So far on All About Windows Phone 'imaging' has all been about the rear-facing cameras on our smartphones, i.e. taking a photo of something. But what about the other camera - the one that points back at you? Now that 'selfies' are officially a thing (though I draw the line at special 'sticks'!), I thought a comparison, in terms of specs at least, of the front-facing cameras on Windows Phone hardware was in order - though it quickly becomes apparent that there's a 'sweet spot', beyond which it really is a case of diminishing returns. There is precisely zero point in a 13MP front facing camera. Really.
Recent Features - Hardware
Yes, I know that Nokia's market research team told them that bright orange would be well received. But it wasn't in this household. So, despite having an orange 930, I set out to find a replacement back that was black - the colour all good smartphones should be(!) Here's my pictorial tale...
I've had many requests for a camera head-to-head between the Nokia Lumia 830 and 930, not least since they're now about the same price at some outlets. But I thought I'd wait until they both had Lumia Denim and the new camera software. And then, heck, I couldn't resist adding in the Lumia 1020 and Symbian-powered Nokia 808 PureView into the mix. Plus an Android imposter, just to add an extra reference point. Gulp! So much to analyse and comment on below.
It's the intersection of two worlds - the Lumia 930 coming down in price, just over £300 in some places, under this if you shop around, while the newish Android 'star turn', the OnePlus One, comes in at £270, all SIM-free etc. Both have an awful lot that's worth noting and comparing. Windows Phone or Android - that's part of the equation, of course, but there's plenty of component choice to comment on below.
I know, I know - more imaging. But this one's a bit of an exclusive. In the last of this series of features (in theory) looking at Lumia Denim and Lumia Camera 5, I compare the same shots taken on Lumia Cyan and the old ex-Nokia Lumia Camera with those taken under Lumia Denim and Lumia Camera 5. Microsoft claims significant image processing enhancements - and there are certainly big differences, but I don't think the changes will please everyone.
One of the headline features in Lumia Camera 5 on the likes of the Nokia Lumia 930 is being able to take 4K video bursts and then extract 8MP stills later on in a very easy and intuitive interface. And yes, I know I already provided a few suggested tweaks to Lumia Camera 5's set-up. But what I wanted to look at here was how much quality would be lost in these stills compared to the oversampled results from traditional still capture of the same scene. Would the results be worth the tradeoff in terms of capturing an action moment? Surprisingly - yes!
I've compared the Lumia 830 and 930 before, of course, as part of the review of the former, but with Lumia Denim almost upon each device officially (only out for a few product codes) and with Windows 10 announced for later in 2015, a question on Twitter spurred me into a fresh appraisal of the two Nokia phone-sized Windows Phone 'flagships'. They're so different - in the light of Windows 10, which is the best to go for?
The mid-range really does seem to be 'where it's at', in terms of value for money these days, with almost flagship specs at half the cost of the cutting edge. Nokia's (ok, now Microsoft's) Lumia 830 is now down to about £250 all in, while the brand new HTC Desire EYE is, in theory, a lot more, but can be found at around £330 right now if you shop around, so the two devices aren't a million miles apart. And, with the 830's camera not using any oversampling, the EYE's output should be pretty comparable in terms of resolution. Close enough for an AAWP head to head anyway.
With Lumia Denim rolling out as I write this (you saw the promo video introducing the main features), I thought it would be useful to clarify which top end Lumia is getting which feature as a result of the update, and also tackle a few Frequently Asked Questions. Denim, including Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1, is a huge update to all Lumias, not just the top end devices.
I do realise that simply changing the colour of an item of technology is utterly trivial in one sense, but it's also very satisfying when it's you that has to live with it day to day. Back in the mid 2000s, Nokia introduced the idea of Xpress-On covers for many of its Symbian smartphones, changing the look and feel 'according to your mood'. And, with Nokia's/Microsoft's Windows Phone low and mid range, the same is now true for almost every handset. You just have to know where to find the various colours... Me? I ended up with a Lumia 830 that looks altogether more classy...