The debates have raged over the years, of course. Phone cameras acquired flash units, first LED and then, on some Nokias, Xenon, though the bulk, expense and power requirements of this technology meant that, despite the possible advantages, it never really took off in the phone world. However, 2015 marks the point in the sand where technology is eliminating the need for a flash in a camera phone at all. Soon, the only thing you'll use it for is as a torch to find your way to the car from the pub!
Recent Features - Hardware
In my editorial introducing Continuum three months ago, I took a few guesses as to what this technology might bring to Windows 10 Mobile and how it would work, but I still wanted to 'notch down the hype' a bit, describing Continuum as a 'niche' product. Below, I open up a bit more and express a few doubts - will Continuum provide enough reason on its own to 'save' Windows 10 Mobile?
File this under data points from the wider smartphone world. We already saw how the likes of the LG G4 managed to best the Lumia 930 (unsurprisingly, given the age of the latter), but with the chance to test the brand spanking new Motorola Moto X Style, with almost identical imaging specs to the Lumia 930, I seized on the chance for another in our series of interactive photo comparisons. How will the Moto X Style, with 2015 sensor but no OIS, match up to the results from the much older Nokia? And where will the bar lie for the upcoming Lumia 950 and 950 XL, also with the same 'nominal' specification?
I have to confess that I've had a particular article 'in progress' for a year or so now and have got nowhere with it. And the topic is one which was raised in my look at the imminent Lumia 950 and 950 XL yesterday - they're down as having replaceable batteries, but does this make ANY difference in the current imperfect world? You can guess where this is going - my abortive article was on sourcing spare batteries for the likes of the Lumia 830, 640 and 640 XL...
Back in July, I attempted this comparison, armed only with a few scraps of information about the upcoming new Lumias. Since then, almost every detail has leaked out, either on purpose or accidentally, depending on who you talk to. Meaning that it's well worth me having another crack at this topic, looking at what the new devices will bring to the table, over and above the existing Lumia 930 (the '2014 flagship', if you will) - which itself will get Windows 10 Mobile within a couple of months (if not before, for those on the Insiders Programme!)
In case you've been living under a rock, Windows 10 Mobile is being tested across the board and official updates aren't that far away. Yet the Lumia 1020, the camera-champion and with unique hardware, has already been singled out by both Microsoft and me, the former admitting that the new OS doesn't fully support the device yet, and the latter saying that 1020 owners should avoid the Windows 10 Mobile Insiders Preview for the time being. More on that below, but I also wanted to offer some thoughts on what you can do to help your 1020 feel 'fresh' in a time of great OS upheaval elsewhere.
Having been living with the very latest build of Windows 10 Mobile for the last 48 hours, I wanted to report back on how the Microsoft development teams are getting on. As many have observed, this is the first time that any of us have really observed a mobile operating system 'being made' - and we knew what we signed up for as 'Insiders'. Bit by bit, the OS has been coming together though and as of Build 10536 you really can use Windows 10 Mobile for daily use... as long as (cough) you don't mind glitches on an hourly basis and have chargers everywhere!
Having looked at Windows 10 Mobile build 10512 on the top spec Lumia 930 (2GB of RAM), on the 'budget flagship' Lumia 830 (with 1GB of RAM), and then on the genuinely budget Lumia 630 (with 512MB RAM), it's time to look at the new OS on something right at the bottom end - the Lumia 435, with only a Snapdragon 200 processor (the 630 and 830 have the Snapdragon 400 etc.) This smartphone had been precluded from previous Insider builds for resource reasons, but tihngs have now been slimmed down enough that the installation works fine. Common sense tells us that Windows 10 Mobile should be slower and less capable in this context - but, amazingly, the experience is almost as fast as on the rest of the Lumia range. See below for timing proof...
Last night in the USA, Apple unveiled its take on '3D Touch' (Force Touch) technology, the idea being to revolutionise the interface of our smartphones by adding something extra to 'touch'. In this case, pressing harder on the touchscreen to instigate a 'peek' inside some linked content and pressing even harder to then open ('pop') that content up on-screen. The tech is cool (considering that we're talking about glass!), and the UI concept sound, but I do worry that Apple has bypassed a more basic extension to touch - the long press (used in Windows Phone and even ye olde Symbian). And, as a result, may end up confusing as many people than they help, while also requiring that everyone buy new phones unnecessarily. Why am I mentioning all of this on AAWP? Because how we interact with our smartphones is very definitely of interest across the board.
Having looked at Windows 10 Mobile build 10512 on the top spec Lumia 930 (2GB of RAM) and on the 'budget flagship' Lumia 830 (with 1GB of RAM), it's time to look at the new OS on something even lower spec - the two year old Lumia 630, with only 512MB RAM. Common sense tells us that Windows 10 Mobile should be more limited in this context - and it is in terms of big name games - but surprisingly the overall smartphone experience is very decent indeed and indistinguishable from the Lumia 830's, thanks to the lower screen resolution (WVGA).