horrendous mismatch, but there's more to the story than this. The 1020 is the gold standard in currently-sold camera phones, of course, but the new Lumia 830 turns out surprisingly well against it for most shots, despite being massively outgunned in the physics stakes. Xenon-aside, once the matching software turns up for the 830, we could have a rather tasty little 'affordable flagship', to use Nokia/Microsoft's marketing term.
Notable at the Lumia 830 launch was the tag line "the affordable flagship", and Microsoft was right, the Nokia Lumia 830 is terrific value for what you get, as you'll see soon in our hands-on review. However, what's evident from both comments across multiple stories here at AAWP and from the perception of Windows Phone in the tech media, is that what's needed is a genuine flagship, something that has everything but the kitchen sink thrown into it and never mind the price, or indeed eventual sales figures.
It's hard to pick up a Sony Xperia Z3 (as I did for my recent camera comparisons) and not be reminded about the current Windows Phone flagship smartphone, the Nokia Lumia 930. The sizes are very similar, then there's the metallic feel in the hand and positioning in the market as well. Here's my blow by blow comparison...