Recent Features - How To

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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How to Upgrade to WP8.1 update 2 (GDR2)

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Guest writer Nico brings us another guide, this time to help bring Lumias on Windows Phone 8.1 up to '8.1 Update 2', otherwise known as 'GDR2'. Geeky? Yes. But terribly interesting for any AAWP reader trying to make 'ye olde' 8.1 work in 2021, despite the challenges.

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Weather apps for Windows 10 Mobile (that still work!)

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Weather apps are a smartphone staple and there's usually even one built-into every mobile OS. Including 'ye olde' Windows 10 Mobile, but with some extreme weather over the last few days in the UK I took a look at the weather reporting and forecasting UWP applications (for Windows 10) that still worked on Lumias. Some titles have moved on and require higher builds of the OS, so are Desktop only, while others seem to have lost contact with their data sources. Leaving the selection below, still more than enough for most people's needs?

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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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Choosing between Android and iOS for the future...

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So we've moved on from Symbian, Blackberry OS 10, Windows Phone (in various iterations), not to mention Palm OS even further back. But which modern smartphone OS should you settle on, i.e. what are the pros and cons of each? I'm purely thinking about the two giants here: Google's Android (including Google Mobile Services) and Apple's iOS, both of which are in the middle of a major new version reworking. Note that this isn't an attempt to chat about niche OSes that almost no one uses, and that includes the China-only Harmony OS, based on Android Open Source Project, or indeed other Android forks and implementations. Maybe that's a feature for another day...

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10 tips to take better photos with your 2021 phone's cameras

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Please excuse the click-bait title, but the article's content is very real. I've tried to condense down my advice to friends and family in readable form. When I try and educate these people verbally I get loads of eye rolling and mockery, but deep down I know that their photos could and should be better. So, in case it proves useful to you - or to your contacts - here are my top 10 tips for improving your smartphone camera results.

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June 2021: 'Your Phone' major updates demonstrated and reviewed

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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.

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A guide for unlocking the bootloader in WP8.1 Lumia devices

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Guest writer Nico again brings us tales of advanced smartphoning on older Lumias, here detailing the hacking needed to be able to side load applications without needing a working on-device Store. Yes, the procedures are incredibly geeky, but then if you're persevering with a Lumia from 2012 in 2021 then you're used to a little sweat and frustration, surely?

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

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Here, for June 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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