2013 should see, somewhat belatedly, a feature that has been standard on Nokia's Symbian since 2009 (and also on Meego) finally make it onto Windows Phone. Admittedly, there are some technical considerations here, since the feature only works if the devices have an AMOLED screen (most of the Symbian smartphones do/did), but there have also been issues of OS support, I suggest. What I'm talking about is, of course, the 'always on clock', about which I eulogise below, along with gratuitous shots of owls and leaves....
In the second of an occasional tutorial series (here's the first part, looking at a murky scene-made-good taken on the Nokia Lumia 920), I take a recent photo of mine, also shot on a smartphone, in this case the Nokia 808 PureView, and show the quick-fire thought processes that went into creating it. Again, the tutorial is applicable to all phone camera users and again my aim is to get you thinking more when you next want to snap something photogenic. Comments welcome if I've helped and/or succeeded!
Throughout the history of PDAs and smartphones (so we're talking 20 years), one particular design battle has been raging, seemingly without a victor. From which you have to conclude that the battle is quite evenly matched. Yet I disagree, arguing that, from the user's point of view, there's a very definite winner, while manufacturers have a different preference and slant on this particular aspect of design.
As part of recording Phones Show Chat 180, I took the chance of meeting up with three other longtime smartphone users, spending a happy evening chatting about all things tech. Although I did note a certain self-selecting bias amongst our choice of hardware, the discrepancy between our own 'picks' and the current sales charts/marketshare did take even me by surprise. Is there a point to be made below? Perhaps that Nokia really was crazy to phase out Symbian and Meego quite so hastily? Perhaps that these platforms remain interesting and challenging, perhaps more so now then ever?
It has to be said that the very fact that you're reading this site means that you're a bit of a phone geek. But exactly how much? Is your life well balanced or are you a true blue mobile fanatic? Not that I could pass judgement, you understand, I already stand condemned(!) as an über-geek! However, with my light hearted and handy quiz below, you can establish your smartphone geek credentials once and for all...
Forgive me for going all generic and chatty and, for once, abandoning technical details and platform specifics. For this topic is applicable to all phone of all prices and OS persuasions. Well, maybe not all prices, as you'll see. I'm, quite simply, intrigued by the eternal battle between style and protection. Let me explain...
Following previous head to heads, many people asked for a comparison between the Nokia N8 camera and that in the Lumia 920 with the PR1.1 camera fix in place. Furthermore, others wanted a direct comparison between shots from the Lumia 920 and industry-standard cameras like that in the new Samsung ATIV S (or Galaxy S III). Finally, I couldn't resist throwing a wild card into the mix with the Meego-powered Nokia N9. Four top camera-toting smartphones, which one will emerge victorious?
It's true, I'm something of a rebel - you can count on me to disagree with the accepted wisdom of the rest of the smartphone world fairly often. Camera phones with real Xenon flash, for example. And I've mused on the trend towards ever-bigger phones before, but with CES 2013 now upon us and 5" and 6"-screened 'phones' now a reality, I find that I just can't stay silent. These monstrosities may well be 'phones' to the well-heeled twenty-something geeks, but to every day mums and dads, and to people who really are mobile, the size rather gets in the way. Having tried everything on the market, I'm convinced that the sweet spot for me is smaller. A lot smaller.
I've published several 'how to' pieces in the past dishing out general smartphone photography tips, but for this 'how to' I wanted to take the example of a single great photo and put you inside my mind as I prepared for it and captured the moment. Hopefully some of the things I cover will help you take your own great photos, whatever smartphone you own (the example here was captured on the Nokia Lumia 920, but there are several other phones with great photographic hardware).
Picture the scene.... The snow falls gently, settling around the cars and houses.... The fire is lit and the living room is nicely warm. Your nearest and dearest are gathered round, talking and giving presents and enjoying the day. Kids are playing, excitedly. When all of a sudden... FLASH! A sheet of white light, illuminating the whole room. Not, as it turns out, accompanied by angels singing, for this isn't a divine event but a clued up geek using his smartphone with Xenon flash. Yes, it's that time of the year again, a true Christmas tradition. It's time for Steve's Xenon rant. And with more impetus than ever this year, now that standalone cameras have been all but eliminated from homes across the world.