Another year, another Xiaomi flagship, good value for money compared to the Samsungs and OnePlus of this world. Except that there are several variants, two of which have yet to be announced (next week should see the 'Pro' and 'Ultimate'). Regardless, I have the standard Xiaomi Mi 11 5G in hand and here I do a head-to-head against my standard benchmark device (for AAWP), the Lumia 950 XL. Imaging is next, don't worry.
It's an idea that I've toyed with over the years, and prompted by a recent submission for review of a solar-powered smartphone power bank (link below, it had a design flaw!) Now, I'm in the UK and the sun isn't exactly a reliable resource, but hey, picking a sunny day or two in early Spring here, I applied some science to the solar idea. Using my trusty Choetech 19W tri-fold panel, I've been taking measurements and doing some maths...
With Google stepping back from their original vision for Google Photos, year on year, changes are afoot in the phone photo storage world. So I thought a round up of your options in 2021 would be worthwhile. This being cross-posted to AAWP, it's highly appropriate to suggest that Microsoft's OneDrive, as used originally back in Symbian (as 'SkyDrive') and then Windows Phone days, is still perhaps the premium repository for all your photos and videos. But there are alternatives galore...
Almost exactly a year ago, I was struck by the quality and beauty of one of Microsoft's official Windows 10 Wallpaper/Theme packs for Windows 10. Each with stunning colours and composition, and each with 15 (or so) wallpapers for your PC/hybrid to cycle through and generally take theme and colour cues from. So I wrote a guide for adapting these for Windows 10 Mobile, e.g. on a Lumia. Since then we've had dozens of similar packs, i.e. many hundreds of super-high-end images, so I thought I'd pick my top 20, in case you too feel like a wallpaper/theme change for your PC/phone.
In the last few years, the whole core of what a smartphone means to me has changed. In one sense, a lot of the excitement about new phone launches has worn off, while in another, I’ve never been so invested in my phone and how tightly integrated it is into my everyday life. Let me explain - in text or (if you prefer) video form! You see, the value in your smartphone in 2021 isn't - surprisingly - in your £1000 hardware, I contend.
It's a curious saga, but one which is worth looking at - even if (given that this is on AAWP, as well as the upcoming AAM) no Windows phones ever participated. I'm talking about phone-hosted biosensors, ways to measure heart rate, breathing, and more, using just your smartphone hardware. Why think about this now? Because Google just hacked some of this into its Pixels in a (get this) software update. So... how well does it work and is it a game changer?
The first smartphone that featured Qi charging out of the box was the Nokia Lumia 920, back in 2012, and ever since wireless charging has been a staple that most of us have required before considering a phone purchase. Making it ironic that the flagships that now support it have dropped other 'staples', including 3.5mm audio and microSD expansion, while lower end and mid-rangers have the latter but not Qi. But wait, there's an easy way to add Qi to any smartphone and I thought a reminder was in order...
On the premise that All About Mobile covers, in principle, anything that you can use when 'mobile' (and copied here to AAWP because AAM is yet to go live, plus this runs Windows 10), the new Framework Laptop is both a breath of fresh air in the industry and also of particular interest to anyone brought up on phones where you could take bits out and replace them (storage, battery, audio, etc.) Is this the future of laptop technology? Perhaps not in the mainstream, but I'm very eager - as a geek - to try it out. This will most definitely find a niche in the market.
In each of my previous camera shootouts from the phone world, I get people asking about the older, 2013 Lumia 1020 and even more so the 2012 Nokia 808, so why not throw these head to head with the state of the PureView art in 2021? 'PureView' was always about combining multiple pixels into one, about computational photography, to keep images as 'pure' as possible. Arguably, Google and Apple have done the best here in terms of keeping up this tradition, combining pixels in the time (as opposed to physical) domain. So here's a big 4-way shootout, for your interest and enjoyment!
New ideas in phone imaging don't come along very often, but Samsung hit on something three years ago, with 'Single Take', that's worth talking about. Most Galaxy phone users don't even know the mode is there, but Samsung is just starting to push the idea in marketing, begging the question whether this is the future of phone imaging or just another gimmick? For 'normobs', just maybe the former, for you and I (AAWP, AAM) probably the latter.