Tom Hopkins

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  1. Tom Hopkins added a post in a topic Cheep and cheerful - Nokia Lumia 635 review   

    I found the Wifi reception to be pretty good, although James Norton pointed out to me that the Cyan firmware update seems to remove the ability to leave wifi on in the background (or perhaps the ability to toggle such a function).
    • 0
  2. Tom Hopkins added a topic in Windows News   

    Cheep and cheerful - Nokia Lumia 635 review
    The Nokia Lumia 635 is Nokia’s newest addition to the bottom end of its range, adding 4G to the otherwise identical 630. And as you pull it out of its new-style (and very minimal) Nokia packaging, it becomes immediately obvious who they want to buy it.



    Plastic Cover, check. Lurid Colour, check. iPhone-sized, check (actually a touch larger). It’s the 5C for people who’d rather keep a serious chunk of their hard-earned cash, with the 635 setting you back as little as £130, compared to Apple's PAYG price of £369.



    In fact, mine came in an incredibly vivid Orange. I’m surprised I couldn’t see it through the packaging. We’re not talking the orange of the future being bright, here. Or even the orange of oranges. We’re talking radioactive, Chris Martin’s wrist band, David Dickinson’s face, youf orange. And it’s very nice, actually (on a phone). The back and sides contrast, and are offset by the standard totally-black front and small black camera peaking out the back.


    More orange than you could possibly imagine

    What’s that? What about the buttons on the front? All windows phones have them: start, search and back up. Actually from this generation, the buttons are still mandatory, but they are no longer necessarily physical. Showing up on the screen only when it is activated.


    Look Ma, no buttons

    Being virtual has a couple of benefits – the phone looks slicker when it’s locked, and the navigation bar can be styled. You can now choose to have it black, theme-coloured, or match the background (which makes it grey on light background colours). This does indeed work nicely. You can also turn haptic feedback on or off (i.e. off).

    We hear the reason for this change is so that it will be easier to port Android devices over to WP8.1. Perhaps this was the motivation but in my limited time, I found it to be a benefit in its own right.

    The physical camera button is gone too. Cost saving I suppose. But it leaves the phone very lean with just volume controls and the lock key.

    Unfortunately the 635 lacks the ‘glance screen’ functionality found in many higher-end Nokias and the double tap to wake function which ends up quickly becoming habit. Nevermind, the power button is hardly difficult to find.

    The phone comes with the latest Windows Phone software out of the box. This means all of the goodness of the relatively stacked 8.1 update, but also some tweaks that come with Nokia’s ‘Cyan’ firmware. Much of the Cyan goodness is about fixing bugs and optimising performance, enabling Bluetooth LE, treasure tag and so on. But there are some visible benefits too. There’s much more control over the screen’s brightness and colour for one. And certain features of built in apps like Nokia camera are also updated.

    Just this week, Nokia has also released a Beta of the new lock screen tool. Again this brings some pretty nice effects (well OK, one nice effect, the one pictured). The lock screen’s always been really nice and simple in WP but this shakes it up a bit and provides quite a striking changes.



    In terms of design, the 635 (like its 4G-less cousin the 630) is miles better than its low-range predecessors, namely the 520 and 620, each of which was great in its own way. The 4.5 inch screen is – for my money – the perfect size. Slightly bigger than the iPhone (although perhaps not for long). But it’s the screen quality which impresses - despite being just 854 x 480 pixels (inferior to similar-priced Androids such as the Moto G), the 635 is much better than the previous bargain basement 520. Nokia’s clever technologies such as Clear Black elevate the screen beyond the story told by the spec. And it works particularly well with the bright blocky colours of Windows Phone.

    In terms of performance, the 635 is at the low end: 8Gb storage (expandable to 64Gb with a micro SD card), Snapdragon 400, 512Mb RAM. However it’s perfectly snappy in everyday use, a testament again to Windows Phone engineering.

    One element that might disappoint is the camera. 5 Megapixels is low nowadays and there is no flash. But as you can see below, for casual daylight snaps, it does the job pretty well, just as the 520 did.







    Perhaps even more disappointing is the front-facing camera. There isn’t one. So how is one supposed to take selfies? Surely this is an own goal given a decent proportion of the phone’s target market must come from the narcissistic generation.

    What about the rest? In a way we don’t really need to go into it as most things are the same as on every other Nokia Windows Phone. And that is to say, the OS is great, some of the Nokia apps are amazing but the story with 3rd party apps is not good, with apps typically less good or missing entirely.

    With 8.1, Windows Phone really did just get loads better, 100s of small changes and some big headline features such as Cortana (which is actually pretty useful), Swypey keyboard and the notification / control-center bridged the gap with iOS and Android. Many built-in apps (Music, Calendar, Store) were given a thorough polish too. And a more complete set of management tools (battery sense, data sense and so on rounded out the OS nicely).

    There’s some silly stuff too, like the additional column of tiles and the background images. But obviously you can keep that comfortably turned off if you chose.

    It’s subjective of course, but for my taste, Windows Phone 8.1 is better than Android (less fussy and confusing), and iOS (less fugly, simpler and quicker to use). The Nokia apps, and in particular Here Drive add a great deal too, creating a really good alternative to a standalone GPS. Plus, of course, let us not forgot too the Microsoft goodies under the hood, namely Office.

    3rd Party apps have had some improvements too. The Facebook app (created by Microsoft) is on a par with its Google and Apple equivalents. Uber is already on WP, Instagram arrived in the end and so on. But if you’re in to having the best versions of apps and the latest apps, don’t get Windows Phone.

    This sort of thing matters to the sort of people who review phones. I’m not convinced it’s so pivotal to your average user who wants to be able to call, text, email and do the basics. A few apps on top (and probably not the latest silly iOS stuff) is the icing on the cake. Not the cake itself. From this point of view, Windows Phone has plenty in the app store.

    The 635 is the 630 with 4G. What we may need is a 636 which adds a front facing camera. As we skirt the bottom end of the market, however, Nokia is looking to be keen on price without substantially compromising on quality. Selfies may be one cut too far – after all, what are you going to upload over 4G if you can’t take pictures of yourself?

    Sat next to its Android cousins, the 635 feels very premium. Sat next to the cheapest current iOS device, it looks like a steal. You could have 2 of these (or 3 of the 630) for the price of the Apple, and still have change for a spray tan, round of drinks and a kebab. And for anyone without a degree in Android or an obsession with apps, Windows Phone 8.1 could absolutely be the OS of choice.

    The 635 should continue the Windows Phone sales spike the 520 started. Let’s just hope increased market share does get the developer community to do more.

    Click here to view the item
    • 3 replies
    • 393046 views
  3. Tom Hopkins added a item in Windows Phone   

    Cheep and cheerful - Nokia Lumia 635 review
    The Nokia Lumia 635 is Nokia’s newest addition to the bottom end of its range, adding 4G to the otherwise identical 630. And as you pull it out of its new-style (and very minimal) Nokia packaging, it becomes immediately obvious who they want to buy it.



    Plastic Cover, check. Lurid Colour, check. iPhone-sized, check (actually a touch larger). It’s the 5C for people who’d rather keep a serious chunk of their hard-earned cash, with the 635 setting you back as little as £130, compared to Apple's PAYG price of £369.



    In fact, mine came in an incredibly vivid Orange. I’m surprised I couldn’t see it through the packaging. We’re not talking the orange of the future being bright, here. Or even the orange of oranges. We’re talking radioactive, Chris Martin’s wrist band, David Dickinson’s face, youf orange. And it’s very nice, actually (on a phone). The back and sides contrast, and are offset by the standard totally-black front and small black camera peaking out the back.


    More orange than you could possibly imagine

    What’s that? What about the buttons on the front? All windows phones have them: start, search and back up. Actually from this generation, the buttons are still mandatory, but they are no longer necessarily physical. Showing up on the screen only when it is activated.


    Look Ma, no buttons

    Being virtual has a couple of benefits – the phone looks slicker when it’s locked, and the navigation bar can be styled. You can now choose to have it black, theme-coloured, or match the background (which makes it grey on light background colours). This does indeed work nicely. You can also turn haptic feedback on or off (i.e. off).

    We hear the reason for this change is so that it will be easier to port Android devices over to WP8.1. Perhaps this was the motivation but in my limited time, I found it to be a benefit in its own right.

    The physical camera button is gone too. Cost saving I suppose. But it leaves the phone very lean with just volume controls and the lock key.

    Unfortunately the 635 lacks the ‘glance screen’ functionality found in many higher-end Nokias and the double tap to wake function which ends up quickly becoming habit. Nevermind, the power button is hardly difficult to find.

    The phone comes with the latest Windows Phone software out of the box. This means all of the goodness of the relatively stacked 8.1 update, but also some tweaks that come with Nokia’s ‘Cyan’ firmware. Much of the Cyan goodness is about fixing bugs and optimising performance, enabling Bluetooth LE, treasure tag and so on. But there are some visible benefits too. There’s much more control over the screen’s brightness and colour for one. And certain features of built in apps like Nokia camera are also updated.

    Just this week, Nokia has also released a Beta of the new lock screen tool. Again this brings some pretty nice effects (well OK, one nice effect, the one pictured). The lock screen’s always been really nice and simple in WP but this shakes it up a bit and provides quite a striking changes.



    In terms of design, the 635 (like its 4G-less cousin the 630) is miles better than its low-range predecessors, namely the 520 and 620, each of which was great in its own way. The 4.5 inch screen is – for my money – the perfect size. Slightly bigger than the iPhone (although perhaps not for long). But it’s the screen quality which impresses - despite being just 854 x 480 pixels (inferior to similar-priced Androids such as the Moto G), the 635 is much better than the previous bargain basement 520. Nokia’s clever technologies such as Clear Black elevate the screen beyond the story told by the spec. And it works particularly well with the bright blocky colours of Windows Phone.

    In terms of performance, the 635 is at the low end: 8Gb storage (expandable to 64Gb with a micro SD card), Snapdragon 400, 512Mb RAM. However it’s perfectly snappy in everyday use, a testament again to Windows Phone engineering.

    One element that might disappoint is the camera. 5 Megapixels is low nowadays and there is no flash. But as you can see below, for casual daylight snaps, it does the job pretty well, just as the 520 did.







    Perhaps even more disappointing is the front-facing camera. There isn’t one. So how is one supposed to take selfies? Surely this is an own goal given a decent proportion of the phone’s target market must come from the narcissistic generation.

    What about the rest? In a way we don’t really need to go into it as most things are the same as on every other Nokia Windows Phone. And that is to say, the OS is great, some of the Nokia apps are amazing but the story with 3rd party apps is not good, with apps typically less good or missing entirely.

    With 8.1, Windows Phone really did just get loads better, 100s of small changes and some big headline features such as Cortana (which is actually pretty useful), Swypey keyboard and the notification / control-center bridged the gap with iOS and Android. Many built-in apps (Music, Calendar, Store) were given a thorough polish too. And a more complete set of management tools (battery sense, data sense and so on rounded out the OS nicely).

    There’s some silly stuff too, like the additional column of tiles and the background images. But obviously you can keep that comfortably turned off if you chose.

    It’s subjective of course, but for my taste, Windows Phone 8.1 is better than Android (less fussy and confusing), and iOS (less fugly, simpler and quicker to use). The Nokia apps, and in particular Here Drive add a great deal too, creating a really good alternative to a standalone GPS. Plus, of course, let us not forgot too the Microsoft goodies under the hood, namely Office.

    3rd Party apps have had some improvements too. The Facebook app (created by Microsoft) is on a par with its Google and Apple equivalents. Uber is already on WP, Instagram arrived in the end and so on. But if you’re in to having the best versions of apps and the latest apps, don’t get Windows Phone.

    This sort of thing matters to the sort of people who review phones. I’m not convinced it’s so pivotal to your average user who wants to be able to call, text, email and do the basics. A few apps on top (and probably not the latest silly iOS stuff) is the icing on the cake. Not the cake itself. From this point of view, Windows Phone has plenty in the app store.

    The 635 is the 630 with 4G. What we may need is a 636 which adds a front facing camera. As we skirt the bottom end of the market, however, Nokia is looking to be keen on price without substantially compromising on quality. Selfies may be one cut too far – after all, what are you going to upload over 4G if you can’t take pictures of yourself?

    Sat next to its Android cousins, the 635 feels very premium. Sat next to the cheapest current iOS device, it looks like a steal. You could have 2 of these (or 3 of the 630) for the price of the Apple, and still have change for a spray tan, round of drinks and a kebab. And for anyone without a degree in Android or an obsession with apps, Windows Phone 8.1 could absolutely be the OS of choice.

    The 635 should continue the Windows Phone sales spike the 520 started. Let’s just hope increased market share does get the developer community to do more.
    • 3 replies
    • 6323 views
  4. Tom Hopkins added a topic in Windows News   

    One small step for Microsoft
    Just the other day, Steve Ballmer said that one of his biggest regrets as CEO was that Microsoft had missed out on the mobile market. Announcing the Surface Book Air, Satya Nedalla restated his "mobile first, cloud first" strategy. You might expect, therefore, that we would be seeing constant and dramatic forward leaps for Microsoft's very own mobile phone operating system, Windows Phone over the last few years.

    But no. The upcoming update, 8.1 - which comes preloaded on the Nokia 930, 630 and perhaps even a new HTC flagship - is the first proper consumer-facing update for almost three years.

    So is this a giant leap for the platform?

    And here's the problem for Microsoft. In mobile operating systems at the top end of the smartphone world (where the company now is), any progression is a really a game of inches. They're hardly alone in this - Apple and Google add fingerprint readers, built-in apps, torches and more pixels, it hardly feels as if we are on the cusp of any game-changing announcements from anyone in mobile.

    And so, when you do upgrade to 8.1, your first impression could well be that very little has changed.

    As you start to explore, however, you'll realize that the two or three flashy headline changes are accompanied by many many smaller features and improvements. In the long run, it may be the tweaks which matter more than the rest.

    For me, before even upgrading, coming back to Windows Phone after a few months in the wild with an iPhone, probably the most remarkable thing was just how well the core features still compare.

    Outside of apps themselves, the key built-in features - email, app navigation, lock screen, keyboard are just better by a mile. It's hard to understand why Apple hasn't managed to close some of these gaps in the last four years.

    So what are the biggies, the stand-out features the update brings?

    Well the Cortana voice assistant is undoubtedly one. Here the world seems to be split into two camps: those that would never use a voice assistant, and those who say they will but never actually do. Siri, for me, has always been little more than a party trick, or something to use in the car when there are no other options. That said, Siri and Google now, can often in impress, understanding surprisingly complex questions and providing answers. Cortana - admittedly in beta and set to US English while being evaluated by a Brit, spent most of her time in "Computer says no" mode. Rarely understanding or transcribing at all, and then progressing to very slow look up the wrong thing. Early days of course. But to sum it up: with Siri, I'm often surprised how well it works. With Cortana, I'm surprised if it works.

    The next obviously major addition is the notification and action centre. Like many others, I was concerned that this feature would break the whole live-tile concept. It doesn't, it's extremely well executed. Not noisy or annoying as iOS notifications can be. This new way of seeing a little more of the things that have happened since you last looked at your phone adds greatly to the "glance and go" underpinnings of Windows Phone, despite the fact that notifications cannot be actioned without moving into the relevant app. Easy access to a customisable list of shortcuts and toggles such as Bluetooth, Internet Sharing etc is also extremely useful and again nicely implemented.



    To see the Windows Team maintain their usability thinking is a big relief. It was far from assured. Often around the release of wp8, it had felt that the simplicity and coherence were slipping away, letting the platform drift to the infinitely customisable and infinitely fiddly ways of Android. But we can see that clarity of thought again now in notifications, and it sets the tone for all the other improvements seen here.

    The final headliner is the Swipey keyboard - where the user essentially smudges their finger through all the letters in the desired word (and all the letters caught in the middle) and the software decodes the intent. Hardly original. Swype dates back to 2010. However, the implementation is great. For my money, the downside to Swype was that it meant you were left with a rubbish keyboard if you didn't want to enter your message through wavy lines. On WP, there is no problem. The keyboard remains the excellent windows phone model. But if you start smudging away, it’ll quickly get the idea and start responding. Simples. And for the trials I gave it really quick and accurate to use, if you like that kind of thing.



    So those are the biggies. Underwhelmed? Don't be. Look at the little ones.You can automatically share your current wi-fi connection with friends and contacts, without disclosing the password. I couldn't test this as I only had one WP8.1 device. Sounds great though. WP8.1 will also try and re-connect you to Wi-fi hotspots, agreeing T&C pages and so on if necessary.You can see a week at a time in calendar. And you get the weather straight into your calendar. When you’re looking at the week view, you can quick expand each day. It's very simple and easy to use. Oh, and there's a year view too.You can also adjust the volume of the music separate from the ringer. This does make it a little more tricky to silence the phone completely. And is less useful for those who always leave their phones on silent but clearly meets a particular need.In the store, you can now see a full list of apps previously purchased and re-download any you've removed - great for reviewers but also those with a tiny amount of phone storage, like the entry level Nokias and HTCs. Plus the store can now make app suggestions based on location (niche) and through social recommendation connected with Facebook. And finally, you can quickly see which apps you are using and which you aren’t to de-clutter your device.You can now store your apps on a SD card. This will transform entry level phones with tiny built-in memory and SD card slots.
    What else? Well how about getting apps to auto update themselves, and to be able to choose to only have them do that when you're on wi-fi. Guess what? That's turned on by default.

    In fact, the new platform is quite a fascist about both bandwidth and battery use, offering users the ability to scrutinize exactly which app is doing what and to automatically turn virtually everything off when times are tough at the end of the day for juice or month for bytes.

    There's a complex solution that will optimise your email checking patterns dynamically, rather than always on, so if you were getting loads of emails yesterday, it might limit it's checking today. Sounds more like a life coach than an email policy to me but may prove useful for some who don’t always want their email immediately.

    Some of the biggest changes to the platform are hard to understand in the preview version as they are opportunities for app developers to link things together much more richly.

    What you will notice is that Facebook is no longer so deeply integrated with "People" or with "Photos". Indeed, when you first turn the device on, it may seem to have disappeared entirely. In fact, much of the functionality has been moved out to apps. You can still do all the same stuff - specifically integrate your Facebook contacts in address book (and link them to other contacts) as well as bringing in Facebook photos. But the same options are now open to developers so we can hope to see more apps with the same kind of integration.

    The same is true of apps like "Music" and "Games" which are now slightly disconnected from the device. This means that they could be replaced by alternatives. And they can also be updated over the air. Fingers crossed that this will lead to more competition, updates and quality. Each app has already had a significant overhaul.

    Anything else? Yep!
    You can now swipe apps off screen (as well as close with the 'X') an odd omission on WP8 since Windows 8 has it.You can manage scheduled quiet hours.On the silly front, you can chose to display three columns of tiles even on smaller screens. Whilst this might make sense on phablet cousins, on smaller phones this just creates clutter.You can also put an image "behind" the tiles (instead of a colour) and with a fancy parallax effect. I'm sure the kids will love this. And do creative stuff with it. For me, it's let down by a lot of app developers who've embedded a colour in their tiles. Again risks making the interface more cluttered.
    The integration of Skype, right into the bones of the dialler is impressive, as it should be considering it’s a multi-billion pound Microsoft acquisition. Just like the Facebook integration, it's obvious too that Microsoft is willing to let users chose other phone applications to take its place.

    Any more? There’s a bunch of tidying up. Like the ludicrous bug that kids’ corner would require the same password as the parent's phone - now it doesn't. Now we have Bluetooth Low Energy Support, Trusted App List for NFC, Extended support for wallet. Application data now backed up to OneDrive. Better sharing from apps. Improved Browser - including a number of key features, a password manager, "InPrivate" browsing, reading mode and tabbed syncing.

    Is there more? Yep there is still more, but I think you're probably starting to get the picture. A few really big ideas. Hundreds of little but important ones. A minor re-engineering of the app model which looks like it can only bring benefit, and a bit of a return to form from a design point of view.

    What do we put in the negative column? Microsoft’s original concept of “hubs” as distinct from apps, always seemed to have huge promise. Built-in hubs, in particular "Games", did a good job of reducing the ‘sea of apps’ effect we see so often on the iPhone. This concept seems all but dead today, with games piling up in the app list like everything else. Funnily this is happening just as Apple brings the concept to iOS 8 with health and home “packs”. Manufacturer specific “Folder” apps, fill the gaps, if somewhat messily.

    Device search, a long-missing feature, has turned up but with a terrible implementation where the web is searched first. It took me over a minute to search for a contact on the phone while the device tried to connect to Bing online. Until the device is searched first, and apps are included, the feature is pointless. Presumably this is easy to fix if Microsoft cares to do so. Surely the desire to drive Bing traffic is not strong enough to completely break the OS’s search utility.

    What does this leave me hoping?

    Firstly, it would be great if we didn't have to wait another three years for the next big iteration. The mobile phone market is a lot more dynamic than that.

    Secondly, I would hope that the new opportunities and momentum of the platform encourages more developers to look to Windows Phone, and for existing app developers to look at it more seriously. Often the weakness isn't a missing app but rather an app missing half of the features it might have one of the other platforms.

    Another piece of engineering Microsoft has included here is the long-awaited shift (if not entirely complete) to a ‘write once’ model where apps can be deployed from one code base to Windows, Windows Phone and even X-box. We’re yet to see what the impact of this will be. But it is hard to think that it will damage the ecosystem.

    Finally, wouldn't it be great to get just a few more flagship hardware devices to run all this on? Something that can match the design of the iPhone without the pocket-busting proportions that seem to be standard for Nokia nowadays.

    8.1 is an enigma. If you're not looking in the right places, you can almost miss it. But the effect it has on the total experience is huge. And perhaps - at last - we're starting to the feeling that Microsoft really does care about phones.

    With 8.1 devices now in market, the release of the update can't be far away now. You won't be disappointed.

    Click here to view the item
    • 3 replies
    • 359859 views
  5. Tom Hopkins added a item in Windows Phone   

    One small step for Microsoft
    Just the other day, Steve Ballmer said that one of his biggest regrets as CEO was that Microsoft had missed out on the mobile market. Announcing the Surface Book Air, Satya Nedalla restated his "mobile first, cloud first" strategy. You might expect, therefore, that we would be seeing constant and dramatic forward leaps for Microsoft's very own mobile phone operating system, Windows Phone over the last few years.

    But no. The upcoming update, 8.1 - which comes preloaded on the Nokia 930, 630 and perhaps even a new HTC flagship - is the first proper consumer-facing update for almost three years.

    So is this a giant leap for the platform?

    And here's the problem for Microsoft. In mobile operating systems at the top end of the smartphone world (where the company now is), any progression is a really a game of inches. They're hardly alone in this - Apple and Google add fingerprint readers, built-in apps, torches and more pixels, it hardly feels as if we are on the cusp of any game-changing announcements from anyone in mobile.

    And so, when you do upgrade to 8.1, your first impression could well be that very little has changed.

    As you start to explore, however, you'll realize that the two or three flashy headline changes are accompanied by many many smaller features and improvements. In the long run, it may be the tweaks which matter more than the rest.

    For me, before even upgrading, coming back to Windows Phone after a few months in the wild with an iPhone, probably the most remarkable thing was just how well the core features still compare.

    Outside of apps themselves, the key built-in features - email, app navigation, lock screen, keyboard are just better by a mile. It's hard to understand why Apple hasn't managed to close some of these gaps in the last four years.

    So what are the biggies, the stand-out features the update brings?

    Well the Cortana voice assistant is undoubtedly one. Here the world seems to be split into two camps: those that would never use a voice assistant, and those who say they will but never actually do. Siri, for me, has always been little more than a party trick, or something to use in the car when there are no other options. That said, Siri and Google now, can often in impress, understanding surprisingly complex questions and providing answers. Cortana - admittedly in beta and set to US English while being evaluated by a Brit, spent most of her time in "Computer says no" mode. Rarely understanding or transcribing at all, and then progressing to very slow look up the wrong thing. Early days of course. But to sum it up: with Siri, I'm often surprised how well it works. With Cortana, I'm surprised if it works.

    The next obviously major addition is the notification and action centre. Like many others, I was concerned that this feature would break the whole live-tile concept. It doesn't, it's extremely well executed. Not noisy or annoying as iOS notifications can be. This new way of seeing a little more of the things that have happened since you last looked at your phone adds greatly to the "glance and go" underpinnings of Windows Phone, despite the fact that notifications cannot be actioned without moving into the relevant app. Easy access to a customisable list of shortcuts and toggles such as Bluetooth, Internet Sharing etc is also extremely useful and again nicely implemented.





    To see the Windows Team maintain their usability thinking is a big relief. It was far from assured. Often around the release of wp8, it had felt that the simplicity and coherence were slipping away, letting the platform drift to the infinitely customisable and infinitely fiddly ways of Android. But we can see that clarity of thought again now in notifications, and it sets the tone for all the other improvements seen here.

    The final headliner is the Swipey keyboard - where the user essentially smudges their finger through all the letters in the desired word (and all the letters caught in the middle) and the software decodes the intent. Hardly original. Swype dates back to 2010. However, the implementation is great. For my money, the downside to Swype was that it meant you were left with a rubbish keyboard if you didn't want to enter your message through wavy lines. On WP, there is no problem. The keyboard remains the excellent windows phone model. But if you start smudging away, it’ll quickly get the idea and start responding. Simples. And for the trials I gave it really quick and accurate to use, if you like that kind of thing.




    So those are the biggies. Underwhelmed? Don't be. Look at the little ones.
    You can automatically share your current wi-fi connection with friends and contacts, without disclosing the password. I couldn't test this as I only had one WP8.1 device. Sounds great though. WP8.1 will also try and re-connect you to Wi-fi hotspots, agreeing T&C pages and so on if necessary.
    You can see a week at a time in calendar. And you get the weather straight into your calendar. When you’re looking at the week view, you can quick expand each day. It's very simple and easy to use. Oh, and there's a year view too.
    You can also adjust the volume of the music separate from the ringer. This does make it a little more tricky to silence the phone completely. And is less useful for those who always leave their phones on silent but clearly meets a particular need.
    In the store, you can now see a full list of apps previously purchased and re-download any you've removed - great for reviewers but also those with a tiny amount of phone storage, like the entry level Nokias and HTCs. Plus the store can now make app suggestions based on location (niche) and through social recommendation connected with Facebook. And finally, you can quickly see which apps you are using and which you aren’t to de-clutter your device.
    You can now store your apps on a SD card. This will transform entry level phones with tiny built-in memory and SD card slots.




    What else? Well how about getting apps to auto update themselves, and to be able to choose to only have them do that when you're on wi-fi. Guess what? That's turned on by default.

    In fact, the new platform is quite a fascist about both bandwidth and battery use, offering users the ability to scrutinize exactly which app is doing what and to automatically turn virtually everything off when times are tough at the end of the day for juice or month for bytes.

    There's a complex solution that will optimise your email checking patterns dynamically, rather than always on, so if you were getting loads of emails yesterday, it might limit it's checking today. Sounds more like a life coach than an email policy to me but may prove useful for some who don’t always want their email immediately.

    Some of the biggest changes to the platform are hard to understand in the preview version as they are opportunities for app developers to link things together much more richly.

    What you will notice is that Facebook is no longer so deeply integrated with "People" or with "Photos". Indeed, when you first turn the device on, it may seem to have disappeared entirely. In fact, much of the functionality has been moved out to apps. You can still do all the same stuff - specifically integrate your Facebook contacts in address book (and link them to other contacts) as well as bringing in Facebook photos. But the same options are now open to developers so we can hope to see more apps with the same kind of integration.

    The same is true of apps like "Music" and "Games" which are now slightly disconnected from the device. This means that they could be replaced by alternatives. And they can also be updated over the air. Fingers crossed that this will lead to more competition, updates and quality. Each app has already had a significant overhaul.

    Anything else? Yep!


    You can now swipe apps off screen (as well as close with the 'X') an odd omission on WP8 since Windows 8 has it.
    You can manage scheduled quiet hours.
    On the silly front, you can chose to display three columns of tiles even on smaller screens. Whilst this might make sense on phablet cousins, on smaller phones this just creates clutter.
    You can also put an image "behind" the tiles (instead of a colour) and with a fancy parallax effect. I'm sure the kids will love this. And do creative stuff with it. For me, it's let down by a lot of app developers who've embedded a colour in their tiles. Again risks making the interface more cluttered.





    The integration of Skype, right into the bones of the dialler is impressive, as it should be considering it’s a multi-billion pound Microsoft acquisition. Just like the Facebook integration, it's obvious too that Microsoft is willing to let users chose other phone applications to take its place.

    Any more? There’s a bunch of tidying up. Like the ludicrous bug that kids’ corner would require the same password as the parent's phone - now it doesn't. Now we have Bluetooth Low Energy Support, Trusted App List for NFC, Extended support for wallet. Application data now backed up to OneDrive. Better sharing from apps. Improved Browser - including a number of key features, a password manager, "InPrivate" browsing, reading mode and tabbed syncing.

    Is there more? Yep there is still more, but I think you're probably starting to get the picture. A few really big ideas. Hundreds of little but important ones. A minor re-engineering of the app model which looks like it can only bring benefit, and a bit of a return to form from a design point of view.

    What do we put in the negative column? Microsoft’s original concept of “hubs” as distinct from apps, always seemed to have huge promise. Built-in hubs, in particular "Games", did a good job of reducing the ‘sea of apps’ effect we see so often on the iPhone. This concept seems all but dead today, with games piling up in the app list like everything else. Funnily this is happening just as Apple brings the concept to iOS 8 with health and home “packs”. Manufacturer specific “Folder” apps, fill the gaps, if somewhat messily.

    Device search, a long-missing feature, has turned up but with a terrible implementation where the web is searched first. It took me over a minute to search for a contact on the phone while the device tried to connect to Bing online. Until the device is searched first, and apps are included, the feature is pointless. Presumably this is easy to fix if Microsoft cares to do so. Surely the desire to drive Bing traffic is not strong enough to completely break the OS’s search utility.

    What does this leave me hoping?

    Firstly, it would be great if we didn't have to wait another three years for the next big iteration. The mobile phone market is a lot more dynamic than that.

    Secondly, I would hope that the new opportunities and momentum of the platform encourages more developers to look to Windows Phone, and for existing app developers to look at it more seriously. Often the weakness isn't a missing app but rather an app missing half of the features it might have one of the other platforms.

    Another piece of engineering Microsoft has included here is the long-awaited shift (if not entirely complete) to a ‘write once’ model where apps can be deployed from one code base to Windows, Windows Phone and even X-box. We’re yet to see what the impact of this will be. But it is hard to think that it will damage the ecosystem.

    Finally, wouldn't it be great to get just a few more flagship hardware devices to run all this on? Something that can match the design of the iPhone without the pocket-busting proportions that seem to be standard for Nokia nowadays.

    8.1 is an enigma. If you're not looking in the right places, you can almost miss it. But the effect it has on the total experience is huge. And perhaps - at last - we're starting to the feeling that Microsoft really does care about phones.

    With 8.1 devices now in market, the release of the update can't be far away now. You won't be disappointed.
    • 3 replies
    • 4237 views
  6. Tom Hopkins added a topic in Windows News   

    Nokia Lumia 1320 – Not for the faint of hand
    Last time we looked at a Nokia Windows Phone, it was the small but cheaply formed 520, a device which has perhaps changed the fortunes of the WP platform more than any other - opening it up to a whole new part of the market - a part near the bottom that previously only Android could reach.

    And perhaps here we have another game changer. The 1320 is, once again, one of Nokia's poor relations – costing just £300 compared to the £500 of the 1520, its higher-spec’d phablet stable mate.

    At 16.4 x 8.6cm, however, the 1320 and its 6-inch screen dwarfs Nokia's previous market pleaser. It isn't just bigger. It's monstrously more massive. Epicly more enormous.



    Want to know if it'll fit in your pocket? Just see if you can jam in two normal phones side by side. Want to know if you like the feel of it? Just trying talking into your iPad mini / Kindle Fire / small paperback book.

    I’m sure the feeling would pass over time but I did not get the impression I was receiving the most admiring glances as I manhandled the 1320 from my jacket pocket with both hands on the busy 7.27 to Victoria.

    So is it big? Yes it is. It makes the Galaxy Note look dainty. Is it unweildy? Here the answer is less clear. Unless you're looking to test the Coring Gorilla Glass for bounciness, I wouldn't try operating it one-handed. However, once you are used to the sheer mental shock of the scale and the fact that you won’t have a hand free, the phone is surprisingly comfortable to hold. A little on the heavy side, perhaps, but the sheer magnitude of the front does emphasize the relative thinness of the device.

    The styling and case is almost identical to the 520 (and also the 820, 620). With a removable and rounded tactile rear plastic cover offering the ability (which I'm assuming someone must value) to personalize the phone by swapping for a variety of different coloured shells. Unlike the 520, however there is no battery to be found under the cover. That said, at 3400 mAh, the device should keep you in business for well over a day.

    Whilst the signature design of Nokia's Lumias - both unibody and with removable shells - is mostly satisfying and attractive, those which can be disassembled seem to fall into two camps – the ones whose backs will not come off at all and the ones that come off all the time. The 520 was in the later camp. The 1320 is in the former, fingernail-snapping group. Given the lack of replaceable battery, once you've managed to break in and install your SIM card and SD card (up to 64Gb, and you’ll need one, there’s only 8Gb on board), you're unlikely to either want or need to repeat the experience.

    All the rest – button placement, sockets and so on - are as per the Lumia standard: volume, power and camera key on the right; three keys on the front: home, search and back - in this case capacitive; and headphone and micro USB socket (top and bottom respectively). And that's it. Nothing on the left and just the camera and flash on the back, along with a hole to let the sound out.

    Screen

    Did I mention how large it is? So we ought to talk about the screen, which makes up most of those cubic meters. The 6 inches are made up by a resolution of 720 x 1280 (245 ppi). That shouldn't be super sharp. Compare it with the 332ppi of the 925 (which actually has more pixels in total on its 4.5 inch screen), or the iPhone, or the 367ppi of the big brother 1520, and you might think it would disappoint. In reality though, it functions just fine for most tasks.

    The blacks aren't as pin sharp as Nokia is capable of, and pixels can be a little more visible. But then again, if you're buying this phone, are you likely to have 20/20 vision?



    For playing games (e.g. Solitaire with near life-sized cards), watching Netflix (e.g. Arthur with near life-sized Dudley More), composing an email (with a near life-sized keyboard), looking at (near life-sized) picture of your holiday, or even for looking up synonyms for the word "enormous" on Google, the momentously epic screen works very well.



    Add Nokia's Glance Screen - a great feature that now shows alerts as well as just the time when the display is off - and it's a very compelling package. What is most striking perhaps is that for the time you are carrying out these tasks, the device feels much more like a mini tablet than a maxi phone. Portability and pocketability are exchanged for convenience. The screen is just as large and certainly better quality than you’ll find on the back of most airline seats or on the front of most pocket games consoles. And it is large enough to make elements of Windows Phone, such as email, Word or Excel a totally different and more useful experience.

    Phone calls

    Phone calls are not really what the 1320 is for, of course. But you can do it if you can bear the looks from those around you. Normally a mixture of incomprehension and pity. Call quality is good, and there is the added benefit of sun-protection, or – if you prefer – being able to hide from people you don’t want to talk to. Fit two if you are a shire horse.

    Compromises

    What was left out of the case to shave off £200 from the price of the 1520? The answer is simple: great camera, NFC and wireless charging. Obviously the last two don’t really matter. The first however, may be more important. Since carrying the device round will fill up your handbag / man bag / pockets, you probably won’t haul a proper camera around too. At 5 Megapixels with a flash, the camera is far from useless, but don’t expect any of the magic you’ll get from Nokia’s flagships (or indeed Apple’s or Samsung’s).

    Interestingly, and unlike the 520, Nokia managed to scrape together the pounds needed to keep the device’s compass and a reasonable amount of memory, which means that it will run practically all the apps you’ll find on the rest of the range.

    In the box

    The only real difference about unboxing the 1320 from any other phone in the line is how much of the box the phone takes up. As you lift the lid, you’ll see that every inch is taken up with phone. Underneath, as usual, cheap unusable headphone (why does no one learn from Apple on this, how much would it cost to give customers a nice surprise?) a USB cable and a foldable plug.

    The OS

    We spoke last time about the ups and downs of being a Windows Phone fan. The design purity of the original remains hugely attractive. However the sluggish nature of the platform's development belies the importance which Microsoft must, surely, place on the project. Years come and go with little or no change to the end-user experience. Meanwhile Apple and Android pile on the features, and of course those two platforms also benefit from intense investment by app developers. This means that there's always something to look at and explore on the devices.

    Microsoft's glacial pace of development has had two growth spurts. When the platform was first released, superseding the Windows Mobile era, it was very much like swapping an battered old Ford for a shiny new BMW. Then a couple of years later, when Microsoft released 7.5 (aka Mango), a further dramatic leap forward was made (perhaps a series upgrade). In the three years since then, little has changed outwardly with Microsoft preferring to focus on swapping the kernel and pursuing a single developer platform for phones and tablets.

    The release of Windows Phone 8.1 will show a further Mango-style jump forward - the first really significant changes for almost three years. And while the review device did not have 8.1 installed, it can be expected to arrive imminently on all current WP8 devices, including this one. With it will come a voice assistant called Cortana (a la Siri), Notification Centre – a seductive feature, if one which is somewhat at odds with the existing Live Tile design – and a long list of other changes which bring WP close to parity with Apple and Google.

    All good stuff. However there is one race where Microsoft seems destined to forever be in third place - the applications on the device. As we’ve said before, this isn’t just about missing apps but about the speed of development of the apps themselves. Yes, there are – for example – Starbucks apps on WP but they pale in comparison with Android and iOS. Look at Kindle. The Windows Phone version is fine, so long as you only want to read books. IOS and Android add periodicals. Windows Phone users need to be endlessly patient, waiting for Microsoft and waiting too for app developers - think of Instagram / Path / Vine, each of which tooks 6-18 months to make the jump from other platforms.

    Putting more on the screen

    One of the few changes in recent service releases of Windows Phone has been increased support for larger screen sizes such as this one, including the addition of a third column of tiles on the homescreen (8.1 will see this made available for smaller screens). The combined effect of this and the sheer scale of the 1320 is that you can chose to fit an enormous amount on your homescreen (without scrolling), or to get greater detail from the apps which are present). It’s a bit of a mixed blessing. Yes, it would have looked absolutely absurd without it. But it feels very overloaded with it. It is also difficult to see now how WP is not essentially converging with the “sea of gadgets” view of Android, whereas the initial design was quite distinctive. That said, the use of a simpler, flatter and more icon-driven design does at least make the ‘sea’ look a little calmer.



    The home screen is the exception in having been reviewed by Microsoft for information density. The rest of the OS is simply larger. I had expected this to grate. And it can feel quite wasteful. Yet the overriding impression is that the simplicity of the basic WP platform adapts well to a larger surface area. Those who have previously found touch screen interfaces too fiddly should find the 1320 a breeze as the “hit areas” for selections are massive. Certainly, WP8 seems to scale up better than Windows 8.1 would scale down to screens of this size.

    Companion Software

    For the most part, you can operate any Nokia Lumia without need to plug it into your computer. This is just as well as the companion software is about as sucky as it gets. It’s shocking that Microsoft would release something so unusable, unstable and buggy, especially when the predecessor (the Zune tool) was fully featured. If you must sync with a PC, use the “desktop” version against iTunes. It is the least sucky route. And a total own goal.

    A winner?

    Speculation is that the market will drive Apple to release larger iPhones. Common wisdom has it that consumers want larger and cheaper devices and the Cupertino giant must play ball. Well in that regard at least, it’s a good thing that Steve Jobs is not around it witness it, as I would assume he would rather chug sewage than have his company produce something as fundamentally clunky (that’s not to say non-useful) as a phablet. The iPhone, the Nokia 925 and many Androids are things of elegance and balance. And yet it is hard to imagine a phablet that will fit that mould. The name alone seems to condemn the category to a second-class existence.

    But not all phone owners care about this stuff. For every Maserati owner there are many more with Fiat Puntos – the sensible majority who choose value and practicality over aesthetics, function over form. And I have no doubt that phones will become larger and larger to suit the needs of this majority. For that market, the 1320 offers great value. Equally WP8 as it is now, and how we can hope it will develop in the future offers a great platform. Not as insanely fiddly as Android (prepares for barrage of abuse) nor as illogical and ugly as Apple’s current offering, it shows how design can make the complexities of having a Smartphone more approachable.

    Stephen Fry once used the question of which phone he would grab if his house were on fire. He ended up unable to choose between the iPhone and his other favourite at the time (the underrated Blackberry Z10).

    Well, I’d have to think long and hard about it. On balance, if my house was on fire, I probably wouldn’t throw the 1320 in. But I certainly wouldn’t bring it out with me. Not least for fear that it might slow down my escape.

    Still, if I had to choose a phone to use to watch a movie on a flight, to Skype with, or to cheat with in a pub quiz, the iPhone might stay in my pocket. In some circumstances bigger is, indeed, better.

    Many will find Nokia’s budget slab too much to handle, others will undoubtedly find it too much to miss out on.

    Click here to view the item
    • 5 replies
    • 176620 views
  7. Tom Hopkins added a item in Windows Phone   

    Nokia Lumia 1320 – Not for the faint of hand
    Last time we looked at a Nokia Windows Phone, it was the small but cheaply formed 520, a device which has perhaps changed the fortunes of the WP platform more than any other - opening it up to a whole new part of the market - a part near the bottom that previously only Android could reach.

    And perhaps here we have another game changer. The 1320 is, once again, one of Nokia's poor relations – costing just £300 compared to the £500 of the 1520, its higher-spec’d phablet stable mate.

    At 16.4 x 8.6cm, however, the 1320 and its 6-inch screen dwarfs Nokia's previous market pleaser. It isn't just bigger. It's monstrously more massive. Epicly more enormous.





    Want to know if it'll fit in your pocket? Just see if you can jam in two normal phones side by side. Want to know if you like the feel of it? Just trying talking into your iPad mini / Kindle Fire / small paperback book.

    I’m sure the feeling would pass over time but I did not get the impression I was receiving the most admiring glances as I manhandled the 1320 from my jacket pocket with both hands on the busy 7.27 to Victoria.

    So is it big? Yes it is. It makes the Galaxy Note look dainty. Is it unweildy? Here the answer is less clear. Unless you're looking to test the Coring Gorilla Glass for bounciness, I wouldn't try operating it one-handed. However, once you are used to the sheer mental shock of the scale and the fact that you won’t have a hand free, the phone is surprisingly comfortable to hold. A little on the heavy side, perhaps, but the sheer magnitude of the front does emphasize the relative thinness of the device.

    The styling and case is almost identical to the 520 (and also the 820, 620). With a removable and rounded tactile rear plastic cover offering the ability (which I'm assuming someone must value) to personalize the phone by swapping for a variety of different coloured shells. Unlike the 520, however there is no battery to be found under the cover. That said, at 3400 mAh, the device should keep you in business for well over a day.

    Whilst the signature design of Nokia's Lumias - both unibody and with removable shells - is mostly satisfying and attractive, those which can be disassembled seem to fall into two camps – the ones whose backs will not come off at all and the ones that come off all the time. The 520 was in the later camp. The 1320 is in the former, fingernail-snapping group. Given the lack of replaceable battery, once you've managed to break in and install your SIM card and SD card (up to 64Gb, and you’ll need one, there’s only 8Gb on board), you're unlikely to either want or need to repeat the experience.

    All the rest – button placement, sockets and so on - are as per the Lumia standard: volume, power and camera key on the right; three keys on the front: home, search and back - in this case capacitive; and headphone and micro USB socket (top and bottom respectively). And that's it. Nothing on the left and just the camera and flash on the back, along with a hole to let the sound out.

    Screen

    Did I mention how large it is? So we ought to talk about the screen, which makes up most of those cubic meters. The 6 inches are made up by a resolution of 720 x 1280 (245 ppi). That shouldn't be super sharp. Compare it with the 332ppi of the 925 (which actually has more pixels in total on its 4.5 inch screen), or the iPhone, or the 367ppi of the big brother 1520, and you might think it would disappoint. In reality though, it functions just fine for most tasks.

    The blacks aren't as pin sharp as Nokia is capable of, and pixels can be a little more visible. But then again, if you're buying this phone, are you likely to have 20/20 vision?





    For playing games (e.g. Solitaire with near life-sized cards), watching Netflix (e.g. Arthur with near life-sized Dudley More), composing an email (with a near life-sized keyboard), looking at (near life-sized) picture of your holiday, or even for looking up synonyms for the word "enormous" on Google, the momentously epic screen works very well.





    Add Nokia's Glance Screen - a great feature that now shows alerts as well as just the time when the display is off - and it's a very compelling package. What is most striking perhaps is that for the time you are carrying out these tasks, the device feels much more like a mini tablet than a maxi phone. Portability and pocketability are exchanged for convenience. The screen is just as large and certainly better quality than you’ll find on the back of most airline seats or on the front of most pocket games consoles. And it is large enough to make elements of Windows Phone, such as email, Word or Excel a totally different and more useful experience.

    Phone calls

    Phone calls are not really what the 1320 is for, of course. But you can do it if you can bear the looks from those around you. Normally a mixture of incomprehension and pity. Call quality is good, and there is the added benefit of sun-protection, or – if you prefer – being able to hide from people you don’t want to talk to. Fit two if you are a shire horse.

    Compromises

    What was left out of the case to shave off £200 from the price of the 1520? The answer is simple: great camera, NFC and wireless charging. Obviously the last two don’t really matter. The first however, may be more important. Since carrying the device round will fill up your handbag / man bag / pockets, you probably won’t haul a proper camera around too. At 5 Megapixels with a flash, the camera is far from useless, but don’t expect any of the magic you’ll get from Nokia’s flagships (or indeed Apple’s or Samsung’s).

    Interestingly, and unlike the 520, Nokia managed to scrape together the pounds needed to keep the device’s compass and a reasonable amount of memory, which means that it will run practically all the apps you’ll find on the rest of the range.

    In the box

    The only real difference about unboxing the 1320 from any other phone in the line is how much of the box the phone takes up. As you lift the lid, you’ll see that every inch is taken up with phone. Underneath, as usual, cheap unusable headphone (why does no one learn from Apple on this, how much would it cost to give customers a nice surprise?) a USB cable and a foldable plug.

    The OS

    We spoke last time about the ups and downs of being a Windows Phone fan. The design purity of the original remains hugely attractive. However the sluggish nature of the platform's development belies the importance which Microsoft must, surely, place on the project. Years come and go with little or no change to the end-user experience. Meanwhile Apple and Android pile on the features, and of course those two platforms also benefit from intense investment by app developers. This means that there's always something to look at and explore on the devices.

    Microsoft's glacial pace of development has had two growth spurts. When the platform was first released, superseding the Windows Mobile era, it was very much like swapping an battered old Ford for a shiny new BMW. Then a couple of years later, when Microsoft released 7.5 (aka Mango), a further dramatic leap forward was made (perhaps a series upgrade). In the three years since then, little has changed outwardly with Microsoft preferring to focus on swapping the kernel and pursuing a single developer platform for phones and tablets.

    The release of Windows Phone 8.1 will show a further Mango-style jump forward - the first really significant changes for almost three years. And while the review device did not have 8.1 installed, it can be expected to arrive imminently on all current WP8 devices, including this one. With it will come a voice assistant called Cortana (a la Siri), Notification Centre – a seductive feature, if one which is somewhat at odds with the existing Live Tile design – and a long list of other changes which bring WP close to parity with Apple and Google.

    All good stuff. However there is one race where Microsoft seems destined to forever be in third place - the applications on the device. As we’ve said before, this isn’t just about missing apps but about the speed of development of the apps themselves. Yes, there are – for example – Starbucks apps on WP but they pale in comparison with Android and iOS. Look at Kindle. The Windows Phone version is fine, so long as you only want to read books. IOS and Android add periodicals. Windows Phone users need to be endlessly patient, waiting for Microsoft and waiting too for app developers - think of Instagram / Path / Vine, each of which tooks 6-18 months to make the jump from other platforms.

    Putting more on the screen

    One of the few changes in recent service releases of Windows Phone has been increased support for larger screen sizes such as this one, including the addition of a third column of tiles on the homescreen (8.1 will see this made available for smaller screens). The combined effect of this and the sheer scale of the 1320 is that you can chose to fit an enormous amount on your homescreen (without scrolling), or to get greater detail from the apps which are present). It’s a bit of a mixed blessing. Yes, it would have looked absolutely absurd without it. But it feels very overloaded with it. It is also difficult to see now how WP is not essentially converging with the “sea of gadgets” view of Android, whereas the initial design was quite distinctive. That said, the use of a simpler, flatter and more icon-driven design does at least make the ‘sea’ look a little calmer.





    The home screen is the exception in having been reviewed by Microsoft for information density. The rest of the OS is simply larger. I had expected this to grate. And it can feel quite wasteful. Yet the overriding impression is that the simplicity of the basic WP platform adapts well to a larger surface area. Those who have previously found touch screen interfaces too fiddly should find the 1320 a breeze as the “hit areas” for selections are massive. Certainly, WP8 seems to scale up better than Windows 8.1 would scale down to screens of this size.

    Companion Software

    For the most part, you can operate any Nokia Lumia without need to plug it into your computer. This is just as well as the companion software is about as sucky as it gets. It’s shocking that Microsoft would release something so unusable, unstable and buggy, especially when the predecessor (the Zune tool) was fully featured. If you must sync with a PC, use the “desktop” version against iTunes. It is the least sucky route. And a total own goal.

    A winner?

    Speculation is that the market will drive Apple to release larger iPhones. Common wisdom has it that consumers want larger and cheaper devices and the Cupertino giant must play ball. Well in that regard at least, it’s a good thing that Steve Jobs is not around it witness it, as I would assume he would rather chug sewage than have his company produce something as fundamentally clunky (that’s not to say non-useful) as a phablet. The iPhone, the Nokia 925 and many Androids are things of elegance and balance. And yet it is hard to imagine a phablet that will fit that mould. The name alone seems to condemn the category to a second-class existence.

    But not all phone owners care about this stuff. For every Maserati owner there are many more with Fiat Puntos – the sensible majority who choose value and practicality over aesthetics, function over form. And I have no doubt that phones will become larger and larger to suit the needs of this majority. For that market, the 1320 offers great value. Equally WP8 as it is now, and how we can hope it will develop in the future offers a great platform. Not as insanely fiddly as Android (prepares for barrage of abuse) nor as illogical and ugly as Apple’s current offering, it shows how design can make the complexities of having a Smartphone more approachable.

    Stephen Fry once used the question of which phone he would grab if his house were on fire. He ended up unable to choose between the iPhone and his other favourite at the time (the underrated Blackberry Z10).

    Well, I’d have to think long and hard about it. On balance, if my house was on fire, I probably wouldn’t throw the 1320 in. But I certainly wouldn’t bring it out with me. Not least for fear that it might slow down my escape.

    Still, if I had to choose a phone to use to watch a movie on a flight, to Skype with, or to cheat with in a pub quiz, the iPhone might stay in my pocket. In some circumstances bigger is, indeed, better.

    Many will find Nokia’s budget slab too much to handle, others will undoubtedly find it too much to miss out on.
    • 5 replies
    • 4748 views

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