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All About Symbian - General News

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Last Build Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2017 00:00:04 GMT


The dodocool Ultra Slim (and modular) 5000mAh power bank

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 16:12:00 GMT

Every power bank has to have a unique selling point these days, before I even consider it for review. The USP this time is that the output staging is modular, in that you can switch it from 'microUSB' mode to 'Apple Lightning' mode in seconds, i.e. take it out for the day in either guise. The downsides? There's currently no USB Type C option, output is limited to 1A, plus this gets muckier with fingerprints than your todder's toys - in seconds. Regardless of those caveats, there's an interesting idea here - a slim and portable power bank with a recessed USB-A port and the facility to snugly store a short charging cable for the format of your choice. As per the photos here, showing both Apple Lightning (iPhone) and microUSB leads in use/unfurled. The extension of your choice fits snugly into the right side of the power bank. Only the phone end is designed to be clipped off quickly, the USB-A end is deliberately buried inside the body and needs a bit of wiggling to change. And no, there's no USB Type C option yet - I did ask. Perhaps if the product sells well then a new extension can be crafted and/or bundled? However, all is not lost for, in addition to the integral/recessed cable extension, there's an extra USB Type A socket on the end of the power bank - and current can be supplied to both USB outputs if needed, albeit at a maximum of 1A for each. Also seen below is the microUSB input port, this is how the dodocool power bank is charged (this time at 2A). The limited current output (i.e. 1A per port) proves to be the biggest issue that some will have with this accessory - we're so used these days to quick charging solutions - usually 2A at 5V or Quick Charge 2.0 or 3.0 compatibility, so dropping back to 5V/1A seems somewhat old fashioned! Overall capacity is decent enough considering the slender form and weight (125g), mind you, enough to charge any phone from scratch at least once. One final issue I had with the dodocool power bank is its finish - it's glossy. Very, very glossy. So glossy that it acquires fingerprints and looks terrible after only a day of use. This is where 'glossy' phones would use an oleophobic coating, but here it's just shiny plastic - a matt finish would have looked less stunning out of the box but would have looked better in real life use. An interesting, semi-modular power bank then. The creators needs to make one with a matt finish and then throw in a USB-A to USB-C extension as well - increasing the current output would be the cherry on the cake. Watch this space - I'll let you know if a 'mark II' arrives! You can buy this on Amazon UK here, use promotional code: AZ5YAE4C to get 22% off until the 28th of March 2017, or on the USA Amazon site here (promotional code 86ROTUG6). In each case, the code is only valid for the 5000mAh power bank in black.[...]

Rafe Blandford and MWC 2017

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 06:54:29 GMT

Wrapping up MWC 2017 week, and with Rafe exhausted after 100,000 steps in five days, I wanted to provide at least a taste of this year's show, via Rafe's Twitter feed, via my own analysis, and so on. On the AAWP front, we saw the revised HP Elite x3 and news that the IDOL 4S Pro is heading to Europe, but the scope of MWC is vastly wider and Rafe's good at finding interesting tit-bits, see the embedded tweets below!Before heading into tweets though, I'd like to embed my own Phones Show 302, which attempted to round up the major phone releases of the show in a fast-paced but easy to watch six minutes or so. Nothing directly relevant to AAWP or AAS, but very definitely of interest. And AAS readers should watch the remaining three minutes, since I cover both the Nokia 9500 and a new QWERTY wannabe... src="" width="853" height="480"> Anyway, from Rafe Blandford's public Twitter feed, to give you a 'dip in' flavour of MWC without having to actually go there, here are some of my favourite illustrated tweets of his, in approximate chronological order, spotted in between commitments for DigitasLBI. They're hopefully self-explanatory and you can click through if you want to know more about a particular subject: Alcatel show a number of mid tier Android phones at #MWC17, including A5 - "interactive LED-covered smartphone". — Rafe Blandford (@rafeblandford) February 27, 2017 So this was retweeted and 'liked' by Ari, I suspect that it's rather glad that this project is now out in the open. He'd previously been a driving factor in bringing 'Living images' from Nokia to Apple and now this dual-optics system seems set to take zooming, at least, to the next level in smartphones. In case you've been living under a rock, the Apple iPhone 7 Plus has two 12MP camera, but unlike other manufacturers clumsy attempts at doing something similar (LG, for example, had the second camera be a wide angle lens, Huawei went for snapping two photos from the same optics and trying for refocus effects, or by making one sensor black and white), one of these cameras has a 2x 'telephoto' lens, meaning genuine 2x zoom, though of course the sensor behind this lens will be slightly smaller than traditional 2015/2016 flagship sensors. This two-lenses approach to phone camera zooming is one that may even be licensed from Corephotonics, who have been touting this system around trade shows for a couple of years. It's certainly interesting and should provide better results when zoomed than the half-hearted effort in Windows 10 Camera, while at least equalling those from the older Lumia 1020 with its 41MP sensor. All very interesting indeed - I'll have an iPhone 7 Plus in for testing next week and I'll be sure to do a number of comparison features with the best of both Symbian (Nokia 808) and Windows Phone (Lumia 1020 and 950). Watch this space![...]

Where's the character? Fall in love, not into utility

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 06:47:00 GMT

As an industry watcher, the world of smartphones has never been more competitive or better value. It's also duller than ditchwater. And, apparently, growth has now stopped and sales are in decline... With IFA 2016 just over in Germany, where yet another batch of almost identical 5" touch slabs were announced, I'm tempted to suggest that now really is the time to look for character in our smartphones. Where are the USPs? Are they now relegated to older, almost retro, devices, while new products fall over themselves to stay anonymous?You'll have seen the tech news over the last year. Here's a typical (made up!) news post: Company ABC today is proud to announce two new phones, the XYZ Prime and the XYZ Prime Plus. With 5" and 5.5" 1080p touchscreens and Snapdragon 617 chipsets, these two new Android 6 smartphones wow with their metallic finish, 13MP HDR-capable cameras, 2GB RAM, and flexible storage, the second nanoSIM slot can double to accept microSD. It comes with a range of covers and comes in 'dark grey, silver and champagne gold'. Sound familiar? These devices will all look near identical too, touch slabs with iPhone-esque antenna lines, iPhone-esque curves and often with iPhone-esque UI nods too (Huawei/Honor even foregoes an app list/drawer). It's all a bit depressing. Not just for me or you, but for the industry as a whole - smartphones are now so similar that it makes very little difference which one you buy (away from the extreme bottom end) and the main differentiator is price, which doesn't bode well for anyone's profit margins. It also makes smartphones very hard to fall in love with. Yes, I know that's a strange statement to come out with, but I'm sure that everyone reading this has a favourite phone of days gone by, a phone which wasn't just a slice of high tech but seemed to have a character, a personality of its own. Something that you felt at one with, which you were happy to hold and cherish, more than a simple communications tool, a phone which fitted your needs better than anything else on the market? The motley selection above was gathered for a quick snap on the bed - I have something like 100 PDAs and smartphones from the last 25 years in my cupboards, but these will do to illustrate my point - there are some classics in the photo above. Let me pick out just a few which illustrate the 'character'/USP argument well: The Nokia N93 (top middle), with its 'TV mode', camcorder modes, flip phone modes, the N93 took lovely photos and video with stereo sound - too bad the actual smartphone experience was horribly crippled by the lack of RAM (a common Nokia trait, sadly). But nevertheless, every moment I picked up the N93 I had a sense of this being ultra-cool, of owning something exclusive, something special.   The Marshall London (just below the N93) retains one of my main SIMs to this day, even though it's patently outgunned by everything else from 2015 and 2016, because of the rubberised case, the stereo speakers with incredible fidelity and, yes, the Marshall logos - on the front, back, and even on the battery. It's just such a cool phone to own and use.  Any number of the Nokia QWERTY-keyboarded smartphones and communicators, but I'll pick out the Nokia E75 here (top right, in red!), the slide-out transformation from T9 candybar to QWERTY input was very well done and the keyboard surprisingly easy to type on - all in a very small physical form. As with most of the other phones here, it was also quite rare, so there was always the 'exclusivity' factor when typing on it in public!  The Nokia N82 (just below the E75, top right) - famously featured in the Stavros parodies (oh, go on, watch them in your lunch hour, you know you want to!) - the pinnacle, in 2007/2008 of phone imaging, thanks to a protected 5MP camera of high quality and a genuine Xenon flash. That the keypad was atrociously un-ergonomic perhaps only added to its quirky character. And if you could find it in black (much rarer) then it was just about the coo[...]