I last gave some smartphone choices in February 2020, but a lot has changed in the last seven months! I've pitched this as my top picks for smartphones to replace a Lumia 950/930 or perhaps an IDOL 4 Pro or Elite x3, going forwards into 2021 as Windows 10 Mobile is now long unsupported and as services gradually start to wind down. I've tested just about everything on the market and here's my updated verdict in terms of functionality, future viability, and value for money. Four of the five are new from the last selection!
There's a saying in the fashion world that if you wait long enough then almost anything will come back into fashion again. And, although the actual Lumia 950 (and XL) were launched in 2015, enough time has passed that, even at their original launch prices, you could see quite a few competitive advantages if such smartphones were launched today - yes, at the tail end of 2020. Here's my tongue-in-cheek marketing material for your enjoyment and thought provocation...
Two months on from the previous update, here is the Autumn 2020 update (two additions, three apps removed, several links tweaked) to the AAWP directory of curated UWP applications, those with native Windows 10 UI and which support different orientations, Continuum and even use on laptop or tablet. Do please get involved in the comments to let me know of anything which has stopped working.
The POCO X3 (NFC) - to use its full title - is the mid-range smartphone of the moment, offering flagship features in most cases, at under £200 (for the 64GB version), brand new and inclusive of VAT, in the UK. It's a stunning phone and I featured it last week in a head to head with the Lumia 950 XL, by way of something AAWP-relevant to compare it to. But imaging was an unknown at that point. So, how good is a £200 2020 Android phone's camera system compared to the champion/classic from 2015?
In the fourth 'gentle hacker' guest post from Nico, from Italy, he switches away from flagships and looks at older and lower end Lumias which struggle with the latest Windows 10 Mobile builds - WP8.1 is no longer practical, but what about a halfway house? What about sticking with 'Threshold', the very first W10M build from the end of 2015? It turns out that there's a sweet spot here where more apps and services work for these less capable devices. But as usual, put on your geek hat for best results!
It's brand new and it sets new boundaries for high specifications and low price in the smartphone world. £199 (inc VAT) for the 'POCO X3 (NFC)' in the UK is all it costs to get something which all but competes with other smartphones costing three times its price. But where are the compromises, if any, and how does this Android newcomer compare with the classic Lumia 950 XL, still the benchmark for many here on AAWP?
Guest writer Nico brings us a retrospective specs and user experience comparison of the three Windows 10 Mobile 'flagships'. My favourite was the Alcatel, despite some imaging misses, because I just love the screen contrast and colours, and the stereo speakers - but here's Nico's take, borne of personal experience of all three (I - Steve - don't have an Elite x3 anymore, sadly)... Which of the three (or four, depending on how you count) is/was your favourite?
Drawing on guest contributor Nico's experience, here's our guide to where each Windows Phone (8.1) and Windows 10 Mobile smartphone should end up. No, not Microsoft's official 'end of support' branch for each, but where an enterprising geek like yourself might take them with the aid of the usual interop tools and phone ID spoofing.
So, here's a puzzler for you... What has two screens, folds to (almost) any angle, has multiple 'poses', allows for multi-pane displays within individual applications, and is integrated tightly with Microsoft applications and services? Answer? The Surface Duo The new Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, which arrives a mere week after the first review Duos hit USA-based reviewers. There are a huge number of similarities - plus a huge number of differences, and I thought it worthwhile breaking them all down. Both are, of course, stupidly expensive - but here's my take, regardless.
Guest author Nico brings us a guide to 'unlocking' any of the Microsoft Windows 10 Mobile Lumias, with the example aim of replacing the boot and closedown graphics, but I'm sure there are more practical things possible. Yes, we've reached that 'hacking' stage of an OS, where the manufacturer isn't interested anymore, so it's down to users to play around under the hood, it seems.