Updated: Dec 4, 2020
On the 29 June 2007 some bloke, claiming to be the headmaster of the school, and working for a computer company in Cupertino, changed the world by launching the iPhone... apparently. Now, I'm no orchard fanboy, but even I have to admit that he had a way of convincing the pupils at the school that he was entirely in charge of the playground and responsible for the invention of smart phones and every other modern gadget.
And, the format of his new device was somewhat ahead of its time... apparently.
Of course, history shows us that he had form in making such claims?
This claim has always been a myth, but it has been hard not to roughed up by the bigger boys if you disagreed with the belief that his devices were better and easier to use. There are simply so many kids in the playground shouting this, so it must be true... apparently.
"They simply work out of the box you idiot" the big kids shout.
Well, it's been over a decade and that's not been my experience...
In the UK, I've yet to have a Facetime call, with another kid, that actually worked from start to finish, and as for airpods... Has anyone in the UK ever received a call using these ridiculous looking devices without it sounding like a tin can? Not me, and I should know. I am an expert in this area; I have a silver Blue Peter badge, and a signed letter from Biddy Baxter to prove my prowess in the telecommunications area (I never lie).
Also, what do they look like? Has no one in the orchard playground read The Emperor's New Clothes?
And, don't get me started on the lazy implementation of "less used" features in iOS, like call forwarding. I could go on but most reasonable people disagree with me so... Despite this, I have stuck with my various iPhones for around 11 years and I have to say after a rocky start they have generally kept me both connected and informed. So rather than just moaning about the bad times I'll say that I have had a blast attending the orchard school, despite the school fees, and the "Do it our way, or don't do it at all" method of control.
But, it's now 2020 and time for a change.
Apparently, there's another school that offers phones with a different operating system?
It's been around for a while now. It's called Android, by a little start up called Google, you may have heard of them?
At Chez Anthony I have been carrying a torch for Android for some time, and as circumstance and blunder would have it, I am the last pupil of this tribe to leave the orchard playground, to wander across the road to the robot playground, but here we all are. All 4 of us are now robots. A new decade, a new mobile OS. Not an apple mobile in sight.
"So how did it go at your new school today?"
Firstly, it's a cold and harsh world out here at robot school. OK, there's no orchard school bully hypnotising kids with their Californian mantras, praying on the little fanboys and girls. That's gotta be a good thing. However, no one is keeping all the phone specifications honest and in line. There's loads of groups of kids making claims that they make the best phones. There's a group of Chinese kids with really slick looking devices, but they don't know how to name their devices, so that newbies like me find it difficult to make an informed choice. They talk a great talk, but I have found that they play fast and loose with the product specs, but their products look great and they seem great value for money... can it be true?
Can I trust the Chinese kids?
The Korean kids have some really amazing products, but they want the same amount of money that I was paying back at orchard school and surely the point of changing to robot school was to save money right?
But hold on? There's a really big group of kids over the other side of the playground. They all have smug looks on their faces. They are making wild claims that their phones are better, because they know the tutor that wrote Android. Their claim is that: "some robots are more equal than other robots." They say that their devices are much better, but then, there is another group of kids in the English department, in room 101, that beg to differ...
And then, there's this south american kid. He's got a great looking phone called the Fold 1. Other kids are telling me his brother was expelled... I do not make this shit up. Pablo Escobar's brother has a folding robot phone It looks really good...
The advertising is totally outrageous. We are through the looking glass here... How much do I want to buy one of these phones?
I'll let you make up you own mind on the advertising:
Back to Planet Earth...
Those of you that hang around with me in the playground with understand that when it comes to choosing devices like phones and cameras I like covering the bases and implementing risk assessment and preflight checks, before making a change like migrating from orchard to robot, Confession: I have an affliction. As much as I try not to over check and recheck things, recheck it, double back and check it again. I'm simply not capable of letting it go (I need help).
"Stop waffling, what happened today, at school?"
OK, I made a rookie mistake. I bought a phone from the Chinese kids without understanding that when they name a phone the "plus (+) model" they remove features, not add them!
Let me qualify that...
The plus model I bought has a better camera than the standard model... OK, Great!...
But, to accommodate the better camera, they removed NFC (Near Field Communication), so I can't buy anything from the tuck shop, because I can't use GooglePay.
Robot School - Lesson One - Day One = RTFM!
It took me around 3 hours of crying in the playground to recover from this. After I stopped swearing and beating myself up for buying from the Chinese kids without first checking the specs, I had another go...
I sent the plus model back down the river, and went about interrogating the Chinese kids about their other phones. This is not an easy task. Chinese kids that sell robot phones make claims that require you to check the specs... really closely. They are competing in a market with slim margins. They don't exaggerate, they simply omit specs. It's really difficult to check what they are "not" saying rather than checking what they "are" saying... Effectively you have to know what is available across the entire range to see if a given feature is available on the particular model that you are interested in.
With this in mind the Chinese kids promised me that their cameras are very good, so I thought at £349.95 as opposed to £1199.00 for the equivalent camera from the orchard's offering, I'd give it a go... as it had both NFC and a good camera! (I checked it a million times!)
FYI: Having made my purchase, I'm now thinking about what I should do with the £849.05 I saved by avoiding orchard products. So what did I buy? I bought on a Huawei Nova 5T on the river.
"Why the 5T?"
Well, I am intentionally buying a mid range phone this time around. For sometime now I have realised that I have been asleep, if not brain stem dead, when it comes to buying mobile phones. I have allowed myself to be both beguiled and pushed around by the orchard bully, who convinced me that they were the only gang who could produce a decent phone with a good camera. Well, it turns out the Chinese kids have something to say about that claim... Like most of you, I use my smart phone for a few reasons. My priorities go something like this:
To make and receive phone calls
To receive TXTs (I very rarely send them)
To send and receive email
To shoot casual shots when out and about
To catch up on social media (very rarely these days)
Make Skype & Whats App calls to friends and family who are remote
Occasionally I browse the world wide web, but, let's face it, the mobile web experience has been truly awful on every mobile device I have ever owned. It's another example of bullying and exaggeration by various bigger boys. They claim that it is the way to go... It's not is it? It's a giant compromise, probably one of the biggest compromises we make with our virtual experience in modern times. Same clothes, different emperor.
Looking through this list we can all see that every smart phone on the planet, that's every smart phone on the planet does all this. The only feature that may be compromised by price is the camera, or to be more precise, the quality of the images produced by the phone's camera. More about the NOVA's camera later...
Back to the Robot's OS
So, I have been swotting up. This week I have enforced an intensive, steep learning curve to learn Android 9 (for mobile) I suspect that as MS Windows user, I have found it much easier than I thought it would be. Like iOS, Android has its foibles, but essentially, there is an equivalent for every aspect of normal use... at least so far. After a week, I now think of it as an unlocked, or jail broken version of iOS. There's no tutor telling you to sit down and do it the way they tell you. Android kinda leaves you alone to set it up as you want it. However, that does require the users to understand some basics about files and folders. This is not ideal for all users. Some orchard users may find it a little disconcerting as they are used to having their UI presented as a desktop rather than a folder structure, but once you put in a minimum amount of effort you are instantly rewarded with a significantly improved experience. YouTube is full of useful, quick and dirty tutorials. I guess the old arguments will continue to exist. Some of us want to be told how to do it and others want to modify the way we do it, and never the twain shall meet?
It's taken me around 3 days to implement the transfer from iOS 13 to Android Pie. v10 is coming in February for us Chinese kids.
An example robot victory for me: Finally, my home screen contains useful information. In fact, I have four screens set up with app widgets and icons, allowing me to see my three emails accounts, latest news, the weather, the date, the time, my three diaries, my steps for the day, and all of this without launching a single app and the fourth screen is the same as my last iOS device with groups of apps - Yippee I'm free to enjoy!
An example robot fail for me: It looks like the Chinese kids have decided that I only need one notification sound. They have taken out the feature that allows me to choose email notifications to have a different sound to Facebook notification etc... I get to choose one sound for all... Further investigation informs me that the other Robots allow for this, and the smug kids are all looking, well, smug, as they can do that... It seems I need an app to do that with my Chinese robot... Bugger I'm free to be restricted!
More of this at a later date...
Back to that camera
Interestingly, the NOVA 5T has four lenses as opposed to 3 on the iPhone 11 Pro
"So what's it like?"
Here's a shot of 'er indoors looking rather lovely...
It's taken in Richmond Park just by Fenton's Run. This is shot in pro mode, as a RAW file.
The 5T camera allows me to shoot natively, in RAW format (DNG), using the internal camera system. I cannot zoom in whilst using RAW, but that's small issue as the files are 48 Megapixels in pro mode, that's 92Mb in size, so, if I want to zoom in, I'll crop the image in post production later. The iPhone does not let me shoot RAW without using a third party app?
"Why is shooting RAW so important?" It allows us all to shoot a scene like this...
...and grade it into something like this... zero retouching, just grading...
Would you prefer to shoot RAW or JPEG if you had the option?
The shot above is merely a quick and dirty grading to demonstrate what can be done without retouching if we shoot RAW. It took me about 45 seconds to grade it.
The ultra wide lens allows me, like iPhone 11 pro users, to shoot lovely images like this...
Pixel Peepers Notes: Ultra Wide shots are up to 16 megapixels. However, I can't shoot RAW
I will be shooting a few tests as the year progresses through the winter. I'll let y'all know what it's like over here in Robot school for all things snappy.
I'll also give you an honest appraisal of what it's like being a Robot, in general
I hope you like the images
C - Robot School Newbie