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!

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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…!

Keeping Symbian^3 and the C7 Working at Top Speed

First of all, I’d like to wish all my visitors a very Merry Christmas. I’m currently writing this as I’m laid up in bed with a nasty cold and there is nothing to watch on telly. So, I thought I’d post a short article about a useful thing I’d discovered whilst using my Nokia C7-00.

I’d noticed recently that my C7 was getting slower and slower, especially when switching it on. It would take a matter of minutes before I could use applications within the phone ‘hanging’.

I took a look at what was ‘different’ in using the phone. I’d installed a number of applications to trisl and left them on the phone, to use ‘on a rainy day’. Thinking this would be agood place to start, I decided to have a purge on any necessary app’s and uninstalled anything that I didn’t need.

Once this was done, I rebooted the phone. Unfortunately, the performance was still the same. So, I looked at other areas of the phone and opened the messaging application. Because of the greater memory in modern phones, I’d become lazy in keeping track of my inbox/text messages and hadn’t deleted anything for a good while.

In total, I’d built up around 2,500 items, incuding sent and received SMS messages. I set about clearing everything that I didn’t need or want to keep. An easy target was the sent items folder, containing nearly 400 items. Once I’d had a clear out session, I’d reduced everything down to less than 400 messages. Another reboot… and hey presto the phone was working as quick as I’d first purchased it! Accessing the applications menu was much faster and generally the phone was much more responsive.

The moral to the story? To keep your C7 (and the same probably applies to other Symbian^3 phones) working at an optimum speed, keep your messaging inbox and associated folders to a minimum number of items as possible. Have a regular clear out and delete any messages you don’t want to keep.

Happy holidays and have fun!

Symbian Anna Update

The long-awaited Symbian ^3 Anna update was posted worldwide on Thursday the 18th of August by Nokia, making it available to operator and non-operator branded handsets. The update is available for all the Symbian ^3 handsets that currently do not ship with the update out of the box. This includes the N8, C7 and C6.

I gave it a couple of days before taking the plunge and updating my C7. Though the update can be applied OTA (over the air), it is highly recommended that it is applied via a desktop PC with Ovi Suite as it has to be installed in three steps and is nearly 300Mb in total. It is recommended that Ovi Suite is updated first, the check for updates once the phone is connected. I would recommend taking a backup of the phone settings first.

The main part which updates the firmware to v22 is applied first. This takes approximately 20 minutes to apply, the phone is rebooted and the Symbian Anna update is applied in two parts. This takes about 10-15 minutes in total.

Nokia should be commended in making the update process very seamless and easy to apply. Most noticeable differences are:

Portrait QWERTY keyboard (improved layout and split-screen)
New icon setNew web browser
Extra features in Calendar
Performance improvements
Font look and feel
Enabling NFC feature (C7 only)

All my key applications and data were retained during the update and there does not seem to be anything that ‘breaks’ because of the update. This includes ‘Gravity’, ‘Opera Mobile’ and ‘Opera Mini’, ‘Resco News’, ‘Alternate Reader’, ‘WordPress for Nokia’ and ‘Quick Office’ – the paid for version. Though I have my own Anna-based theme installed (giving a more transparent look) on the desktop, I did look at the new midnight themes – these lack colour and I went back to my old theme.

Overall though, a very worthwhile update which should be available to nearly all operators across the globe over the next few weeks.

Nokia E71 – Version 501 Firmware

I’ve had this post in production hell for some time and thought I’d better get the snapshots added so the article can be posted. It relates to my Nokia E71 that I sold off to O2 Recycling back in March, but before I got rid of it, I upgraded the firmware.

I’d been aware that there was an upgrade available for some time, but because I’d got a stable set of software, I decided to leave it. It would have mean’t that I’d have to load everything back on, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Anyway, once I’d backed up my phone and checked that I’d copied over all the useful ‘stuff’ to my new C7-00, I set to work on the E71. In difference to the last upgrade I performed for version 400, I made sure I gave the phone a hard reset using the code on the phone dialler *#7370#. The problem I had last time is that the upgrade process appeared to lock up part way through, something I was keen to avoid.

However, the hard reset seemed to take a very long time and after some minutes, the phone had not come back on. It would not even respond to the pressing of the power button.

What I am not sure of, is if this is normal behaviour. A fail-safe for this type of problem is to remove the battery for about a minute, reinstall it and power the phone back on, which it dutifully did.

I also removed the MicroSD memory card before the E71 was powered on, as I’d got some applications installed to it and didn’t want them to load on power up. Once the E71 was back on, I connected it up to my laptop using the CA-101 USB cable and started PC Suite. The software updated checked online and the version of firmware available was reported back as 501.21.001 (10th of August 2010). I started the firmware upgrade and expcted a long wait). However, the firmware upgrade was completed in less than 5 minutes and the E71 when running, was reporting its new firmware version.

So what is new? Not a huge amount (I don’t have a change log handy) that is immediately noticeable to the end user, though Ovi Maps is now updated to v3.03 and is labelled as ‘Ovi Maps Lite’, which reflects the extra-content-less version of the application which was provided some time ago when it was announced that Ovi Maps was being made ‘free’ for a number of devices. Kudos should go to Nokia for supporting older devices with facilities such as Ovi Maps, years after they were released.

I have also noticed some new ‘IBM Lotus Notes Traveller’ icons appearing, though having never used the application I can’t say what the improvements or differences are.

Overall, the update is worth doing to keep your E71 update and performing at its best. Since I originally drafted this post, I believe there has been another minor update (v502?) to the E71’s firmware.

Chasing the ISS with a Canon SX20IS

The International Space Station passed over my house this evening, about to dock with the STS-133 Discovery space shuttle. Though I wasn’t able to see the shuttle (I understand from tweets that it was very close), the ISS pass was pretty bright and lasted for a good few minutes. Fast moving cloud spoilt the first image where the ISS approached from the SSE. However the following three images I hope you’ll agree aren’t too bad despite the weather doing its best to spoil the view.


ISS Pass 1


Here the ISS (the long line, a 32 second exposure), left hand part of the line is passing over Betelgeuse and Bellatrix in Orion. Aldeberan can be seen up to the right and faintly, the Pleiades can be seen.


ISS Pass 2


In this second inage the ISS has passed Orion (whose distinctive outline can be seen on the right of the image) and is approaching Castor and Pollux in Gemini to the upper left.


ISS Pass 3


This final image shoes the ISS track partially obscured by cloud, just before it disappears from view.

I used my Canon SX20IS mounted on a Jessops photographic tripod, taken at ISO100, using CHDK to set a 32 second exposure, at f7.1. I used a two second delay to allow the camera shake to settle down before the shutter engaged. The images have had a small amount of post-processing applied to brighten the scenes slightly.

My First Two Weeks with the Nokia C7-00

I’ve been using my new C7-00 for just over two weeks now and I’d like to share my thoughts on the device. Overall, I’m very happy with it and feel I’ve made the right choice of phone upgrade. The device hasn’t crashed or locked up once, despite using some old S60 3rd edition applications (Resco News and Y-Browser). The feel of the phone is a testament to Nokia’s industrial design and feels like a quality product through and through. I’ve even started to get used to the touch screen, which despite my protestations that ‘I’ll never buy a touch screen phone’, I’ve taken to it far quicker than when trying out my wife’s Apple iPhone.

Nokia C7-00

I’ve been laid up for a couple of days due to illness and had a few other ‘real life’ things going on, however I’m now catching up with my usage and I want to note my findings below.

Battery:
Having been spoilt by my E71’s lithium-polymer battery that lasted forever, I have high expectations of Nokia’s performance in this area. Even though the phone has a lower capacity battery (1200mAH vs the E71’s 1500mAH), its performance is pretty good. I can get a full days use (with a phone call or two during the day and a good couple hours usage during the evening) web browsing, tweeting, reading and generally playing around with the device and have between two and four bars left on the battery gauge.

Charging:
I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the speed that when connected to the MicroUSB port, how quickly the battery charges. From one bar to fully charged in about two hours – similar performance to using the 2mm mains charger. I still need to confirm this, but for USB charging to occur, I think your USB port has to be of a certain type to charge the C7 and the laptop must be connected to the mains. I will confirm this theory however. The Nokia CA-101 cable (from the E71) also works in this regard, so there is no need to use the short cable from the C7 box.

Symbian ^3 Software:
Despite what has been written in the various (mainly American) tech-blogs who continue to berate Symbian for not being as ‘shiny’ as iOS or Android, I’m enjoying using S^3. Its robust, functional and feels more open and accessible than other mobile O/S’s. For example, try finding a file manager for iOS that gives you ‘proper’ access to files stored on the phone.
I do have one gripe though – Ovi Store. It has took a couple of goes to get the payment through my phone provider to purchase Angry Birds, however it downloaded ok and is just as good as the iOS version.

Buttons and controls:
The buttons and controls are located at generally decent locations around the phone. The camera button allows for easy activation of the camera application, with on screen controls and a wide range of camera functions, such as ISO and exposure. The lock key is very useful – I like the ability to lock the keypad before storing the phone in its case, a function that isn’t available on the iPhone. A very useful feature is the torch – if you hold the lock key down for a few seconds, the twin LED flash lights will illuminate, until you repeat the same action to switch it off.

Call Quality:
No ifs, no buts. This is one area where when you need a phone to be a phone and make that important call (yes, even in 2011, people do still talk to each other), for me the phone I use has to be a Nokia. Call quality is A1 and having a microphone/headphone combination set in the box is great. I like to use these when working to make calls, which allows me to use a keyboard to type with both hands. This was proved during this week when my wife’s iPhone was almost under constant use and she was point of contact for a number of important phone calls. Unfortunately the phone’s reliability was not good enough and I put the old E71 on standby, ready to swap the SIM card. A minor thing to watch, I had a problem with a 3.5mm jack adaptor – that I’d previously used to connect various devices to a set of speakers. For some reason the C7’s headphone socket wouldn’t allow the plug to be inserted and I had variable quality sound output. However, I discovered that the headphone/microphone set supplied with the C7, needed to be ‘used’ and inserting this for the first time, seemed to loosen the socket up a little and I was able to use my other plug without further issue. The difference is that the C7 set has a stereo/microphone connector, the other plug was just a stereo plug (see images). I’ll put this quirk down to ‘newness’.

C7 Landscape View

Specifications:
I think people in the tech blogs are getting too hung up on the specifications of phones (cpu, ram, gpu), in the same way as PCs have been compared. The C7-00 is quick, responsive, seems stable and has 8Gb of internal storage with a microSD card slot, supporting upto 32Gb card size (40Gb total). Enough for me – I’ve installed my old 8Gb card from my E71 which has given me instant access to all my music and files. I like the slim design which makes the phone easy to handle and not feel as though I’m lugging a ‘slab’ around like so many smartphones are becoming these days. As for the rest of the spec’s, who cares – it works!
(I must be getting old – a few years ago I would have obsessed over the spec’s – now I happy for something that does the job for me).

Multimedia Playback:
As I understand things, all S^3 handsets have essentially the same hardware under the bonnet, which makes writing games and applications easier for developers. My personal experience of the video playback is that the screen and quality is fantastic. However, after having to convert video to 320×240 @ 15 frames per second for the E71, its probably not a surprise I’m impressed with this. I’ve yet to try connecting the AV port upto my TV yet, but I’m expecting good things. nHD 640×360 resolution movies and clips are crisp and there is no jerkiness in the frame rate. Sound quality from the rear-mounted speakers is excellent, even if they are mounted on the back. I can’t decide if I should put the C7 on its front or back to ensure I get the full audio experience!

C7 Back View

Camera Quality:
The C7 sports an 8Mp EDof (extended depth of field) camera. EDoF means that when taking the majority of pictures, they will always be in focus. For the average user, this is fine and means that there is a greater chance of the snapshot being in focus and the user being pleased with the result. However, the limitation is that close-up shots are blurred and the
camera can’t be used for macro shots or images of business cards or documents. If this is something you do a lot of, then I would recommend you try before you buy. I haven’t really tried the video recording yet so I’ll save that for another review post.

Overall Impression so far:
I’m very impressed, I’m surprised how quickly I’ve taken to using the touchscreen when previous experiences with other brands have been so bad. I’ve got all my main applications available so I’m going to be quite happy for a while yet! It will be interesting to see what the Microsoft/Nokia partnership brings to the table in the coming months and years, in the meantime watch out for my long-term report on the C7, which I’ll look to post in a few months time.