With the declaration up front that by 'older' I'm talking about native Windows Phone 8 devices like the Lumia 520, 620, 920, 925 and 1020, i.e. all Snapdragon S4-based handsets, the favourites of yesteryear (2012-2013), after much testing and pondering, I think I'm ready to recommend that anyone with these handsets think about staying on Windows Phone 8.1 and deliberately foregoing Windows 10 Mobile when offered. I've already reported on the speed differences between the two OS and, as at 10th January 2016, I'm sceptical as to how much this will change in the next few months.
One of the most common questions about the Lumia smartphones and their cameras is what to choose in settings in terms of resolution and capture. Oversampled? RAW? Full resolution? Under ideal light conditions, I thought I'd shoot a distant but detailed subject and look at the pixel level - and beyond - is there an obvious winner in terms of the quality/memory trade-off?
Slipping into one of the recent updates has been support for full colour Glance backgrounds on Windows 10 Mobile and the Lumia 950 and 950 XL - photo proof below. There's a small caveat, in that the system only works with images that don't keep changing - so there's no way to put up Bing images or weather or Flickr or Facebook. But the effect, with well chosen Glance background photos, can be striking, so it's worth knowing how to set this up.
When Microsoft explicitly stated that they were making new flagships for "Windows fans", they weren't kidding. With the current state of the Lumia 950 XL and 950 in terms of stability, you'd have to be a real fan, a genuine dyed-in-the-wool enthusiast with the patience of a saint to appreciate the new devices in terms of suitability for day to day use. Not for the first time, parallels to Google's Nexus line spring to mind - surely the Lumia 950 and 950 XL should have been pitched as 'developer devices' from day one? It would certainly have headed off much of the current criticism in the tech press.
Something of a time-machine enabled tradition at AAWP is that I attempt to predict the whole of next year's Windows mobile-related news, viewed from the start of 2017 in this case, looking back at 2016. As usual with this platform, there were ups and downs, but Windows 10 on a larger scale became truly pervasive.
A video-centric test, or at least a data point. As judged from deficiencies below and on older phones running the Windows 10 Mobile Insiders Build, there's clearly work to do in Camera's video capture capabilities. So, here at Christmas 2015, at least is what Windows 10 Camera (can and can't) do. Summary: susceptibility to wind noise, unconvincing stereo and an auto-focus that will not stay 'off'.
Maybe the headline is slightly disingenuous, since I'm only looking at a single set of data points from two specific devices, but the results are typical of the Windows 10 Camera 'automatic' Rich Capture and the Android Camera (with HDR+) applications and functions, common to many smartphones. More to the point, the shots got me out in the fresh air during the traditional Christmas merriment...
The trouble with things taking longer than expected is that projects then run into immoveable feasts. Quite literally, in this case, with Windows 10 Mobile seeing a massive flurry of activity in November and early December, getting SO close to a stable build for the new 950 flagships... only to then run into Christmas. So, what state is the OS in and how important will be the time (and inertia) lost?
One common question fired at us over the last month has been how the new QHD-screened, Snapdragon 808/810-powered Lumias fare in terms of day to day operations, against each other and compared to yesterday's flagships in the Windows Phone world. Below, I attempt to answer this question with my usual real world benchmarks. The results are very surprising, though also good news if you already own a Lumia 930, Icon or Lumia 1520.
Judging from my postbag (ok, email-bag, these days) and from comments here on the site, I'm not the only one racked with doubt about the way to proceed in terms of these new Lumias. A while back, after my first few days with the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, I pronounced the 950 the one to go for. Then the Mozo arrived and I was then leaning towards the 'premium' 950 XL. And then I picked up my old Lumia 930 again. Sigh. See what you think after reading my thoughts below. Which one would you go for?