Always have a Backup

Only fifteen years ago, it would be fairly rare to have a mobile phone. My first was a Nokia nk402 on Orange (I’ve still got it, its currently stored in the loft) which was an Orange-branded version of the 5110 which I got for the special offer of £99. Nowadays, mobiles, smartphones and connected devices are everywhere and its ‘unusual’ to be out without such a device. However, there are some instances where you don’t want to be taking your 5 inch Lumia 830 out with you (eg. if you like sports) and its impractical to keep the phone on you or use it where it could get knocked about.

I’ve kept a few of my old phones and have a PAYG mobile SIM that I can use between devices. I’ve been grateful for having a backup – I’ve had to send my C7-00 back to Nokia for a chassis replacement because it was starting to split at two screw fixing points and I swapped back onto my Nokia 6680. Most recently, I used the C7-00 whilst the Lumia 830 was away for replacement, for the problem with the screen coming loose.

I’m going to do a couple of articles on the merits of keeping an old phone usable so you can drop back on such a device, if you’re planning on going yomping over the moors one weekend.

However, what if you don’t already have an old phone that you don’t mind getting knocked about? Microsoft are still releasing this style of phone under the Nokia brand name and for such a knockdown price they are hard to ignore. The one that has caught my eye is the Nokia 215 – a monoblock device based on the Series 30+ operating system. It sports a 2.4 inch QVGA 240×320 screen in 18bit colour, supports 32Gb MicroSD cards and has a 1100MaH battery with 29 days standby time. 

You can take a look at the device spec’s in more detail by clicking the link below:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/mobile/phone/215/

Amongst other features such as an FM radio, torch and durable outer shell, but should be noted it only supports 2G networks – there are no 3G speeds here. In some ways, this is to an advantage of the device; the are parts of the rural UK that only have 2G network coverage and running it in 3G mode could have a detrimental effect on the battery life by hunting for a non-existent signal.

The device is pitched with internet-capable apps for accessing services such as Twitter or Facebook, Opera Mini browser, Messenger, Bing Search and MSN Weather. In my experience, 2G speeds are fine for getting this sort of information from the internet, you just have to set expectations that its not going to be instantaneous.

It also supports Bluetooth audio devices, so this would be great connected to a Nokia MD-12 portable speaker (though the speaker will run out of juice before the phone!)

There isn’t an official release date set yet though it can be bought on Amazon for £39.99. If anyone from Microsoft / Nokia wants me to trial / review one of these devices when they’re out I’ll gladly give it a shot!

In the meantime, I’ll take a look at the C7-00 and 6680 as backup phones in some coming posts.

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.

2015/01/img_0380.jpg

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…!

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.

Nokia C7-00 – Buying and First impressions

Nokia C7 Front and Back

 

 

Image: http://blog.rightmobilephone.co.uk/nokia-c7-review/

Over the past few weeks, my venerable E71 has been having a few problems – loss of connectivity and ‘SIM regsitration failed’ messages appearing, forcing a power off. I’d also been filling up the memory with quite a bit of stuff (music, documents etc) and after doing a bit of research on a replacement mobile phone, checked out the Nokia C7-00 on O2’s website. The specifications looked fine, sporting the new Symbian ^3 O/S, 8Gb internal memory in addition to a microSD slot (so I could move my 8Gb card from the E71 to the C7) and I could get it on a reasonable contract renewal (2yr, £25/month, no purchase cost).

I’d always extoled the virtues of havng a ‘real’ keyboard and adore the E71 form factor. I’ve tried fill touch-screen phones before, my wife’s Apple iPhone for example, but detest how sensitive the screen responds to touch and find the layout immensely irritating when used by my large fingers. I have a number of Symbian applications that I have bought over the past couple of years that I like and really can’t be bothered with making the switch to another ‘ecosystem’ having to learn what you can and can’t do with another mobile O/S. Symbian ^3 suits me – improvements made over a familiar O/S and I can transfer all my ‘stuff’ from the E71 easily. Besides, I don’t subscribe to all the Google services, so I’m not willing to make that commitment (life is too short).

Back to the E71 however, the screen size (2.4″ 320×240), I was getting tired with. ‘Try before you buy’ was the watchword so I trotted off to the local O2 shop in search of one to play with. I was pleased to see that one was on display and powered. Within 5-10 minutes of using the touchscreen, I could see that this was a phone I could use and proceeded to talk to the store ‘guru’.

To cut a long story short, I walked out with a new C7, having renewed my contract for a couple of years at £25 per month. However, I did get the impression that the guy was trying to steer me away from buying one. Comments about ‘they’d had a number of C7’s and N8’s back because of the O/S’ seemed odd, I countered this with explaining that I’d done my research and made sure I’d got upgraded versions of my favourite applications (Gravity, ProfiMail, Adobe Reader, WordPress editor, Opera mobile). I was puzzled by a few other comments and just came away from the store that he was trying to put me off. I’m sure the guy was doing his job and wanted to allow me to make the most informed decision possible, but I consider myself to be aware of the mobile O/S market and knew what I was letting myself in for. He also advised me incorrectly about the charger, when trying to sell me a car charger (I’ve got one from my N95 days) saying that I’d need one and I couldn’t use my old 2mm car charger.. The C7-00 supports USB charging via the micro-USB port and it does have a 2mm-style charger in the box.

First impressions are very good; Despite sending a email to @janole, author of my twitter client ‘Gravity’ at 10.15pm, I’d had a reply saying that my license had been transferred within 20 minutes. I’d updated my ProfiMail license online and downloaded updated versions of my applications. I left the E71 and C7 talking to each other via bluetooth and the PhoneSwitch application, copying all my old SMS’s (I really must have a clear out one day), contacts and calendar entries. Within about an hour, I was up and running again on the C7.

Battery life looks good, after heavy use (lots of browsing, tweeting, playing with the phone) the phone is down by three bars, so more than 50% remaining. The homescreens are very easy to personalise and the phone is fast and responsive. Something that has saved me a couple of quid – the C7-00 fits into my old E71 leather case (that was supplied with the phone) quite nicely (slight squeeze, but otherwise ok). The box contents are bare minimum – a quick guide on using the phone (a slight disappointment as it would have been nice to read a bit more on the differences between the S60 3rd edition FP1 and Symbian ^3), a brochure on Ovi services, BL-5K 1200mAH battery, a short length USB to microUSB cable, AC-15X 2mm mains charger and a set of hands-free headphones/microphone.

C7 unboxed

The obligatory unboxing image…heh!

Thankfully, my old CA-101 micro USB to USB cable appears to charge the phone at the same time as transfer data. In Nokia’s continuing commitment to the environment, the box contains the minimum of packaging (all recycleable), which is in their favour.

All these minor touches help make moving from one phone to another a pleasant ‘user experience’ and I’m looking forward to getting used to the phone over the coming weeks.