Christmas is a time for giving, and smartphones are a popular gift in the 21st century. Why are the popular Windows Phone 8 handsets going to be great gifts on the 25th? Because they have an immediate impact, they have a great out of the box experience, and over the last few months the additions to the ecosystem have made all the difference.
Released yesterday was Nokia Black for the Lumia 1020 - at least for the AT&T variant over in the USA. Especially interesting is that Black incorporates a number of important improvements in image processing for the camera, begging further detailed investigation. Happily, we have both AT&T and generic Euro variants of the 1020 to hand, so it was easy to set up some test shots and see what Nokia has changed in terms of 'noise reduction and tone mapping' in going from Nokia Amber to Nokia Black and the way these interact with the class-leading camera hardware.
In App Purchases, when done right (rarely) can work for both developers and users. When done wrong (most of the time), they're a right pain, with massive (£50+) purchases just a tap away. And no, you're not going to tap on these, but there's the moment when you lend your phone to little Johnny or Clara to 'keep them occupied with a game' and find out that they've tapped where they shouldn't and your wallet got a lit lighter. Happily, there's a way in Windows Phone to halt such accidents, but it's not very well publicised.
As 2013 draws to a close, a breakthrough year for Windows Phone, we thought the team should pick their favourite things from the year. See below for the very best of the best, as chosen by Rafe Blandford, Ewan Spence and Steve Litchfield. No doubt you'll have your own preferences too, so pipe up in the comments!
Perhaps matching the debate on sealed vs replaceable batteries as a design trend for our time is that of sealed memory. In other words, flash storage for applications, files, documents and media, which is of a fixed size and with no options for user expansion. Is sealed memory ultimately acceptable and, if so, is it possible to calculate a healthy minimum for 2014 devices?
Imaging enthusiasts like me live and breathe resolutions and jargon like 'oversampling' and 'Back Side Illumination', but it's easy to lose track of more mundane questions and issues from those for whom their smartphone camera isn't one of the biggest features. In this case, I'd had emails in asking why their 12MP (i.e. 12 megapixels) camera was only outputting 9MP and their 8MP device outputting 6MP. Why were their smartphone cameras performing under par? I thought a little clarification was in order.
While the N8 is ancient in the smartphone world, it still has an impressive camera, with native 12MP output. So much so, that it's still the benchmark by which we at All About Towers judge all other cameras. Even though media attention on phone cameras looks at the Lumia 1020 or HTC One, the N8 still stands up favourably against these modern phones. With that in mind, I took my N8 out to look skywards, with the help of a telescope, and photographed The Moon. Read on to see how well it did and how it stacks up against modern phones like the iPhone 5 and Windows Phone-powered Lumia 925 too.
Most readers know me as someone prepared to enter into debate on the subjects of form factor and smartphone design, but also having my own distinct preferences. You'll remember an in depth feature I did on the subject of sealed vs removeable batteries? It's fair to say that, personally, I come down on the 'removeable' side of the fence - yet I find myself, in December 2013, using a sealed design for my primary device. In this feature, hopefully of interest to both AAS and AAWP readers, I examine my objections to 'sealed' and ask which of them, if any, are still showstoppers.
Here's a thought. Instead of wasting a brand, instead of making an implicit promise of quality and failing to deliver, instead of giving hope to gamers out there, instead of teasing us that something interesting might happen... Xbox Live on Windows Phone should simply disappear. The lack of engagement from Microsoft and third party developers is frankly embarrassing, and the service needs put out of its misery.
You love smartphone camera shootouts - you know you do. Especially with champions in both the Symbian and Windows Phone world. We've compared most of these devices to one of the Android world's camera champions before - the Sony Xperia Z1, but that device was hampered by poor initial firmware and reports of the most recent Z1 update have been promising. Which means (in conjunction with reader Adam Pino) a new head to head: Nokia N8 (12MP, Xenon flash, Symbian), Nokia 808 (5MP oversampling, Xenon, Symbian), Nokia 1020 (ditto, Windows Phone) and the Z1. Fight!