Almost two years after the launch of Windows Phone as a mobile OS, I've been looking back at the hardware available in that time. For a number of reasons, most of it has been very uninspiring, unexciting. Partly this is down to limitations in Windows Phone 7.5 itself, but also due to either lack of effort or external constraints on the various manufacturers. In this feature, I pick my favourites of the previous (current) generation of Windows Phones and attempt to pick a favourite out of the next (WP8) generation too.
One of the unique selling points of the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 was the adoption of the Qi wireless charging standard. Wireless charging is not a new technology, but whenever it has been employed in any product, whether it be the Palm Pre or your electric toothbrush, it seems to have struggled to catch mainstream attention. With these Lumia devices being perhaps the most mainstream application of wireless charging, and because Nokia adopted a standard rather than a proprietary method, wireless charging may just have come of age. How does it work though? I explain.
As part of its New York press event, Nokia and Microsoft detailed features of Windows Phone 8 alongside the launch of the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820. Microsoft's Joe Belfiore and Nokia's Kevin Shields talked through features, some of which had been announced previously, and some that were news to us all. There was a heavy emphasis on imaging, as one would expect from Nokia, but also a sense of an iterative building of a unique and recognisable user experience.
Seeing the PureView label on the new Nokia 920 will instantly draw comparisons with Nokia's 808 PureView running Symbian, which used a massive 1/1.2" sensor and 41 megapixel array to do stunning 'software photography', with noise-reducing pixel oversampling and lossless zoom options. However, in truth there is no comparison, since 'PureView' in the Lumia 920 is totally and utterly different. The camera in this device does bring potentially big improvements for the typical/traditional 1/3" sensor phone camera, but it works in a totally different way. Read on for more...
With the announcement of the first Windows Phone 8 device, Samsung would have been looking for some good coverage out of the IFA event in Berlin. Having a look around, there's not a huge amount. The specs are reported, the PR shots are there, but people's thoughts and opinions? Still forming, by the looks of things. Shall we look around and see what people are writing about the newest Windows Phone?
Samsung were the first out of the block with an announcement of a Windows Phone 8 device thanks to yesterday's reveal of the ATIV S, and one thing is for sure... this is not the only Windows Phone 8 we're going to see around the launch of the updated operating system. As the first handset, Samsung's ATIV S puts down an impressive marker in terms of specification and construction, while leaving a lot of space for competitors (and Samsung themselves) to ensure a Windows Phone 8 device at every price point.
Since Friday, the tech media has been flooded with news and commentary about the jury's verdict on the Apple versus Samsung case in the USA. Many of the headlines would have you believe this is the turning point for Windows Phone (e.g. this one on Forbes by our own Ewan Spence), because Android has been mortally wounded by a thermonuclear bomb sent from beyond the grave by Steve Jobs himself. Then again, Gizmodo have said "Who cares if Samsung copied Apple?". As is always the case though, reality is much more complicated and far less clear cut.
If there's one thing that is going to get developers interested in programming on Windows Phone, it's money. If Windows Phone proves to be a fruitful place to do business, then people will do business. But one of the biggest tools to help developers earn money isn't available on Windows Phone, and when it is, it may not have the reach to be effective.
After travelling across the West of England over the last four days, the disconnect between the hype at the cutting edge of the smartphone world (where a phone or system gets blasted because it 'only' offers 6Mbps downloads, etc.) and the reality for normal people has never been more evident. I know I've ranted in the distant past along similar lines, but the situation's getting worse, not better, with time.
Here's what we do know for sure... Microsoft's UI is no longer going to be called Metro. Whatever the new name is going to be ('Blue?' 'Windows 8 UI'? 'Colin?') this is great news for Microsoft. They have a chance to simplify the Windows 8 message, a chance they might not have taken if Metro had been allowed to carry on.