Recent Features - Windows Phone 8

Shutter crazy, 2013-2020 (Lumia 1020, Xperia 5 ii)

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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.

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Cortana isn't dead (yet)! Here's what you can still do...

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Cortana, Microsoft's voice assistant, was always a latecomer to the party, following Siri and whatever Google were calling their voice tech at the time, but it was right up there in terms of functionality in 2015. However, with the withdrawal from 'mobile' and with the ending of support for Windows 10 Mobile in January 2020, what Cortana can actually do has gone downhill, with many people, including me, concluding that the assistant was dead and useless. That's not... quite... true, since there are numerous voice queries that still produce sensible results. With quite a few caveats, as you might expect!

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Testing modern image processing: Apple vs Google (feat. Lumia 1020)

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Here, I'm not going near indvidual image pixels - the aim here is to look at the smarts in the multi-frame image processing from both Apple and Google (iOS and 'pure' Android) in terms of them helping out to render tricky scenes and lighting. After all, the vast majority of regular people's photos are only ever seen at 'screen' resolution, so let's look at photos as-is and not get too hung up on pixel level purity. Just this once, eh? As a benchmark for vanilla photos without any smarts or modern processing, I'm also throwing in some (by necessity) single exposure Lumia 1020 shots taken at the same time.

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Pure, pure, pure? Five phone cameras from 2012 to 2021

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I've done PureView shootouts in the past, but there are a few tweaks here. From the 2012 Nokia 808 PureView, which I've allowed to be tripod mounted here for low light shots (there being no OIS), through the trusty Lumia 1020 and the good all-rounder that is the Lumia 950, then to the iPhone 12 Pro Max in full ProRAW 'pure' shooting mode and the latest Sony Xperia 1 mark iii with 'Photography Pro' app and dual telephoto. It's the widest shootout I've ever done, in terms of timescale and is provided more for interest than to try and score generational points!

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Should you take 'zoom' a lens at a time?

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It's potentially a technological hot potato, yet 99% of the world has come down on one side of the argument and Sony on the other. And it's not something we've ever covered in any detail. Essentially, what should go through your mind when using zoom (or ultra-wide) in a smartphone camera? Specifically, should you think in terms of using a particular lens for a particular shot or should you 'wing it' and fiddle with the interface until framing is perfect? Here I demonstrate that the latter approach is fraught with image quality problems.

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Guest feature: WP8.1 vs WP10 in 2021

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Guest writer and regular Nico explains all the reasons why you should keep your older Lumia on Windows Phone 8.1. I'm hoping there's a follow-up hacking and side-loading guide, mind you, since I tried the bootloader unlocking for real on my Lumia 920 and got horribly stuck! Your mileage may vary, but Nico's sentiments do resonate.

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All About... Bluetooth music

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No, not another site(!), but a genuine attempt to dig into Bluetooth music, i.e. hooking up your smartphone to Bluetooth headphones and the gradual increase in audio quality over the last decade. When did it get so good and what are the underlying protocols and numbers? Here's where you need to know your codecs from your acronyms and your kilobits per second from your profiles...

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By popular demand... The famed Lumia 1020 takes on the DSLR

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Having pitched the best of 2021's camera-toting flagship phones against a Canon DSLR, I did get some requests to pitch the mighty Lumia 1020 against the device. After all, the 1020 is as close as any of us have ever got to completely 'pure' photos from a phone. Zero sharpening, zero artefacts, etc. Albeit only at 5MP after the PureView oversampling. But wait - the Canon can also oversample down to 5MP! So we have a shootout where the framing should match pretty darned well - and, despite the age of the Lumia, I'm not going to call a winner until all the shots are in!

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2021 Smartphone photo storage thoughts

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With Google stepping back from their original vision for Google Photos, year on year, changes are afoot in the phone photo storage world. So I thought a round up of your options in 2021 would be worthwhile. This being cross-posted to AAWP, it's highly appropriate to suggest that Microsoft's OneDrive, as used originally back in Symbian (as 'SkyDrive') and then Windows Phone days, is still perhaps the premium repository for all your photos and videos. But there are alternatives galore...

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My Top 20 free Microsoft Windows 10 wallpaper/theme packs

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Almost exactly a year ago, I was struck by the quality and beauty of one of Microsoft's official Windows 10 Wallpaper/Theme packs for Windows 10. Each with stunning colours and composition, and each with 15 (or so) wallpapers for your PC/hybrid to cycle through and generally take theme and colour cues from. So I wrote a guide for adapting these for Windows 10 Mobile, e.g. on a Lumia. Since then we've had dozens of similar packs, i.e. many hundreds of super-high-end images, so I thought I'd pick my top 20, in case you too feel like a wallpaper/theme change for your PC/phone.

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