Recent Features

How to: take sharper, crisper Xenon flash photos on the Nokia Lumia 1020

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If you've been looking at my Lumia 1020 camera comparisons closely enough, you'll have seen that party/pub/event shots taken with Xenon flash end up not looking quite as crisp and 'frozen' as we're used to seeing with standalone cameras and even the older Nokia 808 PureView and N8. This is mainly a design decision, with Nokia trying to get away from the Xenon-floodlit, white-out shots and bring back some of the atmosphere of the occasion. Here I explore this decision and wonder if there's a happy middle ground between the two extremes.

# Posted by Steve in Features || Comments

Nokia's PureView copied? Lumia 1020 versus Sony Xperia Z1 cam shootout

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The core idea behind Nokia's use of a crazily high resolution sensor (41 megapixels) in the 808 and, more relevantly here, the Lumia 1020, was to allow for 'computational photography'. Firstly, this involves taking large amounts of raw data and using it intelligently to produce higher quality data in smaller quantities, e.g. 5MP images with relatively low amounts of noise. Secondly, using the high native resolution to allow for zooming and re-framing without having to 'interpolate' (i.e. making up detail that's not really there). And now the same idea has been copied by Sony for the Xperia Z1. So how does the Z1 fare in a ten-scene camera shootout against Nokia's second generation PureView tech in the 1020?

# Posted by Steve in Features || Comments

OS lifecycles charted: the 'six year rule', the demise of Blackberry

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Regular listeners to the 361 Degrees podcast will have heard many times of Rafe's legendary 'six year rule', when referring to smartphone platforms and ecosystems. With Blackberry seemingly imploding before our eyes, with Nokia having been snapped up recently by Microsoft and with Symbian increasingly being forgotten in the marketplace, I thought it worth both expanding on Rafe's rule of thumb and also charting it graphically. A mosquito lives for a week, a hamster for a year or two, smartphone operating systems about six or seven years, and (happily) human beings about 70 to 80 years. Life and death, all in 1000 words? It can only be an All About (sites) editorial....

# Posted by Steve in Features || Comments

Building the 'Xbox Portable' with Windows Phone 8

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You can't customise a Windows Phone, it's not flexible enough, you'll never get a unique experience... Put those opinions aside, because they're wrong. I'm about to take your bog-standard Windows Phone handset, and turn it into a pocket dynamo of a games machine. Forget the Lumia brand, this is (if you squint hard enough) a guide to building the Xbox Portable.

# Posted by Ewan in Features || Comments

Symbian cloud sync: Out with Google, in with Microsoft and Windows Phone?

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Although some local 'sync' options are available for our Symbian smartphones (e.g. locally to Nokia Suite on a Windows PC), for most of us 'sync' now means synchronisation to an online service. In the good (bad?) old days, this meant messing around with SyncML, but things have moved on and new protocols have emerged as standards. So where do Symbian handsets stand and is there a solution that is future proof? Could it be that the changes at Google's end are unwittingly nudging many of the hundred million Symbian users into a Microsoft-centric solution, following Nokia into the brave new world of Windows Phone?

# Posted by Steve in Features || Comments

Smartphone camera sensor sizes visualised, light gathering ability calculated

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It's a fair cop, I'm firmly in camera geek territory again here. We see a lot of smartphone camera comparisons online (not least here on the All About sites), but all this talk of optical formats and pixel sizes rather gets in the way of the man in the street understanding the simple physics involved. To help out, I've summarised all available data on smartphone camera sizes and apertures and present the result graphically. So the Lumia 1020 has a 1/1.5" sensor - what does this mean? And how does it affect the ability of the device to gather light? This and much more below...

# Posted by Steve in Features || Comments

Nine apps that would be nice to have on Windows Phone

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It's an app ecosystem, and to play in it you need the apps and services that people want. So with a little bit of wishful thinking, here are nine apps that could help Windows Phone if they were released on the platform, or, if you prefer, here are nine apps that we think are missing from Windows Phone.

# Posted by Ewan in Features || Comments

Want absolute purity? Think about NOT reframing that Lumia 1020 photo!

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Last week I looked into 'oversampling' as featured on the Nokia Lumia 1020 (and the older 808), with the main takeaway for AAWP readers being that the default Windows Phone Camera application only presented a low grade 5MP sample of the underlying 41MP sensor, while Nokia Pro Camera worked with the hardware and OS to incorporate information from every underlying pixel, i.e. oversampling, to produce photos with less noise and clearer details. There was one aspect of this analysis that needs more investigation though - it turns out that all reframed photos are indeed generated from the full resolution JPG but there's an initial 'purer' 5MP version that you can choose to keep.

# Posted by Steve in Features || Comments

Early rumours and information on Windows Phone 8.1 ("Blue")

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A small amount of information relating to the next major version of Windows Phone (8.1 / "Blue") has emerged, from various sources, over the last week. The various leaks provide evidence for a new notification system, additional app layout options and an updated version of the TellMe voice control system. The latter is said to give Windows Phone a Siri-like personal assistant functionality and is based on Microsoft's "Cortana" technology.

# Posted by Rafe in Features || Comments

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