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.

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…!

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.