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.
With this direct comparison of the Nokia E7 and N950 'developer' device I don't think I've ever so badly wanted to combine two handsets, picking the best attributes of each - especially galling when you consider that there's no reason whatsoever why Nokia couldn't in fact have done this. For example, three of the E7's acknowledged weaknesses - totally sealed battery, EDoF camera and easily muffled speaker, are addressed head on in the Meego-powered N950, yet you can't buy the latter for love nor money. But one my 'head to heads' should prove instructive, not least to indicate what might have been, should a different designer have been at work on the E7 project...
NFC, widely touted to be one of the 'next big things' is here already in the Nokia C7, Google Nexus S and Blackberry Bold 9900, plus all the new Symbian Belle handsets have it built-in and other manufacturers and platforms are sure to follow. But what actually is Near Field Communications and how does it work? What can you do with it right now and what will it enable in the future? Here's a bookmark-able primer that should answer all your questions.
More of an observation than a rant (though see below), but the rise and rise of the REAL camera phone puts quite a bit of pressure on us geeks, whatever mobile OS we currently favour. You see, the theory is that "the best camera is the one you have with you" but in practice all smartphones aren't created equal in the camera department and that has unforeseen social repercussions....
Taking a photo of that family member, friend or scene is the obvious function of your smartphone camera. But a little lateral thinking sees quite a few extra uses for this equipment - your phone camera isn't just for Christmas (and holidays), you know. See if any of these examples ring true in your experience... Can anyone remember life before we all had cameras with us 24/7? Me neither!
You know, I'd got heartily fed up of explaining to all and sundry why the 'FM transmitter' in my Nokia smartphone was so insanely great. Not because my enthusiasm for the feature was waning - far from it. But because just about everyone heard the 'FM' bit and switched their brain off - surely it had to be a radio receiver, as featured in just about every phone since 2004? "No, no, no!" I would exclaim - "it's the exact opposite!" If you, too, are still confused then you might like to read on - it seems that Nokia has finally put an end to the confusion by renaming the feature. Thankfully!
In this in-depth feature we look at the thinking behind the smartphone portion of Nokia's new strategy, which was announced on February 11th and sees, in essence, a transition from Symbian to Windows Phone. We consider Nokia's three options and explain that ultimately the necessecity for a competitive and sustainable ecosystem proved to be the vital factor in the decision.