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?
Recent Features - Microsoft
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?
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.
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.
Having used the classic Lumia 950/XL phone camera as the baseline for almost forty (count 'em) imaging articles here on AAWP/AAM in the last half decade, with pixel by pixel comparisons against a wide spectrum of smartphones from all quarters, it occurred to me that it would be fun to do the maths and generate some deltas and some averages. With my article-by-articles scores, which are/have been the best smartphone camera systems of the last five years?
Chancing upon a very old smartphone industry magazine from 2009 while having an office clearout, I thought it would be interesting to pluck out half a dozen data points, especially in terms of review coverage. A lot has changed in 12 years, but there's still enough here that's recognisable. And, although I used to write for Smartphone Essentials myself from time to time, I'm not quoting any of my own material here - I'm checking to see how right or wrong the opinions of other writers of the time proved(!) Highlights? Verdicts on the Nokia N97 and N96, loads of Windows Mobile 6(!), an iPhone, and the earliest Android handsets.
Microsoft and Samsung's collaboration with 'Link to Windows' is reaching new heights of sophistication with the latest update in the last week, so here we go over the major features now available, in June 2021. The Your Phone system is available on other Android handsets, but not to quite the same degree - but it's getting there across the board. It's not DeX or Continuum, but it's arguably now as useful, driven by the PC more than the phone. The top new feature is running multiple Android apps at the same time on your Windows computer, but there's plenty more to impress. See below.
Guest writer and regular Nico explains all the reasons why you should keep your older Lumia on Windows Phone 8.1. I'm hoping there's a follow-up hacking and side-loading guide, mind you, since I tried the bootloader unlocking for real on my Lumia 920 and got horribly stuck! Your mileage may vary, but Nico's sentiments do resonate.
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...
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!