Posts Tagged ‘N8’

The C7 has been on the market in Europe and other countries since the fourth quarter of 2010 and was just recently released in the United States with T-Mobile as the Astound. Astound is an appropriate name given that for the past few years the Nokia devices that have been subsidized by US carriers have been primarily the low cost flip phones. T-Mobile had the E73 Mode, which I loved, and the Nuron but neither really could compete with the myriad of Android based phones and Black Berry devices offered by T-Mobile.

Recently I had the pleasure of testing a C7 and it was love at first sight when I opened the box. In my opinion this is a very sexy phone.  So sexy that it has replaced the venerable 8800 as my choice for the sexiest Nokia phone of all time. I really loved the form and feel of the device and being made primarily of aluminum and other metals the build of the hardware is very solid . The screen size is perfect for viewing messages, images, and surfing the web and the colors and tones are very rich and vibrant.

As you can see by selecting an image below the C7 is comparable in size to the E71 and is a little smaller than it’s older brother, the N8. It’s light, compact and felt no heavier than a set of car keys when carried in my pocket.

Sexy is nice, but if there are no brains behind the looks then it’s just a pretty shell right? Well the C7 has looks and brains as it is powered by Symbian^3, the same operating system found in the C6, N8, E7, E6 & X7. I won’t rehash what we’ve already read and heard about S^3 since there have been many articles written since it’s release. Though I will say I was surprised to find that the C7’s screens and applications were more responsive and smoother than on my N8.

The C7 is marketed globally as a phone for social networking, and as the Astound is focused at the subsidized market for the US I thought I would focus on a few features that the US consumer may consider in a device. Besides social networking features I focused on email, photos,  music, multitasking, applications, and syncing.

Social Networking

Nokia Social

Gravity

I am a fan of Nokia Social and it comes resident on the C7. It’s a great tool to view and update status for Twitter and Facebook in one application. I use this on my N8 daily and was happy to see it on the C7. However, the experience was not the same. Unlike the N8 the C7 has no homescreen widget and each time you access the application you need to log in. Therefore I thought I would see if Gravity was any better so I downloaded it from Ovi Store. It  has more to offer than Nokia Social and is even a little sexier, but for what I need it just isn’t worth the $10 US.

Twitter and Facebook updates are important, but a true social networking device must be able to share photos and videos. The C7 does this very well by using the tried and true share feature built into the photo browser. After adding a caption and optional tagging right from the photo itself, my images and videos were loaded into my Facebook and Twitter profiles.  For sharing to other sights you can also install Pixelpipe which is available in the Ovi Store.

Foursquare is available and there is a homescreen widget that works well. However, since it’s on all the time the battery life was noticeably decreased.

Email

Nokia Messaging sure has come a long way and it’s abilities are truly evident in the C7. With Nokia Messaging you can have many different email accounts on your C7 and can load multiple email widgets to your homescreen. On the C7 I tested I had three accounts loaded with my work email in Mail for Exchange, a personal GMail account and a personal Ovi Mail account. The flexibility of NM also allows for a separate syncing profile for each account and the ability to select what is synced and when. That allows me to sync my work calendar, notes and tasks yet bypass my work contacts as those are synced using my Ovi Mail account.

There are other email tools available in Ovi Store that take advantage of “the cloud” but I really don’t see a need to download a beta product when Nokia Messaging is included and works perfectly. T-Mobile’s Astound users will find that Nokia Messaging fits their needs  and won’t be disappointed given it’s ability to view images and attachments.

Photos

Personally this is one of the most important features in a device and why I keep my N8 with me at all times. We all know how the N8 takes pictures, but this review is about the C7.

The C7 has an 8mp, fixed focus camera with dual LED flash and it is comparable to most of the mid and upper-level smartphones available today. You can shoot good images and HD video with the C7 and take advantage of many features available for customizing your shots. You can use settings for scenes, face detection, color, contrast and on-screen zoom. For advanced photographers you can even customize white balance, exposure, and ISO settings. But i expect most will just point and shoot and the C& does this very well.

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What the C7 has that the others don’t is the ability to edit your images and videos on the phone itself. With the C7 you can shoot a picture, frame it and add some captions, then upload it to your friends on Facebook and Twitter right on the phone.

Below are some comparisons of shots taken with the C7.

Flash & No Flash Comparison

Greater distance brings more in-focus images

To view a comparison of shots taken with the N8 & C7 without flash select here and to view a comparison with flash go here

Music

Since the Xpress Music 5800 one of my favorite features on Nokia devices has been the music player. I’m happy to report that nothing changes my feelings with the C7. I was able to transfer all of my music from my N8 to the C7 without any problems using the Ovi Suite back-up feature. I can play music from CDs, Apple iTunes, Nokia Ovi Music UK (not available in the US yet), and Amazon and retain the song or album artwork.  The sound is clear, crisp and loud when using wired headphones,  my Nokia BH-505 bluetooth headset, or plugged into the mp3 port in my car’s sound system. Playing over the devices speakers is good and as clear as can be expected using the rear speakers.

Finding the music is simple and utilizes kinetic scrolling well. You can select by artists & songs, albums, genres and playlists and can view them all in either portrait or landscape modes. Landscape allows you to flip through choices using album artwork.


  

Multitasking

One of the greatest advantages Symbian^3 brings is true multitasking and that feature is perfect for the non-power user as most will open applications without giving a thought to memory usage. The C7 allowed me to have applications like Ovi Maps, the music player, Conversations, Nokia Social or Gravity, email, photos and ScreenSnap (a must have for blogging) all open at the same time without any real degradation in speed and application response. The only recommendation I can make in relation to multitasking is that you turn the phone off once a day to reset the memory. I did find that the C7 (and my N8) would become less responsive or would start to freeze after a couple of days of multitasking without shutting the device off or closing applications.

Applications

Ovi Store has been around for quite some time now and there are thousands upon thousands of apps available for the C7, both free and paid. App availability is based upon country and device and I am happy to see that even though Windows Phone 7 is part of Nokia’s future, new S^3 apps are being added to the store on a regular basis.

You can search and install right from your device, or from a computer. Paying is easily handled with a credit card or through your monthly phone bill depending upon your carrier. However, I see Ovi Store alone as unable to help the Astound’s chances in the long run in the United States. The content available in the US has gotten better, but it’s too late to compete with The Android Market and iTunes. This is not a device specific issue and has to do with Nokia’s marketing and presence in the US. Future Nokia devices like the rumored W7 and W8 will probably be better served in the US market by Microsoft’s Marketplace for WP7.

Syncing Music, Calendars, Tasks & Contacts

In my mind no one can compare to Nokia and Ovi Suite when it comes to syncing between a PC and your Nokia Device. Ovi Suite has saved me sssoooooo many times because of it’s ability to back up everything on a device and from all memory sources.  Android does okay on music, but I am still bewildered that there is nothing to really sync Outlook between your device and PC. There is an expensive app called CompanionLink that almost meets the needs but it failed terribly in identifying personal and business calendars and would constantly wipe out appointments, tasks and contacts when I used it.

Apple has an advantage over Nokia when it comes to Mac users as their product iTunes  works well on a PC and Mac. Ovi Suite is not  yet available for the Mac (though development is under way) and this may also hurt the Astound with the US consumer. Nokia does have Mac support, as shown here, yet most T-Mobile stores probably aren’t aware of what Nokia offers for Mac users. Nokia will need to get Ovi Suite compatible with the Mac platform sooner than later, and should get it done before the first Nokia WP7 devices are released. There are a lot of Mac users out there and they must be included in any growth plans Nokia has for the US.

GPS & Ovi Maps

There is a lot more to the C7 than the items I listed above, but again this review was written with the T-mobile US buyer in mind. This review would not be complete though if I failed to mention Ovi Maps and the GPS signal.

Connecting to the GPS signal is smoking fast. I even tried to time the difference between the N8 and C7 and just could not see any significant difference between the two. The signal strength is strong, constant and accurate and all-in-all the reliability exceeded my expectations using Ovi Maps and Sports-Tracker.

Ovi Maps has evolved into a pretty solid tool. The few times I used it for directions I saw little lag in the voice guidance and mapping to my current location, even at 70 mph. I could search for businesses based upon my current location and get walking or driving directions from that current location. And I could check in to a multitude of social network apps like Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, Friendster, LiveJournal and many more.  I wonder how many check in applications Nokia is going to load onto devices? If I didn’t have a GPS and guidance system in my car Ovi Maps would be my preferred guidance tool.

Closing

In short, the C7 is a true multitasking giant in a small, sexy shell. It is a fantastic device that I would recommend to anyone. Especially someone who isn’t a power user and is seeking a reliable, feature-rich and well-built phone.  It’s sturdy enough to take a beating from your teenagers, yet has all of the social networking features and access they crave.

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Being in the United States gives us time for all of the announcements and comments to come out and be discussed before some of us wake up. That’s a good thing, right? Not really. It adds to the confusion given so many people have their questions, thoughts and opinions. Yep, I have mine too…

My first and primary question that I can’t seem to find an answer to is what happens to Symbian? Nokia CEO Stephen Elop states, “Nokia will adopt Windows Phone as its primary smartphone strategy…” as part of his address and open letter (view here) announcing the Nokia and Microsoft partnership. I like Symbian^3 and truly like my N8, which leads me to the next question…

How will current and recently released devices be supported? Prior the the release of Windows Phone 7 Microsoft discontinued application and firmware support for their previous Windows Phone operating system. Is Nokia going to do that to Symbian? If you have spent +/- $550 US for a N8 or C7, being left out in the cold with no more f/w updates is a pretty hard to swallow. One could wonder if this is why I haven’t gotten the PR 1.1 update for my N8 yet… I doubt it.

What about the E7? With it just being shipped this week will this hurt sales? It has to! Who wants to buy a “flagship device” whose OS was replaced even before it arrived? I was thinking about it, but not now. Would you buy an E7 now?

What happens to all those applications in Ovi Store? The US may not be affected by it as much as other countries, but a lot of time, money and effort was invested by app developers globally. Will WP7 run those apps so the developers don’t need to redevelop them?

And why do so many Nokia “fans” want to abandon the company now that they are partnering with Microsoft? It’s not like Google or Apple are any better than Microsoft as companies. All three are greedy and narcissistic, are they not?  A true fan supports their team in both the good times and the bad. Los Angeles fans are terrible….they jump on the band wagon when their teams are winning and run for the hills as soon as the losing starts. New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packer fans….those are real fans. Support your team through thick and thin and you’ll have a blast as they rise to the top!

Change isn’t bad is it? Of course not, especially when it’s needed. Nokia did need to change, we all know that. Those  “fans” that want to abandon Nokia now were also screaming the loudest that Nokia needed to change. Symbian wasn’t working so spending more money on a losing OS doesn’t make sense.  Who knows, maybe they’re running because the change wasn’t the one they wanted. I bet they haven’t even used a WP7 device either.

What do I plan to do? Accept change. Embrace change. It’s only with change we become stronger. Nokia hasn’t changed in many years and they’re going through the pain from keeping an aging quarterback named Symbian. They just scored the sleeper draft pick called Windows Phone 7. No one thought Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees would be able to win “the big game” and look at what happened when their teams made change and the fans supported them…

Nokia+Microsoft. Where are we going? To the Smartphone Superbowl!

Taken with Nokia N8

Since getting my N8 a few weeks ago I’ve been using Skull Candy wired headphones. Being “wired” they have a tendency of getting in the way when I’m at the gym or on my mountain bike. They get tangled in the straps of my Camelback or pulled out of my ears at the gym because of the cord. I ordered Nokia’s BH-505 Bluetooth Headset hoping going cordless would alleviate these minor agitations.

I really have been slow to accept Bluetooth as I really haven’t found a headset for using with my phone that can hold a clear signal, including Jawbone. And as we all know, having Bluetooth on constantly runs the battery down. Yet I  decided to take a gamble by ordering the 505’s and I am happy to say it paid off. These things are fantastic and here are the top 5 reasons why I love this headset:

  1. Sound quality – The sound quality is as good as Skull Candy headphones. The bass is good and strong without being overbearing and with a good solid fit from the multiple choices of rubber ear plugs background noise is easily be filtered out. I also have noticed that there is no static in the connection. The 505’s are also a hands-free device for speaking on your phone and using voice commands, but as I will never answer the phone when I’m riding or working out I can’t speak to the voice quality.
  2. Stylish design – For something that is primarily functional the design is quite appealing. I don’t feel self-conscious wearing them at the gym thinking everyone is staring at a Storm Trooper wanna-be.
  3. Compatibility – I’ve been able to connect the 505’s to my N8 and Samsung Vibrant and there is no difference in sound quality. The added bonus was being able to connect to my iPad to listen to music and watch videos.
  4. Durability – My fear when I ordered them was I would open the box only to find some wobbly and cheap plastic device that would break easily. I am pleasantly surprised by how durable they are and any concerns I had about taking them to the gym and having to be overly careful with them are gone. I’m sure they won’t survive a serious mountain biking crash but they’ll do well on your every day ride on the trails.
  5. Value – At $79.95 at nokiausa.com you definitely get a lot for your money. Easy to use, durable, and quality sound makes these a must buy for anyone wanting to break a sweat while listening to their music, or just lounging and enjoying a movie on your tablet or mobile phone.

Taken with Nokia N8

Taken with Nokia N8

By August of last year I had become impatient waiting for the N8 and I was bored with my N900. While I enjoyed the N900 I didn’t like having a device that really was just a small internet tablet and wasn’t a good phone. Since it also couldn’t get voice directions and the apps that were available were more for programmers (not me) I decided it was time to try something mainstream. I selected the Samsung Vibrant from T-Mobile and was happy with it, but when the chance to get a new N8 at an unbeatable price came along I jumped at it.

After 2 weeks with the N8 I decided to do a head-to-head comparison of the two. Here’s what I found:

Reception – These are phones, so at the very least they should have good signals right? The N8 does, but I can’t say the same for the Vibrant. Remember those old commercials showing someone trying to get a good signal by standing on one foot with their hand on a door knob and a coat hanger in their baseball cap? That still applies to the Vibrant. Since I use T-Mobile with both devices you can’t use the network as an excuse. In fact, when in my office I’m lucky if I have one bar with the Vibrant, yet the N8 in the exact same spot will have 4 or 5 bars. Pretty much everywhere I went the signal strength with the N8 was consistently better than the Samsung Vibrant. WINNER: Nokia N8

Hardware – The N8 is smaller than the Vibrant (fits within Vibrant’s 4″ screen); the casing is anodized aluminum and weighs 4.76 oz; it has metal buttons for menu, camera, locking & volume; and there is no need to remove the rear cover or battery to access the SIM & external memory cards.

The Vibrant is ginormous and has a plastic casing; weight is 4.17 oz; touch action buttons for search, home, settings and menu with an external button to lock/unlock the device (also plastic); and you must remove the back cover for memory card access and both the cover and battery for SIM access

The N8 hardware materials and build quality make it a very solid feeling device. The weight between the two devices is basically the same yet the size of the Vibrant made it feel like a brick when it was in my pocket. The touch buttons on the Vibrant aren’t as responsive as I would like and as everything but the screen is plastic I was always fearful of breaking it. WINNER: Nokia N8

Colors – This isn’t important to me, but to many it is. The Samsung Vibrant comes in black or dark purple by switching out the back cover and the N8 allows you your choice of Silver White, Dark Grey, Orange, Blue or Green (not all colors available in all countries). WINNER: Nokia N8

Display – Both devices have AMOLED screens with the Vibrant’s larger screen than the N8 (4″ vs 3.5″). Reading the display specs for both the N8 and the Vibrant seem equal, but I’m going to have to give this feature to Samsung. The colors just appear richer and brighter and with the larger screen everything seems a little bigger. I have both phones set to adjust brightness automatically yet the N8 does better in bright light, especially outdoors. I had less issues seeing items on the N8 when mountain biking and could see almost nothing on the Vibrant. WINNER: Samsung Galaxy S – Vibrant

Touchscreen – A tie with Samsung having a very slight advantage. Both are capacitive touch screens with multi-touch capabilities. Excluding the Vibrant’s touch buttons I found it to be a tad more responsive than the N8. That responsiveness disappears though when the Vibrant is updating on-screen widgets (weather, Facebook, email, etc.) and I haven’t noticed the same issue with the N8. TIE

Battery Life – I’ve gone as long as three days on one charge with the N8 with the homescreens filled with email, Nokia/Ovi Social, AccuWeather, Music, Notifications and bluetooth and WiFi scan running. With nothing active on any of the homescreens on the Vibrant, and bluetooth and WiFi turned off I can barely get 5 – 6 hours before I need to plugin. WINNER: Nokia N8

Operating System – Android 2.1 (Froyo 2.2 now available) vs Symbian^3. A few weeks ago I stated that Nokia needed to ditch Symbian and go to Android as Nokia makes the best h/w and yet Android is a great OS. I still like Android but that comment was made based upon my experiences with the N97 and Symbian S60 5th, and before I used Symbian^3 on the N8. After 2 weeks with the N8 I have to say I really do like S^3.

I would’ve said that the devices were tied in the OS battle, but that was before hearing of the challenges consumers are experiencing right now after upgrading to Froyo on their Vibrants. In fact, those challenges remind me of all the firmware issues and subsequent updates we experienced with the N97. I have had zero issues with S^3 and to try to compare it to S60 5th is comparing Granny to Red Delicious apples. I’m giving this one to Symbian^3, but let’s hope the upcoming f/w upgrade doesn’t make this a tie again WINNER: Nokia N8

Typing – The Vibrant comes with Swype installed and is not loaded as a default on the N8 but is available in Ovi Store. The resident keyboard on the N8 is much too small so even if you don’t want to use the Swype features you should install it just for the keyboard (download here). The Swype keyboard for the Vibrant has both landscape and portrait modes and the N8’s version of Swype has no portrait mode. I’ve heard this is because of the current f/w version for the N8 so I’m hoping the pending f/w update corrects this. WINNER: Samsung Galaxy S – Vibrant

Camera – Do I really need to go on? 12mp for the N8 vs 5mp. Xenon flash vs no flash. On device image editing pre-loaded vs needing a 3rd party app. 720p HD video recording vs ???? Both have social media sharing and built-in galleries. Both have 3rd apps available for sharing and editing photos, but the N8 even lets you edit videos on the device. The Vibrant doesn’t have a chance in this category. Not many devices do. For samples of photos from both the N8 and Vibrant please view my photos page. WINNER: Nokia N8

Synching – Nokia’s Ovi Suite seems to have graduated well from Beta Labs since I used it on the N900. It quite effectively syncs MS-Outlook calendars, contacts, notes, tasks, maps, music and pictures between my PC and the N8 without needing a 3rd party like Google. The Vibrant syncs well for social media and Google Mail and Google Calendar, but it has no OEM app to sync to your Outlook calendar, contacts, tasks and notes. There is an app in the Android Market called CompanionLink that does a mediocre job of in the absence of an OEM app. It never really brought over all of my Outlook appointments and was always deleting from, or creating duplicate calendar entries to, my PC without being changes being made to my phone. WINNER: Nokia N8

Email – Both devices can handle and check email for multiple email accounts such as Microsoft Exchange, GMail, Yahoo, and Ovi Mail. Neither can really handle Hotmail too well, but can any device? Makes me wonder how it addressed with WP7 phones. TIE

Applications & Application Store – This is another easy and obvious option, but not in Nokia’s favor. The Samsung Vibrant definitely wins here because there are just so many apps available in the Android Market and, unlike the Ovi Store, there are a lot of apps available for North American users. One advantage Nokia does have over Android with the Ovi Store is the ability to search apps on a PC and send the links to your mobile. The web-based version of the Android Market sucks. WINNER: Samsung Galaxy S – Vibrant

Movies, entertainment – I think this may be a tie as both devices have strong pluses and minuses going for them. Both play movies, but the N8 has the advantage of being able to output video with HDMI out. Samsung’s advantage is Media Hub, a movie and video store preloaded onto the Vibrant that allows you to purchase or rent video content. Yet the Samsung doesn’t allow you to play videos from Media Hub on just any TV. You need to use an application called allshare and it only works with DLNA certified devices. I’m not replacing my Panasonic 42″ Plasma TV just to watch movies from a phone. TIE

Social Media – The devices are equal in this aspect. There are native or 3rd party apps either device can use to allow you to view, update status, and share pictures with your friends on Facebook, Foursquare or Twitter. Pixelpipe is also available for both devices for those that want to update once. Nokia/Ovi Social was recently updated and is the best it’s been, but as there are only two networks it updates (Facebook & Twitter) it doesn’t do as much as the 3rd party apps. TIE

GPS & Maps – It’s no secret, the GPS signal strength is terrible on the Vibrant (reminds me of the N97 yet again) and despite claimed fixes by Samsung nothing has improved. The speed, reliability, strength and accuracy of GPS signals on the N8 is fantastic! In fact, probably the best of any device I’ve ever owned. Ovi Maps and Google Maps are pretty equal with each having advantages over the other. Both devices allow you to use their tools and install 3rd party navigation applications. WINNER: Nokia N8 as a map is useless if you have a poor GPS signal.

WiFi Tethering – This is available with the N8 through the use of Jokiu. There are free and premium versions available in the Ovi Store here. Nothing has to be done to your device other than install the app, though data charges may increase depending upon the data plan with your carrier. With the Vibrant there is no tethering unless you root the device. Rooting is basically unlocking the phone but it comes with risks as rooting will nullify your warranty with T-Mobile. This may not be important to many but I use my N8 as a WiFi tether point for my iPad. Why pay Apple $150 more for a tablet that will force me to pay AT&T $20+ per month just to use the device. WINNER: Nokia N8

With the votes tallied, the N8 seems to be the better device (N8 – 7 votes, Vibrant – 3 votes, Tie – 4 votes). In truth, I really didn’t need to tally a vote to know that the N8 is really a quality device. Not since the E71 have I had a Nokia phone that I truly and enjoy and have challenges finding faults with it. Thank you Nokia for listening to the consumers and learning from the mistakes of the past to build a must have device.

With the pending release of the N8 and the E7 around the corner I got to wondering, “What is more important to people, a 12mp camera or a QWERTY keyboard?” I figured why not ask the masses?

Many of us want to take great pictures with our phones (me included) and reduce the number of devices we need to carry. So are we willing to fore-go the speed and accuracy of QWERTY keyboard for great pics?



Then there are those of us that want to use a device more for text messaging, email, social media updates, and other typing heavy functions. So are those QWERTY-types ready to drop-down to an 8mp camera so they can have the physical keyboard?





Please select your choice from the poll below and let’s see which comes out on top: