Recent Features - How To

How to: Read PDF files on Windows 10 Mobile (2019)

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A few years ago I rounded up ways to view (and edit) PDF files under Windows 10 Mobile, prompted by Microsoft's Edge browser failing at the time to read these (usually) reference files. Happily, Edge has been sorted out in the meantime, plus some of the third party options have changed, so here's a more up to date round-up!

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Audio matters: late 2019 video data point

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In my video stabilisation feature here, I was asked in the comments to do a test of audio capture in video mode - i.e. how good are modern microphones in smartphones? The short answer is: very good. Gone are the bad old days of Nokia being the only manufacturer that cared enough about audio to put decent high amplitude microphones in its smartphones. See below for video and audio proof.

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How to: Wipe a Windows 10 Mobile phone

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Whether you're wiping a Lumia to give it to someone else, or to sell it, or you're just being super-cautious about which devices have your data on, there will be occasions when a phone needs a full factory reset. Yes, there's a finnicky button sequence to do this on a Windows 10 Mobile phone, but don't worry, there's also an official way, through Settings. Here's a walk-through...

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Anatomy of a (Lumia) photo #17: Remembrance

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In advance of Remembrance Sunday,  a nice little installation is in place at St Mary's, in Bishops Lydeard, in the UK, and I attempted to get a shot of this (unlit) piece against the traditionally floodlit church at night. I succeeded, but I did an iPhone too, as I'll explain!

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Astro-what? Shooting for the stars - don't get your hopes up!

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You may have noticed that when Google launched the Pixel 4 series recently, it emphasised the 'astrophotography' capability. Essentially, when the phone's mounted in a tripod of some kind (and thus not moving), the software switches into 'astrophotography' mode and allows exposures (presumably at crazy low ISO) of up to four minutes. Does this work? And what happens if you try the same on an iPhone 11 Pro? Or even... a Lumia 950? In short, don't get your hopes up for any of them!

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Imaging showdown: Lumia 950, iPhone 11 Pro (with Deep Fusion), Google Pixel 4 XL

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This could be the one readers have been waiting for. The classic modern day PureView Lumia camera phone versus the upgraded (Deep Fusion) iPhone 11 Pro versus the brand new Google Pixel 4 XL. All three employ multi-exposure, multi-pixel sampling and other computational tricks. The Lumia is obviously the old boy here, hailing from 2015, but as I start the shootout I've still no idea which will win out. I guess it depends on how much zooming I test! (PS. I include a Halloween bonus shot, just for fun!) (Updated: with 'party' shot, by request)

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Status report for November 2019: Services on Windows 10 Mobile

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With some social applications, comms apps and Microsoft services being phased out through 2019 and beyond, I thought a ready reference table of where Windows 10 Mobile stands would be useful. And I'll try to revisit this every few months to update each section as needed. In summary, there's likely to be little disruption to 'normal' activities this year but a few more caveats in 2020, when Windows 10 Mobile will be out of official support. Anyway, see below for details!

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Life after Lumias? My top 5 smartphone replacements (end 2019)

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Four months is a long time in the phone world - I last opined on this topic in (only) July, yet my picks have changed significantly! I've pitched this as my top picks for smartphones to replace a Lumia 950/930 or perhaps an IDOL 4 Pro or Elite x3, going forwards into 2020 as Windows 10 Mobile stops being supported and as services gradually start to wind down. I've tested just about everything on the market and here's my verdict, with just one eye on price and value for money as well (though this isn't critical).

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Imaging excellence opens up iPhone 11 Pro switch possibilities

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Whether you have/had a Lumia 1020 or 930 or 950, one of the core 'must haves' for you is probably cutting edge imaging - the absolute best photos possible from a phone. iPhones have been gradually 'coming up on the rails' in this regard and with the new iPhone 11 Pro I showed a few weeks ago that its cameras are right up there, and even exceeding those of the Lumia 1020 and Lumia 950. I'll revisit the subject when the 11 Pro's 'Deep Fusion' update hits, but in the meantime here's a feature comparison across the board between the flagship iPhone 11 Pro and the similarly sized previous camera champion, the Lumia 950. Cost notwithstanding, maybe the time is now right to move to an iPhone (and not just the cheaper '11')?

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How to: Use Microsoft Authenticator to manage your two-factor security

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Security and identity theft are major concerns these days, with numerous high profile attacks, making two factor authentication for all your email, PIM, banking, and even social accounts mandatory. But relying on a phone number and SMS codes as the 'second factor' has a huge weakness - 'social attacks' on your phone network, with someone pretending to be you and thus gaining control over your SMS and number via a new SIM card, inserted in their phone of choice. Enter the concept of 'authenticator' apps on your phone, which work well but are a pain to set up more than once. Well, no more, since Microsoft Authenticator can now backup and then restore your established authenticated account keys. Here's how it all works.

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