At the end of another transitional year for Windows Phone, in which Windows 10 Mobile became ubiquitous away from the bottom end phones. In which Microsoft announced one possible future for Windows 10 as a whole, running on the same ARM processors as phones, in which all PCs may be folded into the same architecture (eventually) yet the very term 'Mobile' may end up being deprecated. Confusing! And all the while Microsoft massively scaling back its first party phone hardware and support ambitions. It all adds up to a confusing year for the platform, yet - with Lumias no longer being made - also a good point in time to look back and pick my favourite phones running Windows in the modern era*.
Yes, I know there have been cabled ways to hook up monitors to smartphones for years, for echoing media content if you're lucky and a straight screen mirroring if you're less so. But I did wonder what would happen if I wired a Continuum-capable phone from its USB Type C jack to a monitor or TV's HDMI port directly, i.e. without a Continuum Dock. The result surprised me...
In the first part of an occasional series on AAWP, I'd like to look at a photo I've snapped on a Lumia, in this case the 950 XL, and talk about how I shot it and the thoughts that went through my head at the time. If you've ever wondered if your own smartphone photography could improve then hopefully this mini series will help you start thinking along the right lines.
Yesterday Microsoft's Skype team made a few announcements of new 'bots' available to anyone with Skype (Preview), i.e. the UWP app on Windows - and I was somewhat surprised by how many 'bots' were now online, effectively Microsoft partners tying into the Skype conversational and multimedia interface. Initially sceptical, I look at a few of these below and I do something of a u-turn: maybe these bots could be useful after all, 'an expert in your pocket', as it were...?
With my 'all' thrown into intensive and exclusive use of Windows 10 Mobile over the weekend, I describe some of the frustrations and obstructions that I faced. I'm sure some are typical of your own experience with Windows 10 on phones. I'll add the caveat that in the litany below I'm using the latest Redstone 2 builds, but the sheer number of issues (which I'm sure merely scratch the surface) do show just how far Microsoft has to go before Windows 10 on ARM can truly be relied upon.
Exactly a year ago, shortly after reviewing the Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950 XL for the first time, I had a moment's pause to consider whether the older (metal) Nokia Lumia 930 was perhaps still the best phone to go for, overall, weighing up all the pros and cons. So, one year on, and with all three devices now running the latest 'Redstone 2' OS branch, does my overall verdict of the 950 XL winning out still stand? Is there still life in the old 930, now over two years old?
Having featured a number of tips, tutorials and accessories over the last year, I wanted to round up perhaps the biggest ten, in terms of getting more from a Windows 10 Mobile smartphone. Newcomers, start here (including anyone coming over from Windows Phone 8.1 via the official upgrade program), and maybe even old hands will find some of the links and comments of interest, at least.
The budget end of the smartphone market is almost as interesting as the flagship end in many ways, helped by the fact that phones costing £150 or less are far easier to recommend to others than £700 monsters (cough, Elite X3....) It's true that one's brand new (the Swift 2) while the other is reaching the end of its sales life (the Lumia 650, after only 9 months, thanks to Microsoft's strategy changes), but you can still buy the latter readily brand new, so it's still a very valid comparison. Most tellingly, both feel like they should cost twice what they actually do...
There have been several people online pointing out that you can't buy a Lumia 950 or 950 XL flagship from Microsoft in the UK anymore - they're now firmly 'out of stock'. Noted, and I've done some research and discovered, in an update to an article I did two months ago, that the stock position of the two flagships has become sparse across many other Microsoft device stores online. See the table below.
When it comes to business phablets, we're talking premium construction, extra OS level security and higher-than-expected prices. And both the new HP Elite X3 and even newer Blackberry DTEK60 fall into this camp, on Windows 10 Mobile and Android respectively (that's right, Blackberry no longer uses its own OS). But how do they stack up across the board?