Recent Features - How To

Anatomy of a smartphone photo #19: Brilliant Bluebells

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In the latest in our occasional series on smartphone photography, I may have moved on from a Lumia as a day to day phone, but the ideas and ambitions are still there. In this example, I take advantage of 'bluebell week' in the UK, the flowers are only at their best for one week in the whole year. Just how arty could I get and what should I put in the frame?

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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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DSLR vs camera phone, 2021 - are we there, yet?

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Something a little different, here on the All About sites (including AAM, still yet to launch - ahem). Over the years various attempts have been made to pitch the best of the camera phone world against a DSLR - I've tried myself at least once. But with the top of the class in the phone world, the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max in ProRAW capture mode, I have high hopes that we're at last getting 'there', trending towards the point where shutterbugs really don't have to lug around a heavy DSLR. The fight is on...

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Just how practical is solar power for keeping your smartphone going?

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It's an idea that I've toyed with over the years, and prompted by a recent submission for review of a solar-powered smartphone power bank (link below, it had a design flaw!) Now, I'm in the UK and the sun isn't exactly a reliable resource, but hey, picking a sunny day or two in early Spring here, I applied some science to the solar idea. Using my trusty Choetech 19W tri-fold panel, I've been taking measurements and doing some maths...

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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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'Single take' or Singular vision?

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New ideas in phone imaging don't come along very often, but Samsung hit on something three years ago, with 'Single Take', that's worth talking about. Most Galaxy phone users don't even know the mode is there, but Samsung is just starting to push the idea in marketing, begging the question whether this is the future of phone imaging or just another gimmick? For 'normobs', just maybe the former, for you and I (AAWP, AAM) probably the latter.

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Surface Pen? More stuff you can do on the Go!

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Though it's not a smartphone as such (though you can get a LTE version), the Surface Go range is eminently a) ultra-mobile, being small and light, and b) Windows and UWP-powered, so I contend it's still of interest to the 'All About' audience. Despite some initial misgivings on launch (the use of Type C and cost, mainly), I've ended up loving my Surface Go and it - quite literally - goes on all trips with me. What's curious though is the Surface Pen, which I initially dismissed as a bit of a gimmick - but which I now also take with me, magnetically attached or in my briefcase pen holder. Here are my suggestions on what you can do with it - add everything below up and I think you'll agree that it's virtually a must-have.

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