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Showing posts from 2017

PureView zoom alive and well on non-Nokia phones. (Zooming losslessly on Android)

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Did you know that many Android phones can do the same 'lossless zoom' trick as on the old Nokia 808 and Lumia 1020, i.e. smart cropping in on a high resolution sensor so that even when zoomed there's detail that's largely real and not interpolated, i.e. 'made up'?

Of course, you need a phone with a high resolution sensor in the first place and I'm lucky enough to have the ZTE Axon 7, with a 16:9 20MP sensor. Having taken several photos at default resolution, I looked at my snaps and thought "This is crazy, I don't need 15Megabyte 20MP photos - they're big and clumsy and something smaller would in almost all situations be better - I just don't need that insane detail."
Especially so when I zoomed in (say to 2x), at which point I had 20MP of digitally interpolated, slightly blocky 'detail'. It's all too much.
So I set the camera to take photos at 4MP in 16:9, a nice compromise between file size and resolution/detail. In fact,…

HTC U11 case round-up

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In tandem with my big review of the HTC U11, I've been kindly sent a batch of top U11 cases by Mobile Fun, so let's get started...
HTC U11 Genuine Leather Flip case, £35 This is the most premium option here, perhaps not in terms of 'feeling the leather' (though it is genuine), in that you get quality materials in a flip case that's super-protective yet doesn't make the U11 feel un-manageably thick.
The colour is advertised as 'Dark grey' and this  is accurate on the outside though it's black on the inside. The phone sits in  a clear plastic shell that's minimalist and glued to the back of the flip case in such a way that the entire fold can be angled to provide a landscape stand when needed:
This works surprisingly well and never feels flimsy.
The front flap of the case contains a rigid material, almost certainly metal, since it can't be easily bent, and there's a card slot for a bank card or similar.
Overall, I was really, really impress…

FAQ: Pocket Casts on my iPhone or Android device shows duplicate episodes of Phones Show Chat (or similar)

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This seems to be an issue that keeps cropping up and I wanted to get some thoughts down somewhere as to what's going on.

For starters, there's nothing wrong with the RSS file for each podcast - this is the plain text file that tells podcatchers which episodes are available and where to grab them from. There's nothing to go wrong here, other than the occasional typo, which I'd typically pick up very quickly.

Every other podcatcher on every platform (I've tried over a dozen on Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Blackberry) reads this RSS file fine and podcasts appear as they should.

But then there's Pocket Casts, probably the most popular third party podcatcher in the phone world. This goes one step further than the podcatcher itself grabbing the RSS (or XML) file for each of your favourite podcasts. Instead, it grabs them all onto a custom server, the idea being that each client round the world doesn't have to grab the same old RSS files time and time again - i…

Twitter is a true public utility and SOMEONE needs to fund it properly

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I'm sure I'm not the first person to suggest this, but here goes anyway:

Twitter is ubiquitous these days. News, tech, sports, celebrities, music events - Twitter and hashtags (etc.) are where EVERYONE finds out what's happening and what other people think about what's happening. Quickly and succinctly (140 chars etc) in real time.

From TV stations to radio to Internet hubs to the man in the street, Twitter is THE place to go - and yet we keep hearing that Twitter is struggling to make ends meet in terms of making a profit and so we have to put up with ads and sponsored tweets.

WHY DOES EVERYTHING IN THIS WORLD HAVE TO BE ABOUT MAKING A PROFIT? When something's genuinely and universally useful, why couldn't someone/something rich (think Apple, Google, or even the USA government) step in and fund Twitter out of their small change - the amounts concerned are relatively tiny.

Say 500 million dollars a year to staff and run. It sounds a lot to you or I but it's …

Case review: Noreve Tradition E for Blackberry KEYone

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You have to hand it to the guys at Noreve. Eschewing 'same day shipping', plastic and 'faux' everything, they go all out when they make phone cases:
real, high quality leathermetal inner/framedeluxe packagingeach case made to order (they don't even have sample cases to send out for review!) Put it all together and you get a sumptuous experience, here exemplified in the fabulous Tradition E for the new Blackberry KEYone. Noreve do a big line in folio (wrap around) cases, but in the KEYone's case I think an in-situ wrap-around design works best.
The finish of the leather is stunning and, unusually, there's no sign of stitching - the leather panelling is moulded neatly around the metal inner so that the seams are hidden behind the glued-in folds of material.
The phone is gripped very securely, with the metal angles of the case doing their job. The KEYone already includes some material, some texture, but only on the back - this gives an all-leather, all-the-time…

Alert! New! Update! Notification overload!

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What is it with notifications? Every phone, every application, every smartwatch, tablet, every web site, every desktop OS... THEY ALL WANT TO KEEP BOMBARDING ME WITH NOTIFICATIONS!

Noisy, intrusive things. Beeping, flashing, distracting. Even in the middle of the night, waking me up.

I spend most of my days turning them off in every app, every OS, for every site, on every device. It's a game of whack-a-mole, trying to find the relevant Settings pane, switching notifications off for everything and hoping that an app update doesn't reset things to 'on' again.

But why should this be the case? Why not, for once, have an application default to not popping up notifications? Shouldn't this be something that the user turns on? By all means show me a tooltip or similar when I first start the app, reminding me that the notification system exists, but thereafter it should be up to me to turn on something noisy and distracting, surely?

24 hours a day, the only thing I want me…

Case round-up: Galaxy S8+

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It's another case round-up, this time for the Samsung Galaxy S8+ - Mobile Fun have again come up with the goods and again I try and pick winners and losers.

The S8+, like many modern all-glass phones, simply can't be used naked, so a case is downright essential. Here are six of the best:

Olixar X-Trex Rugged Hard Case The toughest case in this bunch, this follows the usual tough case mantra of inner and outer shells, though the inner one isn't as rubbery as you usually encounter and rather hard - not very impact absorbent.
There's a kickstand folded away into the back, as shown here - it works well enough, though is very plasticky and it's tough to click back into place afterwards.
More worryingly, there are design issues, like the aperture for the USB Type C, which wasn't quite large enough for my test cables and so the phone wouldn't charge.
Finally, the volume button covers are poorly made and I found it hard to change volume.
Overall, I can't recomme…