Showing posts from February, 2023

Triple protecting Stainless Steel and Ceramic Shield

I have a very peculiar attitude towards protecting my crown jewels. No, not those , but my smartphone, full of my stuff, signed-in sessions, and secrets. Though the exact device isn't critical, it's currently an iPhone 14 Pro Max, which comes with stainless steel chassis and 'Ceramic Shield' glass. So it's pretty damned tough on its own. (If it was an Android flagship, especially from Samsung or Google, then we'd be looking at aluminium and Gorilla Glass Victus, so still reasonably strong.) The traditional holder of one's smartphone is a pocket, but I find this to be both uncomfortable and impractical, especially when sitting down - try getting a phone out of a jeans pocket when in a car etc. (And don't even mention the unmentionable - keeping a phone in a back pocket, at risk of robbery and destruction.)  So, at the risk of seeming horrendously unfashionable (I don't care any more!), I keep my phone in a slimline vertical belt holster (made by PDair

(Retro) Review: Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard

Now this is embarrassing. I've bought and sold and then rebought the same accessory two or three times. And it's this one, from Microsoft, designed originally around the time of Lumia's, so 2012 ish, but with a view to working across all three(!) mobile platforms (now only two, of course). Bluetooth keyboards have gone into and out of fashion over the years, but they're definitely still relevant, thanks to the use of tablets and 'phablet'-style large-screened smartphones, where a wireless full size keyboard can turn the device into a mini-laptop. Microsoft's offering is still ultra-premium, has a few unique features and is worth looking out for, not least having full size keys and yet folding to pocket size without needing hinges and any moving parts. (Well, so there must be a ribbon cable of some kind embedded in the tough textured body, but that's about it...) I'm aware that revisiting this accessory so long after first release means that availab

Taking photos - Why bother? And If so, When to bother!

So. Mum died about eight years ago, aged 75, and then my dad died at the end of 2021, aged 83. A pretty normal timescale for my parents and for that generation. But, amidst a house full of 80 years of mainly err... junk odds and ends (that took months to sort through), was my mum's prized photo collection. It spanned four bookcases and comprised 100 albums, beautifully indexed and numbered, each with roughly 100 photos in. So 10,000 photos in all to do something with. (one of the few of my 'dad on a cliff path' that I actually kept. He's IN the photo, not a dot on the horizon!) There is no way I wanted my own house to inherit 10,000 physical photos, so the big sort out commenced. Despite taking over a man day, the process turned out easier than I'd expected. You see, in this collection, there were a huge number of: landscape shots of the Cornwall and Devon cliffs and coastal path, usually in grainy gloom flower beds from public gardens visited - so many flower be

Zoom Heresy(!) - Why phone cameras don't actually need high zoom factors

This is going to sound strange to those reading my camera phone test articles over the last 15 years on various sites, but I contend that phone cameras don't actually need to be capable of more than about 3x zoom . There I said it. Controversial, moi? True, from 2005 through to the present day, even I tested shots at 5x and even 10x zoom sometimes (though I always stayed away from 'silly' zoom factors like 15x and 30x, unlike some YouTubers), where warranted, but only occasionally and with the majority of test subjects at 1x, 2x, and 3x. And with good reason. Here's why. I've been doing some 'rainy day' sorting through my digital photo library, trying to prune out duplicates, test shots, and anything not needed. And in the process, have got a good idea of the gamut of shots that are actually worth keeping - of interest to myself long term or to family in the future. From people to food to pets to nature to landscapes  to transport , and I'll bet th

Adapting the ShiftCam SnapGrip to an Android phone - successfully!

A week ago I delivered a largely positive review of the SnapGrip, as used with a modern iPhone  (do please go and read it!) And I teased using the SnapGrip with an Android phone, thanks to the inclusion by ShiftCam in the box of a circular 'sticker' of MagSafe magnets. It turns out that this sticker is very substantial and beautifully made - and with one obvious and potentially large caveat, means that SnapGrip is very much 'go' on Android too. Snapping and charging. The idea is that you find the right spot on your Android phone, the centre of its Qi wireless charging coils, in my case by trial and error and using a ruler(!) And you then carefully press on the sticker, which has very strong adhesive. Now, not wanting to devalue my Android test phone, a Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, and also mindful of the fact that when out and about I always keep my phones in TPU cases anyway, I obviously stuck the errr... 'sticker' to the case, not the naked phone. But it all turned

Review: ShiftCam SnapGrip

When is a phone camera really a DSLR? When it has a SnapGrip on its back? Not quite, but it kind of feels like it. So. I bought and am reviewing the ShiftCam SnapGrip , £70 in the UK. Partly spurred by fond memories of the Lumia 1020 PD-95G Camera Grip , which it strongly resembles, in functionality and ambition: You'll possibly remember the Lumia 1020, from 2013. The camera phone champion of its day, thanks to a 41MP back-illuminated 1/1.5" sensor, OIS, Xenon flash, and computational oversampling. That all sounds rather special today and indeed the 1020 still works well today, see my detailed imaging comparisons over on the archived All About sites: The famed Lumia 1020 takes on the DSLR Next up... the Lumia 1020 trounces the iPhone 12 Pro Max?! A 2021 'PureView' battle: 808/1020/Pixel/iPhone ...among other pieces. Do go and have a read. The upshot? In ProRAW (unsharpened, un-edge-enhanced, but much larger file size) mode, the modern iPhones comfortably defeat the dec