It has been a long 20 months since the first Windows 10 'Technical Preview' was released for enthusiasts to test. And, I've argued, that we still have another 6 months to go until the 'Redstone 2' branch ships and puts many of the current annoyances in the past. And we currently have no less than four possible states for people running the OS. OK, maybe err... seven(!) - see below. Which one should you be on/in?
"To everything there is a season" (Eccl 3) seems appropriate as Microsoft scales back its consumer mobile ambitions in late 2016. And one of the bug-bears of the early days of the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, that of sourcing spare batteries (yes, yes, you can swap these out, unlike on many mobile rivals), seems to have eased a little. Temporarily at least. And given that stock may have dried up by 2017, now is perhaps the right time to buy? I investigate...
I was going to start this feature with a reference to ‘Trouble in Paradise’, a much over-used title admittedly in TV and film, except that the Windows Phone and then Windows 10 Mobile world has rarely seemed like paradise*, so let’s just stick with ‘trouble’. You see, even a full year after the launch of the new OS and new native hardware (the Lumia 950 range), there are still aspects of the experience that are, quite simply, ‘broken’. Maybe everything will come together in Spring 2017 with a mature version of W10M 'Redstone 2' rolling out, but that seems an awfully long way away right now.
Windows 10 Camera isn't the only game in town anymore. Actually, it never was, since a great number of third party camera applications already existed and most continue to work to this day. However, ProShot is the 'big daddy' in the world of third party cameras for Windows Phone and now we have this rewritten UWP version, as reported on here. But what can this do over and above Windows 10 Camera? And is ProShot worth the purchase price?
Microsoft's recent extravagant price drops for the Lumias in most world markets signalled one of two things: either the company had woken up and was actually trying to sell some of these phones at realistic prices; or the company had woken up and decided that they wanted to stop selling Lumias, hence time to clear the current stocks. In looking at the current situation (Sept 2016) I try and discern the truth...
Having already looked at the zoom facility in the new Apple iPhone 7 Plus, compared to the PureView zoom in the existing Lumia 1020 and 950 smartphones, the next logical (and, seemingly, much anticipated) comparison is to look at photos taken without using the small aperture telephoto lens. In other words, does the regular iPhone 7 camera trump that in the existing world champion, the Microsoft Lumia 950? The raw physics and specs suggest that, even though it's newer, it's going to have a hard time.
Although at first glance this is something of a mismatch, at least in terms of mindshare in the mainstream, with a little bit of a trailing wind and some update-love from HP, the Windows 10 Mobile-powered Elite X3 could well be a contender, albeit not in the High Street for consumers. But this is AAWP and as a Windows 10 Mobile enthusiast you're probably not bothered about buying your next phone in a shop? In which case here's my hands-on head to head with these two latest high spec offerings - the Apple iPhone 7 Plus and the HP Elite X3.
With the Nokia 808 and Lumia 1020, the way of the future was set in terms of handling zoom on a smartphone - do it digitally, whether by smart cropping into a high resolution array as on the Nokia pair, or by using a high dynamic range sensor and some really smart interpolative zoom, as on the likes of the recent Samsung Galaxy flagships. But along comes Apple (with some ex-Nokia help) to break the rules, using a two-lens, two-sensor solution in the iPhone 7 Plus - one of which is a 2x telephoto. Gulp.
Having complained about the limited capabilities of the HP Elite X3 camera in my initial tests, and having wondered where the claimed '16MP' camera resolution was, a little hardware delving reveals that this hardware may be constrained by the optics specified by HP. Or you could just say that the original figure was exagerated - though I do have a well known precedent for this!
One feature of tech news feeds in 2016 has been 'Company XYZ abandons Windows Phone', a headline which sounds far more dramatic than it is. Broken down, this translates to 'Company XYZ did a Windows Phone 8.1 application three years ago as an alternative to the rather clunky XYZ web site of 2013, but the application is showing its age now and, in the absence of a full Windows 10 Mobile UWP app rewrite, is being withdrawn now that the web site works perfectly well enough in Microsoft Edge'. OK, so my translation isn't as snappy, but it's more accurate.