Recent Features

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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Anatomy of a smartphone photo #20: working round DoF limits

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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 deliberately spurn the main camera in my phone in favour of a depth-of-field trick, to deliver striking detail at all depths in the frame.

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Guest feature: WP8.1 vs WP10 in 2021

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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.

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2006-2007: my most exciting personal 12 months in smartphone history

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I know what you're thinking. I'm about to parrot other journos by declaring that the smartphone world started in 2007 with the launch of the Apple iPhone. Err... no. Not even close. Although the iPhone gets a small footnote below, smartphones were a 'thing' several years before, culminating in the period from July 2006 to August 2007 when three devices came along in quick succession that knocked me for six. They all ran Symbian OS in the guise of 'S60 3rd Edition', but they had very different characters and USPs. In each case, I was left breathless with excitement in even touching them. Hyperbole? Maybe, but let me expand...

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Of dark modes, night shift, and tired eyes...

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Almost all mobile operating system implementations have some form of 'night shift' baked in these days - an optional 'yellowing' (actually less blue, but you get the idea) of the interface to help reduce eye strain in the evening in dimmer light. I'm a big fan, though there's an extra question which an American study has tried to answer - does the use of 'night shift' visual effects help you sleep once you put the phone down? See below for some quotes plus comments - the studied question didn't really pan out, but everyone agrees that there are still significant benefits.

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Life after Lumias: Top 5 smartphone options in May 2021

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A full six months on from my previous article on this subject, I have several new picks. And there's plenty more to come later in 2021, of course. These are my top picks for smartphones to replace a Windows-powered device, now that Windows 10 Mobile is now long unsupported and as services gradually start to wind down. I've tested just about everything on the market and here's my updated verdict in terms of functionality, future viability, and value for money. It's also hopefully a good guide for anyone looking for a new smartphone generally and wondering where on earth to start.

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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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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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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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