Features - Hardware


All was quiet on Christmas morn... then a FLASH OF LIGHT!

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.

# Posted by Steve in How To, Comment, Hardware at 12:32 UTC, Dec 23rd || Comments

Head to head: Nokia E7 vs N950 - what might have been?

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...

# Posted by Steve in Comment, Hardware at 7:26 UTC, Oct 22nd || Comments

Li-Ion vs Li-Poly, plus how do Lithium batteries work anyway?

Battery technology underpins all of our mobile devices, yet we take it for granted. Matters are made worse for the curious souls who try to find out more because the information available online about Lithium Ion based batteries is vague at best. If you're curious about Lithium Ion batteries and the difference between them and Lithium Polymer, here's our guide on how they work and how they differ.

# Posted by David in How To, Hardware at 7:50 UTC, Sep 25th || Comments

The Curse of Micro SIM Adapters

The humble SIM card is changing – more devices are beginning to require Micro SIM instead of the usual “Mini” size we all use. Cutting a Mini SIM down to the Micro size isn’t too difficult, but returning a one to Mini size requires the use of adapters. If you’re not careful, these can damage your phone’s delicate connectors. What follows is an account of my adventures (and misadventures) using Micro SIM adapters.

# Posted by David in How To, Hardware at 9:00 UTC, Mar 19th || Comments

Nokia's Hydrophobic Future

Nokia’s Cambridge Research Lab is investigating several uses for Carbon nanotube technology. Built from a single layer of Graphene, a new type of Hydrophobic coating could make phones much more resilient to wet environments, while providing a cheaper alternative to current touch screen technology, which is based on rare earth metals. Since Graphene is a form of Carbon, one of the most abundant elements on the planet, the raw materials are much easier to obtain. We spoke to researchers at Nokia World’s Future Technology tent to find out more.

# Posted by David in Interviews, Previews, Hardware at 7:00 UTC, Nov 10th || Comments

A NFC (Near Field Communications) primer

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.

# Posted by Steve in How To, Comment, Hardware at 8:17 UTC, Oct 20th || Comments

No pressure, but... (Xenon and the rise of the REAL camera phone)

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....

# Posted by Steve in Comment, Hardware at 12:07 UTC, Oct 11th || Comments

How to: Take better videos on your smartphone

By popular request, here are my tips on shooting better videos on your smartphone. If you've been to an event, whipped out your phone and been disappointed later by blurry, jerky, muffled, badly lit footage, then these tips are for you! From light to movement to mundane practicalities, it's all covered below.

# Posted by Steve in How To, Hardware at 8:20 UTC, Sep 16th || Comments

Lateral thinking: a dozen uses for your phone's camera that you might not have thought of!

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!

# Posted by Steve in How To, Comment, Hardware at 9:02 UTC, Sep 14th || Comments

Play via Radio - a great name change... and a feature sorely missed elsewhere

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!

# Posted by Steve in Comment, Hardware at 6:17 UTC, Sep 13th || Comments
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