One of the requests in the comments on my previous camera shootout was to have the iPhone 12 Pro Max thrown into the mix as well, and in full-on ProRAW shooting mode, i.e. side-stepping a final JPG and edge enhancement processing stage. Given that this phone/mode triumphed previously, I think this is a good call. And timely, with the Galaxy S21 Ultra getting a major update since my previous article. With the Lumia ready as my reference and with the new genuine budget contender, the Redmi Note 9T thrown into the mix as well, what we have here is a full-on four way contest.
It's uncanny in some ways. Look at the similarities. Plastic body, large battery, oversampled camera sensor (with no telephoto backup), card expansion, 3.5mm jack. And coming it at (now) amazingly cheap prices - the Redmi Note 9T is just £179* inc VAT in the UK. Yet the two match up pretty well, with the usual caveat about the Lumia being five years old and out of support(!)
Having already pitched this year's new Samsung flagship darling (and arguably with good reason), the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G against the classic Lumia 950 XL, as usual for interest's sake, it's time to turn to imaging. The S21 Ultra claims the earth, but is its camera system as good as the marketing suggests? Upsampling and some computational strangeness do cast the odd doubt. And, as ever, a lot will depend on whether you need its mighty 10x periscope telephoto system.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is the pick of the last three years of Samsung flagships, I contend. Imaging, performance, this gets almost everything right... at a price, both financial and in size and weight. I haven't done a straight 'head to head' for a while on AAWP, but the time seems right to feature the S21 Ultra, alongside the usual big Lumia favourite.
Yes, yes, we at AAWP said this all along - Windows 10 Mobile was in pretty good shape by 2017 and was the obvious choice for the dual-screened 'Andromeda' project that was taking shape (also wistfully referred to here as 'Surface Phone' sometimes). The two big challenges were adaptation for two displays and the absence of some big name third party applications. Microsoft solved these by switching OS and going with Android, but in hindsight, amidst two years of excitement about Windows on ARM (including 10X), maybe it would have been better to have stuck with Windows after all?
Internet security protocols evolve over time and this can scupper older platforms and their support tools. In this case it's Microsoft's rather handy Over-the-cable Updater utility. This runs with a command line interface under Windows and - in theory - updates any Windows phone (8.1 or 10) to the latest officially supported OS/firmware version. Very useful over the years, but security (TLS) changes at Microsoft's end have broken it - and it seems there's no hope at this stage of Microsoft fixing the tool to work seamlessly with the newer Internet security. Hence this slightly geeky workaround.
Regular guest author Nico brings us a look at using old Windows Phone 8.1 Lumias in 2021, in defiance of the Microsoft service removals. He concentrates on the battery advantages on staying with 8.1 rather than accepting (or hacking on) a Windows 10 Mobile 'upgrade', but he also gives a good flavour of what still works for him. In Nico's case, a Lumia 1320. A useful data point for others with older hardware - and, in this case, software!
The Nokia name has had a rough time over the last two decades, from market dominance in the early 2000s to an unsuccessful chase after the bottom end of the smartphone market with Windows Phone in the early 2010s - and then into oblivion between 2014 and 2016 after the sale of the business to Microsoft. But Finland-based HMD acquired the rights to the Nokia name in 2016 and announced its first Android-running smartphone in 2017 - four years ago. Long enough to form a verdict on HMD's performance with the brand...
It's a debating point as old as the hills... Should smartphones have storage expansion slots (e.g. microSD)? From earliest Symbian days to the era of Windows Phone and now Android and iOS, the answer varies according to which manufacturer and model you look at, together with the price point involved. Let's look at the pros... and the cons.
Yes, yes, a personal Top 10 - and yours will no doubt be very different. But here goes anyway - at the very least it might give you some good ideas (and links). We love our smartphones. And we love our gadgets. So let's link the two up, with gadgets and accessories that help the smartphone work better. Much, much better. Powered, connected, productive.