The mid-range really does seem to be 'where it's at', in terms of value for money these days, with almost flagship specs at half the cost of the cutting edge. Nokia's (ok, now Microsoft's) Lumia 830 is now down to about £250 all in, while the brand new HTC Desire EYE is, in theory, a lot more, but can be found at around £330 right now if you shop around, so the two devices aren't a million miles apart. And, with the 830's camera not using any oversampling, the EYE's output should be pretty comparable in terms of resolution. Close enough for an AAWP head to head anyway.
With Lumia Denim rolling out as I write this (you saw the promo video introducing the main features), I thought it would be useful to clarify which top end Lumia is getting which feature as a result of the update, and also tackle a few Frequently Asked Questions. Denim, including Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1, is a huge update to all Lumias, not just the top end devices.
Tilt-shifting a photo is a relatively modern effect and, it's true to say, rarely approaches truly 'tilt-shifted' photos, done the 'proper' way (see below). However, it can be very effective with the right subject and, best of all, it's something you can do for free, right now, using the 'Lumia Creative Studio' application that's almost certainly installed on your Windows Phone right now. No need for extra software, no need to pay, no need for special skills. Just pick the right photo, adjust the effect and then knock everyone's socks off with the results...
If you're anything like me, your digital music collection is something of a mish mash. Even collated into iTunes on your PC or Mac, it's still a mix of stuff you've ripped from your CDs, stuff you've bought online, stuff you've downloaded for free legally (and occasionally from less official sources), and so on. Some tracks are encoded in MP3, some as .m4a (AAC), some even Windows Media Audio, and all in a wide variety of bit rates and encoding schemes. Little of which matters as long as the music sounds good on your phone, right? Except that the chances are that at least a handful of albums of music copied over from iTunes haven't got album artwork and it's annoying seeing black, empty squares where there should be creative art.
I do realise that simply changing the colour of an item of technology is utterly trivial in one sense, but it's also very satisfying when it's you that has to live with it day to day. Back in the mid 2000s, Nokia introduced the idea of Xpress-On covers for many of its Symbian smartphones, changing the look and feel 'according to your mood'. And, with Nokia's/Microsoft's Windows Phone low and mid range, the same is now true for almost every handset. You just have to know where to find the various colours... Me? I ended up with a Lumia 830 that looks altogether more classy...
Ever since the launch of the Lumia 830 at IFA 2014, with demos of the new Lumia Camera 5 software on the 830 and 930, along with the Denim platform update, enthusiasts like me (with these devices, plus the 1520) have been hitting 'check for updates' in both the Store application and in Settings, all to no avail. What is going on here? While attesting that I'm as frustrated as the next person, here's my best guess.
AMOLED is the technology used in Windows Phones like the Lumia 1020, 925 and 735 (among others) and has a number of big advantages, not least true 'blacks', faster frame rates, more saturated colours and potential power savings if dark themed applications are mainly used. However, you'll have noticed that quite a number of other Lumias (and other manufacturer Windows Phones) tend to use LCD displays, with the advantage of more consistent power output, more neutral colours and slightly lower cost. But - the key thing I wanted to know was - are worries over AMOLED screens not lasting as long warranted?
As is traditional, just in case you've done a Rip van Winkle and slept all year, here are some of the main news stories and reviews featured on the site through 2014, with links, quotes from our story intros, and some commentary at the end. A good year for Windows Phone? A bad one? See my verdict!
With no imaging articles for a good two weeks, you might have thought I'd shut up shop for the winter. However, a late afternoon Christmas walk with fellow geek (and my nephew) Laurie turned into a bit of a photo taking contest. I wanted to pitch the Lumia 830, with the new style non-oversampling camera and next-gen algorithms, against the existing camera champion, the Lumia 1020. I gave Laurie the pick of the devices and he went for the 830, so it was me and old faithful as we headed out into the wintry weather. With no brief for each of us, except to get the best shot of each subject that was called out. With our famed comparator, which device's snaps do you prefer?