OK, ok, to bring out 'part 2' of a feature nine months after 'Windows 10 Mobile flagships compared, 2016 (part 1)' is a little careless, but the intervening months were deemed necessary in order to add perspective - and, in this case, replace one of the phones altogether. With patchy availability all round (to say the least), here then is the long delayed 'part 2'!
Recent Features - Hardware
The ZTE Axon 7 is one of the late 2016 flagships that I'd never even held until now. Reputed to be exceptional bang-per-buck and with terrific multimedia, I thought the very similarly specced (and also great value) Lumia 950 XL would make for an interesting head to head comparison.
This has been something of a pet topic of mine on various podcasts, but I wanted to get the same thoughts down in print. Take a look at the five top smartphones (various vintages) below, with a variety of materials and finishes - two of these 'premium' phones can't be used without a cheap case added. That they happen to be the two non-Windows-running phones is partly coincidence, but still....
Last week I covered how to safely 'refresh' a Windows 10 Mobile-running smartphone, i.e. clearing out under the hood cruft but staying on the current OS build (whatever that might be). Today I cover something a bit more drastic - deciding to jump off whichever Insider build you're currently on and go 'back' to production status. Unsurprisingly, there are some potential pitfalls along the way - see the steps below and you should avoid them!
The time has come, it really has. If you've been putting off that upgrade from Windows Phone 8.1 to Windows 10 Mobile then perhaps the imminent cessation of Skype support (it still works as I write this, but is in its last days on WP8.1) and the also imminent demise of the BBC iPlayer application will prompt you to leap into action. It may be that your phone is now so old (2012/2013) that it's not supported for the upgrade, but for anything newer then now is the time. Here's how to make sure things go smoothly.
Now, this concept design for an upcoming Surface Phone dates from last year, but I've been hunting around the various outrageous concept designs online and this is the one that rang true. It's still a figment of the artist's (Bartlomiej Tarnowski's) imagination, but he's clearly put a lot of thought into it. With such a device being six months to 18 months away (hopefully closer to the former), I thought it was time for some blue sky commentary to go along with the excellent concept imagery.
Mobile World Congress 2017 is upon us then. Which means Rafe Blandford is prowling the halls (with his various hats on). And every manufacturer under the sun is bringing out unibody metal-and-glass touch slabs with near ubiquitous feature sets. Which, as a contrast, got me pondering about the Lumia 950 XL, whose USPs seem to grow monthly!
The disappearance of the Lumia 950 XL from sale across the world over the last three months has been disappointing, not just because it was Microsoft's flagship phone but also because the 950 XL is still a terrific smartphone. A market-leading phone camera, a glorious screen, plenty of RAM, a decent speaker (after it has been tweaked) and, best of all, the nigh on unique feature (in 2017) of having a user replaceable back and battery. Making it a doddle, in the absence of a new phone replacement, to simply freshen up with some Mozo (and battery) love.
Yes, that capitalisation in this new camera-centric smartphone's name is intentional - it's how KODAK itself refers to it. Sigh. Anyway, with retro camera styling and 21MP 1/2.4" six-axis-OIS specs, it's an unashamedly imaging-focussed (ahem) device and, with the Lumia 950/XL being arguably top dog in the world of phone imaging still, I thought an interactive head-to-head was in order...
Just a few back-of-envelope calculations that I thought you might like to follow along with. With the withdrawal of Microsoft from selling first party smartphones (for the time being), I wondered whether it was time to take stock of some numbers. In particular, the figure I wanted to get to was how many people out there, across the world, are actively using Windows 10 Mobile, i.e. the new OS that Microsoft is updating, that devs are writing for, and that we're covering. Some guesswork is needed, but bear with me.