In part testing whether I can get Features to work on this site again - but also testing some of my favourite recent smartphones with a bevy of updates under their belt now. In theory, this is as good as photography will get on the Surface Duo 2, the iPhone 12 Pro Max, and the Pixel 6 Pro, so I took advantage of some nice Spring weather in the UK to see what they could do, six months after launch for the Duo and Pixel, and a whopping 18 months for the iPhone.
Recent Features - iOS
When a smartphone falls out of use in your life, there's a temptation to find a good home for it. Often a family member, often a second hand market like eBay, but sometimes - just sometimes - the phone is special enough, is unique enough, in fact is downright collectable enough, that you might like to hang onto it. Not necessarily just for pecuniary reasons, but perhaps sentimental reasons as well. As an example, I've picked out a dozen smartphones from my own collection that fit this bill. Classics one and all...
You'd think things would be simple, wouldn't you? Shoot a photo in low light, select the 2x or 3x (or whatever) telephoto camera in your phone and snap. You'd think that you've just shot a low light photo with the physical telephoto camera in your phone, but that's not always the case... Even with the latest multi-frame techniques, phone camera software can still take the executive decision to forget a telephoto lens altogether and provide a digitally zoomed shot from the main lens if it thinks results will be better. Some thoughts and tests below, though don't worry too much - with smartphones from the last few years, light has to get really low before the extra lens is taken away from your imaging armoury.
It's something of a tradition for me to compile a 'Top 5 Phones' each Christmas for my Phones Show, so see that embedded below. But I thought a textual version, slightly edited, and - crucially - with hyperlinks, might also be of use and/or interest. There's no specific comparison to tech of the past or a list of requirements, but as usual with me, the more gadgets in a device, the better...! To whet your appetite, the Top 5 is 60% Android and 40% iOS - and the new champion from Microsoft is 'bubbling under'.
Perhaps provoked by a growing 'Right to Repair' movement and possible legislation in several markets, Apple announced 'Self Service Repair' last week. Which sounds fantastic - break a phone screen, need a new battery, just do-it-yourself. Except that despite what Apple might hint at first, Self Service Repair isn't for the likes of you and I. Nor should it be. When I want an unusually tricky job done properly around the house, I don't just get the right tools in from a DIY superstore, I get an experienced tradesperson in who has done the job a thousand times. And it's the same with smartphone hardware, I contend.
After my initial enthusiasm for the imaging potential of the Google Pixel 6 Pro, I've mainly seen this endorsed by results, but I do have to add a massive caveat - which I've entitled the 'zoom gap' and which we'll come to below. In terms of a smartphone camera to compare it to, any from the last year or so would do, just as a data point. But I included my iPhone 12 Pro Max*, here in its default-everything mode (so no ProRAW). I do still think the Pixel 6 Pro has potential, but Google has work to do to try and bring its 'Super Res Zoom' to the phone's main camera before I'll fully recommend it to others.
When it comes to the number of years software support claimed for a given mainstream smartphone, we naturally - and rightly - think of that as a security comfort blanket. In other words, OS security issues discovered during that period will get fixed and we'll be protected, however far we stray from the beaten track in the web browser or whatever malicious content is fired at us while mobile. But there are extra benefits from long support times. By pushing out the need for a new phone*, we can save (quite a lot) money. And, topically in these climate crisis times, we can all help save the environment.
In the latest in our occasional series on smartphone photography, I may have moved on from a Lumia as a day to day phone, but the ideas and ambitions are still there. In this example, I use zooming, cropping and healing to deliver a cinematic shot from an otherwise unspectacular scene. See what you think and don't forget to think about sending in your own best shots and the story behind them!
Hugh Jeffreys is an Australian YouTuber and he's been doing some partial dismantling and component swapping in recent years, specifically to challenge the 'Right to repair' on Apple's iPhones. In the video embedded below, he explores the latest iPhone 13 range and discovers that Apple is digitally pairing even more components than in last year's phones. But is this actually a problem? Although I applaud the right to repair in general, the sheer complexity and quality of some modern products perhaps move them into different repair territory...
Although most smartphones have shot decent video for a decade, actually putting this footage to slick use using a video editor has almost always been something you would do on a desktop/laptop, after copying the MP4 files over. But I was recently forced to put together a semi-pro video on just my phone - and it turned out pretty well. Given the interest in this sort of thing, I've cross-posted this on AAWP as well as AAM, the latter since - probably obviously - the smartphone in question here is the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Now, editing big video projects on a phone is somewhat extreme, but see below for proof and some tips and tricks.