Lumia 820 Denim Update Now Available?

A very quick post to let visitors know that it appears that the Lumia Denim update has been released for the 820 and it is currently downloading to my O2 variant.

It also appears that this has been released by Microsoft in India as its their intention that Denim is available to all (CV versions at least), according to WPCentral.

I’m going to leave it running overnight as it appears to be a very slow download / install. I’d advise 820 owners manually check for updates to see if its available for your respective phone.

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The Many Cameras of Lumia

One of the strengths of the Lumia series is the camera technology and variety of ‘lenses’ available to the smartphones. However, to someone who has just bought a Lumia, this can lead to a little confusion. To be honest, I had this problem when I changed from the 820 to the 830, because I was expecting the latest camera software to be installed, called Lumia Camera 5.
To help those beginners, here’s an overview of the camera software that comes with the Lumia and a few tips which is the best to use. Out of the box on the Lumia 830 of you look through the apps list, you have:

Camera
Nokia Camera
-or- Lumia Camera (more of which later)

The Camera App

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This is what you call your standard Windows phone camera app, which I assume its also installed on order brands of Windows phones (HTC, Samsung etc). It offers a number of ways to control the camera such as ISO value, exposure, burst mode, picture or movie and flash. It also has a link to the other lenses that are installed – such as Nokia Camera. You can pinch-zoom on screen to zoom in on something (note this is only a digital zoom) and press the shutter button. Tapping the shutter button on screen takes the shot without the focus assist light, pressing the physical camera button engages the focus assist light if it’s enabled in the settings. You can then see what you’ve taken by tapping on the icon in the top right corner which will open your shot in the photos app.

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If you want to make changes to the photo settings (for example manually controlling the ISO values) you have to go to the three settings ‘dots’ -> photo settings and make your changes there. This method is a little clunky compared to..

Nokia Camera App

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This is one of the free ‘lenses’ that are offered with Lumia phones that have some controls over the standard camera app. This can be started by accessing it through the Camera app or from the app list and can also be pinned to the start screen. It’s different in the respect that the common camera controls can be found on screen, instead of having to go through the menus described above. Personally I find Nokia Camera the best to use, simply because the camera controls are on screen, so I’ve added it as a shortcut to my start menu. In addition, you can set the default camera to launch when you press the camera button in ‘settings’ (go to the settings app, swipe to the right so the ‘applications’ list is shown, find ‘photos+camera’ and set the ‘Default Camera App’ to ‘Nokia Camera’.

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Lumia Camera 5
Because Microsoft is gradually replacing the Nokia name with the Lumia brand, the Lumia camera app is designed to replace Nokia camera. It’s being rolled out as part of the Lumia Denim update, which in the UK has been rolled out to the Lumia 930 and 1520 at time of writing. However, Lumia Camera 5 as its called, has no release date for the Lumia 830 for the SIM-free (country variant). Unfortunately, though the Lumia camera app is also available in the Windows app store, 830 owners can’t install it because it needs the Lumia Denim update – which is already installed!?! The situation is confusing to say the least! Putting things into perspective, I still have a fully functioning camera phone, an update would be very nice but it doesn’t stop me from using what is a very good camera phone. I’ll keep an eye on the update rollout and post any news I find.

Update Monday 9th February
I spotted a tweet from @AA_WP (the very nice chaps over at www.allaboutwindowsphone.com this evening stating that the country variant (CV) Lumia Denim update was rolling out here in the UK. It was also stated that it included an update to the problem where Netflix streams won’t play. I’ve installed the update which took about 50 minutes in total to complete, the main difference is that Lumia Camera 5 is now available. A separate app update is also made available – initial impressions are that it has an incredibly fast startup, takes some very nice low light images and has had a bit of an interface change.

Unfortunately it seems that either there is still a problem with Netflix as the stream still won’t play, or the report from @AA_WP was wrong and the Lumia Denim update hasn’t fixed it. If you want to take a look at their report, click on this link.

I’ll post more details over the coming days specifically about Lumia Camera 5 and if there is any further update to the Netflix issue.

Update Tuesday 10th February
Very bizarre – Netflix is working fine this evening! Only changes I made last night were to reinstall Netflix which didn’t resolve the issue. Then MeTweets broke, so I reinstalled that I left the device for the night. I’ve just caught ip on the All About Windows Phone thread above and I checked Netflix, oddly it started working fine! No idea why but I’m more than happy this has been fixed at last!

Evernote vs Office on Windows Phone

I’ve been using Evernote on a variety of devices to help keep notes, blog posts and study material in sync for a couple of years. What helped pique my interest was the O2 customer special deal of a free year on their premium service plan. This includes offline data and a few other services. Its been very nice, I’ve sync’ed between Evernote on Windows Phone, my iPad and my Nokia C7 using the third-party client Notekeeper.

However, one thing that has annoyed me with Evernote, no matter whether you have offline access or not, is that the sync service isn’t quite 100%. Its fine when you have wifi and a good data connection everywhere, but here in the UK I do travel to some places where the quality of the data connection isn’t 100% and this can lead to some problems. In particular, if you are updating a document and want to save a small edit; I was updating some notes for the CP-123 review the other day and I was in a bit of a black spot for mobile coverage. I had a few minutes to kill, so I added another paragraph to the review and saved the document. Evernote went through the motions of syncing and because I’d had experience of this before, I went back into the document to make sure my changes were there. Unfortunately not – ten minutes of note-taking gone into the ether.

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As I said, Evernote has got ‘previous’ in this area for me and this has been the final straw. In addition I usually sync between my Lumia and my iPad and I’ve had problems when Evernote has said its sync’ed my document (via wifi) from the phone to the cloud (or from the iPad to the cloud) and neither device will pick up the changes. Eventually after much stabbing of the ‘sync’ button it would complete, but this isn’t the best way to keep your documents upto date.

So I needed a way to sync documents between my iPad and Lumia and for the Lumia to store documents locally until I could sync the changes with a good data connection. I’d never really used the Office suite supplied with the Lumia, but it offered a way forward; I could sync with OneDrive (which I have both on the Lumia and iPad) and I can store files on my MicroSD card on the Lumia. I’d also read a lot about Microsoft Word and Excel on the iPad but didn’t have an Office 365 account. However, a closer read through the Apple app store revealed that I could have limited editing facilities by simply using my Microsoft account.

Word and Excel on the iPad take up quite a bit of space (about 450Mb apiece) but you get pretty well fully functional word processing and spread sheet apps, on the iPad. The iPad version can be linked to both OneDrive and Dropbox. Though the Lumia doesn’t support Dropbox integration from within the app (one for an update Microsoft?) the recently announced DropBox app does allow you to download files (but only upload photos – so one way transfer at the moment) so if you needed a file and it was residing in your DropBox folder, there is a way to get the file.

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This way I can keep my documents in sync by using cloud storage as a transfer system and if I’m out and about save it to MicroSD card if there is poor mobile / wifi coverage.

Another couple of advantages of using the Office suite is that the Word app on the iPad is very functional – there are a lot of features available and its not just some cut-down RTF text editor. Something else that has always irritated me about Evernote on the Lumia is that that it doesn’t support landscape typing, you have to use portrait mode all the time. For someone that has large hands, this just reduces the functionality of the application – so when I found that I could use Word on the Lumia in this mode, that sold it for me.

Don’t get me wrong, Evernote is a very good application for keeping notes, but the irritations I’ve described have just pushed me towards the Office suite. Until there is good connectivity everywhere, for me having the option of local storage in an app is a must and that’s where at the moment, Office is a win for me.

Lumia Satellite Navigation Practicalities

One of the key things that I needed from a New smartphone when I decided to move from Symbian was good satellite navigation. I looked at alternatives such as the Apple iPhone and it’s Satnav solutions, reading the reviews carefully, but unfortunately there didn’t seem to be anything that hit the mark and everything was a compromise. When I looked at HERE maps (or Nokia Maps as it was then), I didn’t have to make any major changes and it was something I was familiar with. When I bought the Lumia 820, I eventually settled on a Nokia car mount (the model escapes me – CP-115 I think) which I had to modify by cutting the rubber grip with a scalpel knife as it was such a tight squeeze. Other third party Satnav mounts never seemed to stick to the screen, so this worked for me for a good while.

Because the Lumia 830 has a 5 inch display, I would need a brand new mount. Thankfully the Microsoft / Nokia website has clear specifications which includes the dimensions of the device, I was able to compare this to the available jaw grip specs of the CP-123, which confirmed that it would do the job. So I ordered one for Christmas and tested it in the New Year once my Lumia 830 was back from being replaced due to the manufacturing fault.

The mount itself is huge – a large plastic arm with the sucker grip at one end and the phone holder at the end, connected via a universal joint. The phone holder clamps can be adjusted by moving the clip at the bottom of the holder, so that the phone is firmly held in place. There is one big disadvantage in using the CP-123 with a large Lumia phone such as the 830 or 820, is that one of the grips presses the camera shutter button. The only way I’ve found to get around this is to clamp the phone into place, the camera app starts, press backspace to exit it and then start HERE navigation and there isn’t any further problem. I tried different orientations including where the volume button gets pressed, but this was more than the phone could cope with so I went back to gripping the camera button instead.

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To secure the mount in place, there is a lever which when pushed into place, clamps it to the windscreen – and it really does hold it into place. I’ve driven up and down side roads and motorways and the phone is reassuringly secure – no chance of it falling off the screen because the sucker loses grip. In addition, there is a tab on the rubber sucker to help the release of the mount from with windscreen.

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There is a small hole where the MicroUSB charging cable can be plugged into the bottom of the phone (Lumia 820), in the centre phone clamp. A useful tip if you are using a Lumia phone for Satnav for any sort of distance navigation, is don’t bother with any of the third-party 12 volt chargers, such as ones designed for the iPhone, because they don’t provide a Lumia with enough charge to offset the discharge rate when using the phone for navigation. Typical third-party chargers only supply about half the one ampere needed to keep the phone topped up. I went through a number of these before I finally ended up with an Nokia DC-20 dual USB port charger (supplied with MicroUSB and 2mm coiled cables) which does the job perfectly. I bought my DC-20 from Amazon, as it doesn’t seem to be listed on the Microsoft / Nokia website.

I now have my perfect satnav system using my phone and my old TomTom PND has been retired to the bottom of the study drawer.

Overall, both the CP-123 and DC-20 are excellent products and well worth seeking out if you want to use your Lumia for satellite navigation.

More Power!

…is one of Jeremy Clarksons favourite sayings on the TV series Top Gear. However, its something that todays smartphone batteries are always in need of and there never seems to enough. My Lumia 820 has a 1650MAh exchangeable battery, which I had to buy a replacement after about 14 months of ownership as the original battery was losing performance quite rapidly. When I was using the device heavily, I could end up topping up the juice three times a day. Which is why upgrading to a Lumia 830 and its 2200MAh is a revelation in only needing to top the device up once a day, so far.

However, I want to get a reasonable estimation of what the battery life is like in daily use, from full to nearly zero. I’ve been carefully topping it up since I had the phone by either charging it up on the wireless charging plate over night or via the MicroUSB connection during the day. So I’m going to run a battery endurance test this weekend, starting from when the battery app said that it was fully charged (1.15pm today) and I’ll note roughly what I use it for and how long it lasts.

Friday 23rd January
Some 4G data usage late afternoon (Twitter, Google Maps), approx 15 minutes use and some texting. About 40 minutes playback of a podcast via the 3.5mm headphone socket. Data use on wifi during the evening lasting about a hour in total.

I’m going to shut the phone down over night so I can get some ‘proper’ use from it during Saturday (for the record, 67% battery level at 11.30pm) – I’ll post the results here tomorrow.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Update – Saturday 24th January
I switched the phone on at 9am and ran it on wireless internet for approximately an hour reading RSS feeds, Twitter and news apps. This ran down the battery to 48% at 12pm, I then went out for the afternoon (switching off the wireless) taking approx 20 photos using Nokia Camera and Panorama, with some occasional texting and using HERE maps. Back home with some more internet access (on wireless) for about 20 minutes and then out and about during the early evening (with only occasional use of the phone). This eventually caused the battery monitor to hit 10% capacity at 8.15pm. The phone finally started to splutter at 8.50pm with 5% battery left.

I then plugged the 830 into my Proporta Pocket Power straight in at 8.50pm, which charged the device up to (with no use) 17% in 40 minutes, from full to completely exhausting the Pocket Power (which is rated at 680MAh.

Conclusions
Total running time for the phone switched on performing all these day-to-day functions is 22 and a quarter hours (near enough), which I reckon is pretty damn good. I think I’ll have to purchase an extra battery sometime in the future, simply because the number of recharge/discharge cycles will run the total capacity down, like my Lumia 820, but having the flexibility of swapping the battery out gives me that option. Top marks to Nokia for including a phone with this feature in the Lumia range!

Nokia Lumia 830 Review

I finally got my Lumia 830 back last Thursday, after UK mail attempted a delivery whilst I was out and I drove to their depot to collect my parcel. Bit of a dash across city to get there on time as UK Mail would have sent my package back to the supplier if I didn’t collect that day! Once back home and powered up and the wireless settings had been added, the restore started. Everything was up and running again in about ninety minutes, just a few account passwords to confirm and to get rid of a few of the default apps (eg. Facebook) so the app list is setup how I want it.

I do want to mention the top quality service I’ve had from Clove Technology in getting the device swapped – manufacturing faults occur and its good to know that there is top-notch service to back up up your purchase if things go wrong.
 
Physical impressions of the Lumia 830 – a nice, large monoblock device equipped with a 5″ screen. The screen is very shiny – so shiny in fact that if you leave it on the side of an arm chair, it will slide itself off! I’ve got a Shocksock pouch by Cellapod and if I leave it on the screen, it mysteriously moves…!

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I’m not going to repeat what has already been written about the specification and the whole device, as this has already been covered elsewhere in many other websites and blogs. Instead, I’m just going to cover what I particulary like or what I’ve noticed in comparison to my Lumia 820 and moving up from my old to new Windows Phone 8.1 device.

SIM Card: the 830 takes a nano-sim, whereas the 820 takes a micro-sim. This was easy to transfer over, just popped into my local O2 shop and asked for a contract nano-sim and used the ‘swapmysim’ online service to transfer my mobile number to the new sim (which took less than 24 hours). Once inserted, the phone automatically detected that it was a contract O2 sim and set everything up for me. No need to type in lots of internet and MMS settings – everything was detected and working straight away, which was a nice surprise!

Something I noticed when I set up the first 830 in comparison to the second 830; during the phone activation step, it seemed to be much easier to get it activated. On reflection, I’m sure this was because I was restoring from the first 830’s backup, rather than from the 820’s. A point to note, don’t bother trying to activate the phone by text message as you won’t get anything. Use the activate by email feature and have another device that is setup to receive email to your Microsoft account handy.

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Above: Lumia 820 (left) and Lumia 830 (right)

Once activated and connected to your wireless network, the device starts to download all your apps saved as part of the backup. You’ll need to download the HERE offline maps for your countrie(s) and as a default the phone will store all content on your MicroSD card (I have a 64Gb SDXC installed). The phone is fluid to use, there are no hold-ups or slow transitions – the 720p screen is gorgeous with colours beautifully displayed.

I originally wanted the white back cover version (to be honest only the black, orange and green versions appear to be available to buy) but unfortunately my supplier Clove Technology didn’t have one available to ship at the time I ordered it. Instead I ordered the orange version with the intention of buying a white Qi-compatible back cover to replace it. This was quite easy to find on eBay – ironically it arrived the day I shipped my faulty 830 back to Clove. The cover is easier to take on/off than the Lumia 820’s, secured by about a dozen small clips all around the device. Once on, its secure – I don’t know what it will be like long-term or if it will develop ‘creaks’ as the device gets older, but its easy to change!

The 820 has a 4.3″ screen – something that I found when using the on screen keyboard in single-character / portrait typing mode my large fingers would get the letters ‘I’ and ‘O’ mis-typed. However using the 830 and the slightly larger keyboard has eliminated this problem – along with using WordFlow. Something to bear in mind for future devices that a minimum size 5″ screen is the best fit for my hands. I was initially a bit reticent about WordFlow when it was first announced as I wasn’t sure how much control I would have writing on the device, but I have been pleasantly surprised and find myself jumping easily between WordFlow and typing single characters. So much so, I’ve installed the Swype extension on my Nokia C7 which though not as quick, does offer me a similar typing experience on the slower device.
 
A lot of people nowadays focus too much time on the CPU and RAM of a device, especially when comparing Windows Phone to Android. Why doesn’t it have 2Gb of RAM I hear people cry, when similar Android devices have that amount? Simple answer – Windows Phone has been written to be a far more efficient operating system than Android, its all down to how the O/S and applications are written to make use of the available memory. The Lumia 830 has 1Gb of RAM – which seems to be the standard amount on most Windows Phone devices and this looks like the benchmark amount with Windows Phone 10 on the horizon. I’ve never had a problem running several applications at once on both the Lumia 820 and 830 so unless you intend running a rendering application as well as 100+ apps at the same time, it does the job and performs well.

The two main (non-phone) reasons for buying the Lumia 830 were use as a car Satnav (more of which later) and as a camera which I carry around with me as I find it very useful in my day-to-day job in IT technical support. The Lumia 820 camera was great and I’ve took some great shots with it in the two years I’ve had the phone. However I wanted something a bit more capable and the 830’s 10Mp PureView camera caught my attention when the phone was announced last year. I’ve only had chance to take a few shots since I’ve had the phone back but I’m very impressed with it. Colour reproduction is very good and the shades especially in the poor January daytime light are not bad at all. I’m looking forward to using this outside all the more as the weather improves.

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Couple of shots taken in automatic mode using the Lumia 830 or the river by Stourport-on-Severn
 
The car Satnav I’ve been using since the original Nokia maps were launched on the N95 back in 2007. Using the phone as a Satnav is something I’ve been gradually been doing as the quality of the navigation and mapping has improved over the years to the point where I’ve stopped using my TomTom PND altogether a just use the phone as a navigation device. It’s got me out of a few navigation problems; getting lost in Leeds town centre whilst making my way to a company event (on foot) using Nokia maps on the E71. Another time was when I was using my C7-00 to navigate to a rural site whilst in battery saving mode and virtually no power left (and no way to recharge it as the car 12v supply was knackered) and it got me there on time – an absolute legend.
 
Choosing HERE maps (the evolution of Nokia maps) was really a no-brainer for one simple reason – offline maps stored on the phone. In Google’s world you always have a data connection and download the maps as you go, because you always work in a big city with plenty of data connections. In my job working where a data connection isn’t always available (let alone a phone signal, yes this is true in 21st-century UK), if I’m to rely on the phone for navigation, offline maps are essential and the choice where Google maps were simply not even in the running. Yes I know you can download maps or sections prior to travelling, sorry too much hassle and unreliable when HERE does it so much better (and the feature wasn’t available when I moved to WP8.1 in Feb ’13). I’ve gone through a number of Satnav mounts in the past few years, trying to find the ultimate one – I’ll be giving my verdict on the Nokia CR-123 in a later post. As a quick summary for HERE maps on the Lumia – reliable, does the job getting you from A to B day in, day out – just as you would expect.

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Lets round up this post with a summary of the Lumia 830:

I like:
Quality of the screen 5″ 720×1280 gorilla glass.
Exchangable battery and covers.
MicroSD card slot (upto 128Gb).
Wireless charging.
Glance screen.
WordFlow keyboard.
Free satnav with HERE maps.
Cortana (just getting used to this, but first impressions are good).

Not so keen on:
Micro USB socket at the top of the device.
Less-rounded corners than the Lumia 820.
Hardware switches (volume, on/off and camera shutter) aren’t a different colour to the frame, but they feel solid/well-engineered as they are now metal.
Not much else at the moment!
 
I’d give the device a 9/10 rating – The Lumia 830 is a cracking phone to own and use, Windows Phone and Microsoft/Nokia are making the right moves with offering this specification device and I’m looking forward to using it over the coming months!

Nokia Lumia C7-00 to Lumia 820 to Lumia 830

A lot of posts on this blog are for when I was using the Nokia C7-00 as my primary phone. In February 2013 I made the leap to a Nokia Lumia 820 Windows Phone 8 device, which I have thoroughly enjoyed using. Its been through a succession of updates all the way through to Lumia Cyan and 8.1 and it took it in its stride. However, with new devices launched and my contract nearly up for renewal with O2, I decided to check out the natural successor, the Lumia 830. After contacting O2 and looking up the support forums, I was disappointed to find out that O2 wern’t going to be carrying the device – only the 930 and 735 in the mid/high-end range.

The only choice was to go SIM-free so I ordered one from Clove Technology for Christmas. I only had the device five days, unfortunately on the night of the 30th of December I noticed the glass screen starting to come away from the chassis in the top right-hand corner. I gently pushed the screen back – there was a sub-millimeter gap at this point) but after an hour there was another gap starting to appear and it got worst, to the point I could see a millimeter-gap and the LCD screen lit up, in the gap. Having contacted Clove returns department, the device has been sent back for evaluation and repair. Disappointing, but its one of those things which looks like a manufacturing fault so I’m hoping to get a replacement 830 back early next week.

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The gap that developed in the space of a few hours – manufacturing fault / not enough glue?

In the limited time I’ve had the 830, I’m immensely impressed – the screen is georgous, it takes great photos and is responsive.

In the meantime, I’ve switched to my C7-00 as my primary phone with an O2 PAYG SIM and I’m running the Lumia 820 without a SIM as a wireless-only device but with the ability to make/receive calls using the TuGo app – effectively as a VOIP phone. This works great – it means I have a way to use my main number just in case someone needs to contact me, but I still have a full mobile whist the Lumia 830 is away.

Once I’ve got my 830 back, I’ll post how and what software I’ve used to manage the upgrade from the 820 to 830 and use the C7-00 to fill in any gaps.

Watch this space…!