Recent Features - General

All About... Dynamic Vibration

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"Dynamic what?", I hear you ask? This is something I've been enjoying on the Sony flagship Android smartphones for a couple of years and it can, sometimes, really enhance the mobile media experience. The curious thing is that there's no reason, in principle, why every smartphone can't have this, yet few people have even heard of it. In short, as bass notes and low sound effects are rendered over the phone speakers, the haptic vibration system is driven to add 'rumble' and physical effect. Here's how it works and what it's good for.

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All About... Smartphone Fast Charging

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Charging a smartphone has been getting more and more complicated in recent years, with 'fast charging' solutions from several sources and with mixed compatibility in the phone world in terms of device. Quick Charge, Power Delivery, Dash Charge, Warp Charge, and so on... So it's high time that we rounded up the various systems and explained how they work and what they'll work with. With caveats, in that this is a fast changing slice of the tech world and the future is still being written!

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By popular demand: Lumia 950 vs fixed-up Sony Xperia 5 ii camera comparison

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Following my imaging head to head between the fixed-up Sony Xperia 5 ii and the new camera benchmark, the iPhone 12 Pro Max in ProRAW mode, there was demand for a quick return to the Lumia 950 as the comparison device. And, with the weather set fair in the UK summer, I'm happy to oblige. As before, Sony has upped their game since the Xperia 5 ii's release, with updates, so can the 2020 multimedia champion also now best the 950 in imaging?

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Do nine months of updates fix up Sony Xperia 5 ii imaging?

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It's a constant in the smartphone world that software updates arrive to improve camera performance - this has applied to many Lumias in the past, it applied to the last two generations of iPhones (Deep Fusion and then ProRAW), and it seems to have applied to the Sony Xperias. Nine months after my initial imaging comparison with the Lumia 950 XL, it's evident that Sony has fine tuned its algorithms and the tri-camera-ed Xperia 5 ii is due a re-test. Except that now we have All About Mobile*, I feel justified at using the iPhone 12 Pro Max as my imaging benchmark rather than my beloved Lumia 950 XL, which is now looking at little archaic with just the single camera/lens...

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Should you take 'zoom' a lens at a time?

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It's potentially a technological hot potato, yet 99% of the world has come down on one side of the argument and Sony on the other. And it's not something we've ever covered in any detail. Essentially, what should go through your mind when using zoom (or ultra-wide) in a smartphone camera? Specifically, should you think in terms of using a particular lens for a particular shot or should you 'wing it' and fiddle with the interface until framing is perfect? Here I demonstrate that the latter approach is fraught with image quality problems.

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DeX, your mobile Android (Continuum) desktop, benchmarked

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Just as I was enthusiastic about Windows 10 Mobile's Continuum back in 2015/2016, I'm enthusiastic about Samsung's DeX to this day - it keeps getting updates and more functional, month on month. But how does it fare in daily use, as at July 2021? Admittedly there's the continuing bottleneck of the hardware component (I'm fortunate enough to own a rarity, below!), but how does the software fare when faced with a typical 'laptop'-like workload today?

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Windows 11 - Yes or No?

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Please excuse a slight, a very slight devation from 'Mobile' (as in smartphones), but it's all very relevant. We have (very mobile) ultra-light 2-in-1s and notebooks running Windows, we have Android phones linking into Windows, plus old-time AAWP fans will be interested in Windows' evolution. And I'd like to weigh in on the worth - or otherwise - of the recently announced Windows 11, since opinions seem divided, with tempers fanned by Microsoft's draconian minimum specifications for the free OS upgrade.

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The curated UWP app directory for W10M: Summer 2021 update

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Three months on from the previous update, here is the Summer 2021 update (five additions, twelve apps removed, several links tweaked) to the AAWP directory of curated UWP applications, i.e. those with native Windows 10 UI and which support different orientations, Continuum and even use on laptop or tablet. Do please get involved in the comments to let me know of anything which has stopped working or disappeared from the Store.

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Pixel/950/iPhone - Android 12, more imaging data points

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Yes, yes, I've included these devices in previous camera shoot-outs, but I haven't done one for a while, plus the Google Pixel 4a 5G here (with the same camera system as the 'flagship' Pixel 5) is now running on Android 12 and with a very different feel to the Camera app and some of the under-the-hood plumbing. But has it improved the 2020 Pixel's imaging output? I'm sceptical. Meanwhile, my iPhone 12 Pro Max has had numerous software updates, with Apple tweaking imaging all the time. So, for what it's worth, here are some end-June 2021 data points for my overarching 'SteveMark' table.

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Why 'solar power banks' can never work. Avoid, avoid!

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The idea is a great one - combine the functions of solar panels and power bank in the one gadget, to have a single, self sufficient gadget that will just go on and on. Maths and physics unfortunately get in the way, and it’s worth exploring why. So don’t get tempted when you see these on Amazon or AliExpress - they will disappoint.

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