Recent Features

The difference a decade makes: Updates

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The next time you look at your on-device application store, with a progress bar showing that an update to, say, Photos is taking an outrageous 30 seconds to apply, here's a cautionary data point from a decade ago...

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State of readiness: Windows 10 Mobile, build 10549

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Yesterday saw the release of Build 10549 of Windows 10 Mobile to Insiders, along with a warning that it needed testers to revert to Windows Phone 8.1 first. And, as it turned out, to hard reset after the Insiders upgrade to Windows 10 too. That's a lot of wiping and flashing, but it's the sort of thing you expect when doing OS beta testing, so I'm not complaining (too much). A bigger question is how ready the OS is, one month away from the date that Microsoft will need to start flashing firmwares onto production Lumia 950 and 950 XL handsets.

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Camera head to head: Lumia 1020 vs Apple iPhone 6s

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Yes, yes, chalk and cheese in every regard, but with the the arrival of Apple's latest smartphone flagship, I thought a data point in terms of the camera champion from the Windows Phone world might be interesting. Just because I can - there's no expectation that anyone will be seriously umming and ahhing about which to buy on the High Street. And my verdict? As with other recent comparisons, the newer competition's image processing and more sensitive sensors are gradually catching up with the 1020's physics, though the old dog is still ahead overall and you still can't beat a Xenon flash when the time comes to dance the night away(!)

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The Top 40: Exploring the 'app gap' for Windows 10 Mobile to Android and iOS

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It's been a long time since I revisited this topic (several years), but it's, if anything, more relevant than ever. Just where does Windows 10 Mobile (née Windows Phone) stand in terms of third party applications, compared to the competition? I mean, first party, in-the-box offerings are outstanding, with Outlook, Skype, Maps, Office and much more, but what about the 'app gap', as popularly characterised? How bad is it, compared to iOS and Android? I took the current 'Top 40' from the application charts from the latter two platforms, as of October 2015 and tried to find equivalents.

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Shaving off 7mm of plastic alone makes the Lumia 950 XL a big 1520 upgrade

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I've been on record as saying that the two new flagships aren't that big of a deal if you already own a Lumia 1520. But I've changed my mind. For the number of small improvements, even over the 1520's monster specs, for the better and faster camera, for the chance to start again on a fresh battery, but mostly because of 7mm of missing polycarbonate...

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'No compromise' Lumia 950 hardware means that success will be all about Windows 10

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Over the last few years, we've been used to massive compromises in most smartphone hardware, in all ecosystems and from all manufacturers. Seemingly, in order to shoehorn in aspects X, Y and Z, features A, B and C have to be dropped. Perm any six from 12 features (including Qi charging, replaceable battery, microSD support, Glance screen, and so on), but you can't have all 12. And we now have the Lumia flagships with the full package, leaving no stone unturned in the drive to include everything. And I mean everything. Meaning that successes and failures all come down to the OS and software. Gulp.

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Never mind Xenon - technology is eliminating flash in camera phones altogether

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The debates have raged over the years, of course. Phone cameras acquired flash units, first LED and then, on some Nokias, Xenon, though the bulk, expense and power requirements of this technology meant that, despite the possible advantages, it never really took off in the phone world. However, 2015 marks the point in the sand where technology is eliminating the need for a flash in a camera phone at all. Soon, the only thing you'll use it for is as a torch to find your way to the car from the pub!

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Camera head to head: Lumia 930 vs Moto X Style

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File this under data points from the wider smartphone world. We already saw how the likes of the LG G4 managed to best the Lumia 930 (unsurprisingly, given the age of the latter), but with the chance to test the brand spanking new Motorola Moto X Style, with almost identical imaging specs to the Lumia 930, I seized on the chance for another in our series of interactive photo comparisons. How will the Moto X Style, with 2015 sensor but no OIS, match up to the results from the much older Nokia? And where will the bar lie for the upcoming Lumia 950 and 950 XL, also with the same 'nominal' specification?

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Does 'replaceable' matter in practice? A horrendously wasted opportunity...

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I have to confess that I've had a particular article 'in progress' for a year or so now and have got nowhere with it. And the topic is one which was raised in my look at the imminent Lumia 950 and 950 XL yesterday - they're down as having replaceable batteries, but does this make ANY difference in the current imperfect world? You can guess where this is going - my abortive article was on sourcing spare batteries for the likes of the Lumia 830, 640 and 640 XL...

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