Microsoft, Nokia, Lumia, HERE, all brands and names that are prominent in the world of 'All About' writing. Yet I'm fascinated by the timing of the various name and brand changes - it's clear that every time something changed, whether Maps/Drive or from Nokia's Symbian smartphones to something more future-proof, the writing was on the wall for anyone with eyes to see....
One of the advantages of the UK not having received the Cortana rollout yet is that we still have Bing Vision. No, doesn't sound very exciting, but this was the interface to scanning QR codes, both for applications and when accessing information out and about in the real world. However, USA users and - well, all of us, eventually, are going to have Cortana mapped to our search keys, begging the question of the best way to scan QR codes in the future.
A few days ago, I shot a stills camera comparison between the 1020, the S5 and a few other devices - this is unashamedly just the two smartphones, head to head, shooting video and compared in real time, split-screen, thanks to a hardware jig that keeps both units perfectly braced relative to each other. It's fair to say that the 1020's PureView zoom and OIS prove the clincher if you're looking to pick a smartphone based on video capture quality. However, the S5 does have a 4K capture option, plus surprisingly capable video capture in extreme low light. See what you think below.
If you've been reading enough reviews on this site then you'll have got the picture of a modern, 2014 smartphone game by now. It's a free download, of course, and big (of course - watch out anyone on lower RAM devices). There are coins and fuel cans to collect, there are gold stars to earn and there are powerups, bonuses and medals available. You can customise everything cosmetically, and... never mind any freemium worries, you need a degree in game micro-management in order to get anywhere. Does anyone else yearn for games which don't require the player to keep track of so many ancillary numbers?
No apologies for the continued shootouts - these are frantic times in the world of smartphone cameras - and we haven't even got to the Samsung K Zoom yet! In this case, comparing the champion Lumia 1020 with the Oppo Find 7a, which has a 13MP camera that also claims to shoot in 50MP UltraHD(!) As is often the case, I also throw in other devices, for comparison, in this case the new Galaxy S5 and the older Nokia 808 PureView.
A lot of people have been saying some very nice things about the Sony Xperia Z2's 8MP oversampling camera, which is why I wanted to give it a quick head to head with the Lumia 1020, albeit not in perfect conditions, weather-wise. Did the Z2 get close to Nokia's masterpiece? That's a tough one to answer. It's close...ish, though the 1020 maintains a definite lead across all test images. See below for my test examples.
Guest writer Keir Brython reports back on his four months with the Nokia Lumia 1520 after a year with the Nokia 808 PureView. It's safe to say that he didn't find the journey from one platform to another all plain sailing and it's telling that he now has to carry around both smartphones, since the Windows Phone won't yet let him do everything he wants a smartphone to do.... Brickbats and bouquets abound in this real world testimony.
Never mind the underperforming Sony Xperia Z1/Z2/Z1 Compact and their 1/2.3" sensors, think back to head to heads with the original Galaxy S4 and you might suspect that the Galaxy S5 camera will be the real 'class of 2014' competition for 2013's camera champion, the Nokia Lumia 1020. And you'd be right. 16MP, 1/2.6" ISOCELL sensor and blazingly fast image processing means that for many casual use cases the S5 is, arguably, one of the best camera phones ever seen, even though it doesn't, ultimately, beat the 1020 across all light conditions and subjects.
I remain constantly surprised by the lack of knowledge of basic physics by those who write 'battery saving' articles across the web, in the context of smartphones. By far the most common bit of advice - reduce the frequency of email, PIM and social sync - seems to be given for all phones and all platforms and it's actually highly misleading. The underlying physics is far, far more important, if you want to keep your precious battery life while travelling. For 2G/3G/4G certainly - but also, almost counter-intuitively, for Wi-fi too.
Having a 'proper' Xenon flash in your smartphone (we're talking Nokia 808 and Lumia 1020 here) doesn't necessarily give you better low light shots of people - you have to know how to use the technology to best effect too. After criticism from some quarters about 'missed shots', I thought a 'how to' guide to Xenon might be in order, whichever of Nokia's flagship camera phones you own.