Following on from my full review of the Lumia 650, I wanted to come back to the one comparison I didn't draw in that text, with the 650's predecessor, the Lumia 640. There's a controversial change in chipset, but a welcome improvement in design language and materials. How do the two phones stack up overall though? Let's find out.
The question of whether to upgrade the classic Lumia 1020 (as beloved by a surprising fraction of AAWP readers) to Windows 10 Mobile has been extraordinarily thorny. I've put my 1020 onto the Insiders programme three times in the last eight months and three times I've ended up reverting to Windows Phone 8.1. Yes, with all the set-up and messing around that this involves. You see, the resources needed by W10M are just too much for the 1020's older dual core S4 processor. And ditto for many other classics, not least the 920 and 925.
Digital zoom has traditionally turned a photo into a blocky mess. And, to an extent, things have improved - digital zoom now produces high-res, zoomed shots without obvious monstrosities. The thing is, physics usually wins and, despite the improvement, you still don't get any more actual information in the zoomed image. I have proof below, albeit in the context of the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, with 2x PureView zoom - but with no way of limiting this in the user interface. Sadly.
Demonstrating Continuum for family and friends recently, I saw a look in their eyes. The exact same look as when I was demonstrating the reframing of PureView photos on my Lumia 1020 a couple of years ago. A look which said 'I don't really understand what you're saying'. Which was sad for the concept of reframing (now deceased) and could well be sad for the concept of Continuum too.
Spurred on by my discoveries that, depending on device, Glance screen can be very bad for your smartphone battery's health, I wanted to look at a wider range of factors which can adversely impact battery life. Address most of the stuff in the top 10 list below and your Windows 10 Mobile smartphone should be lasting quite a bit longer.
"Oh, around 1% per day" was my answer, somewhat glibly, when asked about the impact of leaving Glance screen (i.e. time, date, app detail and notification icons) 'on' all the time. Not the default these days, but I did measure it back in the day. Under a different OS, around six YEARS ago. Which is why I wanted an up to date measurement of the power drain caused by Glance on modern hardware, in this case the Lumia 950 XL. And (to quote Spinal Tap) I got it. And a WHOLE lot more.
There are, I'm sure, many Lumia 1020 fans reading this - and they'll have been a little shell-shocked, as I was, when I tested the Lumia 950 and 1020 at some length and found that the much newer device came out on top, despite the disadvantage in megapixels, sensor size and flash brightness. It seems that technology really does march on, that physics (for once) doesn't tell the whole story, and that there's now photographic proof. Not just my photo samples, but an image snapped at Microsoft Hungary (with permission) and reproduced below (ditto).
Away from worries over Windows 10 Mobile itself not being quite 'finished', there's still the fascinating choice of which Microsoft flagship (and remember that these are arguably the last ever 'Nokia' designs) to buy. Usually there would be a specs vs size set of compromises, but in the case of the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, the specifications are so close that it really comes down to form factor and other aspects. As someone whose SIM card has been in and out of each device roughly 20 times in the last two months, rather indecisively, I thought I'd prompt more discussion and deliver my own - eventual - verdict.
Having done a camera head to head between the brand new Asus Zenfone Zoom and the classic Lumia 1020, on the grounds of zoom capability, what about widening the comparison to include the full gamut of what a smartphone can do? But which Lumia to compare the Zenfone to? Given the size similarity and the way I rated the all-round imaging of the Lumia 950 XL so highly, I went for this pairing - see below for my blow by blow comparison.
There's an interesting editorial over the pond by my nemesis in the USA, Paul Thurrott (you won't believe the number of times we're both tagged in the same tweets, etc.), talking about the way Windows Phone is indeed dead and has been dying since July. While the stats quoted are accurate, of course, I do think Paul is missing part of the picture. The revised picture, the concept, the vision, away from expectations of mass market sales in their millions.