Recent Features - Microsoft

All About... Bluetooth music

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No, not another site(!), but a genuine attempt to dig into Bluetooth music, i.e. hooking up your smartphone to Bluetooth headphones and the gradual increase in audio quality over the last decade. When did it get so good and what are the underlying protocols and numbers? Here's where you need to know your codecs from your acronyms and your kilobits per second from your profiles...

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By popular demand... The famed Lumia 1020 takes on the DSLR

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Having pitched the best of 2021's camera-toting flagship phones against a Canon DSLR, I did get some requests to pitch the mighty Lumia 1020 against the device. After all, the 1020 is as close as any of us have ever got to completely 'pure' photos from a phone. Zero sharpening, zero artefacts, etc. Albeit only at 5MP after the PureView oversampling. But wait - the Canon can also oversample down to 5MP! So we have a shootout where the framing should match pretty darned well - and, despite the age of the Lumia, I'm not going to call a winner until all the shots are in!

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Camera head to head: Lumia 950 XL vs Redmi Note 10 Pro

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Last week I pitched the new AMOLED-screened budget Redmi Note 10 Pro, made by Xiaomi, against the IDOL 4 Pro (for its screen and media capabilities) - and the result was almost a complete whitewash. The Redmi Note 10 Pro, at just over £200 inc VAT, is a stunning game changer of a device, specs-wise - but can its camera system beat out an old AAWP favourite? With Xiaomi's excellent image processing, despite the low price tag, I'm expecting a close run thing...

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Head to head: Alcatel IDOL 4 Pro vs Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro

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After the Lumia 950 XL head to head with the flagship Xiaomi Mi 11 in the £700 range, I wanted to match this with a similar comparison feature at the other end of the market, but this time using the media-centric Alcatel IDOL 4 Pro, my favourite Windows-powered phone of the last era in AAWP. The (Xiaomi) Redmi Note 10 Pro is also brand new and usually around the £200 mark, while still offering an impressive (even game changing) spec level, especially against something as relatively old as the Alcatel, though this put up a close fight in some areas, as you'll see.

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'Piny - Pinterest with love' UWP updated for 2021

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A full four years ago I looked at a fledgling UWP Pinterest client for Windows 10 Mobile - and, believe it or not, it's still being updated, with the latest in the last few days. The developers, Chococode, are one of the last active UWP app developers compiling for Windows 10 Mobile, so credit to them. Piny UWP is now £4 if you want to zap the ads, so it's slightly pricier than it was originally, but heck, at this stage in Windows 10 Mobile's existence, it's worth showering active developers in beer, so buying them a pint in this case is money well spent, I contend.

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Smartphone wired audio/DACs... (2021 update)

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Minor apologies for two quick updates to this 'reference' article in a few days, but I've added the rather excellent Samsung Type C to 3.5mm DAC/dongle, plus made numerous extra tweaks to the table, including quoting maximum sample rates and resolution where known. Here I look at wired audio quality from smartphone 3.5mm jacks (where they have one) and from add-on, plug-in DACs/dongles (where digital output is the only wired way forwards). Worth bookmarking, hopefully, and coming back to later in 2021, since I'll keep updating it as needed.

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Camera head to head: Lumia 950 XL vs Xiaomi Mi 11 5G

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Xiaomi is now no. 2 in Europe by some metrics in the smartphone world and it's easy to see why, with great value, high spec handsets - and, to my delight, with good image processing in their cameras. And now we have the first of the next generation Xiaomi flagships, the Mi 11, currently £650 inc VAT on Amazon UK. So not cheap, but also not crazy Samsung or iPhone flagship pricing. Last week I looked at overall specs, here I test out the Mi 11's imaging against the usual staple, the Lumia 950 XL.

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Head to head: Lumia 950 XL vs Xiaomi Mi 11 5G

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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.

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2021 Smartphone photo storage thoughts

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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...

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My Top 20 free Microsoft Windows 10 wallpaper/theme packs

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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.

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