Tag: n86 8mp

Nokia’s Next Phones and Operating System (Phones)

Posted by – June 25, 2010

Nokia N8
With the imminent release of the Nokia N8 and the new operating system Symbian ^3 – what sort of problems could Nokia fix and improve upon? Or rather what am I hoping they will resolve or implement in their next OS / Phones?

– RSS feed widget on home screen (ala The Sony C905 from Oct 2008) – Comfirmed in this video.
– Improved UI Design / Icons – read somewhere that Nokia were planning on a refresh before actual release?
– Improved Web Browser – the built in Symbian web browser has been poor for a long time – it needs to support email subject definition in email mailto links (it doesn’t understand the ? option).
– Improved sharing features – ie. Photo share to Twitter, FB, Blogger, not just OVI
– Built in Twitter client and home screen widget
– Improved battery life or sleep mode(s) – using the phones features often drains the battery too quickly.
– Have a screen that works outside even when battery is low (what’s the point in the light sensor if it doesn’t do anything?)
– PC software needs fixing – why are there separate apps for Nokia Maps loader, Nokia Ovi Suite, Nokia Software Updater, etc, why can’t these all be combined into one?
– Lots of memory (RAM) for multi-tasking, the Nokia N97 has 256mb* but only 73mb was available, the Nokia N97 Mini has 512mb with 277mb available to the user*, and the Nokia N8 has 256mb, but will it be enough?

Whilst the imaging options (filters – vignette, colour filters) look greatly improved (based on Mobile-Review’s look at the new OS), in the built in photo editor, it would be nice to see the same sort of Apps as Android and iPhone devices have – Photoshop for Symbian anyone?

The MP3 playback on the N86 is very good (much better than the Satio) and features stereo speakers which are useful for video playback – and it would be nice if this level of quality should continue (Unfortunately it looks like the Nokia N8 only has 1 speaker).

However, whether Nokia fans will continue to be faithful is another matter. Will they wait for the Nokia N8 to arrive even when numerous Android phones and the new iPhone4 are already available, and then if they do use the N8, will it be enough to encourage them to wait for Symbian ^4? Even as a Nokia “fan” I don’t know how much longer I will remain “faithful” to Nokia. Especially as the Android onslaught continues…

* Source: Wikipedia.

Review: The Nokia N86 8mp Camera Phone – Re-visited (Phones)

Posted by – December 29, 2009

Previously I was particularly scathing of the Nokia N86 8mp Camera Phone – but perhaps, after experiencing the touchscreen Sony Satio, and updating the firmware of the Nokia N86 – my experience using the phone has been a little more pleasant, and it seemed about time to post my re-evaluation of the phone.


Most of the issues originally reported still exist (and pretty much all of them are still relevant), but being aware of the limitations has let me work round most, sorry, some of the issues (and ignore or avoid the rest), until I can get a “real” smartphone (see Android phones), and finding 3rd party apps has certainly helped.

First of all you’ll need to install Opera Mini (version 5 Beta 2 works very well*) as the built in web browser is pretty rubbish, and data hungry. Another good app is J1CK.Tweet which is a simple and easy to use twitter app, with a decent number of features, such as letting you take photos and post them on twitter / twitpic (and then onwards to facebook if you use the facebook selective twitter app and #fb). See what I mean about needing to find a work-around or two?

You can also use Opera Mini for RSS feeds – but I haven’t found an app for this problem yet. (The built in RSS feed reader hides inside the built in web browser).

ISO100

The built in Sat-Nav software is still pretty annoying, and limited to 10 days of use. One feature you can use is the walking mode – and as long as you don’t drive over ~29mph – you can still use this as a handy navigation system when stuck with no other solution. (The N86’s built in Sat-Nav software is by Nokia, and called Nokia Maps – and is noticeably better than the Sony Satio’s bundled navigation software: “WisePilot” – when I first used it, it only had four locations available: Sweden, Germany, plus two other European countries, which were not much use when I was in the north of England!)

ISO100

There is still no facebook integration built in apart from the “Facebook app” – which is basically a shortcut to the website, and an icon. It uses the built in web browser, and the web browser still doesn’t accept email addresses with the subject defined after a ‘?’ question mark. You can get round this by adding an email account to the phone, and adding your facebook mobile email address to your contacts, or by using a 3rd party twitter app (see above). But it’s hardly elegant or particularly easy.

ISO100

Running too many programs at once is an issue – and by too many – I mean about 4 or 5 apps. Load up Opera Mini, Web Browser, Email, Music Player, etc and then try sending a text message to someone – and the phone will freeze, unable to open the text message page, and will give no error message, just an empty screen. You can go to each application and quit them one by one, but sometimes it’s just quicker and easier to switch the phone off and on again.

Battery life is still awful. The only solution to this is to carry a USB cable with you at all times so that you can charge it when you’re in front of a computer. If you’re staying anywhere overnight, you will need to take the wall charger, battery life is around 1 or 2 days. If you actually use it, the battery life is appalling.

ISO123

The battery life can noticeably affect the visibility of the screen in bright light – so it’s important to keep the phone charged at all times. The screen does look very good – the colours are very bright, the screen is clear and crisp, assuming the battery is fully charged – and the sun isn’t out. Although the screen does seem to scratch very easily.

ISO132 – Keep Off The Rocks” How about “No large notices?”

Since the last issue with ovi.com and their on-line services I’ve avoided them completely. However I’ve had to use the OVI desktop software – this is a big huge mess of an installation – centering around “Nokia Ovi Suite”. The most useful feature of this is the ability to plug in your phone and use it’s internet connection when yours is down, but the Sony Satio version of the software is much better, simpler to install and use, and gives you more useful information when connected to the internet. (The Sony Satio software is also easier to install, being cleverly stored on the phone, so that you can install it where-ever you take the phone, instead of the Nokia software coming on CD, or needing to be downloaded).

ISO107

The camera uses an LED flash, which despite Nokia’s claims of excellent low-light performance thanks
to the f2.4 aperture lens, just isn’t adequate for indoor shots of people. It simply isn’t bright enough when compared to cameras with a real flash (see DigiCamReview.com or the Sony Satio) and photos of people with any movement will come out blurry (see the examples below, these are fairly typical of the results you’ll get indoors). In fact it’s so bad that one nights photos with the Nokia N86 8mp were completely unusable – I took about 12 shots with the camera with flash, they were nearly all blurry, with poor colour, featured lots of red-eye, and were not even decent enough to put on Facebook (with it’s lower than VGA photo requirements). In comparison the same number of shots taken with the Sony Satio on the same night all came out well due to the Sony’s Xenon flash.

ISO100

Photos outside, in good light, can be pretty good. By pretty good, I mean good for a camera phone (see the examples shown – these are some of the better photos taken with the camera). I still think even the cheapest branded digital camera from Kodak (see below), Fuji, etc would be better than the Nokia N86. The macro mode is fairly good, but often the photos look a little washed out (lens flare?), and the camera is very sensitive to any dirt on the lens. Photos are still overly compressed and end up on average between 590kb and 1.9mb which is quite small for an 8mp camera (averaging around ~1.2mb).

Overall – this camera phone is pretty rubbish – but “acceptable” as a phone as long as you don’t expect too much of it. Don’t expect it to do RSS feeds properly or well (it needs a dedicated app for this), don’t expect it to do Facebook properly or well (ditto), and don’t expect it to do Twitter at all unless you get a 3rd party app. Most of all, don’t expect it to be a decent camera, simply because it can’t take decent photos indoors. The twin-LED flash solution, is just not good enough, and if you want a camera on your phone then you will need to get the Sony Satio with a real flash, or better yet, just get a cheap digital camera, such as the Kodak Easyshare C140 for £49 – it had a real 3x optical zoom lens, and a real flash!

After three months of use I’ve grown to accept the phone’s limitations – and grown to appreciate it’s design – I like the buttons, the sliding design, and compact size. It’s easy to text and phone people*, and the camera is acceptable in good weather**. But saying that, a dedicated digital camera is always going to be better, thanks to a real flash and better image quality – the images from the Nokia look over processed, and the colour seems poor generally. The phone works fairly well on the internet (better with Opera Mini) and is a decent enough phone if you don’t want to switch over to a touch screen, are a fan of Nokia, and you don’t expect too much from it. However, saying all this, it’s still pretty rubbish, and should have been, and could have been much better!

Pros:
Uses the new Micro USB connection which is now the world-wide standard for all mobile phones! Hooray!
The kickstand is quite useful for video watching (iplayer etc)
Uses the standard 3.5mm stereo jack
Wide angle 28mm AF lens

Cons:
Satnav limited to 10 days navigation.
LED Flash (no substitute for a real flash) – doesn’t light subject well, but does create red-eye
Poor value for money (especially when new, as with most new contract mobile phones – £238 sim free)

* apart from the crashes obviously.
** assuming you don’t have a real digital camera with you.

Tested with software version 20.115.229.01, 21-09-2009. Face detection was added with the firmware update.

The Nokia N86 8mp Camera Phone and Ovi.com (Phones)

Posted by – September 2, 2009


So once upon a time, when mobile phones were just that, mobile phones, they would come fresh out of their packet, and just work. They were simple, made phone calls, and worked, and that was GREAT! Now, however, they are multimedia computers with the photographic capabilities of a budget 8mp camera, wifi connecting, youtube streaming, iplaying, facebooking, emailing, fm radio, gps tracking, interneting wonder machines, all promising to keep you 24/7 connected to your new internet life…

However, the simple fact of the matter is that they fail. Badly.

The Nokia N86 8mp is case in point – here’s where it fails:

– It offers an 8 megapixel camera, but has an awful LED flash
– If offers email connectivity that works, but wont successfully click an email link with the subject defined as a ? and therefore Facebook Mobile Photo Upload does not work
– If offers a web browser, which features a built in RSS reader as a hidden away menu item, and doesn’t let you put your RSS feeds on the home page
– If comes with satnav software that can only be used for 10 days – would you buy TomTom if it only worked for 10 days?? So why do mobile phone companies get away with demo functionality? It also tells you to turn right anytime it looses GPS signal!
– It offers it’s own photo hosting connectivity, and will let you upload to Ovi (by Nokia), Vox (who?) and Flickr, or email, but does not include built in Facebook support.
– It has a pretty user interface and multi-tasking applications that can run in the background, but they then stay in the background until eventually crashing the phone until you manually exit each program individually, rather than just quiting when you exit.
– It provides links to useful programs as downloads, such as a flashlight program, that sensibly uses the screen as a torch, that is free for a number of days, but when you download it and install it, it then updates itself and tells you that you have to pay to use the program. Even though the program should be included free with the phone as standard.
– The phone likes to go into power saving mode when it has 2 bars of battery life left, when it does this, the screen brightness is set to minimum, and can’t be adjusted, and then when you go outside into the sunlight, YOU CAN NOT SEE THE SCREEN!
Update: Note scratches on the glass under the lens cover – this is caused by the LENS COVER! Normally lens covers are supposed to stop the lens from being scratched, apparently this is the fixed version which only scratches AROUND the lens photo taking area, which is better I suppose than the N97 that scratches where the photos are taken!

…and this one deserves it’s own section because it’s so unbelievably flawed:

ovi.com (by nokia)

The phone can sync with Nokia’s Ovi.com website over the internet, so that you can apparently backup your contacts to the internet, however, as I have experienced, after it’s backed them up to the internet, it:

– Somehow removes all the phone numbers from the phone, leaving just the names.
– So you think, that’s okay, I’ll just restore from ovi.com to the phone
– You sync the phone, and then it removes all the names from ovi.com, leaving just the numbers on the website, and all the contacts on the phone have been named “Unnamed” and have no number:

And then you’re stuck with 220 phone numbers on ovi.com and no idea whose number belongs to who… and 220 entries on your phone, all called “unknown” – it simply should NOT be possible for a BACKUP service to DELETE all the DATA from the phone and itself! Backup systems are meant to be about copying data, NOT DELETING DATA! (unless of course ovi was designed specifically to “hunt down data from across the internet and try to kill it“)

And if that wasn’t enough of a pain in the arse (particularly when ovi.com was supposed to be a backup of your contacts, rather than deleting them!) ovi then doesn’t work when trying to invite friends and contacts, and provides completely different functionality when you have a different phone, for example the Nokia N97, which can send requests out, that simply don’t work if you have a different phone.

To summarise: Basically, if you’re going to make a phone, that connects to everything, please make sure that:

1) your bundled applications work (facebook mobile uploads),
2) standard internet technologies are supported WELL for example with a seperate fully functioning RSS reader that can be viewed on the home screen like it’s email,
3) that your biggest selling feature such as an 8mp camera has the expected supporting features needed to make a decent camera, such as a real flash,
4) include REAL satnav features that works for as long as you own the phone,
5) include expected software for free (flashlight tool), and don’t update it to disable the expected demo!
6) support multiple upload services INCLUDING facebook, not just your own dumb ovi.com photo hosting service
7) this is KEY: provide sync / backup software that NEVER EVER deletes data from the phone or the backup, but instead, you know, backs up the data!
8) once again support internet standards such as ? defining the subject of an email!
9) Make an operating system that doesn’t crash because there are too many programs open, because the OS doesn’t shut them down automatically!
10) Make a screen THAT WORKS OUTSIDE (even when the battery is low!!), mobile phones are meant to be MOBILE, they are not just for use indoors!
11) Standardise expected functions, such as copy and paste, so that you can copy from one part of the phone (ie text messages) into another part of the phone (ie web broswer or other apps)
12) Standardise what buttons do when using different programs, if the C key is the backspace key when writing texts, then why doesn’t it do the same when typing something into the web browser? Instead it quits the web browser and everything you were doing! (This can be switched off, but for some reason may revert back to default settings)
13) New: Make a lens cover that, DOESN’T scratch ANY PART of the lens!

The list could go on, but it just goes to show that these products are being released with serious flaws and faults that anyone can experience and come across without even trying. You come to expect everything to work straight out of the box like in the olden days, and when it doesn’t, you’re left wondering whether anyone at Nokia actually tested this phone in real life, outside the perfectly functioning office, you know, perhaps outside in the real world?

It’s as though they printed a list of 20+ features, except that 50% of them have a small * (star) next to them with legal print at the bottom in tiny tiny writing that goes on to explain “these features may or may not be fully functioning and may not provide expected features or functionality”. Except they then forgot to print the disclaimer on the website / packaging and marketing material.

Lens Unit PCB

Update: The Nokia N86 comes with 8GB of memo
ry built in, which is great for putting your MP3s on (assuming you keep them all on your PC as well), but not so great when you’ve taken 500 photos, and then the phone dies and is irrepairable. As you’ll have just lost all of your photos. To avoid this it’s worth buying a seperate memory card for the phone, even if it does cost you money (thankfully there is a memory slot, unlike some other phones!).

More links: Nokia N97 Reviewed by Gizmodo, Dumb phones must die (Gizmodo).