We’ve moved!

November 1, 2010 Comments off

It’s still all work in progress, but I’m happy to announce that PhoneSpot has earned a new homePhoneSpot.net !

From now on, the work I publish around the web will be collected there, so please feel free to drop by and say hello. Maybe bring some cake too!

Hint: You might even find some new features that I haven’t posted here…

Categories: Feature

Brief look at the new Nokia C3-01 ‘Touch and Type’

September 29, 2010 Comments off

Confusing names aside, the new  Nokia C3 is the second handset in Nokia’s  Touch and Type family. Along with the Nokia X3, these two Series S40 based feature phones offer a no-nonsense user interface and lightweight design for those who doesn’t necessarily need the extended functionality (and complexity) of smartphones.

At first glance, you might say the C3 is just a more reserved version of the X3, and, for the most part, you’ll be right.  But there are still some subtle differences to be found, so let’s have a closer look…

Size and weight : Both phones can be considered compact and slim, with a barely noticeable weight in hand. Still, the Nokia X3 pushes the limits even further by having a thinner, although a bit wider, body. Oh, and it’s lighter too.

Nokia C3 vs X3

100 g vs 78 g

111 x 47.5 x 11 mm  vs 106.2 x 48.4 x 9.6. mm

Screen. Both phones utilize a 2.4 inch resistive touch screen with 240 x 320 pixels (QVGA TFT) resolution, ensuring a relatively sharp picture for it’s physical size. The represented color pallet of the screen also looks decent, although with no surprises. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test it’s sunlight legibility. Naturally, the working experience with the Nokia C3 touchscreen proved to be  as enjoyable as with the X3, and I initially had problems discerning whether it’s a capacitive or a resistive screen. As I mentioned in my X3 preview, the S40 interface has been modified with larger icons and other UI elements to compensate the limited screen size.

Keypad. This one is quite obvious. The Nokia C3 comes with a traditionally arranged keypad with horizontal bars between each row of the keys for increased typing comfort. The X3, on the other hand, has a 4×4 grid keypad that has additional multimedia and messaging shortcut keys in the top row. The downside? There’s virtually nothing that separates keys in either direction, and only a slight slope at the bottom of each key helps to improve the situation. Still, the keys on both devices are generously sized and offer great tactile feedback, but it’s worth noting again here, that the few extra keys have made the X3 into an entirely different kind of animal.

Other input elements: The Nokia C3 comes with dedicated camera and lock key that are sadly missing on the X3. Removed to keep the design seamless, no doubt.

Battery: Here’s where the Nokia C3 justifies the few mm more it has under it’s belt in comparison to the X3. The C3 comes with a 1050 mAh Li-ion battery against 860 mAh Li-Ion battery on the X3. I wouldn’t worry about it too much though, as the power consumption should be nowhere as close as on the smartphones. Charging on both phones is possible using the 2 mm port and also via microUSB.

Internal memory: According to Nokia site,  there’s no memory card included in the retail package, so this might really hurt:  there’s 30 MB of  internal memory available to the Nokia C3 user vs 50 Mb on the X3. Both are disturbingly low numbers, and storing anything more than a few camera photos and apps is, of course, out of question.

Camera: Both have a 5 Mpix, extended depth of focus (EDOF) cameras with accompanying LED flash. So yes, it’s basically fixed focus, albeit with some minor improvements. I suspect the overall performance will be quite similar to that of Nokia E5, but your guess is as good as mine at this point.

Connectivity: The Touch and Type series phones are pretty much on par with modern connectivity standards like 3G, HSDPA and Bluetooth (v2.1), but also packing support for WLAN networks. The only thing that’s really missing from the lot is the GPS functionality, but isn’t that a bit too much to ask for here?

Take a look at the brief but nevertheless interesting demo of the Nokia C3, recorded directly from Nokia World 2010:

With all that in mind, which device would you prefer? The stylish and ultra-slim Nokia X3-01, or the more classic looking C3-01? Choices…

Categories: Previews

The Nokia E7 is no small business. Find out why…

September 22, 2010 Comments off

Since it’s announcement during the recent Nokia World event, the E7 has gotten quite a lot of attention. And for a good reason. It was passionately dubbed by Annsi Vanjoki as the direct continuation of the Nokia’s ‘communicator’ legacy, and thus, has quite some shoes to fill. But before we move head first into the device itself, let’ relive the very first moments of Nokia E7 at Nokia World in the following video, starting at the 11:16 mark:

Short demo of Nokia E7:

The pictures doesn’t do the E7 justice. Yes, ‘it’s BIIIG’. The E7 is no small business. But at the same time, it doesn’t feel like a brick. It’s seamless and sleek design is truly remarkable, especially if we compare it to it’s spiritual predecessor, the E90. In closed state the E7 looks and feels like a slightly bigger version of the Nokia N8. With a slightly wider body and a similar thickness to the N8, the device also feels incredibly solid. You won’t find advanced camera optics of the N8 here – instead, the bulky camera module on the back has been removed to keep the device as slim as possible.

There’s also a more functional reason for this, namely so that the E7 can sit firmly on flat surfaces while working with the qwerty keyboard. What I’m not impressed with is the camera cover, which is at exact same level as the backside of the phone. I guess the engineers were really pushing the limits as to how slim the E7 can be, otherwise I can’t see the reason why the camera lens couldn’t be put in a slight recess of sorts for better protection.

The slider itself resembles the N97 in the way it looks and tilts the screen at a specific angle, yet it  doesn’t quite work in the same fashion. I was pointed out by the people who also had some hands-on time with the device that you actually have to push it a bit from the top, rather than pushing the upper part dead-on from it’s sides. So it might require a bit of practice until it becomes natural, but overall, it’s not an issue. When the slider is finally engaged, the rest of the movement is as smooth and matter-of-fact as you’d expect from it, locking the screen into open position at the very end and giving the E7 the certain ‘oomph’ factor the N8 strangely lacks in my opinion.

But that’s, obviously, is a completely different story. Nokia has done a great job at separating it’s new devices from each other, and it’s hard to choose a device without some sort of compromise in a certain direction. For the N8, it’s the lack of the Amoled CBD (Clear Black Display) and physical keys, for E7, it’s the absence of the superior camera hardware and a microSD card slot. Yet it almost feels like a perfect combo, these two devices – one for work and the other for leisure –  but other Nokia phones, like C6-01 or C7, can also be easily added to the mix.

During the little time I had (it’s never enough..) to play with the E7 in Nokia World experience lounge, the physical qwerty keys felt definitely closer to the Nokia N97 mini keys rather than N900’s. For starters, the E7 offers a generous work space for the qwerty keyboard. That, in turn, makes it so much more easier to work with emails, office documents  and whatnot – definitely better than, again, the cramped keys on the N900. When compared to the N900, the keys are also slightly larger and with a tad shorter travel, but by no means I can say that the E7 keys have poor feedback.

Speaking of feedback, I was also quite happy to see the redesigned and much improved menu key on the E7. In comparison to the N8, it has been moved from the corner to the middle area under the screen, and it has also been slightly raised rather than totally flush with the rest of the phone like on the N8. And the difference is quite noticeable: you thumb doesn’t aimlessly wander under the screen until it feels the slightly softer area that is the menu key. The raised  boarders of the menu key on the E7 means that the time to adjust your finger to properly work the key is reduced to minimum. A dream!

The rest of the phone speaks volumes by itself: anodized aluminum body, up front – hardened glass , HDMI port –  just like the Nokia N8.  These two devices go hand in hand in many ways, yet they successfully manage to offer their own, unique experiences to it’s user. Aside the usual corporate features that are essential for business users, during the Nokia World Q&A session with E7 product managers we were also promised some additional software tweaks in Symbian^3 operating system, so the phone would in theory run snappier than the N8. From my experience, even with the pre-production firmware the device ran pretty much lag free, and the screen responded promptly to my finger inputs. In a nutshell, the E7 runs on the same processor and has about the same RAM as the other recent additions to the Nokia Symbian^3 phone family. The graphical accelerator, however, was promised to handle the much bigger 4 inch screen of the E7 without sacrificing performance. It would be very interesting to see how the E7  fares against other Symbian^3 phones in field conditions, but by the end of the day, not everything solely depends on how much Mhz’s and Mb’s the phone has ticking under it’s hood. Symbian OS is proven to be less demandive to system resources, and less power consuming as well. Let’s keep that in mind, when and if comparing it to other operating system phones out there in the market.

Link to the full Nokia E7 gallery

Finally, we move onto the  already mentioned Q&A session we had during Nokia World day 2. What are the differences from the Nokia N8 camera? What business applications the E7 is going to have?  These, and some other relevant questions were raised, and for the most part, answered in the following video, thanks again to @dani2xll for providing it! Incidentally, yours truly, can also be seen in the video, sitting to the left from the product managers ;)

Nokia E7 Q&A:

So that about sums it up what I feel about the Nokia E7 at the moment. For me, the E7 was the absolute winner of the whole Nokia World show. For others, it’s greatest strengths might be less important, and they might look at the likes of Nokia N8 or C7, for example. Many questions have been lifted during Nokia World regarding the E7, where rumors and blurry spy photos turned into an ace looking successor of the Nokia’s communicator line.  The E7 has an edge over the competition with a truly attractive design, built materials, and thought-out qwerty keyboard. And did somebody forgot about the desert – the HDMI and USB OTG functionality?

Yet the biggest question remains, that actually sounds more like a request at this point… when is it finally coming out?

Categories: Previews

Up close and personal with ‘Evening with Ovi’

September 18, 2010 Comments off

Here’s something you guys might be interested to see (if you haven’t done so already) –  a recording of a small event held on the final evening before Nokia World 2010 had kicked off. There, many familiar Ovi services were discussed and explained by people working at Nokia/ Ovi like Jan Bonnevier aka ‘App man’, or Pino from Nokia’s Ovi blog, and all that, in a relaxing, dimly lit environment with free drinks – the perfect warm up for the Nokia World craze that was looming ahead of us the very next day.

Not incidentally, the new Nokia baby, the N8 was mentioned in more than a few occasions mainly for it’s superior media capabilities. Speaking of which, there was also a solid chance for bloggers to win a spanking new Nokia N8, and if my memory serves correctly, @mikemacias and @S60inside won the lottery, both of whom will probably receive their N8’s in the following weeks.

Anyway, you’ll get an idea of what the evening was like while watching the video, and perhaps even spot a few familiar faces in there… Since  the recording proved to be rather lengthy for the likes of YouTube, I’ve split it in two parts. Enjoy!

Photos by Roman Schweigler

Categories: Feature

Do you like… pink? Nokia X3 Touch and Type hands-on impressions

September 17, 2010 1 comment

So, with the Nokia World 2010 ending in a flash, I can finally start  digesting the enormous stream of mobile information that was coming from more directions I could manage to catch. It’s was a monster. There was only but a few things that kept us running with a constant supply of adrenaline, and more specifically, one – the all new devices from Nokia. By now, you probably know what the new portfolio is like, and what can we expect from Nokia in the next couple of months. There’s definitely lot to talk about, and choose in which phone to invest our money in, but one thing’s for sure, there’s just about everything to everyone. But let’s stop here, and have a closer look at one of the phones that appeared at the event. Hands-on [p]reviews of other devices will follow.

Meet the Nokia X3. Or,  if you like it better that way, X3-02. Confusing? Most certainly, as there’s already a Nokia X3 with a slider form factor, released in late 2009. Especially confusing is the fact that ‘X3′ is clearly visible on front of the device. Suddenly, using the righteous X3-02 isn’t so attractive anymore, now is it? But let’s leave this for later discussions, and instead have a quick virtual tour around the device in question.

Ha – a matching shirt, almost!  I asked if I can get one of those, even the pink ones would do for me, but nada…

The very distinct ‘V’ shape of the chassis of the X3 is also less noticeable in real life than in the official photos I had seen out there. And perhaps I’ve grown tried of the masculine, all-black N900, but the pink doesn’t look so bad on the X3…  Add the slim form factor and incredible lightness of the device (77.4 g), and you have a good contender for a female type of phone. Of course, there’s a lot more going on than just the exterior- X3 is also one of the first so called ‘touch-and-type’ Nokia phones, that run on the S40 series platform. While using the alphanumeric keypad isn’t news for S40 phones, the inclusion of a fully capable touchscreen is. The sensitivity of the touchscreen is impressive despite the fact it’s resistive, with the UI being clean and simple, and large enough to avoid any problems fingering the rather small, 2.4″  screen area with the standard 240 x 320 pixel QVGA resolution.

I quite like where Nokia is going with the X3, combining the old and familiar with the relatively new. For the users who feel like they are not ready yet to take a dive to touchscreen only controls, there’s now a way to have a go with a touch sensitive screen without leaving the comfort of having physical alphanumeric keypad. There’re no navi keys to be found here, but once the user realizes the sheer beauty of navigating through menus just by touching the screen, going back to the old ways could prove to be difficult. The keypad itself doesn’t leave many surprises, but one thing should be noted is that there’re four keys per row instead of the standard three, with the first row dedicated to call keys and two shortcuts keys. Each key also has a slight slope at the bottom part for better distinction between the rows.

The connectivity options would be pretty much standard issue for smartphones, but for an affordable S40 phone like X3 the specs are actually quite good: 3G, HSDPA, Wi-fi, bluetooth (2.1) and microUSB port. There’s a 2 mm charger port, but according the Nokia official site, USB charging is also possible. The internal memory is rather small (50 MB), and knowing the price group of the phone, there’s a very slim chance that a micro SD card will come in the retail package. Understandable for such a slim body, the Nokia X3 is equipped with a very basic 5 Mpix ‘full focus’ camera. Why even bother, you may ask? Just ’cause…

So there you have it, the Nokia X3- a simple to use, compact and lightweight non-smartphone, offering the best of both worlds of touch and type.

You can have a look at the rest of the Nokia X3-02 pics in my flickr album here.

Categories: Previews

I should get a ticket to Nokia World 2010 because…

August 25, 2010 2 comments

… Nokia has transformed the way I meet and interact with new people.

Perhaps a slightly deeper explanation is in order.

We all live to experience and explore emotions. It is what makes us feel alive. But the path we choose to do so is never completely the same. We’re free to go where we choose, try as many different things as we want. But now, our digital lives are increasingly taking over. The need to communicate is growing out of proportions. That is only a natural progression into new the modern age, yet it gives a whole new meaning to survival. Life seems to accelerate. But there is a solution. Mobile phones are poised to offer it’s owners the flexibility and speed that are so important for the success in virtually all aspects of their lives.

With time, mobile phones learned do so much more. They became the initiators and organizers of our experiences – the very same essential little things that fulfill our lives. And I grew to realize that with my own mobile phone. It was a Nokia.

My Nokia phone gave me the canvas of my digital life, a gateway to different experiences. My interest in mobile phones and industry was born with Nokia phones, and like all things that are first, they remain in your mind, forever and strong.

As I grew, my Nokia phones kept evolving, becoming faster, smarter, and more aware of the surrounding world. But one thing never really changed. It is that warm, familiar feeling. It always stays with me, and I trust it, because I know it for such a long time.

The steady mobile evolution that Nokia was driving forward was the one that also taught me to appreciate the mobile technology I’ve come to use daily now. My journey started with Nokia NGage, and it was first to show me that mobile phones can be offer immerse entertainment, anytime and anywhere. Nokia N70 was first to teach me that phones can be smart and attractive at the same time, and Nokia N73 – that I can trust my phone’s camera to capture the most dear moments of my life.

There was a milestone event in the year 2007. Nokia N95 came out, breaking all previous assumptions on what mobile phone can do. It was first to prove to the world, that’s it’s possible to have it all in a single, compact device. It’s a multimedia player, a gps receiver, a versatile camera and it’s also a mobile phone that works. It’s not one thing, but many. Does it sound strangely familiar? The Nokia N95 created a following of immense proportions, but the history will always remember it as the first.

And finally there’s the Nokia N900 that stays with me to this present day. It is the mobile computer in my phone in my pocket that I had always wished for. I still keep exploring what it can do. It satisfies my drive for constant online connectivity perfectly – handling my emails, instant messaging and, of course, giving an uncompromised web browsing experience. And on top of all that, it ensured me, that I can expect great things from Nokia in the future. And that future is coming close. It’s almost here. Nokia World is where it all starts.

But why are smartphones became attractive to me? Early on, I’ve spotted that smartphones carried the biggest bulk of innovation in the industry. Now there are increasingly popular and can be found anywhere. They are the big things that come in small packages. They are also the many small things that bear invaluable importance, only for me. To feel like being part of something while enjoying a complete solitude. It is that feeling of home and safety, right in your palms, while being exposed to different opinions and events streaming from my phone. These contrasting values come together in a wonderful and unique way – supplementing each others strengths and negating weaknesses.

So it quickly became the tiny corner of my digital life, packed neatly in my pocket. I can take it wherever I want, shape it how I want, store pleasant memories and all sort of other things that make me feel good about. And yes, I can also call the world whenever I wish, staying connected with people that matter to me.

These are the reasons for my undying love towards smartphones and mobile industry.

And thus it’s easy for me to explain why I want to be part of Nokia World. It means to be part of something that matters to me, but on a much larger scale. And I won’t be alone. I will have the opportunity to see and meet people I have always looked up to. And finally live up to that very moment, when there’s nothing in the way for me to simply come over and shake their hands. Tell them – thank you. Being there, a mutual understanding comes into play- we know why we are here – we are united in our interest towards Nokia phones. For then I’d say – ‘I learned from you, and continue to do so, while also trying to find my own way in this world. No, we never actually met before, but I feel like I’ve known you for a long time’.

Nokia does that. It connects people, in many different ways.

Spending several years closely following mobile events I discovered that my passion outgrew of just being a hobby. It became a lifestyle and a place where I can focus my energy on, and encourage myself with dreams about the future. From the more practical point of view, my interest helped me develop critical thinking and take my English writing skills a step further, giving me the freedom to reach out to a much wider audience. I discovered the simple joy in sharing what I have learned. Because I know, at the same time, I’m learning from them.

While I love to discuss newly announced phones and other events in the industry with like minded people, it started to lose it’s magic. Somehow the news always came to me with a notion of jealousy. Something is missing. And it only grew in intensity, almost stealing the pleasure in actually learning about the news. The answer, as I later found out, was plain simple – I need to be closer.

But there are boundaries I cannot overcome without help.

I wish to experience how it feels to be on ground zero of events that will define the future of Nokia and mobile industry. See as it happens and observe, as it resonates throughout the rest of the world, reaching millions of people who also wish stay connected with the help of Nokia.

Everybody feels that changes are about to happen.

Nokia World. Phones running the much improved Symbian^3 operating system will be showcased. More will be unveiled on the promising MeeGo platform that will hopefully set sails of new and powerful Nokia flagship before the end of this year. In the end, all these news and announcements will carry one simple yet very effective message – Nokia is back!  The anticipation is almost unbearable. For me, it will be the time to fall in love all over again.

It’s more than just phone. It’s more than just emotions. It’s my Nokia.

I’ve written this essay not only to attempt a ticket to Nokia World, but also to have a way of reaching you guys and wishing the best of luck. It’s time to turn the tide, and more than ever, the world is watching closely.

Thank you for considering me!

Categories: Feature

Nokia C6 Review: The good, the bad and the smart

August 8, 2010 6 comments

Introduction

Ever since it’s release under the Nokia’s Cseries branding, the Nokia C6 was bound to attract some attention. And for a good reason. The budget price range is quite unusual for what it offers in return: attractive design, a touchscreen enforced with a slide-out qwerty keyboard and all the connectivity you can eat, including voice guided GPS navigation. With a few caveats, it’s not difficult to spot the simple yet beautiful concept behind the  Nokia C6 – you get what you see, without going into overdrive with expenses.

Read more…

Categories: Reviews
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