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    Nokia Lumia 930 review


    James Norton

    Poor poor poor Nokia. The once great giant of the mobile phone industry has fallen hard and fallen fast. And it isn't over yet. Microsoft recently bought Nokia in an apparent bid to shore up Windows Phone and now, 12,500 former Nokia employees are losing their jobs. What the new Microsoft Mobile division needs is a hit. Something to give both the hardware sales and Windows Phone a shot in the arm.

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    And so we have the Lumia 930. The flagship device for Windows Phone 8.1 and quite possibly the last device at this end of the market to be a Nokia designed product now that Microsoft have taken charge.

    Microsoft have done their bit with Windows Phone 8.1, simply a giant leap forwards from Windows Phone 8. The Lumia 930 is certainly a Nokia designed product, having been announced in February, before the acquisition closed. Of course, it takes 18-36 months to design and prepare a modern smartphone, so the Lumia 930 is Nokia through and through.

    As the end was approaching for Nokia, I suspect they simply ran out of cash and influence and so had to give Verizon the phone they wanted in the form of the Nokia Lumia Icon which was made available in February and forms the basis for the Lumia 930. In fact, the only notable difference between the handsets is that the 930 has orange and green backs to compliment the white and black backs on the Icon.

    In February, the Icon felt like it had proper high end specs, but in July as a newly released phone, the 930 feels slightly behind the times. Specs are only part of the story and I am far more interested in how the phone performs, what the experience is like and how well the package meets my needs.

    Arriving in very attractive and minimal new packaging, the 930 I have includes a very basic wireless charging base on top of the normal USB charger and cable but no headphones. The packaging is significant as Nokia have used the same basic box design for years now. The Windows Phone 8.1 handsets were clearly meant to usher in something of a new era fully playing on Nokia's use of colour and premium design. The model number of the phone is indicated by the time shown on the phone pictured on the box as well. This is a playful and fun approach, something that translates into using the phone, at least some of the time.

    Many people have a soft spot for Nokia and a love of what they used to represent. Lets see if they have managed to fully re-invent themselves as a maker of modern smartphones even as they become part of Microsoft.

    Hardware

    The Lumia line since its inception with the 800 has been all about premium plastics, bright colours and quality cameras. The notable exception to this was the Lumia 925 which did away with bright colours in favour of a part metal build that always felt very premium and yet managed to be thin and light as well.

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    With the 930, we are somewhere in the middle of all this, but I remain slightly unconvinced by the overall execution. The colours are most certainly back. Last years Nokia's were all about bright red, bright yellow and a little cyan in places. This year Nokia is pushing green and orange. To be specific, they are using very very bright and lurid shades of green and orange.

    On the cheaper Lumia 635 - reviewed here - the orange colour is glossy and shiny. With their more premium offering, Nokia have toned things down slightly, opting for a matt finish on the back of the 930 that nonetheless seems to be bright enough to light up a room at night! I absolutely love the colour.

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    Around the edges of the Lumia 930 is a solid metal band which has a nice grippy texture to it. The front is covered in Gorilla Glass.

    The way that the back and the front curve into the edges and the softness of the joins makes handling the 930 a real pleasure. It has an immensely premium feel, the feel of a phone hued from a single piece of material despite that clearly not being the case. The joins between the sides and front and back are totally smooth.

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    At 9.8mm thick and 167g, the 930 is fairly chunky phone and this is where the problems begin. It is quite a bit thicker and heavier than almost all other phones with a similar screen size. This does make holding and using the 930 far too much of a chore.

    Packing a five inch screen, and a very similar footprint to the Galaxy S5, the 930 is already verging on being too large to comfortably hold in one hand and it certainly is not a phone you can use in one hand. The added girth of the body exacerbates this problem. Thinness is underrated in mobile phones weirdly as a thinner phone is always easier to use one handed - thinness mitigates some of the handling issues of larger screens. The 930 is simply too big and too chunky for me to use comfortably in one hand.

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    Talking of screens though, Nokia have put in an absolute stonker here. It is a superb screen. At 1920x1080 pixels resolution, the Super AMOLED panel is pin sharp even with its diamond pentile sub-pixel layout. Sure, it is not the most accurate screen in terms of colour reproduction, but it isn't as bad as some. Brightness levels are controlled really well though I would still want it to go a tad darker overall at night.

    The 930 includes Nokia's ClearBlack technology which adds an extra layer into the screen technology that absorbs some harsh light, aiding sunlight legibility. Combined with a clever sunlight brightness mode in the software, this makes the 930 the best screen I have used in bright light. It simply never let me down.

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    Beneath that screen are the familiar buttons on all Windows Phones, back, home and search. Does anyone actually use that search button? Pressing it always takes you to the Bing search app no matter what you were doing before. I have only ever pressed it by accident!

    Inside the 930 is some very familiar if slightly older technology. There is a quad core 2.2Ghz Snapdragon 800 SoC with 2Gb RAM and 32Gb of storage. Unlike some previous models, the storage is not expandable. Sealed inside the body is a 2440mAh battery. I am quite surprised at how small the battery is given how chunky the body manages to be.

    The same 20 megapixel PureView camera as you will find on the Lumia 1520 resides on the back of the 930 and there is a 2.1 megapixel front facing camera. Yes. It is for selfies. Moving on now...

    The familiar Nokia button layout is in full force here with a volume rocker, power button and camera button down the right hand side of the phone. These buttons are very good, easy to find and easy to press. I always enjoy having a camera button, so am pleased to see it included here - the cheaper Lumia 635 does not have one.

    On the top is a headphone jack and the bottom is where you will find the microUSB port. Both these ports are surrounded by cutouts which are for the aerials in the 930. These are integrated beautifully and you cannot feel them with your finger. I am not sure they look all that great though.

    One problem with the hardware on the 930 is its very weedy speaker which is situated on the back. It is far too easy to cover this up with your hands when holding the phone and its output is disappointingly weak.

    There are four mics on the 930 which aid it when recording video. I only mention this because there are four of them. And that is unusual.

    The overall feel from the 930 is that of a super premium phone held back by a weirdly chunky body. I do not understand why the body is so fat given its relatively meagre battery. Yes, QI wireless charging is included but that adds very little bulk. Leaving size aside, the construction is gorgeous, the materials premium and the solidity beyond question.

    Internally it may have slightly older specs with only a Snapdragon 800, but it is the experience of using the device that means more than the specs on a piece of paper.

    Software

    Now look, this is going to get complicated. I can't help it, the software on the Lumia 930 is just complicated to talk about. There are really three components parts to the software: Windows Phone 8.1, Nokia Lumia Cyan, Apps. So lets look at this one step at a time.

    1. Windows Phone 8.1

    Wow. That is my summary of the Windows Phone 8.1 update. I have used a Nokia Lumia 1520 which has largely the same hardware as the 930 but ran Windows Phone 8. The 930 is significantly faster. Significantly. I also ran the Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview on a range of devices. Again, the release version is much much snappier and more responsive.

    The core operating system no longer suffers any slow down, any task switching weirdnesses and any issues whatsoever that I can see. Everything is quick. I even checked on our Lumia 635 review model and found that the core operating system is just as snappy there. Well done Microsoft. You don't always get the credit you deserve, but you should now.

    It is fair to say that Windows Phone has a lot of smooth animations that can appear to slow the operating system down. And indeed they do, not because they are slow or jerky, but simply because they take time to complete. Microsoft should offer an option to get rid of these.

    Many of the new features of Windows Phone 8.1 really round out the system and make it great to use, but it is clear there is still plenty of room for refinement.

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    Action Centre is a well executed notification pull down that operates very much like its iOS counterpart. There are no quick actions such as those offered by Android and iOS 8, but you can tap a notification to be taken to the right app, and even to the right place in that app. To get a fully refined experience apps need to be updated. For example, if you get a new mail notification from the stock mail app and open that app normally, the notification in Action Centre goes away. Apps that have not been updated to take advantage of this can make the system feel clunky, but that is not the fault of the OS.

    Live Tiles can suffer with this lag on app updates as well. Notifications coming into the Action Centre and Live Tile information can be loaded separately and apps that do this can cause out of date information to be displayed in one place or another. It is early days for these enhancements, so I expect apps to be updated to support all these use cases sensibly in time.

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    The control you have over notifications is impressive. Through the system settings, you can set whether banners are shown and the sound and vibration settings for each app. These settings will override any app settings and provide a nice centralised area for controlling this stuff.

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    Home screen backgrounds are a new addition in Windows Phone 8.1 which allows you to set a background image to the tiles on your home screen. Whilst a nice touch, I have found it very hard to get a good look on my 930 that I really like. Nonetheless it falls under the better to have it than not have it category especially as it can be disabled very simply, in which case the older solid colour options remain.

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    Some of the in-built apps have had improvements. The most notable of these is the calendar app which is now rather lovely although inexplicably can still only display one event at a time on its live tile. Talking again of Live Tiles, you now have the option on all devices to have either two or three columns worth of tiles though the widest tile can only cover two columns no matter what.

    The keyboard has a couple of new tricks including the ability to predict emoji (Yay!) and also a new swipe mode which works superbly well. Amazingly, Microsoft finally decided to capitalise the word "I". Windows Phone 8 broke that for the UK keyboard and it was one of my primary frustrations with it.

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    Whilst it is ok, the keyboard is still a source of some frustration. Swiping over letters to enter words is excellent and very fast but using the keyboard normally is randomly hit and miss. Sometimes it corrects words as I type and sometimes it won't. It is very strange and somewhat infuriating. Frankly, the keyboard is also too large, it takes up too much space on the screen.

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    There are loads of other changes in Windows Phone 8.1, but probably the most interesting new feature is Cortana which will be available in mid August in the UK in beta form. Cortana is Microsoft's answer to Siri and Google Now and is rather excellent. It falls somewhere in-between the two with far less server side processing of your data than Google Now but a little more intelligence than Siri. A full review of Cortana will come when it is available in the UK, but it does step up the Windows Phone voice interactions significantly and adds some other useful features too.

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    All is not positive and I think it is worth pointing out two places where the design of Windows Phone is lacking. They are related problems in fact. Finding the correct setting in the settings menu is almost impossible. It is a long scrolling list of 46 items with no search and with many of the sub-menus consisting of just one toggle. It is a mess.

    The list of apps accessed by swiping to the right from the home screen is also one very long list. Yes the apps are organised alphabetically with quick jump and search features, but it is still very hard to find things and there is a lot of vertical scrolling.

    Overall, I think that at its point of release - April 2014 - Windows Phone 8.1 stands toe to toe with iOS and Android and actually has some superb features. It is very slick to use and offers someone who just wants to get things done rather than play with apps a very streamlined experience. The problem is that Android and iOS are moving forwards with major new releases of both coming soon. Microsoft need to up their release cadence or the 930 will very quickly fall behind.

    2. Nokia Lumia Cyan update

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    Nokia have been releasing their own specialised firmware for a while now. We had Amber, then Black and now Cyan. These firmwares enhance the devices with features such as double tap to wake and the glance screen. These firmwares also help support Nokia's superb imaging suite and various audio enhancements among other things.

    It is hard to discern what specifically the Cyan update brings over the Black firmware we had before. The 930 has a very effective double tap to wake mode, adjustments to screen brightness profiles, screen colours and a special sunlight legibility mode that really helps in bright sunlight.

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    Also included is a graphic equaliser for adjusting sound output to your liking, the usual network enhancements and new to Cyan, motion data for those devices that support it. Motion data captures information from the special hardware in the Snapdragon chip inside the phone to aid with things like step counting. This is all part of Nokia's Sensor Core. There isn't much that uses Sensor Core right now, so it is hard to know how useful it will be, but it is another part of the move towards making the 930 a truly modern smartphone.

    The only strange thing on the 930 is the absence of Nokia Glance. The glance screen shows you the time and certain notifications even when the phone is in standby mode. This is particularly effective on AMOLED screens such as the one in the 930 as only the pixels that are not black will be powered increasing battery efficiency.

    Unfortunately, the 930 does not currently support Glance and is unlikely to in the future as the other hardware component needed is screen memory. This is actual memory attached to the screen that allows the screen to refresh despite the rest of the phone being powered down. It is part of the magic that made a device like the LG G2 have such amazing battery life. The 930 screen does not support this technology for some reason and so Glance is not here. Personally I do not miss it much, but it does seem like a strange omission.

    3. Apps

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    There are two problems with apps on Windows Phone, they lack in depth and breadth. That is to say that the range of apps available on Android and iOS is simply not there on Windows Phone. And those that are there are simply not as good as they are on other platforms. Official apps often have features missing.

    It is easy to understand why developers have been slow to adopt Windows Phone. It has had relatively low sales volumes and Microsoft have changed many API's at least twice now in ways that seriously impact apps. So we have a bit of a chicken and egg situation. Developers don't want to invest time into building the apps until there are enough customers for them to recoup their investment, and end users don't want to buy Windows Phone devices until the apps are there.

    For me there is also a third problem. Knowing that Windows Phone is very much a third class citizen when it comes to apps makes me wary. The apps I need may well be there now to a quality level I am happy with, but what happens when the next must have app comes out on iOS or Android? Or when an app has a big update, when will that come to Windows Phone. An example of this is the Twitter app which feels about two years out of date both in design and features.

    If you happen to be an app fiend, there is no simple answer to this problem. I do not believe the situation will improve in the short term beyond where it is now.

    So where is it now? I find that there are very good apps for most things I need on a phone. Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, pod-catching, image editing, weather information, web browsing, RSS feed reading, Pocket, travel information and messaging. In fact, having used the 930 for a little while now, I do not feel that I am missing out for any of these features.

    Having said this, there are some apps that are missing and this is where the app gap has started to become an issue. Google services are poorly featured, especially Google+ and Hangouts. I don't do much with Google+, but I use Hangouts messaging a lot and not having it available is an issue.

    Web browsing can be a bit painful without Chrome sync although there is an app that can sync your Chrome data. The experience is nowhere near seamless however.

    Maps are simply not as good on Windows Phone. Here Maps offers a competent experience but it is not quite up there with Google Maps. Its saving grace though is the inclusion of a worldwide licence for Here Drive+ which gives offline satellite navigation.

    If you are a user of Microsoft services, then Windows Phone supports you well, but move out of that ecosystem and some barriers start to come up. Yes you can sync your Google or iCloud account for mail and contacts and calendars, but not for tasks or messaging. Some of this gap is covered by apps, but not much of it.

    Is there an app gap? Yes, there clearly is. I really hope things improve, but I feel that as long as Google ignore this platform, there will always be too many holes for the average Android user to be able to consider switching. Google bringing their suite of apps over would tell all developers and end users that this is a serious platform.

    Things are moving forwards and the situation is improving, but there is a long way to go. I applaud Microsoft for making the progress they have, but realistically Windows Phone devices will need to sustain double the sales figures they currently have for a fair amount of time before developers make serious efforts to address the platform.

    Camera

    Nokia Camera is the app you will be mainly using to capture images on the 930 and it offers a lot of manual controls. With their history of producing fantastic cameras, I was excited to try it out. Unfortunately, I was left feeling very cold. There are a couple of significant issues.

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    Firstly, the camera is slow. Not slow in the way that most mid-range Android devices are slow, but slow in a whole new way. Pressing the capture button, whether it be the physical button or the on-screen one then leads to an auto-focus seek which sometimes uses the flash to aid in focussing and then captures some time later. In reality, the delay is not that long, but it is long enough that for casual captures of my two year old daughter, it was essentially useless. She just wouldn't stay still long enough, and frankly why should she?!

    You do have the option of half pressing the camera button to cause the camera to focus and then depressing the button all the way to capture which can help, but not much.

    The second issue is that the camera is slow. Not slow... well, you get the idea. This time the problem is post capture. The Lumia 1020 and 1520 had real issues with post capture processing times. The 930 is a lot better than both, but compared to any other flagship device it is very poor. The processing time after capturing is about 1 to 1.5 seconds compared to well over 5 seconds on the 1020. During that time, you cannot capture another picture. In total, it can easily take 5 to 7 seconds to capture an image. This is just too slow.

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    You have the option of three different capturing modes on the 930. You can simply capture a 5 megapixel oversampled image when the device takes all the 20 megapixels available on the sensor and combines multiple pixels to be one leading to lower noise levels in theory. Secondly you can choose to capture both this 5 megapixel example and a 19 megapixel photo in JPG or in DNG formats.

    The principle is that you can then reframe your pictures after the effect, in essence generating new 5 megapixel photos by zooming in to different parts of the higher resolution image. This mode is not available if you save the high resolution shot in DNG format.

    I could discern no difference at all between the 19 megapixel JPG images and the 5 megapixel images. On the Lumia 1020 and the Sony Xperia Z2, both of which employ similar oversampling techniques, the lower resolution capture was always sharper with lower noise levels. Not so on the 930 it seems. What a shame.

    Either way, the final output tended to be a little disappointing even though the 930 captured colours very accurately, white balance issues not withstanding. Shots just seemed to be under-sharpened and washed out. The camera has a lot of potential, but I think Nokia need to update the software a few times until we get to a position where it is truly capable of great captures.

    The Lumia 930 does excel in low light conditions with its excellent optical image stabilisation allowing for longer exposure times than normal. In other conditions it can struggle to choose an appropriate white balance which is why many pictures I took came out overly warm.

    Nokia provide a very complete photo suite with lots of apps that allow for refocussing, editing your images including adding the now fashionable bokeh effects, panoramas and a lot more. It is a great editing suite.

    So lets cut to the chase and view some samples. I am only showing the 19 megapixel full size images from the 930.

    In the following samples, each location was shot with the Lumia 930, an iPhone 5s, a Samsung Galaxy S5 and for comparison, a Sony RX100 M2 which is one of the best compact cameras you can buy. With these comparisons, we can see how the 930 performs against some other high end phones and against a proper camera. In each case, HDR mode was not in use, the flash was disabled, the maximum resolution available was used each time and the framing was handled manually. This allows the ease of device handling to play a part in the quality of the end output.

    Click on the image previews to view the full resolution images.

    1. Outdoors, bright sunny day

    In these conditions, it is all about getting the detail in. I expect no noise as the light is bright and the conditions not at all challenging.

    2. Outdoors, lots of shadows

    Without HDR mode, how do these cameras cope with lots of shadows and bright lights?

    3. Indoors, middling light

    In this location, it was late afternoon and light was starting to fade. There was enough light to capture a reasonable picture, but exposure times would need to be extended.

    4. Indoors, low light

    Taken at night with a small amount of artificial light, we can see just how each camera deals with the most challenging of conditions.

    5. Indoors, low light with flash

    As above, it was night, there was a small amount of artificial light, but this time the flash was forced to fire for each camera.

    6. Building side shot

    Here, we are looking up the side of two houses to see how the cameras handle white balance and also their differing depths of field.

    Battery

    The 2440mAh battery inside the 930 had me worried before I even switched it on. Windows Phone has a reputation for being efficient when it comes to battery drain but I haven't really felt that was the case for some time now. Most phones with similar specs today offer batteries that are at least 10% larger than the 930 as well. I was concerned.

    As it happens, there are some issues with battery life, but overall it is fine. It has never let me down, getting through a normal day of usage. It does seem to drop alarmingly quickly when browsing the web though. In fact, any taxing operation that also had the screen on causes the 930 to get a bit warm and the battery to drain very rapidly.

    Overall, I don't think the battery is a big problem here and if it had a capacity closer to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S5, then I suspect there would never be a problem. But one thing is clear, Windows Phone is no more efficient than any other operating system, and perhaps slightly less so.

    If you are a heavy users, I would strongly recommend sticking to dark themed apps as much as possible to avoid heavy battery drain and even then, heavy users are going to struggle to get through a day.

    I am a lighter user as I sit at a desk most of the day in front of a computer. I tend to use around three hours screen time - at least when I am on an Android device - most days and I assume my usage is very similar on any phone. The Lumia 930 is fine for me and quite similar to the iPhone 5s in terms of battery life. I tend to end most days with around 20-30% remaining on the 930.

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    Helping to manage your battery is Battery Sense which can disable background tasks when battery gets low or when you choose. It makes a huge difference, easily doubling or more the battery life of the device. Of course the phone is fairly crippled when Battery Saver is active, but it is nice to have for the last few percent of charge should it come to it.

    Using the Battery Saver app, you can control which of your installed apps run in the background. I adjusted my settings and got at least a 10% improvement in endurance without any loss of functionality. Any app that wants to run in the background is allowed to by default. Windows Phone will tell you that lots of apps are running in the background, but this warning only appears once as the number ramps up.

    Adjusting all these settings is a bit tedious, but well worthwhile.

    The Lumia 930 does not support Qualcomm Quick Charge 2 technologies despite being available in the hardware of the phone. Rumour suggests that the first Windows Phone 8.1 Update will add this support. In the meantime, it is worth noting that the 930 does take a while to charge and if charging wirelessly, it does get very hot.

    Conclusion

    It is hard to know where to place the Lumia 930. It performs like a flagship phone until you start delving into third party apps which can be clunky. It feels like a premium device until you notice its thickness without the compromise of superb battery life. It is cheaper than other flagships but I do not think it is as good as other flagships.

    Windows Phone has always felt like an operating system designed to work best on mid-range hardware. The 8.1 release is no different. Neither of the release devices feel quite right yet. The 930 is too big and chunky, the 635 makes too much of a compromise with no proximity or light sensors and no front facing camera combined with a very low resolution screen.

    In a vacuum, the 930 is a superb phone. It has a simply amazing screen, decent performance, a good camera, reasonable battery life, lots of cool features and superb build quality. Put alongside the competition and it has neither the refinement and all-round brilliance of an iPhone or the flexibility, amazing endurance and choice of high-end Androids.

    Despite all this, I fell in love with the 930. I love the orange back, I love the screen, I love the feel of the thing, I love Windows Phone 8.1 and I like the camera, sometimes. I can't use the 930 as my daily driver though. It is missing some apps, and even those it has can be too slow. It is also too large for me. It is one compromise too many.

    This is the best Windows Phone device there has ever been. But we still need to say that a few more times about some other new devices in the future before a Windows Phone device can truly stand alongside the iPhone and various Android devices at the very top of the smartphone tree.

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    • I have won this item as a prize in an online Facebook competition directly from Nokia but I do not really need it. 
        
      I am offering you the WHITE watch/tracker, never used as it is still Brad New In Sealed Box (unopened and sealed, as can be seen in the pictures below) alongside the original receipt (in electronic form for warranty purposes) for a very reasonable price considering its brand new condition (almost half price compared to the retail price). The warranty from the manufactures is 2 years. My partner has this same watch and is great, has a long lasting battery of 8 months and is the best looking fitness tracker you can find nowadays. It would fit well a man or a woman. Connectivity via Bluetooth low energy with Android (5.0 and higher) and IOS (8.0 and higher). It tracks your steps, distance, calories, running*, swimming* (Water resistant up to 165 feet deep) and sleep cycles* (* = automatically detected). A great feature that I love is the silent alarm (by vibration) so that my partner's alarm goes off without bothering me at all O:) Full details, specifications, compatibility, etc of this item can be seen at http://health.nokia.com/uk/en/steel and you can watch a short video review in YouTube Price stated above now includes RMSD postage. If local collection was possible (Northwich, North West)  I would take £5 off the price shown to reflect savings on postage costs. Payment via BACS; Monzo.me or Revolut Transfer (See below) unless local collection, where cash in hand is a possibility. With Monzo.me money is sent instantly, with no fees for the sender or the receiver; you don’t need to create an account to send money via Monzo.me; and can use any card for the payment. My monzo.me address is https://monzo.me/jesusgarciatorre For payment using Revolut, simply ask me for a request of payment link Rev.me. Payment in crypto also welcome. Ask me if interested %) Even though I live in Northwich I travel frequently back and forth to Warrington / Manchester / Leeds areas so, I could potentially deliver in person given the right location / conditions so don't be afraid to ask. Feel free to contact me via private message for any queries you may have. Please be aware this is also being advertised on eBay and other sites, so it may become unavailable at any time. Thanks for watching 🙂
    • Regular readers will know that I love a good bargain and love a good freebie even more! Your phone is a great tool for getting free or discounted stuff when you're out and about, so here's some of our favourite apps and how you can use them to save money! If there's any we've missed but you use, let us know.    Wuntu Wuntu is the loyalty application for Three customers. It has some great deals such as free Costa Coffees, discount food at Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge, free sweets and much more. Deals typically arrive at 8:30 am on a Wednesday, so you want to be checking the app then as some offers are limited in number. If you're not a Three customer, pick up a 3 PAYG SIM to get started. You can pick them up for 99p in most supermarkets or for free from the Three website. You'll need an unlocked or dual SIM phone to activate of course, but once you've set up the app, you can take the SIM back out. Since you're getting cool free stuff from 3, it might be nice to give a little back by topping up or using as your secondary network. O2 Priority O2's Priority is similar to Wuntu but it was 'the original' app of this type. As with Wuntu deals come and go, but the headline offer from Priority is a free Caffe Nero drink every Tuesday! As an added bonus, you still get a free loyalty stamp in the Nero app and even large size drinks are covered. Nice! The best offers tend to be around 'occasions' (chocolates for mothers day, for example) but it's worth having installed and checking in frequently. As with Wuntu, pick up a cheap SIM or get one free from the O2 website. Note that O2's policy has changed recently, and Priority can only be activated using SIM cards with credit, so it's going to cost you 10 quid to get up and running (that's the minimum top up). It's probably worth it though, you could make that back in less than a month in free coffees alone. Again, you'll need an unlocked or dual SIM phone and you don't need to keep the SIM in it post activation. Curve Now for something completely different. Curve is a debit card that aggregates all your other cards. It works like this - sign up to Curve, get your free card in the post, install the app, associate all your other cards and you're ready to go. You can spend out and about with the contactless card and choose which one it maps to instantly in the app. Paid for something on the wrong card? You can use the 'back in time' feature to change it post-payment. The app has a reward card built in where you can earn credit by spending at certain merchants or by referring friends. There are lots of other features such as purchase insights, instant card lock, super cheap currency exchange, fee free cash withdrawal from credit cards and much more. Google Pay support will be coming soon too, which will really make it amazing. I love Curve and use it all the time. You can order your free card via the Curve app and even better, if you use the referral code 'TBXZH' you'll get a free fiver on your reward card. Free money! Quidco Quidco is one of the two major 'cashback' players in the UK. If you ever buy anything online, you should always check Quidco and its rival TopCashback to see if cashback is available. The way it works is like this - you start at the cashback site, sign in, complete your purchase and then you receive a percentage of your purchase back as 'credit' (this varies per merchant and is listed on the cashback site). This can then be withdrawn when it reaches a certain threshold to your bank account or to gift vouchers for other merchants with a percentage bonus. It works really well and is absolutely a no-brainer, as you're going to earn money on things you'd be buying anyway! Sign up at the Quidco website and you'll earn £5 straight away, refer friends and family and you can earn free credit too. Quidco ClickSnap Quidco ClickSnap is a Quidco specific service designed for use in-store. It has its own app, but shares the account with the main Quidco site. ClickSnap works by showing you a list of offers at the main supermarkets. A recent one was 'get a free bar of Galaxy chocolate' for example. In order to redeem, you buy the item at the designated supermarket, snap a picture of the receipt, upload it in the app then the cost is returned to you as credit. This works particularly well as often the credited amount is more than what you actually paid (if, for example, the item was on a special offer), so you can get the goods and end up in profit! Sign up at the Quidco website in the same way as above. TopCashBack TopCashBack is a Quidco rival and works in exactly the same way. It has its own Clicksnap like service (although it doesn't have a dedicated app for this) and quite often offers differ between the two services - it's worth being signed up to both. Sign up at the TopCashBack website and try and remember to use it! Vouchercloud Now for something a little bit different. VoucherCloud is all about saving money, although the app does occasionally have freebies too. Codes are broken down into categories and also displayed on a map so you can spot local deals. Alerting functionality is available, although I've found this to be a bit of a battery drain. Vouchercloud is particularly good for discounts on restaurants, although you need to be careful as many deals don't apply at the weekend. There is also a 'competitions' section. Vouchercodes Vouchercodes works in exactly the same way as Vouchercloud, but has a slightly different set of deals, so if you're on the hunt for a bargain, it's worth having both installed.   Caffè Nero As well as being included in the O2 Priority offer above, Caffe Nero have their own app. After installation you can get a free coffee straight away by entering the code 'WELCOMETONERO2018' and each time you buy a drink, you'll earn one stamp (10 gets you a free drink). Nero is particularly good as there are frequently offers and promotions for freebies or extra stamps, it seems to be the most generous of the coffee chains (and my favourite). Friends of Krispy Kreme Krispy Kreme donuts are the most ridiculously sweet, unhealthy and tasty donuts. Their app is particularly good for freebies too! Aside from offering very frequent discount promotions (e.g. 'buy a dozen original glazed get a dozen free' or this week 'get a free cold drink when you buy one if temperature is above 20 degrees'), after you enter your date of birth, anniversary, partner's and children's birthdays, you'll generally get a free donut on each of those occasions every year. Excellent! There are also occasional other giveaways such as free drinks. Calories ahoy! Greggs The Greggs app is surprisingly good for freebies. As with most chains it has a loyalty programme built in, but it also has very frequent free promotions - in recent months I've had Lucozade, coffee, crisps, donuts, all via in app notifications that a promotion is available to be redeemed. Healthy. :-) If you live near a Greggs (by the way, apparently there are 29 in Newcastle, how crazy is that?!), then it's worth an install. Unidays Despite the name, Unidays isn't just for university students, it's for all students. If you can validate your educational status with a school / college / uni email address, you can activate Unidays and receive discounts and promotions both online and in physical stores. The list of merchants is pretty extensive, so it's definitely worth doing, Student Beans Student Beans is very similar to Unidays but has a slightly different list of merchants, so it is worth installing both. Freebies are rare in these apps, but discounts are pretty healthy, particularly in the stores in which young people like to shop, so whether you're installing for yourself or for your kids, the app is worth having to hand, Airtime Rewards Airtime Rewards is a new concept which works because it's zero effort yet potentially saves a bit of money. Upon signup, the app will confirm which mobile network you are on, whether you are on a contract or PAYG and then link to your debit or credit cards. From then on, when you make purchases at certain retailers, you'll earn a percentage back which is then deducted from your phone bill. Pretty neat! The list of supported merchants is pretty small right now, but it's a bit of a no brainer given how easy it is to set up. Redeem code 'FWMLFWQW' to get 30p credit straight away. Worth nothing is that you can link your Curve to Airtime Rewards for double cashback! Groupon It's easy to discount Groupon as being useful simply because quite often the offers aren't that great compared to what you can get going direct. In reality however, there are always discount vouchers for Groupon floating around, such that I don't think I've ever paid full price! If I'm out and about with family visiting and I want to take them for a meal or an afternoon tea, Groupon rarely lets me down on the bargain front. Get started on the Groupon website. Google Opinion Rewards Google Opinion Rewards is a great way to earn free Google Play credit. After installation. the app will pop up optional surveys about places you've been, demographically relevant merchants etc. and after completing them, you will earn a small amount of play credit. The surveys are very easy, very short and non-intrusive - it's a great way to gradually build credit for your next Play Store purchase. Barclays Premier Rewards OK, so this isn't for everyone, but if you happen to bank with Barclays and your household income is eligible for a Barclays Premier Banking account, then consider switching and installing the app. Doing so will net you a host of benefits including a free Patisserie Valerie hot drink every day (!), free entry to English Heritage sites, discounts at a whole host of restaurants and much more. HotUKDeals I suspect nearly everybody is aware of HotUKDeals, but just in case, the site is an hot, UK based, deal aggregator, as the name suggests! It's dangerous, as there's plenty of scope for picking up 'bargains' that you don't really need, but if you're planning to buy something specific you can use its alerting functionality to let you know if a deal crops up. The app is pretty nice for browsing offers too. Google Pay Finally, Google Pay. While Google Pay won't really save you much money or offer you much in the way of freebies, it doesn't occasionally pop up a deal and is a winner when it comes to convenience if you a) have a NFC enabled phone and b) your bank is supported. One way you can earn is by referring friends - you'll both earn £20 credit when they sign up. Follow this link and enter code '' for your own signup bonus. 🙂 Zeek Zeek is a really cool site for buying and selling gift cards. From a bargain hunting perspective it's most of interest for buying cards and the discounts can be considerable. As an added bonus, you can save further on Zeek cards by going via TopCashback! Even better, when you sign up using this link you'll get £5 back from them when you make your first purchase!
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