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.
Recent News - Links of Interest
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...
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...
The trouble with launching a flagship smartphone a full year before availability (in this case, for reasons of encouraging developers to write for a new form factor) is that the specs can end up being a bit... underwhelming. And while I'm certainly not a benchmark obsessive, there are some spec points which - if true - will be very disappointing. Specifically, in term of imaging, battery, and Google Pay compatibility.
A few days late with this (sorry, normal service is now resumed), and yes, we know it's not a phone, but Microsoft announced the Surface Go 2 this week, online of course, with no physical meet in these COVID-19 times. We covered the original GO extensively over the last 24 months, but the Go 2 has smaller bezels, faster internals, better microphones, and a redesigned hinge. See the announcement text, design and sizzle videos below. The Go is a fabulous companion to a Windows 10 Mobile or (now) Android smartphone (thanks to 'Your Phone').
Having written a story about how Instagram was replacing the original app in the Store with a simple web wrapper on a PWA implementation, the next step is obvious and apologies it has taken me a few days to realise and test it, but... never mind the app, never mind third party UWP apps like Winsta, the full Instagram experience is now up on instagram.com. No installation needed, no messing with Store compatibility or landscape mode. Just pure Instagram in (here) an Edge tab. It 'just works'.
At the end of last week, fellow Brit Zac Bowden published his take on an unreleased Windows 10 Mobile phone from HP from 2017 - the Pro x3, a cheaper consumer alternative to the enterprise-focussed Elite x3. See below for some review quotes and my thoughts, along with a more complete comparison table. Could the Pro x3 have 'moved the needle' for W10M? I doubt it. But the prototype's certainly of interest.
BBC iPlayer has been quite useable in Edge (and other browsers) under Windows 10 Mobile for the last three years, since the dropping of support to Windows Phone 8.1 in 2015. OK, so DRM-ed downloads weren't possible, but you could still stream videos seamlessly. With a change last week to its streams - and with no sign of Windows 10 Mobile or Edge in its compatibility page - the watching experience just took a step backwards. Programmes now play in a smaller, offset window. And it's clearly not intentional, since the rest of the UI uses the whole screen. Sigh.
After the disappointment of the oddball 'Nokia 9 PureView', compared recently here to the Nokia 808 and Lumia 1020 (etc), Nokia (at least the new Nokia brand under HMD) has now announced another contender, this time with a more conventional PureView 48MP f/1.8 sensor - phew! The X71 is only just shown in China and will probably arrive in Europe as the 'Nokia 8.1 Plus', in a few months time. But with 3.5mm jack, expandable storage and capacitive fingerprint sensor (all missing in the '9') as well, plus the single large sensor configuration (plus wide-angle), this possibly is the PureView phone you're looking to move to?