The Nokia Lumia 925 is Nokia’s current flagship mobile phone, and features a Pureview camera, with an 8.7 megapixel BSI sensor, optical image stabilisation, a Carl Zeiss lens, twin LED flash, and more. The screen is a 4.5inch AMOLED touch screen, with 1280×768 resolution, and is very clear, bright, and colourful. Above is the Windows Phone home screen, with “tiles” and below is the screen saver / lock screen which has used one of my photos as the image (taken with a different camera).
Recent events have led me to use both Nokia’s latest phone and operating systems (Symbian on the Nokia PureView 808), as well as Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 operating system on the Nokia Lumia 920.
As most people tend to have the same uses for mobile phones, such as twitter, camera, torch, music, etc, I thought it would be useful to put together a list of the “must have” apps for the platforms, and show what the most similar apps are on both platforms. If you want to add the Apple versions, please get in touch, or leave it in the comments, and I’ll add to this list. For android versions, have a look at this list.
|Must have app||Nokia Version||Windows Phone Version|
|Barcode (QRcode) scanner||UPCode||Barcode Wallet (scanner and storage) / Scan|
|Last.fm Scrobbler*||Mobbler||Last.fm App|
|Twitter client||Gravity (£8 – Well worth the money)||Twitter / Seesmic|
|Torch App||QTorch||Flashlight with LED / Flashlight XT|
|Spirit Level||Level Touch||Another Level / Level|
|Battery Meter||Nokia Battery Monitor (Ovi)||Battery Level (suprisingly not built in!)|
|Panoramic Photo||Nokia Panorama (N8 – unlimited shots?)||Ztitch+ / Panorama (Nokia)
|Photo Editor||Nokia Photo Editor (Built in)||Creative Studio (by Nokia for Lumia)|
|Phone Tracker||Phonelocator Periodic||Find my phone – built in, in settings|
|Screenshot||“Best ScreenSnap 2.0” (link, or here)||Built in (WP8) Press power and windows key together|
|Navigation||Nokia Maps (Built in)||Nokia Maps (Built in)|
|Navigation Customisation||Own Voice (record your own voice)||…|
|WIFI Internet Sharing||JoikuSpot||Tethering / Portable Hotspot (Built in, settings, internet sharing)|
|Location information||Here and Now (Built in)||TripAdvisor (included)|
|Location aware profiles||Nokia Situation (betalabs)||…|
|Camera based location info||Nokia Point and Find (betalabs)||Nokia City Lens|
|Task Management||Task Manager (Built in, S^3)||…|
|GPS Based Sports Tracking||Nokia Sports Tracker||Runtastic / Endomondo Sports Tracker|
|Podcast Support||Built into Music Player / Podcatcher (link)||Built into the store|
|Alt. Music Players||TuneWiki (link)||Nokia Music, Last.fm, TuneWiki|
* Can replace this with Spotify if you have an account as Spotify is available for both. Shazam / Soundhound is also recommended.
Recommended Nokia Lumia Photo apps: PhotoBeamer, CinemaGraph, SmartShoot
3rd Party Photo apps: Lomogram, Fantasia Painter Free,
eReader: Nokia Lumia: Nokia Reading, Amazon Kindle. Weather: Weather (by The Weather Channel)
Transport stuff: thetrainline.com (both), Tube Map (WP)
DigiCamReview has reviewed the 12 megapixel Nokia N8 after using it for 18 months, while ePHOTOzine has reviewed the 41 megapixel Nokia PureView 808. Both camera phones run Symbian, and feature Carl Zeiss lenses, and Xenon flash – which helps massively in low light situations. Here’s what ePHOTOzine had to say about the 41 megapixel Nokia PureView 808:
“Looking at the detail resolved in these images, it shows more detail than 24 megapixel APS-C Digital SLRs, and provides very similar levels of detail to the 36 megapixel Nikon D800, albeit with more noise visible in the image.”
The Nokia PureView 808 has a neat timelapse feature built into the camera. Some people call it interval-shooting, but it’s pretty much the same thing, you can choose how many photos you want to take from 2 to 1500, set the interval from every 5 seconds to 30 minutes, and you can even shoot at full resolution! Here’s a quick timelapse I took with the camera set to 5 megapixels and 10 second interval (I think 5sec or 8sec would make a smoother video), and I simply put the images into Windows Live Movie Maker (free download for Windows XP/7 etc), set the duration of each frame to 0.05, and saved the video. This is using around 660 images, 4:3 aspect, although next time I think I’ll try 16:9 so it fits into a video better. It shows 9.42 to 11.32, so just under 2 hours in 33 seconds. The clever thing is with the Nokia, is that it comes with a charger, so you could theoretically plug the phone into the charger, set it up on a tripod or other location, and keep shooting until you run out of memory in the phone – it has 16GB built in put you can also stick in a MicroSD card for another 32GB (a 16GB card can be bought for around £7).
ePHOTOzine has published sample photos from the new 41 megapixel Nokia PureView 808 – Nokia’s flagship cameraphone, it features a Carl Zeiss f/2.4 equivalent to 26mm when taking 16:9 photos or 28mm when shooting 4:3 aspect photos. The phone features a 4inch touch screen, 16GB of memory, HDMI out, ISO50 to ISO1600, and lossless zoom, for example you can use 3x zoom when in the 5 megapixel mode, or 4x zoom when recording full HD videos. AllAboutSymbian has published their first impressions, including comment on where it fits in with regards to Symbian and the transition from Symbian to Windows by Nokia.
Previously touched on, but worth a more detailed look in my opinion. They provide a good amount of sound isolation, blocking out background noise, whilst also keeping the noise in, therefore making them useful for crowded situations as they are less likely to disturb anyone nearby. They’re also much cheaper than typical sound canceling headphones (that normally cost upwards of £65). Although, the cost also means there do seem to be some occasional quality issues, anyway, lets dive in with some of the cheapest…
These four aspects seem to be important when buying and using in-ear earphones: Sound quality, Build quality, fitment, and price, so I’ll rate each based on this, and then give a total score.
Creative Labs EP-630 (Best Overall Value) – from £8 – £12 from Amazon UK
Excellent for the price (value 9/10). Good buds – fitment wise they are very good (9/10). Good cable, build quality and design are very good for the price – assuming you get them for £8 (9/10), or £12 (8/10). Sound (7/10), very good sound but very bass driven, and not as crisp as others.
JVC Marshmallow FX-34 – around £10 on Amazon UK
Cheapest foam earphones available (upgraded by the FX-35), slightly too large plastic can make them too large. Sound quality is very good, although can take some “run in”, and mine started failing after around 3 months! Cable is good and doesn’t seem to tangle. Good value for money – especially compared to other foam earphones – often costing much more. However, you can tell these are cheaply made, as the foam slides on, rather than clips on. Sound 8/10 (strong bass), Build 5/10, Fitment 6/10 (Can be too big for some people), Value 9/10.
Philips SHE-8500 – around £12 on Amazon UK
Very good sound. Not very good rubber buds – too soft making the fitment* lose and difficult to get complete isolation from the surrounding noises. Poor quality cable, not very flexible, feels cheap, and brittle, and tangles easily. Poor design of plastic (square) making any contact with ear while fitting them uncomfortable. Sound quality: 9/10, build quality: 5/10, fitment: 5/10, value: 8/10.
Nokia BH-214 (Best value bluetooth) Bluetooth wireless earbuds – from £15 – £20 from Amazon UK
Great value for money, but sound quality not so great compared to others. You can use the bluetooth wireless numbers with other earphones, so can always use these as an entry into wireless earphones. Sound quality: 6-7/10 (Sound slightly worse when using the bluetooth adapter – less bass and clarity etc), build quality: 7/10 (jack is not gold plated), fitment: 8/10, value: 10/10 (includes Nokia charger as well).
Sennheiser CX-300 IIs (Winner!) – around £18 from Amazon UK^ – but sometimes more.
Good cable. Good buds. Best price / performance / quality in my opinion. In fact , if you can stretch (financially) to these, buy these and never look back. Sound 9/10 (perhaps not as bass driven as some of the others), Build 8/10, Fitment 9/10, Value 8/10 (inludes carry case / pouch).
Overall: The Sennheiser CX-300 II are clear winners, offering the best sound quality, fitment and build quality, at a reasonable price. The Creative Labs EP-630 offer a lot for the price, and are runners up. And the Nokia BH-214 are worth considering because they offer bluetooth connectivity at a very reasonable price.
* Fitment – correct fitment is key / essential to getting the best sound out of the earphones, not getting the correct fitment can mean the sound is completely lacking bass etc. This is the same with all of these in-ear style earphones.
^ Recommend purchasing directly from Amazon, to avoid potentially getting fake earphones.
Recent events have led me to use both Nokia’s latest phone and operating system (Symbian ^3 on the Nokia N8), as well as Google’s Android operating system on the ZTE Blade / Orange San Francisco. As most people tend to have the same uses for mobile phones, such as twitter, camera, torch, music, etc, I thought it would be useful to put together a list of the “must have” apps for the platforms, and show what the most similar apps are on both platforms. If you want to add the Apple versions, please get in touch, or leave it in the comments, and I’ll add to this list.
|Must have app||Nokia Version||Android Version|
|Barcode scanner||UPCode||Barcode Scanner|
|Last.fm Scrobbler*||Mobbler||Last.fm App|
|Twitter client||Gravity (£8 – Well worth the money)||Tweetdeck|
|Torch App||QTorch||Color Flashlight|
|Spirit Level||Level Touch||Bubble|
|Battery Meter||Nokia Battery Monitor (Ovi)||Battery Widget / Built in|
|Panoramic Photo||Nokia Panorama (N8 – unlimited shots?)||PanoPhoto (only 2 shots)|
|Photo Editor||Nokia Photo Editor (Built in)||Photoshop Express|
|Phone Tracker||Phonelocator Periodic||Where’s My Droid|
|Screenshot||“Best ScreenSnap 2.0” (link, or here)||screenshot|
|Navigation||Nokia Maps (Built in)||Google Maps / Navigation (Built in)|
|Navigation Customisation||Own Voice (record your own voice)||None?|
|WIFI Internet Sharing||JoikuSpot||Tethering and Portable Hotspot (Built in with v2.2)|
|Location information||Here and Now (Built in)||Places (Built in)|
|Location aware profiles||Nokia Situation (betalabs)||Locale (link)|
|Camera based location info||Nokia Point and Find (betalabs)||Google Goggles|
|Task Management||Task Manager (Built in, S^3)||Taskiller / Task Manager|
|GPS Based Sports Tracking||Nokia Sports Tracker||My Tracks (link)|
|Podcast Support||Built into Music Player / Podcatcher (link)||Google Listen|
|Alt. Music Players||TuneWiki (link)||TuneWiki / Winamp|
* Can replace this with Spotify if you have an account as Spotify is available for both.
The Orange San Francisco / ZTE Blade offers an extremely cheap entry into the world of Android. Priced around £99 (with a mandatory top up of £10/£20), it offers excellent value for money, and is one of the higher spec phones available around that price. Offering a large 3.5″ screen with a high resolution of 800×480, a 600mhz cpu, and 2gb of Micro SD ram.
Another big feature of the phone is the community support for the phone, allowing it to be unlocked for free (found via Modaco), and upgraded to Android 2.2 (Froyo), and potentially newer versions when they are released, it has it’s own dedicated forum here at Modaco.
The “SanFran”, as some people affectionally call it, has 3 physical buttons at the bottom of the screen: Home, Menu, Back, one power button at the top, and volume buttons at the side, there is no dedicated camera button or unlock button. To unlock you press the power button and slide something on the screen based on what version of android (or screensaver) you have. Considering the whole touch screen ethos of the android operating system, it seems strange to have to use physical / moving buttons to navigate – it would make more sense for these to be soft touch buttons (as I’m sure other android phones do).
Box Contents: Phone, Battery, Orange SIM, Earphones with microphone (earbuds, NOT in-ear earphones), Wall charger (Plugs into wall and has USB socket), USB Cable (used to charge phone with wall-charge or plug into computer), User guides (quick start guide, printed 133 page manual, plus 2nd manual for orange software), 2GB MicroSD Card.
Phone quality – Making and receiving calls, the audio quality is very good, the speaker is loud and clear, and quality seemed very good with no feedback or echo noticeable. (Although you network coverage may alter your experience)
Music playback – full volume is still on the quiet side of things. The music player app is fine, nothing seems to be missing, but nothing stands out as particularly interesting either. It does the job, but only seems to work in portrait mode (and not landscape). Music playback is interupted by other app notifications!? (Could just be my OS build, 2.2, and even when the other notifications are set to silent!?)
Web browser – this is quick, responsive, and works well.
Android market (app store) – this has very nice integration with websites, you visit the site, click the link to download from the store, it takes you there and you click install, it then takes you back to the website and downloads and installs the app in the background. Very swish, very un-intrusive, very simple, very easy, the way it should be done. (I’m looking at you Nokia) It’s also ironic that you can get Snake free for the android – but no official version from Nokia for Nokia phones…
Expansion – Under the one piece back cover (made of plastic), you’ll find slots for the MicroSD card, SIM card, and battery. Small hole next to the camera lens – could be a reset button?
Battery – a 1250mah 3.7v battery.
Build and size: Slim, compact, the back cover covers the power button, and needs to be taken off / put back on carefully as, like the Nokia N95, it could cause problems if not treated with care or over-used. The plastic is coated with a rubbery texture, making the phone feel like a higher quality / higher price handset than it actually is, and internally the circuit boards seem very thin. The use of philips head screws make it very tempting to take apart…
There’s a hidden screw under a white dot, so no doubt taking it apart will void your warranty, there’s also a moisture detector dot under the battery, as shown above, and there are 8 screws in total holding the phone together, after taking these out, the phone then unclips with some encouragement – although you can help it along by pushing the clips surrounding the battery area – I didn’t want to go further than this as the rest looked like it needed the ribbon cables disconnecting, and this is often fiddly.
To remove the front glass / case, you need to remove / disconnect the top ribbon cable that connects the *something* (don’t know what). The ribbon cable connections are held in place with plastic that “pops” up, and the wi-fi aerial also pops-off. The screen is quite firmly glued on to the main plastic “chassis” in the middle of the phone, and there is also a ribbon cable behind the main board connecting the top led and light sensor, and the volume control ribbon cable is soldiered on, and the buttons are glued onto the chassis, making it very difficult to disconnect / remove – it quickly becomes very fiddly.
Identifiable chips / components: (Click images above to enlarge, or to view additional images!) Top: Samsung SWB-A23 (Wifi, bluetooth), Qualcomm (hidden from view), Qualcomm PM754, AH56714, C1034003 (Power management), Underneath: Samsung 040, KA1000015M-AJTT, YK10338E (RAM), Qualcomm MSM7 (CPU, hidden from view), TriQuint 7M5012H, 1037, KORE, AT9366. Camera module: Made by MCNEX MC_32A2_48, 2010.06.04, the chip on the front of the phone, above the screen: 1KAAV0QW, Z1A0AD09.
Camera – 3.2 megapixel AF (Auto-focus) lens. Photos are awful. Terrible. Horrible. Utterly crap. Seriously substandard.
Other features? Impressions? The top bar shows you your notifications, things like texts, twitter or app notifications, and battery / connectivity status etc (3G, Bluetooth etc), but doesn’t actually let you interact with the notifications on the right of the bar… you can’t click the battery, for example, to see how much remains (like you can on Symbian ^3), instead you seem to have to go through the phones setting menu to get the information.
Updated conclusion: 6 months later: (10/07/2011) Some have said, in the comments that this review is overly negative, and somewhat lacking in it’s conclusion, and I agree. In retrospect, the ZTE Blade (Orange San Francisco) is still, to this day, 6 months later, one of the most fully featured, and lowest priced android phones available, and the good screen, and low price make it very apealling, especially with such a huge homebrew community of support. I bought it as I wanted to see what all the fuss about Android was, and I wasn’t as impressed as I felt I should have been, especially considering all the hype. There are areas of weakness such as the poor camera software (camera is poor on this phone, but may suffice in great weather, outdoors), and generally android isn’t as polished as I think it should be (this may have changed with newer versions, I tested 2.2). The ZTE Blade with a lower spec processor than most, won’t do flash, which is a huge drawback for me as I need iPlayer on my phone. Another big weakness is the high SAR levels (1.35 W/kg) – enough to give some users enough of an issue that they’ve seen a GP (Doctor) about it… Another big issue is the fact that everyone feels the need to mess with the google version of android, and try and add their own skin, apps, and money making programs to the phone. Very annoying. Anyway, to try and conclude this as quickly as possible, the ZTE Blade (OSF), is a great phone considering the price, and if well worth looking at if you’re on a limited budget and don’t mind the various issues the phone has.
+ High resolution 3.5″ capacitive screen (responsive)
+ Extremely good value for money
+ Easily unlocked, for free
+ Upgradable to Android 2.2
+ Tons of apps, good app store experience
+ Notification of app updates, and “Update all” button (not just OS)
+ Full screen PDF viewer (in QuickOffice)
– Home screens don’t work in landscape mode (see Symbian ^3, or Launcher Pro for Android)
– Music playback is interrupted by other app noises! (even when the phone and notifications are silent)
– Limited memory as standard (only 2gb MicroSD provided)
– AWFUL camera (see Nokia N8!), lacks even basic LED flash
– Fragmented OS / Features ie BBC iPlayer is supposed to work on 2.2 (using Flash*) but wouldn’t for me, 2.1 it just isn’t available (see Nokia / Apple)
– Poor battery life (8 hours)
– No strap loop / wriststrap mounting hole
– Camera shutter sound on, even when all sound muted.
– Default install location is the phones memory, not MicroSD, easy to fill the 512mb built in.
– Difficult to use one-handed (back button awkward – and pressing the background of the screen doesn’t take you back so you have to press the back button – easier on Symbian ^3 to just press the screen behind the pop up menu)
* Flash 10.1 is needed, which isn’t available for the ZTE Blade due to the ARM6 processor.
The Nokia N8, aka the N8-00 – from Tesco Direct (currently the cheapest place to buy the phone without a contract) – is one of the latest smart phones from Nokia – running a new version of Symbian’s multi tasking operating system called Symbian^3, it also features one of the best cameras on any mobile phone, with a 12 megapixel sensor, and Xenon flash.
Main Features / Specifications:
- 12 megapixel camera, with Carl Zeiss lens and Xenon flash
- HD Video recording – 720p – image stabilisation available (digital)
- 3.5″ 16:9 nHD (640 x 360 pixels) AMOLED Capacitive touch screen
- Symbian^3 with over 250 new features, Java MIDP 2.1
- Web Runtime 7.2, Flash Lite 4.0, HTML 4.1, Qt 4.6.2
- 50 hours MP3 playback (when in offline mode)
- Free sat-nav navigation with Ovi Maps
- 3 live home screens with widgets
- On-demand Web TV
- HDMI / HDTV out
- Dolby Digital Plus technology*
- USB on the go – plug in USB things like pendrives, keyboards, digital cameras etc
- Anodized aluminium casing, available in: Silver white, Dark grey, Orange, Blue, Green
- Dedicated graphics processor with OpenGL 2.0 enables 3D graphics, Accelerometer
- BL-4D 1200 mAh Li-Ion battery (internal, but can be removed using torx screws)
- Internal memory: 16 GB, MicroSD memory card slot, hot swappable, up to 32 GB
- Capability to serve as data modem (ie “Tethering”) assuming you’re not crippled by your phone network.
- FM Radio, FM Transmitter
- Optional accesories: Nokia SU-36 Capacitive Stylus £10 (If yours doesn’t include it)
Previously, I’d questioned or rather suggested improvements I’d like to see implemented in the new Nokia N8 / Symbian^3 phone operating system update. Just as a very quick answer to see whether they have resolved my concerns I’ll look at each point (although you can probably see the answers from the screens shown below):
RSS feeds on the home screen: Yes. By default you can get specific widgets such as the BBC News RSS Feed widget, and CNN News RSS Feed widget, these are built in to the phone as standard. If you subscribe to an RSS feed in the built in web browser, it will then appear as an option to put it on the home screens as an RSS widget.
Improved UI Design / Icons: Compared to Symbian S60 v3 or v5 (Touch), and the N97 / N97 Mini the interface is much nicer to use, graphically more pleasing, and much more responsive. The general look of the icons when in the main menu is still rather plain and not drastically different, but is more pleasing overall due to the blue buttons (they have tidied up the icons making them a little prettier, but they still have the same general look). There do seem to be some UI (User Interface) design quirks in that the exit button will move position when in landscape mode (such as the camera mode – this was not the case with the N97 Mini!).
Improved Web Browser: This is questionable. The browser is a slightly newer version (N8 is v126.96.36.199, N97 is v7.1.4), and deals with BBC iPlayer slightly differently, but is still very similar to the old browser. Overload it and instead of being able to view videos from iplayer or youtube, you’ll still get the “broken flash” icon. Apparently the first firmware update will include an improved browser. The new browser now supports Multi-touch and pinch zooming.
Improved sharing features: Photo send options are via message, mail or bluetooth. Where are the send to flickr, facebook, twitter, etc options? Update: – once you sign into Social (by Nokia) you then get the option to upload photos and videos to facebook and twitter straight after taking them! It’s a bit basic, but works well – yay!
Built in Twitter / Facebook client and home screen widget: Yes, twitter and facebook client / widget built in, called Nokia Social. This also integrates with the Contacts on the phone, and you can pull twitter / facebook friends profile picture into your contacts, and view their shared contact details on facebook.
Improved battery life or sleep mode: Too soon to say, but the screen saver looks low power (other screen saver options are: music player, which will display the track you’re playing even when the phones locks, slideshow, Big Clock, Animation or None). Wifi, and other internet connections *seem* to go to sleep when not in use, and the phone also copes well with having many apps running in the background, even overnight, without much battery life problems. With the N97 Mini, running programs overnight normally meant waking up to a flat battery, not so with the N8. The battery is the same 1200mah battery as used in the Nokia N97 Mini (BL-4D). So far the battery lasts longer than the N97 Mini, and in everyday use, the N8 battery lasts 15 hours (I will add more results later), although the battery life will be highly dependant on what features you use and how often you use them. Another new feature added to the phone, is that it now shows you how much the phone is charged in percentage, even when the phone is off.
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? This appears to be being resolved, with the majority of tools being put inside Nokia Ovi Suite, however there still appears to be development of Nokia Software Updater as a separate program. Nokia Ovi Suite is available on the phone to install, when you connect the phone in Mass Storage mode.
Have a screen that works outside even when battery is low: Too soon to say, however, the screen clarity and brightness looks like a significant improvement over the Nokia N97 Mini and the N8 features an AMOLED screen, although this wasn’t a good thing when the Nokia N86 8mp featured an AMOLED screen, as it was very difficult to see it in bright sunlight.
Lots of memory (RAM) for multi-tasking: Despite the N8 only having 256mb internally for the C: drive, compared to the Nokia N97 Mini’s 512mb, the N8 seems to be able to run WAY more apps simultaneously when compared to the N97 Mini – I have not yet seen any memory error messages despite running applications that cause problems on the N97 Mini. Running 11+ applications is not a problem, as Symbian^3 now has virtual memory support.
Photoshop for Symbian anyone? Already, since the release of the Nokia N8, Nokia have released a new photography app, Nokia Panoramic. There are other photo apps currently under development… see Nokia Make My App, in particular: Mobile Photoshop 🙂 and Auto HDR Photography.
High Quality Audio / MP3 Playback: The Nokia N8 is already at a disadvantage compared to the Nokia N97 and N97 Mini, as the N8 only has one speaker for playback. However, it improves over the N97 Mini by including an FM transmitter. For stereo sound you will need to plug in some earphones / headphones. The music player on the N8 is greatly improved over the player on previous Nokia phones, and provides smooth scrolling through album art.
Volume is very high – much higher than the N97 Mini, and clarity (particularly treble) is exceptional, without distortion at 100% volume. The N8 is very capable of driving large headphones, at potentially dangerous volume levels, and the volume can be changed with the side volume control even when the phone is locked (this was not possible with the N97 Mini, which is nice). Gapless playback of MP3s? Nope, it almost seems like it’s trying though, with a one or two second gap.
- Flick scroll to browse the albums in your music collection
- Ovi Music Unlimited service on selected markets
- Nokia Ovi Player
- Ovi Music store
- Music codecs: .MP3, WMA, AAC, eAAC, eAAC+, AMR-NB, AMR-WB
- Bit rate up tp 320 kbps
- DRM support WM DRM, OMA DRM 2.0
- FM transmitter
- Stereo FM radio (87.5-108 MHz/76-90 MHz)
The Nokia N8 Camera: One of the greatly anticipated (and hyped) features of the Nokia N8 is the 12 megapixel camera with Xenon flash. Nokia have put in a 12 megapixel sensor (1/1.83-inch) that is the same size as you find in your typical compact digital camera from Canon, Panasonic etc, and whilst nowhere near as good as the large sensor you would find in a Digital SLR, it is an improvement over the tiny sensors found in every other camera phone. As proof to how serious Nokia are taking the camera abilities of the N8, they posted 34 questions and answers about JUST the camera on the phone.
- 12 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics
- Xenon flash
- Face recognition software
- Focal length: 5.9 mm, Wide-angle 28mm equivalent
- F number/Aperture: F2.8
- Still images file format: JPEG/EXIF
- Zoom up to 2x (digital) for still images
- Zoom up to 3x (digital) for video
Some photos above: click to enlarge, click again to view full size.
More on the Camera: The camera defaults to taking 9 megapixel 16:9 wide aspect ratio photos (4000 x 2248) – switching to 12 megapixel images gives the more usual 4:3 aspect ratio (4000 x 3000), and 12mp photos average between 3.2mb and 1mb, which means they are quite highly compressed. After taking over 50 photos, the ISO (when set to AUTO) has ranged from ISO100 to ISO229. Manual settings for ISO are available and can be set to Low (ISO100), Medium (ISO400), or High (ISO800).
- 12 megapixel with Carl Zeiss optics
- HD quality 720p resolution
- Shoot 16:9 videos in HD
- Video capture in 720p 25 fps with codecs H.264, MPEG-4
- Settings for scene, white balance, colour tone
- 3x digital zoom available
The phone has a new video player, that supports DIVX, and XVID playback, including mkv files.
Plugging the phone into Windows 7 and you get some useful information, as Symbian^3 now supports Windows 7 properly:
Charge, Photos, Memory (Here it’s showing 20+gb as I’ve put an 8gb Micro SD card in), Text messages, Missed calls etc,
Other improvements: There’s a new keyboard mode (not yet supported by most apps), that lets you view your program, and your keyboard at the same time, it also implements predictive text / words, which makes using the keyboard much quicker. Simply start typing the word, and suggestions will appear making it quicker to use than the old qwerty keyboard.
USB on the go: Plug in any USB device, such as a USB keyboard or mouse, and you can use them on the phone, why not use a full size PC / Mac USB keyboard for typing instead of the touch screen? Or use a bluetooth mouse as well and use the HDMI output to connect the phone up to a large screen and then it can be used as a desktop PC replacement. Alternatively you could connect up a digital camera and start uploading photos to the internet, the possibilities are pretty amazing. Supports USB pen drives, and I suspect USB memory card readers (although I haven’t tested this personally). Or you could connect up your previous Nokia, such as the N97 Mini in Mass Storage mode, and copy everything across without having to go through a PC.
Over 250 new features in Symbian^3: From the nokia blog, we can see that some of the main features added to Symbian are: Better graphics, Multi-touch, improved multimedia (new video player, HDMI support, Dolby*, new music player), better multitasking which includes better memory management to allow more apps to run, and an “Alt-Tab” (Windows) style task switcher, nicer networking, and Qt for developers.
Some other cool new features are: (if you’re technically minded) 64-bit file server – the phone supports files larger than 2gb, and Symmetric multiprocessor (SMP) support for dual core processors such as the ARM A9. Probably the most important for Nokia users that are bored of seeing the “Out of Memory” message on the N97 or N97 Mini (etc), Symbian^3 now features Writable Data Paging (WDP) – much like the Windows Page File, once the built in physical RAM has run out, it will simply page it to the other “drives” in the phone. (see Nokia Library “What’s new in Symbian^3” for more info)
New Ovi Store: One of the listed selling points of the phone is “access to 1000s of apps in the new Ovi store” (paraphrased by me), although strangely the Ovi store isn’t actually installed on the phone, all the shortcuts are there, but when go to open it, you then need to install it. I suppose it means you are going to get the latest version of the Ovi store even if the phones been sitting on the shelf for a few months, but it seems a little strange. When the Ovi store is installed, it is a noticeable improvement over the old store, not that there was anything particularly bad about the old store, it’s just that the Ovi store on the N8 looks nicer and feels nicer to use.
Build quality: The front glass is made out of “Gorrilla Glass” – a product that is deemed by the internet as unbreakable (Video). The phone body is made out of Aluminium, and feels extremely solid and well built, and the top and bottom of the phone are plastic. The fit and finish of the phone feels and looks like a high quality product, with no flex in the plastic or screen or any other parts of the phone, and the few buttons that the phone has feel good, with an especially nice shutter release button and volume controls. The sliding lock button feels solid even though I think it’s made out of plastic. (You can also unlock the phone by pressing the menu key and pressing the screen, in case you’re not a fan of using the side unlock key)
More intuitive: The Nokia N8 / and Symbian^3 is improved over Symbian S60 v5 (used in the N97/Mini etc) in lots of little ways, making it a much more intuitive phone to use, for example: To change the clock on the home screen from analogue to digital, you press the clock, this takes you into the time / date / alarm screen, and then you simply press the clock again to switch between analogue and digital. On the N97 Mini, this wasn’t possible, instead you had to delve right into the phone settings to choose between analogue and digital clocks.
Better connectivity and networking: Apart from the phone finding wireless networks quicker than the N97 Mini, it also seems to find more networks, and seems to have better range from the router. There’s also a new “Settings” menu in the connectivity menu, it allows you to set options for switching to WLAN, Data use in home network (Auto, Always ask, WLAN only), Data use when roaming (Auto, Always ask, WLAN only) – these settings could be very useful if you have a horrible internet data tariff but excellent wireless access, and it’s also where the “Destinations” menu has moved. There also appears to be a new power saving setting in the WLAN settings. In the USB connection menu there’s a new option to “Connect PC to net” enabling you to use the phone as modem (this was possible through OVI Suite with previous phones but not built into the phones menus). Under the Data Transfer menu, there’s a new “Ovi Sync” in addition to “Sync”. Remote drives is now an option.
Better internet: Changes made in the built in browser are subtle but quite clever, increasing the ease of use of the browser, for example, the refresh button is now directly next to the options button, making it easier to refresh a page.
Even more features: (too many to go into detail, so I thought I’d start listing additional features)
– Data transfer / Phone switch tool (built into the N8 in Settings, Data Transfer, Phone Switch) – lets you transfer data from or to another Nokia onto the N8 via bluetooth, and installs the sync tool to the other phone from the N8, then lets you choose what you want to transfer over. It’s very clever, and easy to use.
– Nokia Ovi Suite comes on the phone as an installable program when connected in Mass Storage mode (copying the useful feature from the Sony Satio?)
– Pop-Up Connection Notifications – tell you when you’ve connected to the network
– Long press / hold items to bring up a pop-up menu
– The battery icon is now click-able (from the home screen), so you can view the battery status
– New Power Saving option in the Phone Management screen (Settings, Phone, Phone Management)#
– Better contact management – you can merge contacts so that you don’t have duplicates in your phone
Wish list? If I could improve or add anything to the phone, what would I like to see? Previously with the Nokia N Series, Nokia included a lens / screen cloth to keep the lens and screen clean – this should be included with such a camera centric model. The lens is very easy to get finger prints on, and it’s important to keep the lens clean in order to get the best photo quality possible. An improved web browser would be very nice – the included is a little slow, and a little buggy.
* Apparently I’m meant to remind people that Dolby is a registered trademark of Dolby Laboratories. Like you’d forget or something.
The Nokia N97 Mini is like the beta release of the N97 – with the N97 being the alpha version, perhaps the N8 will be the release candidate or perhaps even the final product? (I am using the software release life cycle terms used for Windows and other apps as an attempt at humour – however some people who have used the N97 would probably find the terms relevant.) Click below to read the full review…