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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 use the latest Google Pixel to illustrate the decisions behind what to frame in order to preserve a subject's character. Yes, a little pretentious, but bear with me. See what you think and don't forget to think about sending in your own best shots and the story behind them!
I've said for a while that in some ways the Sony Xperia 5 ii (and the newer mark 'iii', which I'm hoping to get back in) is a modern day Lumia 1020 in terms of who it's aimed at. Think about it. A focus (pun intended) on pure imaging, with Pro camera controls, a degree of genuine zoom, a physical shutter button, excellent 3.5mm audio out (and microphone 'in'), decent speakers (ok, the 1020 is just mono), all in a form factor that's genuinely pocketable (unusual for 2021). With this in mind, and - obviously - just for fun, I thought I'd take advantage of a decently sunny winter day to pitch the two phone cameras head to head for the first time on the All About sites.
One of the biggest services that is still easily accessible under Windows 10 Mobile at the end of 2021 is YouTube. But even here there are some caveats and notes, which is why I thought a round-up would be a good thing. Exactly which are the best ways to catch up with your YouTube subscriptions and suggested playlists two years after the platform itself stopped being supported by Microsoft?
Having reviewed the new Google Pixel 6 Pro and done a camera comparison with the iPhone 12 Pro Max, I did also promise a comparison with a Lumia. And, tempted though I was to break out the trusty Lumia 1020, it's not a viable option (without account access or a working Store) in any way as a smartphone in 2021. So it's back to the trusty Lumia 950 XL, my reference point for all camera phones post-2015.
Perhaps provoked by a growing 'Right to Repair' movement and possible legislation in several markets, Apple announced 'Self Service Repair' last week. Which sounds fantastic - break a phone screen, need a new battery, just do-it-yourself. Except that despite what Apple might hint at first, Self Service Repair isn't for the likes of you and I. Nor should it be. When I want an unusually tricky job done properly around the house, I don't just get the right tools in from a DIY superstore, I get an experienced tradesperson in who has done the job a thousand times. And it's the same with smartphone hardware, I contend.
It's... Google's latest and greatest. It really is. The highest specced Pixel ever made. But that doesn't mean that it's perfect, as you'll see in my review. Niggles include the 'zoom gap' and a plastic top edge, but don't worry, there's also plenty that I loved. Whether it's worth £949 for the recommended 256GB model is your call, of course, but there's no denying the raw power and future proof software set-up. (See also my imaging comparison with a flagship iPhone.)
After my initial enthusiasm for the imaging potential of the Google Pixel 6 Pro, I've mainly seen this endorsed by results, but I do have to add a massive caveat - which I've entitled the 'zoom gap' and which we'll come to below. In terms of a smartphone camera to compare it to, any from the last year or so would do, just as a data point. But I included my iPhone 12 Pro Max*, here in its default-everything mode (so no ProRAW). I do still think the Pixel 6 Pro has potential, but Google has work to do to try and bring its 'Super Res Zoom' to the phone's main camera before I'll fully recommend it to others.
For years people have praised Google's 'HDR+' (and then 'Pixel Camera') image handling and processing. Originally designed for Google Glass, to make a terrible, tiny camera produce good results, the multi-frame algorithms worked wonders on many phone cameras too, even by side-loading onto generic Android hardware. The system was much copied by all other phone makers, so that multiple frames per image is now commonplace. However, Google's imaging hardware has been lacklustre, even poor, in the last year, so it's a great relief to see all that good software now paired with genuinely competitive camera hardware. So, ahead of my various review tests and comparisons (versus iPhone, Sony, and yes, Lumia), I thought I'd 'focus' in on what's under the hood in my review Pixel 6 Pro...
You'll have seen my unboxing and first impressions of the new NexDock 360 - a lapdock? A portable monitor? A fancy screen-enabled USB hub? Well, just as with the previous NexDocks ('2' and Touch), the NexDock 360 is all of these. Slightly smaller than its predecessor, the '360' adds a twist in being able to fold back from laptop to tent to tablet. Which is pretty cool, even if the bezels and speaker situation mean that you might not do this very often. The highlight for 'All About' fans is, of course, that this can expand your Windows 10 Mobile or Android* smartphone to a desktop experience. Plus it's a flexible HDMI monitor for everything else. Including iPhones and games consoles.
Onto their fourth generation of lapdock now, and keeping alive the Continuum vision, NexDock is persevering through pandemics, industry changes, and component shortages. This is the NexDock 360, just in for review, a Continuum/DeX (etc.) lapdock that adds an extra twist to 2020's NexDock Touch. Here's my first impressions and hands-on gallery, with both Lumia and Samsung as host phones, the full review will follow.