Google's recent release of version 4.4 of Android has many goals, but one of them is to address Android's suitability for lower spec handsets. While Android has built up market share on low end devices, this focus on a slick experience at the low end is something that Microsoft and Windows Phone have already got under control. Now is the time for WP to drive that advantage home.
Hot off the international device press, we have a camera comparison between the brand new Google Nexus 5 and the established champion, the Nokia Lumia 1020. Now, we're not expecting the Nexus 5 to get close to the 1020, but the margin is an interesting November 2013 data point in this popular facet of smartphone functionality.
"Find some nice stories, please", was the comment from the All About team as I boarded the flight to Dublin and the Digital Web Summit earlier this week. And what I found was disheartening. Not that I was expecting anything else, but the app development gap between Windows Phone and iOS was ridiculous.
I wrote, a while ago, about possible showstoppers for people moving from Symbian to Android or Windows Phone, but a lot has happened in the intervening months, not least the arrival of the Nokia Lumia 1020, offering a more or less direct equivalent to the camera-centric flagships in Nokia's previous Symbian world. What I wanted to explore here was each aspect of smartphone functionality, from the point of view of matching what each generation did - and does. The overall picture may surprise you, though (as usual) there are a few caveats along the way.
The Nokia Lumia 1520, announced at Nokia World last week, has one of the best screens we've seen on a smartphone. The headline feature of the six-inch IPS LCD display is its 1080p resolution screen (1080 x 1920 pixels), which is a first for Windows Phone, but what really stood out for us, during a brief hands-on, was the improved implementation of Nokia's sunlight readability enhancement mode.
There's discussion online that Indian consumer manufacturer Micromax Mobile is looking to release a Windows Phone handset during 2014. Co-founder Rahul Sharma has said that "...We [Micromax] are working on a Windows Phone and you might see something from us around mid of next year.” As Microsoft moves towards a unified approach of hardware and software to push Windows Phone, is there still a place for new manufacturers to stand out in the Windows Phone world?
With Nokia World at the start of this week, along with Apple's update to the iPad line of tablets (along with the iPhone announcements in September) there's a common refrain that nothing 'new' is being shown. People who are expecting miracles every time a CEO takes to the stage are being disappointed. Technology is now at the point that it takes a huge amount of research to gain small incremental advantages, and what's in your pocket is going to be stable for the next year or two. Hardware has, I contend, answered the question 'what is it to be a smartphone'.
The Nokia Lumia 920 introduced the world to the idea of optical image stabilisation (OIS) in a phone camera - a tremendous achievement. Not only that, but it had full 3-axis OIS and very effective, not least for cinematic video capture. The Lumia 1020 took things one stage further, with OIS applied to a much bigger and better camera unit, something of a technological miracle. And now we have, at last, a possible competitor from the Android world, in the LG G2. Its OIS seems just as effective as Nokia's, so I wanted to pitch its video capture against the Lumia 1020's, head to head.
In the recent open letter from 'The BlackBerry Team' of the Canadian manufacturer, it highlighted the areas where it believes BlackBerry has an advantage. Even with the implication of my writing for a site called 'All About Windows Phone', the four areas of strength are easily matched, and mostly trumped, by Windows Phone.
The Nokia Lumia 1020 reigns supreme in terms of still photography in the 2013 smartphone world, it seems, but challengers do keep popping up. In this case the LG G2, with 13MP sensor and OIS, inset into a sleek and large-screened body. It was only natural to compare the cameras of each, in this, part 1 of a two part shootout, though I added a couple of extra reference points to the mix in the older Nokia 808 (sorry, couldn't help myself) and the mainstream Lumia 920. I then shot the same nine scenes and subjects with all four, to place the phone cameras relative to each other.