With smartphone design converging ever more closely these days (in terms of specs and form factor), at least it makes it easier to compare devices directly. In this case Microsoft's standard sized flagship, the Windows 10 Mobile-powered Lumia 950, and Huawei's new equivalent, the Android-powered P9, which is in for review. Here's how the two contenders stack up...
I touched on Dynamic Exposure in my recent feature charting the many instant decisions that Microsoft's 'Rich HDR' (née Rich Capture) system goes through each time you take a photo on, for example, the Lumia 950 or 950 XL. One of the more intriguing possible outcomes was in lowish light with moving subjects, which is where 'Dynamic Exposure' comes into play, with two shots of different exposure times combined to good effect. Below, I demonstrate just how well this works.
By popular request, and following the announcement by Microsoft that the low end Lumia 435, 532/535 (etc.) are approved for the Windows 10 Mobile update (and beyond), but not yesteryear's flagships, such as the Lumia 920, 925 and 1020, with the older generation of S4 processors, I put two devices head to head running the production version of Windows 10 Mobile - how does performance stack up and were Microsoft right to exclude the older phones? Or should they have included less phone upgrades in the mix?
Reverse engineering the internal logic of Windows 10 Camera took a little head scratching and practical experimentation (thanks to long time AAWP reader Indrek Haav for the help), but I/we reckon that we have it pretty much nailed now, as you'll see from the chart below. So if you've ever wondered exactly what Rich HDR (née Rich Capture) was 'thinking' when you tapped the shutter icon or mashed fully down on the shutter button then hopefully we have an answer for you.
Remember when Windows Phone 8.1 was the mainstream and Windows 10 Mobile was the cool OS to play with, break and generally have fun with? As of March 17th 2016, Windows 10 Mobile is a (potential) reality for the majority of users of Windows Phone 8.1. Moreover, Microsoft's own resources are now more focussed into knocking 'Redstone' into shape, meaning that the standard 'Threshold' build isn't going to get anything more than critical fixes from now on. Making me ask the question (of myself), 'Where should my gaze be? What should my primary Windows phone be running?' Redstone, of course. All the way.
The latest Kantar market share figures are out for smartphone OS and, unsurprisingly, they are being viewed (e.g. here) as further confirmation of the decline of Windows on mobile when compared to iOS and Android. But we're already in a world of Windows 10 Mobile 'for enthusiasts' - do we really need the validation of consumer market share success? Can't we just enjoy Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile on our hardware without worrying about others? Shouldn't we (ahem) rejoice in our exclusivity?
Oddly, despite dancing around the iPhone 6s (and 6s Plus) after having access to the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, I don't think I've done a direct camera head to head between them yet. And with the arrival of the latest iPhone SE, with identical imaging to the 6s, and with both in hand, I thought the time was right to do a comparison. It's 16MP versus 12MP but results are very good from both units to the naked eye, so I think it's time we called on our famed interactive comparator again.
An update last week to Microsoft Health brought in a new (and long overdue) feature - the ability to take part in multi-person challenges with your friends. Competing to see who can do (for example) the most steps over a given period has long been part of the Fitbit world and now you can do the same with Microsoft Health. Here's how it works under Windows 10 Mobile.
One of the almost unique features of Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile is that their Store applications are set up, by default, to automatically download and install updates (just as on the desktop). So, in daily use, apps will just 'magically' appear to gain functions and bug fixes, with no intervention. In contrast, iOS and Android default to notifying users of waiting updates when the relevant store application is run, relying on the user tapping to acknowledge and agree to update everything. Which approach is best? I contend the former, by a country mile.
HDR is somewhat contentious in the world of imaging. Anyone who's seen HDR images can tell in an instant that they don't claim to show the world as it really looked, but rather as it could be emphasised, bringing out all colours and all detail to maximum effect. The results can be dramatic, see some of the examples below. Now, the Rich Capture system on many phone cameras in the Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile world means that you can do a limited amount of HDR imaging, but what happens when you can't achieve as dramatic a result as you want to at capture time? i.e. Can clever software work wonders with your raw material?