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 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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What’s new in Windows Phone Mango 7712: Changes and improvements

Just took a quick look at the new 7712 Windows Phone 7 Mango Beta build that was pushed out to developer unlocked handsets today and compiled a short list of what has changed since the latest Beta release (Build 7661).

First, there’s a new Mango wall paper (the one you seen in the picture above). How cool is that? not much…ok. Anyway, the biggest change is the addition of Twitter and LinkedIn integration (it wasn’t enabled in the previous release). Linking the accounts to your Windows Live ID is relatively straightforward and shouldn’t take more than a minute.

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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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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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How the Windows Phone 7 location services really work

With all the madness going on right now around of the Apple locations tracking fiasco I thought that it would be interesting point out that Microsoft already details all of Windows Phone 7‘s location services in the product’s privacy statement. So instead of guessing or asking MS’s PR why no read what has been publicly available since October 2010?

There are currently 3 different location / tracking services in Windows Phone 7:

1) Location services: This is used by the OS and third party applications to locate you via Cell/WiFi triangulation or GPS.

2) Find My Phone: When enable it periodically sends the phone’s location to MS’ severs so it can be easily located by the My Phone service (note that the online My Phone mapping/tracking feature perfectly works with the option disabled on the phone. It just takes slightly longer to pin-point the handset).

3) Feedback report: Sends information via cell network or Zune desktop about the phone’s configuration, application usage, crash reports, and performance among other things.

Continue reading How the Windows Phone 7 location services really work →

Windows Phone 7 Mango media and speed improvements overview: 32bit color support, better controls

Now that MIX11 is finished I took the time to watch most of the Windows Phone 7 related sessions looking for some interesting info that may have been missed earlier. The first thing to note is that Mango will be a big step forward in terms of developer tools and APIs (thanks to Silverlight 4) and third party applications performance thanks to the new and improved controls. Microsoft has apparently listened to the users and developer complaints and tried its best to fix all the major issue found in the OS’s current release (most of them listed in my Windows Phone 7 review here).

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All about the new Windows Phone 7 Mango features

Most of the new features which are going to be introduced in the upcoming Windows Phone 7 Mango update have just been demonstrated on stage during the MIX11 keynote. So in case you didn’t check it out here’s a compilation of the most important features that you can expect to see on your Windows Phone 7 device later this year.

First lest start with something that wasn’t talked about during the Keynote: SIMD / ARM NEON support in Mango. As you probably know all Windows Phone 7 devices are powered by an AMRv7 Qualcomm QSD8250 SoC which also features support for NEON instructions. Unfortunately the current version of WP7 doesn’t have support for these SIMD functions but this is going to change in the coming months (only for XNA apps):

ARM processors support SIMD (Single Instructions Multiple Data) instructions through the ARM® NEON™technology that is available on ARMV7 ISA. SIMD allows parallelization/HW-acceleration of some operations and hence performance gains. Since the Windows Phone 7 chassis specification requires ARMV7-A; NEON is available by default on all WP7 devices. However, the CLR on Windows Phone 7 (NETCF) did not utilize this hardware functionality and hence it was not available to the managed application developers. We just announced in MIX11 that in the next version of Windows Phone release the NETCF runtime JIT will utilize SIMD capabilities on the phones.

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Pinball League for Windows Phone 7: Hands on Preview

Here’s an early preview/review of a yet-to-be release Windows Phone 7 game called Pinball League and developed by two developers in Greece:  Nikos Kastellanos and Tasos Rizopoulos who formed Tainicom. They are same guys who developed the funky Augmented Reality Accelerometer Dev Kit back when devices weren’t available. Anyway, Pinball League is actually their first Windows Phone 7 game and frankly it’s a pretty good start. The game renders everything in real-time 3D and is obviously developed in XNA . Everything runs relatively smoothly with only some occasional framerate hiccups when many sound files have to be loaded at the same time. I noticed that this was an issue with many WP7 games (Fruit Ninja for example suffers from the same thing when you do combos) so I don’t know if this is mainly an OS issue or not (the devs are working on finding a way to fix it though). Check out my the game in action after the break:

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Must have Windows Phone 7 applications

Instead of posting about the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace reaching the 10K mark I thought it would be a little more interesting if I compiled a list of some of my must have applications currently available and share with it you. Keep in mind that this list is made of applications that I personally find interesting, well developed and useful (well maybe not all of them..) so it’s bound to be missing a couple of other high regarded apps (I will probably make another post about the rest later on). Hit the break for the goodies and don’t forget to read my Windows Phone 7 review in case you missed it:

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I Dig It For Windows Phone 7 Hands On Review

Microsoft has just released another Xbox Live enabled game today called I Dig It. The game which is developed by InMotion Software was originally released a little bit more than a year ago on iOS (iPhone, iPod) and has now been successfully ported to Windows Phone 7. Thankfully there’s no performance issues at all (I just want games to give the option to run-under lock though..) and the only bug I encountered so far seems to be related to the virtual joystick used to control your digging machine; it doesn’t always send you player in the right direction. Anyway, just check out the video after the break to get a little glimpse of the game:

Continue reading I Dig It For Windows Phone 7 Hands On Review →

Enable Tethering on HTC Windows Phone 7 devices

As you have probably already noticed by now I usually only post about things that I personally think are worth talking about (that’s the beauty of having my own blog..) and this is why you won’t see me talk about every single homebrew Windows Phone 7 application popping up. Unless it’s something I think is really important like enabling tethering on HTC’s Windows Phone 7 devices. So if you have a developer unlocked device (you know..if you actually paid the $99) or if you just unlocked yours with the ChevronWP7 unlocker (which will definitely be rendered useless after the first OS Update) here is how to finally enable USB Tethering on an HTC Windows Phone 7 handsets:

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Amazon Kindle for Windows Phone 7 review

It was just a few days ago that I was wondering when was Amazon going to launch the Kindle application for Windows Phone 7 given that the original press release stated that it will be out in the Marketplace before the end of the year. Well, it is finally  out now and free for you to download on your Windows Phone 7 device. So just head over here and grad while it’s hot and check out my hands-on video after the break:

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New Samsung Omnia 7 Firmware Rom available and Samsung I7850 Omnia 8 coming soon ?

A new Samsung Omnia 7 ROM has just emerged a few minutes ago for all you brave souls who wish start the new year by doing something risky. There’s apparently two versions of it which are dated November 2010: I8700XENJK1: CS,DE,EN,FR,HU,IT,PL,SL and I8700BSEJK1 : EN,ET,LT,LV,RU,UK (AZ,BG,DE,FR,KA,KK,MK,RO,SR). No word yet on what is new in there or even if it is safe to flash them. But if you are in the mood just head over here to grab the files and the tools need to flash your device. BTW, according to the same website (which has a pretty good track record) there’s a Samsung I7850 (Omnia 8 ) Windows Phone 7 in the making and based on the model number I’m guessing that it will sport a hardware keyboard.

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OpenGL ES 2.0 benchmark: Adreno 205 vs SGX540 / HTC Desire HD vs Samsung Galaxy S

GLBenchmark 2.0 has finally been released to the public today nearly 2 years after being unveiled during MWC 2008. The opportunity was too good so I decided to run it on the HTC Desire HD and Samsung Galaxy S to compare the Qualcomm’s Adreno 205 vs the Power SGX540. I did a chart (posted below after the break) so you can compare the full detailed results of both handsets and not only the overall score. This is really important because only looking at the overall results is actually a bit misleading in this case. As you probably already know the PowerVR SGX540 is currently the fastest mobile GPU currently available in retail devices and so far nothing has come close to it (besides the Tegra 2 which is pumping out results close to the Galaxy Tab in OGLES 2.0) but Samsung is currently the only OEM shipping handsets featuring this GPU. The newest entrant is the Adreno 205 which is part of the latest MSM8255 and MSM7X30 chipset from Qualcomm and used in several HTC devices. The Adreno 205 is an updated / tweaked version of the Adreno 200 found in the original QSD8250 chipset. Anyway check out the results below:

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Google Maps 5 for Android with 3D buildings and new vector maps released: Hands-on Video

Google has just released Google Maps 5 for Android today. This new version is that one that was demonstrated by Andy Rubin last week on the prototype Motorola tablet running Android 3.0 / Honeycomb. The major new feature in this release is the inclusion of the new vectorized maps and the 3D buildings in certain cities. The user now has the ability to rotate the whole map using his two fingers and also tilt the whole view with another finger gesture. Performance on my Samsung Galaxy S was surprisingly good (compared to what we saw on the prototype tablet last week). This new version will also allow you to have offline navigation thanks to the new vector based maps. Check out my hands-on video after the break:

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Why did Google cripple the Google Nexus S ?

Sometimes I just can’t figure out why big companies (well mainly Microsoft lately) do stupid things. This week, it’s Google’s turn to take the cake with the Google Nexus S. As you probably already know, the Nexus S is nothing more than a Google branded Samsung Galaxy S with an added NFC chip and 16GB of on-board NAND flash memory. So what’s the big deal? Well the geniuses in Mountain View decided to strip the device from one of the Galaxy S’s best feature: 720P video capture (you can check out several Galaxy S HD samples and comparisons videos I shot in my YouTube Channel here). When the device’s specifications were first announced a few days ago I thought that maybe there was a typo and things were going to be corrected but unfortunately it turned out to be true and the Nexus S can only shoot videos at a max resolution of 720×480. Can anybody tell me why Google would do this? Seriously? The hardware can shoot 720P video with a 12Mbps bit-rate without breaking a sweat so what’s up with that? There’s nothing logical behind this decision. Everybody’s making a big fuss about the lack of micro-sd slot (so Google is now ”copying” Microsoft and Apple, right? ;) ) but strangely I’m not seeing  lot of drama about the crippling of the camera. All in all I don’t see why anybody should get a Nexus S instead of one of the Galaxy S variant currently on the market (besides the need for the currently useless NFC chip). I’m sure that Samsung will release an Android 2.3 rom later next year anyway (or you can count on xda-devs for that…).

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Get a perfect reading of your Samsung Omnia 7 and Samsung Focus battery life

I was playing around with the Samsung Omnia 7 (and Focus) Diagnosis mode this morning to find out some more information about the hardware but apparently missed something really interesting which was pointed out to me a few hours ago (thanks @anaadoul). You can actually get a perfect reading of your device’s battery life by entering the Battery Status sub-menu (*#2*#) and going to the second page (hit the arrow on the top right) and you should have a table full of info (pictured above). So what does all that mean? Well, turns out that everything is explain in the Windows CE 6.0 documentation available here. This can also be taken as a confirmation that Windows Phone 7 is CE 6 based I guess…

Continue reading Get a perfect reading of your Samsung Omnia 7 and Samsung Focus battery life →