Once upon a time there were 'smartphones' and 'phones'. Or 'feature phones' for the latter name if you were being a bit snobbish. Then we got to the stage where virtually all phones were 'smart' (i.e. online, apps, converged functions), so the distinction went away. And now, with the likes of the excellent Lumia 640 XL, we're on the cusp of seeing the same thing happen to that hated term 'phablets'. They'll all just be called 'phones' from 2016 onwards, you mark my words.
With eight years since the classic Nokia N95 was selling in the mainstream, with one of the first five megapixel cameras in the phone market and the best, with 1/2.5" sensor and 'Carl Zeiss' optics, I thought it would be interesting to see how far the technology has come. After all, the Lumia 930 occupies pretty much the same photo-enthusiast consumer spot, at least in the Windows phone world, yet it outputs at a nominal 5MP still. But how different would the pixels themselves be, with eight years of sensor, optics and processing tech improvements under the 930's hood?
With the announcement of 'bridges' to help Android and iOS developers compile their applications to native Windows 10 'universal' applications, many have questioned the future of Windows Phone as an OS. In a sense, they're right - Windows Phone as it exists now is about to cease to exist. But it will transition completely seamlessly (in theory) into the Windows 10 - at which point it will share a platform with the dominant desktop and laptop OS on the planet. And creating Windows 10 applications will see a dramatically bigger potential market - hey, I've done a handy graphic (below) to make the point!
One of the odd omissions on the Microsoft Band, reviewed here, is that there's no media control, unlike on other smartwatches. There's no music or similar tile available, for example. So if you're out running or walking or cycling and you want to pause or change playback, or similar, then you're out of luck, aren't you? Not really.
I reviewed Movie Creator back in November 2014, but the system just got itself a big update to support 4K video, i.e. burst or manually-selected video capture on the Lumia 930/Icon and 1520 - and, no doubt, future devices. In addition, there's now full integration with OneDrive, so the media you include doesn't have to exist on the Windows Phone being used to edit video anymore. Add in a few more enhancements for this new version and the time is right to see what Movie Creator can really do. Here's a tutorial to get you started.
The G4 is the very latest Android flagship and I'm comparing here with all we've got (for the time being) in the Windows Phone world, ye olde Lumia 930, now around a year old. Half the price as well, as a result, you'd expect the Lumia 930 to come off somewhat second best, but there are still things to chat about below, don't worry! With the 930 armed with WP 8.1 Update 2, I gave it my best shot...
I have to confess to spreading a little casual misinformation about smartphone screens. I was making a point at the time, in fact several times on AAWP and on the podcast, pointing out the advantages of 'full RGB' screens over 'pentile' displays. Not that I was entirely wrong, I was just exagerating, but I thought it worth pointing out in print that pentile displays are not as horribly flawed as you might think. It's all about sub-pixel rendering, you see....
One of the side effects of the arrival of Lumia Denim and Lumia Camera 5 to the likes of the Lumia Icon, 930, 1520 and 830 was that a bizarre auto-rotation issue crept in for many users. I've included a video below to show the problem - up to five seconds to switch between portrait and landscape. It wasn't a complete showstopper, but was frustrating on a day to day basis. However, it turns out that this is an artefact of upgrading from Lumia Cyan/Windows Phone 8.1 and that a careful backup/reset/restore cycle fixes the issue for good. If you too are affected, time for a spring clean?
By popular demand, another camera phone head to head using our comparator. With the launch of the Lumia 640 XL with '13MP' ZEISS camera, in a budget phablet frame, quite a few people seem to have been eyeing up the 640 XL as a cheap replacement for their older high end Lumia. The obvious comparison is the mid-tier 830, which also uses ZEISS optics and also eschews oversampling. And then I threw caution to the wind and chucked in the cheaper Lumia 640 as well. Read on for my verdict...
With the main review of the Lumia 640 out of the way, it's time to pitch it against one of its main competitors from the Android world, the Honor Holly, roughly the same price (depending on where you look), almost identical specifications, and yet still plenty of detail to differentiate the two handsets, not least the choice of OS.