Nokia Lumia 800 & 710 – First Impression

It has been a while since I last attended a Nokia’s media event for the bloggers.  My personal schedule seems to be in conflict with Nokia’s calendar lately for some reasons.  I have been anticipating Nokia’s next generation smartphone.  Suffice to say, I am happy to be able to make it for the Lumia event held last week – a first in the region.  We went through a lengthy demo of what the new Windows phone can do.  And we spent some quality time with the product managers and other Nokia professionals as we experienced the Lumia 800 & 710.  So what’s my first impression?  Read more to find out!

Form Factor

A phone’s design is important to me.  It is a statement of who I am.  I use an Android phone for the simple reason of not wanting to be like every other mobile phone user in Singapore.  Lumia 800 is sophisticated, and beautiful.  It has a smooth, one piece body that slightly curved onto the screen.  The design is breathtaking, like no other.  Lumia 800 comes in three colors: black, cyan, and magenta.  For a sharper looking design, I would strongly recommend cyan or magenta.  If you are a music lover, you may consider getting the Nokia Purity Stereo Headset or Purity HD Stereo Headset by Monster.  One is for in-ear style, and other one is for on-ear.  Monster has created headsets for Apple iPhones.  It is good that Nokia gets them to design not one, but two for theirs too.

Lumia 710 is the entry level Windows phone.  I asked if Lumia 800 is considered as Nokia’s new flagship and they said no.  Price-wise, I would expect Lumia 800 to be below the flagship products of other platforms.  Hence, whatever I get to say here, do take cost as a consideration.

Lumia 800’s screen size is 3.7″.  For those of you (like me) who are used to 4.2″+, it could be quite an adjustment if you switch to this new Nokia phone.  For Apple users who are used to 3.5″, Lumia 800’s display area may seem OK.  Lumia 800 has a lower resolution compares to other top end smartphones.  And it weights 142g, almost as heavy as an iPhone.  It is 20% heavier than the Android phone I am using.  Does weight matter?  Personally I prefer a lighter phone.  But 99.99% of the local users who use iPhone may say nah.

Windows OS and Nokia Unique Offerings

I must admit that I am not that familiar with Windows OS on a mobile phone.  The Lumia 800 seems responsive.  Then again, almost all new phones are responsive before they are loaded with apps and contents.  So I have no idea if Lumia 800 will remain as responsive as days go by.  I know for sure my single core Android phone is crawling at this moment.

The design of Windows OS is pretty clean.  There is a wall of tiles for the widgets.  And swipe to the next screen is a list of applications.  If you are familiar with Nokia phone, you will find yourself at home.  Both Lumia phones have Nokia Drive with turn by turn voice navigation as well as Nokia Map.  Free, for more than 100 countries.  However, in order for Nokia Drive and Nokia Map to work, you must have data access.  This could become quite costly when you are overseas.  Because turning on data access usually means that you allow other applications to access the Internet on the go.

Lumia phones come with Nokia Music application.  A 192kbps MP3 track free of DRM costs around S$1.29 from the Nokia music store.  Does this sound enticing to you?  The price seems about right, if purchasing music online is your cup of tea.

And it does come with Whatsapp, free.

Unlocking the phone can be via a numeric password pad (like iPhone).  It does not have a pattern unlock (like Android).  Locking the phone is via a physical button positioned naturally on where your index finger is when you hold the phone upright (not sure how it will be like for left-handers).

Social Networking

Nokia Lumia phones combine Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn feeds, chat and SMS message in one conversation.  I seldom social network these days, only on Google+.  And I am told that Lumia does not interface with Google+ as of now.  I must be an odd ball because majority of the active social networking users I presume spend much time with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  I can imagine majority can continue to do just that with the Lumia phones.

Web Browsing

Do you often browse full sites on your mobile phone?  I do.  And I find that for some of my favorite websites, when I double tab onto the screen for the default zoom (that does auto page wrapping), the fonts can be tiny.  Maybe I am used to a large screen size and a higher resolution, it can be quite straining to the eyes when browsing the Internet on the Lumia phones.  I am not a fan of further zooming onto a webpage and having to scroll left and right constantly to read each line.  I strongly suggest trying it out if you are heavy on web browsing.

Under the Hood

Recently I have visited Hong Kong.  From the old man I met on the street, to my own cousin, dual core phones seem to be the in-thing.  If I am to buy a phone today, I too would prefer a dual core processor (and a large screen would be good).  As for the Lumia 800 and 710, they are both equipped with a 1.4GHz single core processor.  Do you multitask often?  If not, this should not bother you.

This phone is fitted with a 8Mpix Carl Zeiss camera with LED flash.  16GB internal memory.  It is pretty decent in today’s standard.  Of course, iPhone has the 32GB and 64GB version.  But that may cost more.

What about Other Stuffs?

With limited amount of time, there are areas that I am unable to cover.  Can Lumia extract the contact list from my Android phone via Bluetooth as promised?  What is the collection of Apps like for the Nokia market (I can’t live without Internet Radio these days)?  Are the Apps affordable?  Can the battery last for a day?  These are some of the questions you may need to further investigate if you are serious about wanting to buy this phone.

David Archuleta, And The N8 Launch Event By SingTel And Nokia

Looking back, I think it was the little disagreements that glued Cynthia and I to American Idol.  Cynthia supported Elliott Yamin and I, Katharine McPhee.  We would debate for days that (a) I was not staring at McPhee’s boobs and mesmerized by her look and (b) I thought McPhee really sang well and sang really well.  But who would have thought that Hicks would beat those two?  Have you checked out the latest Christmas album by McPhee?  Even Cynthia agreed with me that she has a good voice, finally.  Season 6, I supported Jordin Sparks and Cynthia, Blake Lewis.  It was a dull season.  Nevertheless, you know how that season turned out.  In the following season, we have David versus David.  I think Cook rocked and Cynthia was in love with Archuleta.  Again, it was my shoulder that Cynthia cried on.  And then something happened in season 8.  Both of us supported Adam Lambert wholeheartedly.  And our hearts were shattered into millions of pieces.  Really?  The idol of the idol did not win?  We have boycotted American Idol since then.  The morale of the story?  I think I have a better chance to pick a better singer than Cynthia.

Ha!

OK.  Jokes aside.  One fine day, a media invite arrived at my mailbox.  It was on a Sunday.  Normally I would think twice because of this work-blog-life balance of mine.  Weekend is a time to do something very personal, may or may not be blog-able.  Before I hit that tentative reply button to that media invite, Cynthia exclaimed, “Can I come?!” and I went, “Erm … your were in love with Archie like 2 years ago.  Are you still a fan?”  I guess her undying love to Archuleta is as strong as mine to McPhee.

The event was organized by SingTel and Nokia for the launch of the Nokia N8 mobile phone.  Our hosts were Muttons (hilarious Singapore DJs) and David Archuleta was there to sing us 5 songs in an acoustic setting.  He does have a great voice, especially on stage.  Cynthia was in high spirit and so were the ecstatic fans in Zouk.  His new album “The Other Side Of Down” was released very recently and the fans already know all the lyrics!

We had Japanese food near Zouk and made it home in time for the final race of F1.  What an eventful weekend.  Here are a few photos to share.

Barking Seed Is One Mobile Games Community To Look Out For

Last week, I have had the opportunity to meet with one of the Indie game developers Breakdesign through a blogger event.  Originally from South African, now based in Singapore, it is inspiring to meet the co-founder of Breakdesign Rick and his team talking about game development with so much passion.  If indeed one of their visions is to offer free mobile gaming to all parts of the world – rich and the not so rich – looking at the latest list of top countries in the battle arena, I think they have more or less achieved that.

Mobile gaming is not new.  But what is special about this Indie game developer is the mobile games community they have created – “Barking Seed”.  Imagine, each time the game is over, you are given the opportunity to upload your score to their website, perhaps add a little comment to shout to the world.  You play to be amongst the top players.  And you play to represent your country as one of the top, stand a chance to win phones and accessories.  Just how additively fun this concept is?  During the blogger event, as our scores were posted to the website in real time, none of us were talking.  We – guys and girls – were going all out to score.

I have tried out three of their games on my touchscreen phone.  These are Flash games – responsive, pretty to look at, and does not take long to play.  Good soundtracks too.  “Monsterilla” (featured above) is my favorite.  It is a colorful puzzle game that has a strong appeal to either sexes.  There is another game that you keep squishing roaches (erm … I know) until you are overwhelmed.  It does get pretty intense and Cynthia got a real shock when she accidentally looked into my screen.  So many crawling roaches!  Looking at “That Roach Game” at a philosophical level, I agree with the co-founder Rick.  You just can’t win.  The third game I have tried is “Ninjani”.  Guys would love this.  This game tests your reaction time as well as your anticipation skill.  The fact that you can get better as you play repeatedly perhaps makes “Ninjani” one of the most addictive games of the three.

I look forward to more new game releases for the community “Barking Seed”.  I have high hope for them.  Three years it has taken this small team to bring this innovative offering to the world.  I still have no clue on how they generate revenue when the games are free and come with no advertisements.  Only time will tell.  Meanwhile, if you have a Nokia phone, head to OVI Store and download these free games.  If you have not heard of OVI Store – surprisingly many friends of mine who use Nokia phones fall into that category – there are many free applications and games for grab.  Have fun with these featured Flash games and good luck in winning!  As for me, I am going to work Cynthia hard and win me some “Monsterilla” points using my login ID.  Girls are supposed to be better at this sort of cute colorful puzzle games, yes?

External Links: Barking Seed Community Site and Breakdesign Corporate Site.

Nokia Christmas Party, By The Singapore River

I have always enjoy attending a Nokia party.  Familiar faces from the traditional media, the new media.  New faces too.  And as I looked across the Singapore River, I was greeted by the enormous Integrated Resort yet to be completed stood silently against the dark evening watching over the inhabitants of the-other-side, us.  What are those floating white ball-like objects in great number gathered along the middle section of the river?  No idea.  While the purpose of their existence may be unclear, those objects made great conversational topic.

What is a Christmas party without games, lucky draws, and Santa Claus?  My blogger friend was so happy when she won the N97 Comes With Music.  Unlimited music download for one year!  She said she would download Lady Gaga’s “The Fame Monster” the very evening.  Ah, Lady Gaga, I like!  If you wonder which recently released Christmas albums I am listening to now, that would be David Archuleta, Sting, Tori Amos, and Gregorian.  And my all time favorite Christmas albums?  Mariah Carey, Jewel, Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera, Destiny’s Child, and LeAnn Rimes – in that order.  Download them for this festive season if you can.

I was excited by the wireless Nokia headset that has a noise cancellation function.  It feels light.  Great sound (and sound cancellation).  But I was more excited by the upcoming Nokia X6 Comes With Music (see picture below).  It is an interesting product.  Those who like to interact the touchscreen with the fingertips instead of fingernails would feel at home with X6.  Kinetic scrolling, better response (for the “fingertip” users in especially) as well as the eye-candy theme effect that some users value.  The home screen has four main horizontal sections.  The top one is for the favorite contacts, it displays thumbnails of the contacts, and it supports kinetic scrolling.  It acts as a filter for the display of SMS (and latest blog entries I think) by contact too.  Imagine with one click, Cynthia can zoom into all the conversations between me and my female friends. ¡Qué horror!  This phone is not Tiger Woods friendly for sure.  The second one is email.  At this moment, I am unsure if it has to be Nokia Messaging  or if I can pick a hotmail mailbox provided by the MSN application.  The third one is a music player and the last one is favorite shortcuts.  My interaction with X6 was brief.  I think I do like the overall design.  So is it going to be X6 or N97 Mini for Cynthia?  If N97 Mini is not going to be a Comes With Music device, the decision is pretty obvious.

Oooo ... very tempting Nokia X6!

It seems that with a blink of an eye, year 2009 has come to an end.  I still have not decided on where to celebrate Christmas.  Maybe I shall start drafting my new year resolutions this coming weekend?

Nokia E72 – And The Wait Is Over

The Nokia E72

I have friends who swear by the Eseries (while I am more of a Nseries dude).  When the E75 was out, I asked one friend of mine if she would get that but she got the E71 instead.  Why?  I suppose having the full QWERTY keyboard right underneath the screen does have its appeal, a design without a need to slide out the keyboard.  Knowing that I would attend this Nokia event, I did some homework, ‘interviewed’ my friend and got to know a bit more about Nokia Eseries.

Now that I have touched and felt the new E72, I can understand why my friend – in her own words – loves the Eseries.  For those who are constantly on the go and need an efficient phone and messaging device – both email and instant messaging (and also social networking), the Eseries is optimized for just that.  There are dedicated buttons on the E72 to quickly access the calendar, contact, and messaging functions.  Holding one of these buttons create a new calendar entry, a new contact, or a new message (imagine if my N97 has that!).  There is a button to instantly return to the home screen too and by holding it, you can toggle between various opened applications.  At the center of the phone is the new Optical Navi™ Key.  It senses the motion of your finger (or thumb) as you scroll your long emails up and down.  And you can use that key to scroll through any onscreen items.  From my brief experience, it feels responsive.  And I do like the keyboard design too.  The common punctuation symbols are easily accessible, a different experience I have with my N97.

In fact, the entire phone interface feels responsive thanks to the Symbian S60 3rd Edition operating system.  For those who are already using E71, this could be a worthwhile upgrade for the following reasons.

  • 5 mega-pixel camera
  • 250MB internal memory and supports up to 16GB microSD memory card
  • 3.5 mm audio connector (now you can use the standard earphones)
  • Able to synchronize calendar items to Outlook (on top of emails and contacts that E71 is able to)
  • Better battery performance
  • Slimmer design

And for those who are curious about the key features of email and instant messaging, on email, E72 supports Mail for Exchange, IBM Lotus Notes Traveler, Nokia Messaging service (lifetime license), and POP/IMAP.  On instant messaging, it supports MSN, GoogleTalk, OVI Chat, Y! Messenger, and more.  E72 is now available in Singapore selling at a RRP of S$750 (excluding operator plan and GST).  If you have questions for Nokia, please drop me a comment here or send me an email.

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I have always enjoy blogger events hosted by Nokia and Text100.  And I had such a great time catching up with old friends, making new friends.  During the event, there was a little contest that involved a bit of instant messaging using the new E72 and a bit of creativity.  Shocking to me, I won this little Nokia Mini Speakers (MD-6).  I have no idea if Nokia does sell those little beauties but had I known such thing exists, I would certainly have bought them long ago.  Great for traveling (comes with a pouch).  And great for playing music in the bathroom while showering too!  These are active speakers taking in 4 AAA batteries.  Definitely better sound quality than the phone speakers, a design more geared towards the XpressMusic series.  So this looks really good pairing with Cynthia’s XpressMusic 5800 than my N97.

What a lovely gift!