As of a few days ago, Microsoft killed the Windows Device Recovery Tool (WDRT) on their servers. As I write this you can't download the Windows application and if you try to run an installed copy of WDRT then it fails at the first hurdle when trying to check 'home' for a possible application update. The good news is that there's a patched version of the tool that still works just fine - at your own risk, of course! UPDATE: Now restored at Microsoft's end.
Recent News - Hardware
Last week saw a refocussing of Surface Duo 'for Business' and also launches in many world markets, and since then we've had updates, background chat, long term reviews, and more. No, the price hasn't come down, no, we still don't have review hardware in the UK, yes, it still runs Android, but here's a digest of all sorts of Surface Duo bits spotted in the week. Buckle up.
Starting off (in the smartphone world) with Series 60 (on Symbian) handsets, transitioning through Windows Phone 7.x phones, and ending up on Android, LG has officially closed its Mobile division, with the short statement quoted below. It's been a rocky road for LG, but even back in the mid 2000s at the Symbian shows, I never really felt their heart was in it, at least in terms of selling to - and supporting - the West. Some thoughts and a few looks back below.
It's a fair cop, we used to report on smartphone sales and market share back in the day (2000-2012), but stopped when the numbers got too depressing. Nokia, and then Microsoft's determined attempts to shoot themselves in the foot finally paid off and first Symbian and then Windows Phone became marginalised. But, being realistic, where are we today, in 2021? Professional analysis does creep out to the public occasionally, as with this Trendforce press release and table quoted below. In summary, Apple, Samsung, (and perhaps surprisingly) Oppo (BBK), and Xiaomi are the big names worldwide.
Having been a fan of the Continuum/DeX lapdocks from NexDock, I've reviewed the '2' (2019) - and the 'Touch' (2020). But it seems that Covid-19 logistics and the boom in laptop sales worldwide have got in the way of a continued run of the latter. Making both my NexDock Touch a somewhat limited edition(!) and meaning that NexDock have had to change tack in terms of form factor. They've kept touch as a feature, but evolved the lapdock concept into a wrap-around form factor, with the NexDock 360 due to ship in March 2021. See below for details.
We've covered the Surface Duo ('Surface Phone') quite a bit on AAWP, but this is the last coverage until we actually get one in... well, 2021, when the Duo 2 starts to leak, since that will be the one for the UK and world markets, with NFC for tap-to-pay, etc. But I did think it was worth rounding up the USA reviews of the first Surface Duo, since the embargo on these just lifted. See below for typical videos and verdicts.
The Surface Duo launch has been something of a long, drawn out affair, and even now the first USA reviewers are bound not to show the device turned on, since evaluation of the software is both waiting for updates and also the expiry of an embargo (possibly the date of public availability in the shops). But we are starting to see real units handled and shop presence, so I've embedded a few likely candidates below along with some thoughts on the Duo's future...
Teased in Panos Panay's hands late last year, the Surface Duo (Surface Phone, as we knew it) has finally been officially launched by Microsoft. See the quotes and details below. To no one's surprise it has emerged as a device for business and the enterprise rather than a consumer offering, with an emphasis on productivity and remote management by IT departments. The 'perfect fit for the modern workplace'. Which will disappoint a few here - ditto the pricing, which 'starts' significantly north of £1000/$1000. The Surface Duo ships on September 10th (2020).
The Surface Duo (Surface Phone) has been a long time coming. A very long time, and will arrive with Android at its core and not Windows 10, after an OS change in 2018. But it's still of interest because of its innovative hinged form factor. True, its specs are going to arrive a little dated, but at least there's not much longer to wait. News reports and titbits linked below indicate that the Surface Duo should become available in the next month.
Long time AAS readers will remember the Nokia N93, a unique multi-form factor smartphone with a barrel camera that included a genuine continuous 1-3x zoom lens system. It worked superbly, at least in good light, with the caveat that the reduced aperture when zoomed meant that evening and night shots suffered. Partly because of this, Nokia (and then the world) moved to computational photography and smart cropping into large, high megapixel sensors in order to try and zoom without the same degree of aperture loss, cuminating in 2012's Nokia 808 and 2013's Lumia 1020. But now comes news that a continuous zoom lens system may be making a come back, 14 years on from the N93...