Almost a year ago, guest writer Matthew Weflen pitched the classic Lumia 950 camera against the (then) Sony flagship, the XZ Premium, with the fight being very close but with the Lumia ultimately winning out. Ten months later he has the brand new Sony XZ2 Premium in hand, the company's highest end Android phone for 2018. Time for his latest imaging shootout!
Recent Features - Hardware
So, with my review of the very Windows 10 Mobile-friendly Fitbit Versa concluded a couple of days ago, I'm staying on a wearable theme with a look back (and forward) at the Microsoft Band 2, still a valid choice for Windows phone users - as long as you don't destroy it with your specific fitness regime. I've been using my Band 2 again and am appreciating it more than ever...
Ever since the Nokia 808 appeared in 2012, phrases like 'as good as a DSLR' have been bandied around. And, while sometimes true, on the whole phone cameras aren't ultimately in the same league. But I wanted to quantify this, based around the most recent Windows 10 Mobile flagship (albeit 2015), in the shape of the Lumia 950 XL*, pitted here against a DSLR, the Canon EOS 1200D**. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Lumia and DSLR each turned out to have huge strengths and weaknesses.
I already commented, a week ago, on some of the unconfirmed rumours that Project Andromeda (/Surface Mobile etc.) has been pushed back, but it's worth going through the thought experiment of how such a new mobile form factor would work in terms of the finer points of interface and applications. Yes, we'd all love something shiny to play with, but would it work? I'm not so sure at this point.
One of the jewels in the Nokia Lumia 1020 camera experience was always the UI - the way a simple swipe left from the shutter icon would bring up 'pro' mode sliders, arranged for easy twiddling, all with one thumb. This made its way through into Windows 10 Camera, of course, on the likes of the Lumia 950. And now it's reborn.... in an Android phone. With the Nokia badge. Gulp. So how has the 'new' Nokia done?
Yesterday I compared all the features and functions of the newish Nokia 7 Plus with those of the Alcatel IDOL 4 Pro, the highest specced Windows 10 Mobile phone. And the 7 Plus came out on top, not surprisingly, given the relative age of the designs and the use of newer components and a newer OS. The imaging side of things was a win for the Nokia 7 Plus, so it clearly needed different opposition. Enter the Lumia 950 XL, still right up with the best in the world - can the 7 Plus's 2x telephoto lens help it defeat the classic Lumia?
With the Nokia 7 Plus in for review, one of the latest hero devices from the 'reborn' Finnish company, I wondered which Windows 10 Mobile handsets to compare it to. At £350 inc VAT in the UK, the 7 Plus is distinctly mid-range in some ways, yet high end in others. In the end I cheated slightly in terms of content - I'll be doing a camera comparison with the Lumia 950 XL, since the Nokia 7 Plus imaging is really very good, but I picked the IDOL 4 Pro for the general head-to-head, since that remains the highest specced W10M phone.
Back in 2016, I wrote about the (then) new Google Pixel Camera software on Android and how its multi-frame combination approach was akin to the multi-pixel (pun unintended, keep up at the back!) combination approach of the original Nokia PureView system, the idea in both cases being to dramatically reduce digital noise, especially in low light situations. Two years on, I wanted to explore how far Google took this 'PureView take two' system, pitting it against the classic Lumia 950 XL in challenging lighting.
Exactly a week ago, Microsoft unveiled the Surface Go, a smaller, lighter hybrid/communicator. And I'm still hovering my cursor over the 'Pre-order' button. Why the hesitation? Because I think Microsoft didn't quite get the design right. Don't get me wrong, I applaud their effort and the launch of new hardware, especially to a new market (mainly education). But I have several bones to pick with the company, ways it which it lost a sale to me, at least. And maybe you? See if you agree with me!
The game in 2018 seems to be managing the increasing gaps in Windows 10 Mobile functionality while eying up possible replacements in the Android (or iOS) world. Which is why I'm continuing with imaging comparisons, since getting close to (or exceeding) the Lumia camera ability seems to be a clinching factor for many people. The Asus Zenfone 5 is both new, capable, and affordable, sitting at just over £300, offering flagship feel, stereo speakers, 3.5mm output... and a dual camera in a normal plus wide configuration.