Nokia

Nokia Lumia 930 Review

Thanks to Nokia Australia, I was given a new Nokia Lumia 930 to try out. It’s Nokia’s latest flagship Windows Phone running Windows Phone 8.1 straight out of the box, and it’s running on some pretty nice hardware. Here’s my thoughts on it: (also I have to give the phone back at the end of an 8 week trial, so I wonder if they’ll fall for the original phone box full of sand trick?)

For some history, I’ve used all of Nokia’s flagship WP8 devices being the Nokia Lumia 1520, 1020 and 920 (I think that’s all of them). So, how does the 930 compare to the previous models, and if you have one should you upgrade?

Screen

Skipping the Windows Phone 8.1 side of things (as I’ve talked about this previously), the 930 at first glance seems to be a pretty looking phone. The screen is 5″ 1080p which after trying the 4.5″ 1020 and the 6″ 1520, I think the 930 is the sweet spot for a smart phone display. It’s not so big that you have to wear pants with big pockets, and not so small that basic web browsing requires excessive amounts of pinching and zooming. The screen seems a bit glossier than others, I’ve noticed light reflections. It also has a bit of a curve near the borders which isn’t off putting when using the phone, but noticeable when the screen is off. The screen itself shows vibrant colours while seeming very clear to me.

One drawback of the 930 is that they’ve dropped Glance. This gave you simple information such as the time and your last email, even when the screen was in standby mode. It meant you could check to see if you had any messages without pressing anything, just a glance at the screen. According to WPCentral, this is because of the type of screen used on this particular model. I miss this feature, but really it just means I have to double tap the screen or press the screen unlock button to see what’s going on… not a deal breaker.

wp_ss_20140904_0001Screenshot of my 930 running WP8.1

Hardware

The Lumia 930 has 32GB of storage built in which should be enough for most people. It’s really snappy to respond, and going back to the 1020 I notice the difference. It’s powered by a Quad-core 2.2 GHz CPU with 2GB RAM.

Wireless charging is built into this model, which  the 1020 didn’t have (unless you bought a a cover that supported it). Not having wireless charging is something you miss once you’re used to it. If you haven’t used wireless charging before, just think about how many places you put your phone down – at work on your desk, next to your bed, in the car. If each of those places had a stand where you could just put your phone and it’s charging without any effort, you get used to that luxury. Taking away the stands and having to plug in a ‘right way’ USB connector into a tiny slot is tedious. First world problems I know, and I’m surprised myself how used to it I am. I had a brief encounter with a Samsung Galaxy S5 recently which reminded me of this.

One missing feature is a MicroSD slot, which has appeared on some Lumia phones while not on others. It would be nice if they just added it to all phones, but personally I don’t keep enough data on my mobile to need more than the inbuilt memory. Auto saving of photos to OneDrive means I can just get the photos from the cloud anyway (even though it logically pains me for my data to go via a long path around the world and back, just to move it 1 metre away).

Note that this phone takes Nano-SIM, while most other Lumias are Micro-SIM meaning you’ll need to swap SIM cards when you change over.

Camera

The Lumia 930 sports a 20mp camera, which is more than enough for a smartphone. Below I’ve zoomed in on a part of a bigger photo, and the zoomed in version looks of high quality. The original version is only 3mb in size.


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Cropped version

WP_20140831_15_43_01_ProOriginal Version

I’m not a camera enthusiast, and the Lumia 1020 was a bit of overkill for me. It’s good to have a point and shoot device that seems to take great photos, and doesn’t have the protruding lens that the 1020 is so well known for. The camera has a dual LED flash, which works great as a flashlight.

Nokia have built a bunch of apps to supplement the inbuilt WP8 experience, such as Lumia Storyteller which creates a video clip with music based on photos and videos you select, montage style and Lumia Cinemagraph which I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, allowing you to make wacky animated gifs based on a few seconds of video.

Cover

There’s only one official Nokia cover at the time of writing, which is the CP-637 Nokia Protective Cover. I tried one, and didn’t like it. It does what it should – protects, but it’s really bulky too. I don’t like having the flap over the front of the phone, and it won’t actually fit in the official CR-200 Nokia Wireless Charging Car Holder (link indicates there’s an updated version of it for the 1520, unsure if this makes a difference.. and why did the keep the same model number?) which lead me to order a cheap $6 cover off eBay – fits perfectly around the back of the phone and even came with a screen protector. I’d highly recommend a 3rd party one compared to the ~$40 official cover, unless you really want one in that style.

Other Bits

Colours – they’ve gone with the options of Bright orange, bright green, white and black. Mine’s black, but it’s good they’re giving options for the conservative approach as well as letting people use the phone as a safety device in case they get lost in the woods.

Charger – 1.5a output which is more than the standard 1a, maybe to decrease charging times?

OS Name – I’m a bit confused if I should be calling this a WP8 device, or a WP8.1 device. Still, anything that used to run WP8 can run WP8.1

Apps – WP8(.1?) still lacks apps, but less so – the gap is closing. Do you really care though? I don’t use that many apps, and there’s enough stuff in the Windows Store to keep me occupied. A free game that’s just come out is Tentacles: Enter the Mind which is an interesting platformy type game.

Should I Buy One?

If you’re on an older Windows Phone… maybe. If you want things to feel smoother and faster, or you’re running certain things that could do with more grunt, then sure. If you want a bigger screen but don’t want a giant 1520, yes, you’ll be happy. Otherwise, there’s no leaps and bounds in this phone vs the older Lumias. It’s better for sure, but maybe not worth paying hundreds of dollars for when you’ll still have a pretty good experience on the device you have.

If you’re on another device and looking for a change, the Lumia 930 is a reasonable time to jump. You’re probably going to miss all your apps, but are they mostly just timewasting apps anyway? You’ll find new ones. The hardware is solid, and the OS is creeping closer with features that I can’t think of anything glaringly omitted vs iOS and Android. Maybe you’ll like your old phone better though, or live in an Apple ecosystem where it’s going to be painful to have a non iOS mobile. I would be surprised if anyone would strongly dislike the WP8 experience, but the same can be said about iOS and Android. You’ll just need to decide for yourself!

Nokia Lumia 1520 Review

Nokia’s shot at the growing phablet market.

On the 11th December 2013, Nokia released its latest Windows Phone in the Lumia range – the 1520.

Following up from the Lumia 1020 with its flagship 41 megapixel camera, Nokia went for a different extreme on the 1520 with a 6 inch display.

Other impressive specifications include a full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution on the giant display, a 20 megapixel camera (which is still better than most other smartphones on the market), a quad-core processor, and finally a 3400mAh battery. That beefy battery is supposed to provide 32 days standby time, and my heavier real-world use averaged 2 to 3 days between charges.

Software-wise, this is the first phone to run Nokia’s “Black” update which will end up being available to all Lumias, so that’s no reason to consider this particular phone. The hardware is what makes it or breaks it, so that’s what this review will focus on.

 

wp_ss_20131227_0001Lumia Black

Good

Weight wise, it’s not a light phone at 209g. It is much heavier than an iPhone 5S at 115g or a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 at 168g, but I don’t consider it too heavy.

The screen is the number one reason I’d recommend this phone. The amount of real estate you get will make you reconsider using a laptop to do lighter tasks, and the large number of tiles you can fit on a single screen means you can glance at your phone and see everything you need to know.

 

wp_ss_20131224_0001The home screen fits a crazy amount of fully customisable tiles.

The long battery life means that you’re much less worried about charging your phone at every chance you get, which is a refreshing change from most other smartphones.

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“Battery” app – free from Enless Soft

 

Bad

There is only one official case for the 1520, and that’s the CP-623. It’s the standard ‘clip on the corners’ cover that most other Lumias have available, but with an added protective flap. The flap doubles as a stand, but it’s not stable enough to actually use the phone while in stand mode. It can only be stood sideways, and many things don’t actually rotate sideways (like the all-important home screen) so it has very limited functionality.

Other accessories like official charging stands and car chargers don’t fit this gargantuan particularly well either. They do work, but it’s a bit of a balancing act to put the 1520 on a charging stand, and a very tight squeeze to fit in the car charger when the official case is attached too.

Other

I’m still not sure if the size of this device is a good or a bad thing, and that should come down to individual taste. When I first held it, I thought it’d be too big. Initially it felt a bit weird both sitting in my pocket as well as just holding it, but after a week or so I’m now used to it. I came from a Nokia Lumia 1020 which is still a decent 4.5″ screen, but this phone does take some getting used to.  You’re going to need a large pocket to carry it around.

Summary

The Nokia Lumia 1520 is a solid phone. It’s faster than any other Lumia before it, with the best battery life and screen so far in the Lumia range. Once you get used to its size, it may end up being your default ‘go-to’ device for most basic tasks, as it’s already in your pocket (or half sticking out of it). I’m already worried how I’d go back to a smaller phone, and that’s a good sign.

Nokia Lumia 1520 Quick Review

As I’m doing a fuller review elsewhere, I’ll keep this one brief.

Nokia brought out the Lumia 1520 earlier this month, so I grabbed one. Details on the phone are at Nokia’s site here: http://www.nokia.com/au-en/phones/phone/lumia1520/

Here’s the basic specs taken from that site:

  • Display

    • Display size: 6 ”
    • Display technology: ClearBlack, IPS LCD
    • Display resolution: Full HD (1920 x 1080)
    • Touch screen technology: Super sensitive touch
  • Photography

    • Primary camera sensor size: 20 MP, PureView
    • Camera Flash Type: Dual-LED Flash
  • Power management

    • Maximum 2G talk time: 27.4 h
    • Maximum 3G talk time: 25.1 h
    • Maximum music playback time: 124 h
  • Processor

    • Processor name: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 800
    • Processor type: Quad-core 2.2 GHz

I’ve been using the Nokia Lumia 1520 for a little while now, and it’s grown on me.

I’d been using the Nokia Lumia 1020 before this, and wrote about it here: https://www.adamfowlerit.com/2013/10/04/nokia-lumia-1020-whinge/

Yes I had a bad start, but after getting a faultless phone it was a good experience.

I’m happy to say that I’ve had no such issues with the 1520 – the first one I got just worked which was a huge relief.

I do have one concern though, and I don’t think the Windows Phone 8 OS is properly calibrated to the size and resolution of this large phone yet. I have had multiple issues of typing and double pressing letters – which I’ve had someone else using my phone also do. Also, when scrolling around sometimes it takes it as a press on an item rather than a swipe to scroll. Maybe it’s just the way we’re doing it which is wrong, or maybe it’s been designed around smaller screens and resolutions. Either way, we’ll see if I do get used to it or an update from Microsoft or Nokia fixes it.

It’s a very large phone and does take some getting used to, but two points I’ll raise:

1. My wife disliked the Nokia Lumia 1020 as she wasn’t used to the OS and found it confusing. After handing her the 1520 she liked it – same OS (OK, almost the same, slightly different versions – Lumia Amber and Lumia Black) but the screen size made her immediately like the phone. I was suprised.

2. I briefly tried to type a message on a Samsung Galaxy S3 I was setting up, and thought ‘wow the keyboard keys are small’. Shows how quickly you can get used to a new normal, and it does worry me that I’ll now be stuck on giant phones due to this :)

Oh, the battery life is awesome on this phone too but makes me run it all the way down, as I don’t plug it in every night!

Anyway I’m overall quite happy with the phone, and look out for my ‘proper’ review soon :)

Nokia Lumia 1020 Whinge

Hi,

This post is not about how amazing the 41 megapixel camera is on the Nokia Lumia 1020 (because it is), it’s about my personal experience in actually using the phone, and some of the pain that followed.

Firstly, it’s always cool to get the new toy, and open it. This doesn’t mean it needs to be filmed – as a kid, how much fun was it to go to someone else’s birthday party and watch them open all their presents and be really excited? Yeah.

So, this wasn’t my first Windows Phone 8 device either, as I’d previously had a Lumia 920. A rather hefty phone that could most likely stop a bullet, but had an issue with the speaker that made people talking sound like they had a sock in their mouth. Annoyingly I had to send it back to my carrier, who sent it back still faulty, then sent it straight to Nokia to finally have it fixed about 3 weeks from the start. These things happen, I had no major issues after that.

The Lumia 1020 however, has been a different story. At first it seemed fine, although I couldn’t register my Microsoft account as part of the setup process because it couldn’t connect to the internet. I skipped that, and then connected it to wifi to be able to do so. I then took it home, and it seemed to be functioning fine. Simple so far…

Then, while I was out I just wanted to Google something (sorry about that Bing). I couldn’t, it had no internet connection again. I was showing 4G and had great signal, so what was going on? I tried rebooting but that didn’t help. I gave up for that night.

At home again, it’s working fine – so I ignore that issue for the time being. Instead, I go through the process of connecting the Bluetooth to my car (inbuilt bluetooth of a Hyundai ix35, or a Tuscan overseas). That seemed to work, but then 10 minutes later it would just drop off and reconnect. A bit annoying. Then, next time I get into my car it wouldn’t connect at all. I had the brainwave of turning bluetooth off and back on again on the Lumia, but pressing the ‘off’ switch seemed to take several minutes. I rebooted the phone after waiting that long, and then bluetooth could be turned on again. Turning it back on then seemed to let the phone and car start talking again. Getting weird…

This bluetooth problem happens about every second time I get in the car. I’d previously used a Samsung Galaxy S3 without issue for over a year, so I knew it wasn’t the car at fault generally (although it may have just not liked something about how the Lumia was doing bluetooth). Every time I’d try and turn off bluetooth it would never let me turn it back on, and just rebooting the phone without turning bluetooth off first seemed hit and miss.

At this stage, I’m getting annoyed. I reach out to Nokia via twitter, and pretty much get told to check the car supports it, after telling them that the 920 is supported as per their website.

I’m now waiting to hear back from Hyundai about this.

While this is going on, I then get back to work and my internet connection has stopped working from the phone. I realise it must be to do with 4G, so force the phone to go back to 3G and things start working. Getting onto my carrier, they say they’ll trigger off the carrier settings to make 4G work. My phone reboots, I figure what they did must have caused that to happen. 4G starts working so I’m happy… until a few days later, where the internet connection fails for 3G. I reboot the phone to fix that issue.

In the meantime, the phone itself has started to reboot randomly, roughly once a day on average. Sometimes I’ll take it out of my pocket or just look over at my phone and see the lovely startup screen:

clipboard3d1

 

Other times the phone will just freeze during operation, and I’ll have to hard reset it by holding down the power button and volume down button to get some life into it.

I decide to call Nokia Care Australia to see what they have to say about all this. This is where I am now, at the time of writing. I list off all the issues, and the first suggestion from their support is that maybe I have too many apps running.

I’m somewhat surprised by that statement, and they say to hold down the arrow button and go back to get rid of any open apps. I told her that wouldn’t explain all the other issues I’m having – so she then says to reset the phone to factory settings.

I go through that fun process but after going through it 4G doesn’t work again. The next gem of information given to me is the explanation that it’s a coverage issue, and I must be in an area that doesn’t have 4G. I tell her that I am because I have other devices on 4G next to me working fine through the same carrier, but also that the only reason the phone will display 4G up the top is if it has 4G signal. She disagrees, is still sure that it’s just the setting enabled and continues to say it’s a carrier issue in her broken English explanation. I ask why it goes back to 3G when I go home without me changing any settings. She isn’t sure, but still ‘knows’ it’s to do with the coverage.

Annoyed, I give up asking about it and get the phone functional on 3G. She then tells me if there’s any issue to call back, and hangs up the phone.

Now I’m rebuilding the phone, and finding out the tedious way to re-download your apps is via this method.

TL;DR version of the phone’s issues:

  • Random phone reboots
  • Random phone freezes
  • Random bluetooth dropouts
  • Bluetooth freezing when being turned off
  • 4G data not working
  • 3G/4G data not working until phone reboot

Anyway – this is my experience with a single Nokia Lumia 1020. Maybe it’s faulty, maybe the factory reset will fix it. Yes it’s a whinge, but it’s been a frustrating process to go through. Plus this is a blog about my experiences :) If you’ve had a similar or different experience, I’d love to know.

 

Update 10/10/2013: Phone was still rebooting randomly, freezing, mobile data fails and dropping bluetooth. Called the carrier who very quickly organised a replacement phone to be sent out (after first convincing them it was still under warranty, and then convincing them that it’s < 30 days so should be a swapout rather than a repair job). New phone arrived the next day…

New phone had the 4G issue, which I got back onto the carrier. My sim card needed to be swapped over, which then completely fixed the 4G issue. Thought all was well, but after trying to wireless charge with the wireless backplate fitted, nothing happened. Tried 3 different wireless charging stands and no luck, but don’t have a spare wireless backplate to test. It worked perfectly on the last phone though.

Called carrier again, they’re now organising for a 3rd replacement handset to be sent out. 3rd time lucky?

 

Update 15/10/2013: 3rd phone arrived a few days ago, and it’s been perfect. Wireless charging works. 3G/4G is fine. Not a single unexpected reboot or freeze. Bluetooth hasn’t dropped out at all. I’m calling it as being faultless! An extra note for at least those in Australia – if it’s less than 30 days and you find your phone faulty, ring the carrier you got it from and ask for a replacement rather than a repair. They may offer the repair, but should do an instant swap if you ask. Otherwise, a repair can take weeks.

3rd time IS lucky!

 

Cinemagraph by Nokia, Waving Idiot.

Hi,

One of the cooler things the Nokia Lumia 920 can do, which I mentioned previously was making an animated gif from 5 seconds of video. Once taken, you can then choose to animate just part of the picture. The results are often creepy, as demonstrated by me here (click the picture to load the animated gif):

 

73a64f7a-9a3f-4a04-808f-11b5ebcd341c

If you’re someone with a keen eye for detail, you’ll notice I have the ‘rare’ grey Lumia 920 (wow) and wearing a Farmers Union Iced Coffee T-Shirt. With the tens of people that will see this post, I am hoping for sponsorship of a daily FUIC from National Foods.

As may be obvious, the phone came back from repairs. Nothing’s changed sadly, I think there’s something wrong with the audio levels of the ear speaker – if I turn it down to 1/10 volume, it’s still loud and clear. Any higher and voices become muffled. I’ll see how this goes.

At this stage, I’m still missing a lot of the functionality the Samsung Galaxy S III has, such as being able to navigate network shares and stream media. I’m hoping more useful apps will launch soon. Games wise, it’s still a pretty sad state in the Windows store too.

A Brief History Of My Nokia Lumia 920

Hi,

I don’t know where I was going with that title. Approximately three weeks ago, I received a Nokia Lumia 920 to try. My first Windows 8 Phone experience. It was grey, and not by choice – it was the only colour they had available. Still, it looked decent. Coming from using the Samsung Galaxy S III for the last several months, the first things I noticed was the extra weight and thickness of the Lumia. It’s also quite solid, it’s the phone that socks should be filled with if you were robbing a convenience store.

Fast forward a few days and I’ve sent the phone back to the carrier. What? Yes, close that open mouth and share my disappointment with the ear speaker being faulty. Some calls were OK, others sounded really muffled. The actual primary use of a mobile phone was faulty out of the box. I’m now waiting for it to be returned, and back on the Samsung Galaxy S III. I hate to say it, but I like it better.

The few days in between the two above events contained a lot of mucking around on the Lumia. The front screen with the tiles, I really like. At a glance of the screen you’ll see if you have messages, emails, or many other indicators as you deem fit. It’s nicer than Windows Phone 7.5 due to the 1/4 tile option, meaning you can fit a lot more on there without needing to scroll up and down.

The sub menu, which lists all your apps is OK. I’d rather have a screen of icons to swipe through, rather than swipe down a single list. I want lots of information at once! Nothing terrible there though.

Lying in bed, I noticed that the screen changed it’s orientation. As I would have done on the Galaxy, I looked for the option to turn orientation off and on. It doesn’t exist. After some research and complaining on twitter, I found out that the native experience doesn’t have the option, and each app controls it individually. That’s rather disappointing.

OK, so after playing with a bunch of settings (much less than I would of liked – on par with an older version of iOS and way behind Android) it was time to look at some apps. Most apps have a trial which is great, but the quality of the apps currently is rather poor. Both iOS and Android went through this, so it will get better – but coming from either of these devices, you will be disappointed.

A podcast app – surely something that’s easy to find. Several exist, but they’re incredibly basic. Subscribing to podcasts and have apps automatically download is not possible, which is crazy. Some developers have told me this is due to limitations with Windows 8 Phone not allowing background downloads unless very limited requirements are met. There is a native podcast functionality, but not enabled in most countries including Australia.

The official Twitter app is also poor in comparison to iOS and Android versions. You can’t see as much, and there’s not much customisation. That’s really my biggest complaint – customisation. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like iOS for my personal use, I don’t like being restricted. In saying that, Windows 8 Phone I can see working really well in a corporate environment. It’s basic, does a lot, and manageable.

Back to the Nokia Lumia side of things, there’s some extras you get vs other Windows 8 Phones. The most well known are Nokia Maps, which is awesome navigation software, and the high quality camera. I played with the camera and it really does take great pictures. One of the cool features is called Cinemagraph which will make an animated GIF from 5 seconds of video. The cool thing you can do with this is easily animate just part of the picture. Having someone perfectly still, but their hand waving is a creepy thing to see. I also found the autocorrect to be much more accurate than Android.

So, I will give the Lumia a second chance when it comes back with it’s high quality screen, but I’ll also feel crippled. It might be a different transition for someone using iOS and not fussed about many apps, but as it is now there’s more negatives than positives moving from Android. In a few months with some updates from Microsoft, and some more apps from developers, I’m hoping it’s a much closer choice.