Lumia News and Windows Phone 10 Preview Release 2

Bit of a mixed bag of news for this post, but stuff that’s all relevant to this blog. I’ll kick off with a mention that a few days ago, Microsoft posted that the next release of Windows 10 for Phones will include a lot more models in the supported line-up. This will hopefully include (from my perspective) the Lumia 820 – it is on the list, but the ‘final’ release may have a slightly adjusted device list if last minute bugs are found. A link to the Windows Insiders Preview Programme with the full device list (numbering over thirty phones) can be found here:

http://blogs.windows.com/bloggingwindows/2015/03/27/a-quick-update-on-windows-10-builds-for-phones-for-windows-insiders/

Hopefully the next test release will be available very soon and I’ll be able to try out Windows 10 for Phones on my backup Lumia 820.

Next bit of news is to do with the Lumia 830 manufacturing fault I had back in December. I came across this article on wmpoweruser.com last week: http://wmpoweruser.com/nokia-lumia-830-has-a-serious-hardware-flaw-stay-alert-while-buying/ 

The writer of the article had the same issue I had with their Lumia 830, where the screen started to come away from the outer aluminium housing, oddly enough at the same place on the right-hand corner. Though the articles headlines I think are a bit sensationalist, ie. I wouldn’t say that the 830 has a serious manufacturing fault, but awareness is always helpful but I wouldn’t dismiss the Lumia 830 because of a small batch of faults. Nokia has always provided excellent after-care along with a two-year warranty, so as in my personal experience, if something does go wrong, its how a company deals with it and in my case, the device was swapped out in just over a week – which I was more than happy with.

The final post in this news round-up is that the brilliant HERE maps have been updated for Symbian after nothing for two years. Bearing in mind that the Nokia account closure is imminent, this seems like almost like a last ‘hurrah’ towards the Symbian platform. I don’t know what will happen to the Symbian Nokia maps, once the account service closes down, as you now have to have a HERE account to use the maps app on the Lumia. I guess that the favourites will remain on the device but obviously there won’t be any synchronisation available. To update the maps, use the map loader and check for updates – they will have a date stamp of the 26th of February 2015.

  

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!