I have to say that I find it quite amusing that the tech industry is falling over itself in 2019 to embrace concepts that were commonplace back in the early days of Windows Phone - from well over six years ago. For every naysayer that slams Windows Phone for its weaknesses, remember that it also led the world in several ways, not least UI responsiveness, dark themes, and augmented reality mapping!
Yes, yes, another imaging feature... I wasn't planning on including the (now) six year old Lumia 1020 in my round of relevant iPhone 11 Pro imaging comparisons, but AAWP readers asked for it and so here goes! As it happens, there's common ground, since both offer zoom, both offer reframing (in different ways), and both phones are, I argue, unashamedly camera-centric.
The Apple iPhone 11 Pro is in for review for The Phones Show and its camera system is something special. Three matched and synced lenses, and with some clever software, but how do they stack up against the rest of the best in the imaging world, including AAWP's champion Lumia 950, but also throwing in Google's acclaimed Pixel 3 XL (now under Android 10) and Huawei's zoom champion P30 Pro? I'm in search of high IQ (Image Quality) here, under a wide range of lighting conditions.
Tomorrow is a big day in the phone world, of course - worldwide availability of the new iPhones. Leaving aside the 'Pro' devices, well over £1000 (though I've got one in for imaging tests and general review), the 'iPhone 11' might well be the perfect point to jump 'all in' on iOS, given the impending cessation of Windows 10 Mobile updates and given the low price on the '11' and the maturity of its internals. Yes, yes, I personally am Mr Geek and thus will always go to Android, open file systems, and customisability - but for the non-geeks, maybe Rafe is right in choosing iOS and maybe tomorrow is the day?
2019 really has been the year of the folding phone - and not for the right reasons. The idea of a phone-sized device that unfolds to become a tablet (and vice versa) is such a tempting dream that we've been talking about as an industry for the last three years. Arguably 20 years if you include the Nokia Communicators, which unfolded to become a mini-laptop, in effect. We've seen attempts at a folding phone/tablet from Samsung and Huawei and with concepts from others, yet none of these approach the common sense of what Microsoft was patenting and prototyping back in 2016 for its reputed Surface Phone. So why hasn't someone else designed along similar lines? After all, a twin glass hinged unit would be cheaper and far more durable than bending plastic.
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.
Autumn 2015, four years ago, saw Microsoft launch the Lumia 950 as part of an event in New York, with Panos Panay holding up the new phones and Bryan Roper demoing Continuum - all a little brief but there were also Surface devices to announce, so brevity could be forgiven. AAWP has been all over the Lumia 950 and 950 XL ever since, of course, covered in detail from many different angles and in many comparisons. But how well does the Lumia 950/XL hold up today as a smartphone, i.e. as a piece of hardware, perhaps (for once) leaving apps and service compatibility off to one side?
When considering smartphone imaging, there are two end goals, depending on who you talk to. The populist opinion, catered to by the likes of Samsung and Huawei, is that the photos you take should 'pop', with exagerated edges and detail, enhanced colours, and so on. My view, even though I enjoy hyper-real images as much as the next man, is that photos should accurately portray the world you see, and with as little enhancement as possible. In other words, photos from a phone should be natural and with scope for enhancement later in software without worrying about starting from an edge-enhanced, over sharpened base...
Having eschewed zoom completely in my previous feature, it's all in on zoom again for this one(!) With zoom being a big feature of the original Lumia 1020 (albeit at lower output resolution), it's always interesting to see how far the modern 2019 competition have got in terms of bringing subjects 'closer', optically and in software. With the arrival of the 'OPPO Reno 10x Zoom' for review, and armed with the 1020, the also venerable Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, and my Huawei P30 Pro on latest firmware, let the fight begin!
Credit to Huawei (whatever they may or may not be doing to rub Donald Trump up the wrong way), they've been putting a lot of work into the P30 Pro smartphone's camera system, with update after update, each quoting imaging improvements. And for each update ('185' here) I test the phone (quoted by me as 'being what the Lumia 1020 would have been if Nokia had carried on development for the next five years') against some likely contenders. Here it's the benchmark flagship that's the Lumia 950 XL, but in a subtle twist I'm only looking at the main 40MP camera - I'm not involving that periscope 5x zoom. That way, any hyper zoom examples won't skew the scoring. Which of the two phone cameras can produce the high quality output?