Recent Features - Hardware

Android on Microsoft - a tale of two videos. And caveats galore...

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The tech world is gradually turning into a homogenised soup, but hopefully in a good way. Any device will, more or less, eventually be able to run any application or service, and it's down to you as to which form factor, which hardware you choose to use or carry around. In this case, I'm looking at two videos demonstrating 'Android on Microsoft', as I've termed it. We already have the Microsoft 'Your Phone' system, linking an Android smartphone (ideally from Samsung) to Windows, we already have Microsoft apps and services on both iOS and Android - the videos below show the new Surface Duo 2, with a two-pane Android experience with Microsoft front and centre, and a first look at Android applications running on Windows 10 Desktop, on your laptop or ultra-mobile.

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Head to head: the Lumia 950 XL vs the 'take apart completely' Fairphone 4

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I know, I know, the Lumia range is fading into memory now - but fans of the way the likes of the Lumia 950 could be disassembled in seconds to replace the battery, then a batch of Torx screws and everything else came out, will love the new Fairphone 4, due in for review this week. In fact, there are even less screws involved than on the Lumia, the screws are standard cross-heads, spare parts are more obviously available, AND the assembled phone is bang up to date Android, competitive in terms of components, and has guaranteed updates for many years to come. And, like the Lumias, there's no need to use a case - ever. This, ladies and gents, is where someone clinging onto a Lumia should perhaps look. Below, I compare the devices, spec for spec.

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New anti-repair tactics: justified?

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Hugh Jeffreys is an Australian YouTuber and he's been doing some partial dismantling and component swapping in recent years, specifically to challenge the 'Right to repair' on Apple's iPhones. In the video embedded below, he explores the latest iPhone 13 range and discovers that Apple is digitally pairing even more components than in last year's phones. But is this actually a problem? Although I applaud the right to repair in general, the sheer complexity and quality of some modern products perhaps move them into different repair territory...

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October 2021: Top 5 smartphone options at various price points

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The latest in my 'Life after Lumias' series, and almost six months on from my previous article on this subject, I have several tweaks and a new pick. These are my top suggestions for smartphones to replace a Windows-powered device, now that Windows 10 Mobile is now long unsupported and as services gradually start to wind down. I've tested just about everything on the market and here's my updated verdict in terms of functionality, future viability, and - crucially - value for money! It's also hopefully a good guide for anyone looking for a new smartphone generally and wondering where on earth to start.

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By popular demand: Lumia 950 vs Sony Xperia 5 iii imaging

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The final imaging test sequence with the Sony Xperia 5 iii before it temporarily goes back to Sony PR, I had several people ask how its imaging was compared to the Lumia 950/XL. And, with a new monthly update under the Sony's belt, I'm happy to oblige. Again, it's a 'bells and whistles' (and jacks and ports) option in 2021 for an old Lumia fan, but just how does the camera quality stack up? Sadly, I think I've found a significant flaw - (yet again, as we often say with Sony) hopefully fixable with updates.

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Battle of the fold: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Microsoft Surface Duo 2

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I'd never have expected to write this piece so soon, but with the launch of the Surface Duo 2 last week we - surprisingly - have a true competitor to Samsung's all-conquering Galaxy Z Fold 3. I use the term 'all-conquering' with caution, of course, because these are hyper-expensive devices that won't approach mass market volumes. But it's still fun to pitch them head to head and see which comes out on top. Plus I look ahead to the Surface Duo 3. Yes, you read that right!

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Camera upgrade? Sony Xperia 5 iii vs last year's Xperia 5 ii

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An odd one this, since I'm comparing two smartphones in terms of imaging where so much is nominally identical. The brand new Sony Xperia 5 iii has the exact same main camera as last year's well-thought-of model, but the telephoto arrangement is totally different, which is where the main interest lies - does the new dual factor zoom system offer a significant benefit? Don't worry, I'll test the main cameras too, since the chipsets and image signal processors are different, plus so is the software - Xperia 5 iii has an all-in-one application with different algorithms. [Cross-posted to AAWP for interest, and because AAM isn't errr.... finished yet!]

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Head to head: Lumia 950 XL vs Sony Xperia 5 iii

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Last year's Xperia 5 ii (read as 'mark 2') was almost a perfect match in terms of specs and expectations for a classic 'Nokia/Windows phone' user - excellent audio, excellent imaging, not too large or heavy, fully water and dust proof, and so on. But we now have the brand new Xperia 5 iii, sporting internal upgrades plus (nominally) the same dual-focal-length telephoto camera from the Xperia 1 iii - let's hope it performs better at its upper zoom factor than the flagship did! Here's the specs breakdown, anyway. [Note that this is cross-posted to AAS as well, as it's a modern equivalent to the best of the old Nokia Nseries, I contend...]

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Android or iOS? Is the Google-centric free-for-all worth it?

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The titular question is one I've been asking myself now for... four years. Ahem. Back in June, so three months ago, I looked at the internals and tech feature sets of Android and iOS, declaring them much of a muchness overall. So I've ended up spending almost exactly equal time with each OS, again and again, honing my workflow and summarising my experiences below, hopefully in a way that may help others when also agonising over everyone's favourite geek party question: 'what smartphone to get next?'!

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All About... Zeiss T* lenses

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Carl ZEISS, later shortened to just 'ZEISS', has been an optics brand associated with cameras and then phone cameras, the latter since 2005 and the Nokia N90 transformer smartphone, but then used in over a dozen Nokia camera champions over the next eight years. And one can understand that ZEISS might have had a hand in designing and tuning the lenses in these pioneering devices. But there's a ZEISS trademark that's a little more mysterious and we've been starting to see it on phone cameras in the last couple of years - T*, with the legend often in a dark orange or red. So what exactly is T*?

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