The BMW Motorsport-branded Iqoo 9 Pro

Remember when phones were fun? Recently, I’ve slotted my SIM into a bunch of high-end models that will never come to the US. The latest, the BMW Motorsport-branded Iqoo 9 Pro, is a ridiculous, over-the-top smartphone that can’t help but make you smile. Of course, like a high-performance sports car, this phone is completely impractical as a daily driver in the US. Inspired by its out-of-the-box design, I couldn’t help but use it for a few days anyway… More here.

I mentioned how phones should have more personality the other day. If this is to be the end result, I take it all back.

Samsung Galaxy (Note 22☺) S22 Ultra 5G First Thoughts

(In case of variances – UK model – Black – 512gb/12GB – Dual sim – direct from Samsung)

Been a while since I reviewed anything – but since it’s arrived 2 days before official launch day, it’d be rude not to give some initial impressions (clearly they’re more relaxed than Apple about launch day protocols).

I will, albeit probably poorly, attempt to avoid comparing to my Z Fold 3 which has done me really well barring some niggles. Things I really want to check out – the camera (so different to the Z Fold 3’s average 12MP snapper), and the s-pen (built in). All photos were taken with an iphone 13 mini except for the camera comparison ones.

I’ll spare you an over the top unboxing essay. I’m sure there’s plenty of those elsewhere. It’s the usual new era minimalist approach – small black box, including phone plus unnecessary (imo) usb-c cable & ejector pin. NO extra s-pen nibs that I can see (unlike historically, maybe the pen is one unit now)

This thing is one solid lump, which is good, as my Z Fold 3 while feeling really high quality and sturdy, still left me nervous when its opened up.

After the standard Samsung setup process, its time to play. Careful ejecting the sim card tray and not the microphone hole right next to it :/

Right, lets take a quick look at that camera, specifically the zoom. What I tend to do is take a standard picture, and then zoom in. My door handle (cropped) as part of a x1 shot…

My door handle x10…

So you can see the level of detail that the optical zoom means that you gain.

The pen is excellent. As responsive as the s-pen pro I have with my fold 3, and with all those features (due to the Bluetooth capability). One complaint – Samsung notes can now to sync to one note (it could do so with the ZFold 3 too), but for whatever reason, the integration is only to one note “feed” (huh?) which means it only appears in a special place and you have to then move notes you want to keep, into full one note. An odd quirk, that may become annoying.

The fingerprint reader feels much better than it was on my old S21 ultra as well. Its nearly as good as the one on the Z Fold 3 (which is a dedicated side one built into the power button). I’ve only had one false negative so far which is nice.

A final quick nighttime shot before I send this to Shaun. Excuse the flare from the window (its cold out there), but otherwise it looks at a glance, impressive. The picture shows far more than my eyes do.

Full verdict to follow, but in the first few hours, the Galaxy Note 22 (oops) looks to be an excellent all-round device. And if you like a decent zoom, then vs the best from Apple, it’s a winner. I think the battery life is yet to be clear (it was down 15% for me after light use, but all those initial setup services will be greedy.)

It’s sold out in some specifications (from Samsung) until April 2022, so book early to ensure disappointment.


Ditching their smartphones

She recalls that one of the pivotal moments that led to her decision was a day at the park with her two boys, aged six and three: “I was on my mobile at a playground with the kids and I looked up and every single parent – there was up to 20 – were looking at their phones, just scrolling away,” she says.

“I thought ‘when did this happen?’. Everyone is missing out on real life. I don’t think you get to your death bed and think you should have spent more time on Twitter, or reading articles online.” More here.

I am going to try this. OK, I’m not…

Bringing excitement back to the smartphone

The iPhone 13 gets closest to that kind of emotional payoff of increased satisfaction with its battery life, which is so strong it has banished battery anxiety from my daily routine – even on the now-rare days I bounce between meetings.

For iPhone admirers, this new machine will doubtless represent pleasingly crisp continuity. But if you’re looking for something to make you appreciate the smartphone again, you may not get what you want from the iPhone 13… More here.

The reality is that 95% of people do not get excited by smartphones and that the majority are mature enough to just want better practical features such as battery life and cameras. In 2021 a phone is a phone and expecting a wow factor from a new model is like expecting an emotional buzz from a new washing machine.

Maybe one way to bring back more positive emotions would be to offer hardware customisation that would make the devices more personal to the owner. Such as the modular concept below. You can read more about it here.

The modularity dream for a phone that can swap parts like a Lego brick is still longing for perfection and this concept fuels the fire. Just like the Fairphone, Nicola Morelli’s Soul smartphone concept gives us something to dream about. A phone that can turn into a high-end DSLR camera or turn into a high-end customizable accessory for fitness freaks. The Nintendo Switch-like interactive vibe is more about changing the format of the gadget using extensive modules rather than just adding functions with internal hardware swapping. Soul itself is one of the modules and the other attachable modules are called bodies. The main module itself can be used as a basic smartphone when you don’t require any other functions.

The Wild West Days of Phone Design

I do miss the Wild West days of cell phones, before we’d all settled on glass rectangles. It’s always fun to watch competing manufacturers trying to figure out the ideal form for a new thing, and it’s not the home runs as much as the swing-and-a-miss designs that I find the most interesting. In particular, that five-year span just before the first iPhone came out is when designers seemed to have a lot of latitude to experiment… More here.

Isn’t it strange how the best and most quirky designs appear when a product is in its relative infancy (click the link above for some true quirkiness). It is almost like the manufacturers see the most popular form win and then they all fall in line. This happens in cars, watches, phones and so many other major product categories.

How to photograph the moon on your phone

When a full moon rises, many people will pull out their mobile phones to try and taken an Instagram-worthy picture, but unfortunately the moon is really challenging to get a great photo of.

Two reasons: it is very far away and unless you have a telephoto lens (which makes the moon appear closer than it is) it will always appear as a very small glowing dot in the frame.

Secondly, shooting at night is really difficult. Professional cameras allow you to change your ISO or your sensitivity rating which means you can shoot in low light situations without losing the quality of the image… More here.

No iPhone can do this sadly, but maybe one day Apple will crack it. A shame considering some Android phones are doing OK in this area. The article above isn’t too helpful in terms of useful advice, but if you have any tips my ears are open.

The Best Photography Smartphones in 2021

Mobile photography is now one of the major battlegrounds for vendors trying to one-up each other. Thankfully, it’s not entirely about numbers, despite megapixel counts hitting new highs, it’s a lot about how effective software can be to do more with the available pixels. That can also depend on how you look at what the software gives you, especially relative to the varying modes phones now regularly offer.

We’re talking about an ever-evolving situation, where new phones may supplant old ones, while others trade places based on how new updates affected performance and output. Whether it’s pro mode features, software that does amazing things, or getting more for every dollar you spend, this roundup is a good place to start. We at PetaPixel will be updating it regularly to reflect a changing and shifting market to give you the insight you need to shoot what you want… More here.

An eye-opener to some iPhone owners perhaps and one which shows that there are many really good options out there.