NFC (Near Field Communications) is something we've only touched on briefly on the All About sites. You know it as a way to pair quickly with compatible Bluetooth accessories and to tap-for-info on an object, but the scope of NFC is widening all the time. In the first of several articles on NFC, I explore the world of NFC tag writing, looking at some common practical uses. Comments welcome if you can think of ways the technology would enhance your life too.
Every smartphone is made up of compromises. Battery life against screen brightness is an obvious example in hardware, but there are many others. One of them is setting the price of the handset. Balancing units sold against revenue per handset is one lever that can be used to promote a platform's growth, which is why the lower average selling price (ASP) of Windows Phone handsets should not be something to worry over.
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.
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?
If all goes well, in 2014 Microsoft will be selling their own handsets running Windows Phone 8. But what can they call them? Assuming they don't want to skip back to 'Zune', and they reject 'Brian', the answer might be coming to them from Finland.
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....
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.
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?
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...
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.