Nokia Lumia 925 Review: The best Windows Phone to date

Since the launch of the Nokia Lumia 920 in November 2012 the Finnish manufacturer has released no less than 4 other Windows Phone 8 devices encompassing the whole price range from the low end to the high end. The Nokia Lumia 620 and 520 have been best sellers thanks to great feature sets and most importantly low prices without a contract. Unfortunately people lusting for a high-end Windows Phone 8 device only had one choice; the Lumia 920.

Nokia’s first handset featuring Optical Image Stabilization is a great phone but its sheer size and weight can be and has been a turn off for many potential adopters. I’m the first to admit that this phone isn’t for everyone. Sure, it’s top notch but the Lumia 920 is heavier than a more powerful, feature rich and bigger Samsung Galaxy Note II. Want a handset with OIS? Well your only Windows Phone choice would be the Lumia 920 (or 928 on Verizon) or the HTC One on Android (with a frankly subpar implementation of it).

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Nokia Lumia 920 hands on videos: Hardware and Software tour

Better late than never right? Here are my first videos of my Nokia Lumia 920 in action that I shot a week ago (sorry didn’t have much time to post them earlier). The first one is a simple hardware tour of the device followed by a software tour with a short performance comparison against the Nokia Lumia 800. Finally, the third video is a demo showing Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive and Nokia Transit / Transport integration in the Windows Phone 8. Hit the break to watch them:

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Nokia Lumia 920 first impressions

Better late than never, right? Well, I finally received a Yellow Nokia Lumia 920 on Monday and started using it as my main phone since then so I’ve had a bit more than 24 hours to handle the beast so far which is enough hands-on time to give you my first impressions about the device (but keep in mind that my device isn’t brand new).

As previously reported the Lumia 920 isn’t for the faint hearted; it’s thicker and heavier than the competition. Thankfully this doesn’t seem to be much of an issue for me as the 185g really don’t feel like a lot when pocketed all day. One handed usage is equivalent to most other 4.5″+ devices on the market so you will see yourself using it with both hands most of the time.

Build quality is great but unfortunately not perfect on my particular device. The whole polycarbonate body is apparently thinner than the previous Lumia 800 and 900 bodies and can creak when pressure is applied in certain areas. There’s also a relatively big air gap between the screen and the actual LCD panel (I can see light bleeding underneath the black bezel when I tilt my handset at extreme angles) this directly impacts the quality of the viewing angles as there’s a significant drop in brightness (but colors stay intact).

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Nokia Lumia 800 first impressions

First off, sorry for the lack of updates lately but with my new full time job and many more things to handle on the side I didn’t have much time left to write things down. I will just share my thoughts about the Nokia Lumia 800 after using it a bit in the last 48h hours which I hope you will be interested in. One thing to note prior to reading what’s below is that all current retail Lumia 800 handsets are effectively running the same firmware as the review samples (1600.2475.7720.11414) and that all the bugs and issues should have been well known since last month (Nokia even provided updated firmwares to some reviewers) this just goes to show how many blogs/sites (not all) don’t do their job correctly (or are afraid not to get review samples in the future if they tell the truth). The upcoming firmware should be 1600.2475.7720.11450/51. Anyway, let’s start with the hardware it self:

- Awesome build quality: There’s nothing more to say here. The devices a bit heavy for its size but really feels good in the hand.

- Display: This is a standard 3.7″ PenTile Matrix AMOLED panel (same as the one used on Samsung Focus Flash and Omnia W). The main difference between Lumia 800′s display is that Nokia has calibrated the screen colors in a way to compensate the greenish tint caused by the RGBG matrix. The Reds are boosted so that the color reproduction is more true to life and not as cold as on Samsung’s PenTile devices. The only downside is that the whites aren’t really white anymore (a bit warm). Nokia has also opted not to have an Auto-display brightness dimming functionality that kicks in when the screen is mostly displaying bright white colors unlike Samsung (they now gives users the option to toggle it on/off). The downside is that this drains the battery faster than the same panel on the Focus Flash with Auto-display brightness on. The one thing that currently annoys me is that the Medium brightness setting is really too low compared to other Windows Phone 7 devices so I have to use the Highest one and thus kill my battery.

- Screen digitizer: The capacitive digitizer is currently too sensitive on the Lumia 800. Single taps are often registered as double taps and leaving my finger on the screen (for example the start screen) will make the whole UI erratically jump up/down unless I press really hard on it. This is something I have also noted on a Lumia 800 on display at an Orange store so it’s a widespread issue and its severity depends on the ambient and finger temperature. Really annoying and will hopefully be fixed soon. The screen has also the tendency of being stuck; finger contact is sometimes not registered unless you lift it and tap/swipe again.

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HTC Titan 4.7″ SLCD display performance

Yesterday I showed you how the HTC Titan‘s 4.7″ SLCD display performed outdoors in bright daylight and it’s now time to check out the panel’s viewing angles performance. This is really important especially with a display of this size. I first noticed the great viewing angles when I first witnessed the device during the launch event early last month and was really happy to find out that I wasn’t dreaming back then because the Titan does indeed have a pretty nice screen. As you will see in the video below the colors are perfect even at extreme angles as if it was using an IPS panel. Issues appear only when the screen is viewed from a diagonal angle: the blacks/shadows will wash out but the colors will fortunately stay the same.

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HTC RADAR Hands on

The HTC Radar (formerly known as the HTC Omega) definitely doesn’t feel that exiting after laying eyes and hands on the the HTC Titan. Fortunately for HTC everybody isn’t a fan of huge screens and this is where the HTC Radar fits in. Let’s start with the specs:

HTC Radar Hardware specifications:

- 3.8? WVGA SLCD screen
- Weight: 137 grams (4.83 ounces) with battery
- Size: 120.5mm x 61.5mm x 10.9mm (4.74″ x 2.42″ x 0.43″)
- Qualcomm MSM8255 clocked at 1Ghz
- 8GB of internal Storage (up to 6.54 GB GB or available storage)
- 512 MB of Ram
- 5 megapixel camera with F2.2 lens, dual LED flash, and BSI sensor (for better low-light captures)
- VGA Front facing camera
- 9.9mm thick
- Aluminum body
- Sensors: Gyro Sensor, G-Sensor, Digital compass, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor
- DLNA support
- SRS Enhancement & 5.1 surround sound
- HSPA/WCDMA: Europe/Asia: 850/900/2100 MHz
- Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
- Battery: 1520 mAh (talk time: WCDMA: Up to 485 minutes GSM: Up to 600 minutes)

This doesn’t look too bad right? I see it as a nice update to the HTC Trophy (and even HTC Mozart) thanks to the new SoC and it’s GPU and the addition of a Gyroscope, DLNA support, what looks like a better SLCD panel, better camera sensor and finally front facing camera.

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Tentacles for Windows Phone 7 Interview: in-depth look at how the game was created

A little bit less than a month ago one of the best overall mobile game hit the Windows Phone 7 platform and when such a thing happens it’s always inserting to get some insight on how the whole project came to fruition. I fired off several question to Press Play studios, developers of Tentacles and previously Max & the Magic Marker to learn a bit more about their development process and pipeline which consists of creating the game in the Unity 3D engine then converting/porting it to XNA. Check out the whole interview after the break:

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Qualcomm Adreno 205 vs Adreno 220 / HTC Sensation vs HTC Flyer, HTC Desire HD and Samsung Galaxy S

Here’s s quick compilation of benchmark results comparing the Qualcomm Adreno 205 GPU vs Adreno 220 GPU found in the HTC Sensation (as part of the MSM8260 SoC). The are several things to note here: First, the Adreno 205 found in the HTC Flyer and HTC Desire HD are most probably not clocked at the same speed (The MSM8255 is clocked at 1Ghz in the Desire HD compared to1.5Ghz in the HTC Flyer). Secondly, THe screen resolution are different on each handsets:

- HTC Desire HD: 800X480
- Samsung Galaxy S: 800×480
- HTC Sensation: 960×540
- HTC Flyer: 1024×600

Thirdly, the driver versions are obviously not the same on all devices so you shouldn’t take those results as granted, they are just an indication of how these GPUs stack up against each other in synthetic benchmarks. The now famous and awesome PowerVR SGX540 is also included in the mix. Check the results after the break:

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Tentacles Windows Phone 7 Xbox Live games released: Hands on video

This weeks Xbox Live enabled game for Windows Phone 7 is Tentacles by Press Play (the developers behind Max and the Magic Marker) and I’m pleased to tell you its one hell of a nice game. The game lets you control a microscopic eye fitted with 4 tentacles; 3 are used to move by sticking to the walls and one to grab objects,items or enemies. As you will see in the video below the game looks really good thanks to it’s real-time 3D graphics and performances without any problem (on my Omnia 7 running Mango). The tentacles physics simulation is also top notch and makes up for some really interesting situations later in the game. The game include 40 different levels and is priced at $4.99 in the Marketplace.

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New Android Market application: Hands on video and comparison with the Windows Phone 7 Mango marketplace

Google has launched the newest version of the Android Marketplace application yesterday which is going to be rolled out to all Android 2.2 + phones in the coming weeks. If you can’t wait that long the you hit this link and grab the APK that you will then manually install on you device. As you will see the UI has be heavily revamped compared to the previous version but contrary to what some people are saying I don’t find it really Metro inspired beside the main screen which looks closer to the Mosaic By Tribune app more than anything else. (see picture after the break).

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Windows Phone 7 Mango: Embedded YouTube videos and fast tabs switching

I’m discovering interesting things in the Mango Beta 2 even after nearly 2 weeks of daily usage, nothing groundbreaking but still interesting. Firstly, Mango no longer requires the YouTube plugin “app” to playback embedded YouTube videos. But there’s a catch, the videos must be embedded with the new iFrame code and not the old code…one. If the required Iframe code is detected by the browser user will see the YouTube video correctly show up on the webpage and will be able to watch it by taping twice on it. This will then launch the OS’s native video player (not a mediaelement control like the previous solution) and stream the video in what appears to be 480P MP4 format even when using the cellular network connection (finally!). The YouTube plugin will still be required if the video is embedded with the old code. Check it out n the my short video after the break:

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Bing Maps Indoor Map in Windows Phone 7 Mango Video demo

I finally stumbled upon an indoor maps while on Windows Phone Mango while playing around with Bing Maps and shot a short video to show you how it works. Indoor Maps are exactly this: Maps of indoor locations, mainly malls and other shopping locations (only in the US). As you will see in the video below the indoor map is overlaid on top of the base map and shows all the businesses and shops located in the mall. You can choose to tap on a particular shop or just hit the directory view which is essentially a list of all the businesses/shops sorted alphabetically.

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HTC Sensation camera samples: Photos and 1080P video

Now that I’m done with the HTC Flyer review it’s time to take a closer look at HTC’s top-end smartphone, the HTC Sensation. The Taiwanese smartphone manufacture isn’t known for having good quality camera lens and sensors on its devices but thing are getting better lately especially with the Sensation. It is good enough though? Well not yet. As you will see in the pictures and video below the new 8 MPix sensor used buy HTC doesn’t reproduce naturals colors in most of the outdoor shots compared to Samsung’s Omnia 7 camera. There’s purple tint to them (something that HTC users have been experiencing for a while now) and the brightness is abnormally low.

Resized pictures and video after the break:

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HTC Flyer Review

When I first heard off the HTC Flyer (also know as the HTC View 4G on Sprint) in Barcelona during Mobile World Congress I wasn’t really sure what to think about the product. HTC didn’t allow the press to handle it and the device’s specification left me puzzled about it competitiveness compared to all the more powerful Android Honeycomb tablets all over the show floor.

With Honeycomb tablets being all the rage this year it was definitely surprising to see HTC launching a relatively small Gingerbread tablet powered by a single core CPU with the main differentiator being its n6trig active digitizer and Stylus. I admit, the Flyer didn’t look good on paper. I quickly dismissed this as a dead on Arrival product that only saw the light of the day because HTC was willing to use nVidia’s Tegra 2 SoC and decided to stick with Qualcomm which ultimately resulted in the company only being able to use Gingerbread instead of honeycomb (Android 3.X is only now being made “compatible” with SoC’s other than the Tegra 2).

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Official DC Comics application for Windows Phone 7 hands on video

There has been an unstoppable flow of great applications launching on Windows Phone 7 since last week, one of the highlights is the new official DC Comics application that was released today. The software is simply top notch and is a real joy to use (I didn’t experience any crashes unlike some people but this may be due to Mango..). The application was developer by ComiXology so I decided to grab the Android version to see if there was any major difference and surprisingly the WP7 version is smoother than the Android version running on the HTC Sensation unlike Angry Birds. Check out DC Comics on Windows Phone 7 in my video after the beak:

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Angry Birds for Windows Phone 7 vs Android version video comparison

I’ve just shot a short video comparing the just released Windows Phone 7 version of Angry Birds running on the Samsung Omnia 7 versus the Android version running on the HTC Sensation. As you will (or may not because the video is shot at 25fps..) the WP7 version is not as smooth as the Android version. There are several things to remember though: XNA games are limited to 30fps while Android games are usually only limited by the device’s screen VSync, physics calculation on WP7 still doesn’t use the SIMD/NEON FP units of the Snapdragon CPU (this will be available in Mango). Then again, the WP7 versions isn’t slow either so this shouldn’t bother you if you plan to purchase the game. Video after the break:

UPDATE: There’s no more 30FPS limitation in XNA apps in Mango.

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Plants vs Zombies for Windows Phone 7 hands on video

This week’s Xbox Live game for Windows Phone 7 is PopCap Games’s smashing hit Plants vs Zombies! Many of you may have already played the game on other platforms like the iPhone, PC so you already know what to expect. The Windows Phone 7 version is a perfect port of the original PC version and is identical to the iOS one. To put it simply: it’s perfect. There are no performance issues at all (the game even runs under the lock screen) and everything is in there with the addition of 15 Xbox Live achievements and leader boards. The full game cost $4.99 and is loaded with 50 levels (6 levels are available in the trial version). Hit the break to see it running on the Samsung Omnia 7:

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Turn-by-Turn voice guided Navigation and Outdoor Navigation for Windows Phone 7

Some of you may already be familiar with the super nice Outdoor Navigation application for Windows Phone 7 developed by GPSTuner but what you may not know is that the same developers have also recently released a Voice-Guided Turn-by-Turn navigation application for Windows Phone 7. To put it simply: Both applications are just awesome and are some of the best mobile apps I have used.

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IM+ for Windows Phone 7 preview

I’ve decided to try out the preview version of IM+ for Windows Phone 7 and frankly I’m impressed by the quality of the application. As previously announced the instant messaging application has been submit to the Marketplace and is awaiting certification. What has also been unveiled is that it will unfortunately not include support for Windows Live Messenger (per Microsoft’s request) but you can obviously still use it with the following services: Facebook Chat, Google Talk, Jabber, ICQ, MySpace, Skype, Yahoo and AOL. Most importantly the application just works (yes even the push notifications). I’ve shot a video of the preview version of the application in action on my Omnia 7 so hit the break to watch it:

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