In part testing whether I can get Features to work on this site again - but also testing some of my favourite recent smartphones with a bevy of updates under their belt now. In theory, this is as good as photography will get on the Surface Duo 2, the iPhone 12 Pro Max, and the Pixel 6 Pro, so I took advantage of some nice Spring weather in the UK to see what they could do, six months after launch for the Duo and Pixel, and a whopping 18 months for the iPhone.
Recent Features - Microsoft
So yes a bit of an experiment. Writing about the laptop in your pocket ON a laptop in my pocket. In this case the Microsoft Surface Duo 2. No corrections or additions were made on any other device. It has been the dream of every mobile enthusiast for three decades to have a workable laptop, for Office, email, and so on, in a pocketable form. Think Psion, think Nokia Communicators. This is the latest attempt, in 2022!
The method of zooming in on the Duo 2 may be almost identical to on Microsoft's previous Lumia series of camera phones (albeit in the opposite direction, i.e. swipe down to zoom in, not up!), but the mechanics are different, of course. A dedicated 2x telephoto lens gives genuine optical zoom, even in video capture here, thanks to the discovery that 'HDR video' knocks the extra lens out of action! See what you think in the embedded video below.
The only downside to a manufacturer significantly improving phone camera performance is that I have to re-do one or more of my imaging features on the 'All About' sites. Luckily, I love doing them, so following the January 2022 feature update for the innovative Microsoft Surface Duo 2, I headed out with a brace of test phone cameras to compare it against. Firstly, here, against Microsoft's own older - but still a reliable benchmark - Lumia 950 XL.
Many have bemoaned the death of Continuum circa 2016, with Samsung's DeX taking up a lot of the slack, albeit in the Android world. And then we have the Microsoft Surface Duo pair of devices, ostensibly without a desktop interface but I hope to prove in the video below that the very nature of USB 3.1 (here over Type C), along with a landscape-first device like the Duo and a capable standard lapdock, means that 90% of the functionality you'd expect from a 'desktop' interface is in fact taken care of automatically.
'Duo 2 month' continues, it seems. Having already established that the stills imaging on the Surface Duo 2 is pretty impressive, perhaps even inheriting some of the Microsoft/Nokia expertise from the Lumia range, I turn my attention here to video capture, but am disappointed at every turn. From panning to stabilisation to zoom to interface, video capture using the Duo 2's camera (note the singular) is currently profoundly disappointing. See below for results with the December 2021 firmware. Hopefully future updates can improve things significantly.
As part of my continuing 'Duo 2 season' here on the All About sites (which I think is appropriate, given the way the device spans the world of Microsoft/Windows, and Android, plus it also spans phones and tablets), I have been wondering again what imaging compromises (if any) are incurred by choosing such an odd form factor and Microsoft's first cut at 'pro' level cameras on a Surface. I did a shootout with the Lumia 950 XL months ago, but we now have updates galore, plus I wanted to pitch it against something a lot more current.
When a smartphone falls out of use in your life, there's a temptation to find a good home for it. Often a family member, often a second hand market like eBay, but sometimes - just sometimes - the phone is special enough, is unique enough, in fact is downright collectable enough, that you might like to hang onto it. Not necessarily just for pecuniary reasons, but perhaps sentimental reasons as well. As an example, I've picked out a dozen smartphones from my own collection that fit this bill. Classics one and all...
You'd think things would be simple, wouldn't you? Shoot a photo in low light, select the 2x or 3x (or whatever) telephoto camera in your phone and snap. You'd think that you've just shot a low light photo with the physical telephoto camera in your phone, but that's not always the case... Even with the latest multi-frame techniques, phone camera software can still take the executive decision to forget a telephoto lens altogether and provide a digitally zoomed shot from the main lens if it thinks results will be better. Some thoughts and tests below, though don't worry too much - with smartphones from the last few years, light has to get really low before the extra lens is taken away from your imaging armoury.
It's something of a tradition for me to compile a 'Top 5 Phones' each Christmas for my Phones Show, so see that embedded below. But I thought a textual version, slightly edited, and - crucially - with hyperlinks, might also be of use and/or interest. There's no specific comparison to tech of the past or a list of requirements, but as usual with me, the more gadgets in a device, the better...! To whet your appetite, the Top 5 is 60% Android and 40% iOS - and the new champion from Microsoft is 'bubbling under'.