Recent Features - Windows Phone 8

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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Windows Phone 8.1 in 2021. No Store, no MS account - what still works?

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As part of a week of Windows Phone 8.x features and tutorials, and four years after Microsoft stopped official support for the OS (and 18 months after the on-device Store physically stopped working), what does still work in Windows Phone 8.1 and what's a no-go? If you pick up a classic Lumia 1020 or 920, for example, at a bargain price, how do you get things going in a meaningful way? tldr; Social networks are a no-go, email is hit and miss, cloud storage is very sketchy, but Office, sat-nav, music, weather, and original photography are all as good as ever. [NB: despite being a big update of an existing article, I've left all comments intact.]

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Status report for May 2021: services and apps on Windows 10 Mobile

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Here, for May 2021, is the refreshed/latest news and comment on applications and services on Windows 10 Mobile - the OS itself has now had its very last security update, but it still works on the whole. This feature will summarise what's broken and what's not, along with workarounds where possible. Details and links have all been updated throughout. Note that I've kept the URL the same, so the last ten months of comments are all still here.

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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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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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Adding Qi charging to a smartphone

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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...

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A 2021 'PureView' battle: 808/1020/Pixel/iPhone

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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!

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How to: get Microsoft's Over-the-cable Updater working again

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Internet security protocols evolve over time and this can scupper older platforms and their support tools. In this case it's Microsoft's rather handy Over-the-cable Updater utility. This runs with a command line interface under Windows and - in theory - updates any Windows phone (8.1 or 10) to the latest officially supported OS/firmware version. Very useful over the years, but security (TLS) changes at Microsoft's end have broken it - and it seems there's no hope at this stage of Microsoft fixing the tool to work seamlessly with the newer Internet security. Hence this slightly geeky workaround.

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