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Confessions of a Former Fanboy [Editorial]

Looking at my watch and pacing around my room on a Friday afternoon was a theme my family and friends were accustomed to seeing. It’s one of my ritualistic habits; that meant I was waiting for a new smartphone to arrive – and it wasn’t there yet! Who would expect a reviewer to get excited about another one coming in the mail? Shocking as it is, I am always excited to review a new smartphone. It broadens my perspective on mobile products and helps me form a well-balanced opinion.  Continue reading

Gaana.com Windows Phone app now available

Quick heads up. It’s been a long wait but Gaana.com has finally released a Windows Phone app. Gaana.com is a good mix of Grooveshark like UI and Spotify like music subscription service (more details on upcoming premium service Gaana+ service here). Competitor services like Dhingana and Saavn don’t have a Windows Phone application as of now (however the services are offering their mobiles apps on iOS, Android and even the Nokia S40 devices – of course).

Gaana.com application was published live in the Windows Phone at Tech Ed 2013 in Bangalore today by Satyan Gajwani, CEO of Times Internet. The application is available for both Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8 devices. Playlists, radio, favorites, proper Metro UI application – nothing to dislike about this application except one  tiny bit – live tile. Not a big fan of the logo either on the homescreen. I’d highly recommend you try it out.

The application is being currently indexed in the marketplace so hit this link and push the application to your device remotely to get the application immediately.

 

 

Why Windows Phone 8 is strictly mediocre and why Microsoft should be worried.

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I have been on Windows Phone for nearly 2 years now. I still have my 2010 WP7 HTC Mozart. What brought me to this shiny new ecosystem was the UI – simple and fluid – it was clearly distinct and I made the switch from iOS and never looked back. However, I am starting to look more closely at  more than one ecosystem now  because WP8 isn’t even half as good as I’d expected it to be. Before you read this further – I want you to keep in mind that I am someone who uses this device at a level different from your average smartphone user so they probably don’t care about most of the annoyances. Personally, I have seen people who just need Facebook and WhatsApp and they are done with their smartphone decision. Yep, that wouldn’t be me - as a “hardcore” smartphone users – I need all the new apps, new features, timely updates, good support and the list goes on.

If we rewind the whole Windows Phone story to the early days, as someone who has been part of all updates from minor to major – I wanna take you through my experiences. Pre NoDo era was mostly fun and as far as I remember only Microsoft employees and handful of hardcore MS fanboys and Metro lovers actually bought the device. It was incredibly low on features (in fact it didn’t even have copy and paste and boy it was a hard decision justifying the update) but everyone was excited about a new operating system and then we had the NoDo update of course and the world moved on. What I think was the critical success point in whatever you make out of the Windows Phone 7 story was how Microsoft did the Mango update. Mango was why Windows Phone 7 caught the attention of the globe. It was absolutely a major update and that was the point where I knew this ecosystem will be here to stay. Everything was perfect – you had incredible Mango apps in work, SDK was ready and the best part? Developers got early access to the brand new Operating system and dev evangelism touched it’s peak, as we all know, post Mango. Then of course, we had Tango and then finally Windows Phone 8 announcement. Windows Phone 8 announcement was incredibly exciting since we knew how the current OS experience was restricted by hardware and hardware by the kernel so WP8 was the right thing to do. However, expectations were high since Google and Apple were iterating very quickly and Microsoft had a huge task of kernel shift and new SDK and a lot of incredibly important things. WP8 launch was pretty bad from developer point of view, only few developers actually got the SDK before launch and we had a lot of broken promises (like the so called “enthusiast program”).

I am going to illustrate a few problems I have with the current version of Windows Phone 8 and  right below and remember this coming up from someone who has used WP consistently and extensively for nearly 2 years:

  • Lack of Notification Center: I remember during Mango release, I was constantly on twitter chatting with MS devs and asking them for a notification center and they gave the standard reply that you will still get if you ask the Redmond folks “Live tile IS the notification center – you get all the updates and information / notification on your homescreen”. Fair enough but am I supposed to sit blankly at the screen every second of the day or wait 30 minutes for a tile to be updated or better yet wait for a push notification to come and decide to pick between a sip of coffee or clicking on the notification before it goes to a never to be discovered black hole? The answer is simple: Get us a notification center immediately. This is 2013 and the supposed no.3 mobile ecosystem doesn’t have a notification center boggles me and there are reports suggesting that Microsoft is working on one so hopefully we’ll see it soon. What is intriguing to me is how Microsoft will bring notification center into the UX. Right now, w/o the notification center – just like wp7 – I am not paying for push notification applications and my WhatsApp and Facebook application becomes useless when I get a lot of notifications so it’s kinda pointless to have at this moment. What about apps not pinned on screen? What about notifications for those apps? Yeah, no two thoughts on need of Notification Center hopefully.
  • Me Tile: Me Tile was probably last updated when Windows 95 was released. Not really but I don’t even understand why there’s this amazing utility is sitting on my homescreen  that I use all the time isn’t being updated to it’s full potential. I am a heavy twitter user and there’s no auto “Reply to all” for tweets (this should be by default btw and would be done in matter of minutes but who cares, right?) which means I have to go to a twitter client and do it. This destroys the purpose of the Me tile twitter integration mechanism. Another thing that I would love is auto complete and of course, a favorite button on the application which is probably the least time consuming task and if you think it doesn’t matter – then let me tell you, it’s the small things that matter and this statement will become even more important when Google and Apple release their new OS this year. There’s no escape but to make both large level and small level changes. Second problem with Me tile is the lack of friend tagging during check in. So basic but not implemented. I have to open the Facebook app for it which is great but then again – half baked and mostly useless. I know Me tile is for glancing at notifications but it should do more than just that. It has incredible potential, it’s fast and I would love to see MS upgrade it in next version.
  • The upgrade:- So I upgraded from Windows Phone 7 to Windows Phone 8 last week and the upgrade was pretty good as expected but there was one critical problem : my installed apps. Just like every other OS all your app purchases and installed apps are linked to your account so when you switch devices you can fetch your applications and use on your new device – as simple as that. Windows Phone does that too but with a little twist that made me give up using this feature. WP8 doesn’t allow you (still) to download and install all the applications at once so instead you have to go to every single one of them and click on the download button on the website. Extremely frustrating and I didn’t bother with it after some time. This needs to be fixed.
  • The elusive search button: Okay, this is where my fellow rabid MS and WP fanboys are going to rip me apart but let me be honest about it. Bing sucks. It’s decent for media queries but it’s just bad when compared to Google results. Microsoft should offer a choice to bind search key to a search engine of user’s choice. I know it’s a bad Bing business decision but I am confident it will be a great decision from consumer point of view and consequently for WP. Search button could be a bit more useful, it’s a big darn button on your phone, right? I know some of you have been asking for it since ages but a lot of people apparently like Bing so giving users an option shouldn’t be a bad thing. Search button can also be used for universal search (long press search button for universal search?)  which is another BIG feature missing from Windows Phone 8.
  • Lack of volume profiles: Lack of independent tone selection for stuff like calls, messages and Bluetooth headsets and lack of volume/sound profiles just boggles my mind. I remember using them in good old Symbian phones but I don’t understand what’s stopping Microsoft from doing it. The fact that we don’t have custom tone options for contacts is just infuriating. This reminds me of one thing that annoys me everyday – I have vibrate ON in settings along with a ringtone most of the time, now when I am in a class or at a meeting – I need to make it silent and WP8 offers a silent mode but it still has vibration and now you need to switch vibrate off and switch it ON again when you need it. Minor annoyance I know but sometimes you need a bit of peace of mind.
  • The pseudo Windows 8 -  Windows Phone 8 relationship: When WP8 was coming out, we were excited about all the amazing possibilities of synchronization among the two platforms. Now that both platforms are out and available for months – I think W8 has done an incredible job at gestures and WP8 has done nothing to improve WP7 gestures. I love the app closing gesture on W8 and would love to see it on WP8 but most importantly, what I’d like Microsoft to do is to implement the app switching gesture on Windows 8 to WP8 (left to right swipe from edge to switch between apps) – this is very cool and incredible easy to do (Ubuntu OS even has it!). A Charms bar would be a hard to do WP8 considering screen size but app switching and closing gesture would make the experience consistent and it would be refreshing for the consumers. What’s also funny is that there’s no sync between IE10 desktop and IE10 mobile – not even a “open in IE10 mobile” option in IE10. This is incredibly useful but Microsoft isn’t too bothered with it. There are so many possibilities of sync with W8 – control music and movie apps natively and lots more – but I don’t see MS doing anything about it. A broken promise, IMO. Lack of WinJS on WP8 SDK bothers me way more than I can explain it to you.
  • Rotation lock – Why, Microsoft. WHY. How long do we have to wait for this? What’s stopping Microsoft from adding rotation lock  to Windows Phone? They did succumb to pressure of screenshot but not rotation lock which is something that users expect to be there when they pick up a smartphone. Ridiculous to expect all developers to implement rotation lock on their app.
  • Fix Multi tasking: A simple suggestion: Don’t make developers write extra line of code for fast app resume, just bundle the code when the dev compiles it. Every single wp8 app should have it. Makes the OS feel inconsistent.
  • Store – WP8 store is great but right now I don’t know which apps are WP7 and Wp8 apps unless I open them. There should be a dedicated WP8 only marketplace category and that should NOT be hard to add for Microsoft. It will make the experience for new users a lot better.
  • Always visible status bar – This annoys me because this isn’t something Microsoft is responsible for completely, majority of the developers choose to remove it and you have to get out of the app to check date, time and battery. So instead of giving options to developers – just remove the option and make it visible at all times. Better  – make it visible and tap to hide instead of tap to show. Don’t see how current way of showing it works for anyone.
  • Gapless Audio playback – I don’t think I need to explain this. Just do it, Microsoft.
  • FM radio – I live in a third world country and we are definitely NOT in the kind of place where everyone can afford to stream their music online for a monthly fees with their 3G networks on all the time. No. I do not know what prompted Microsoft to FM radio but whatever did is absolutely the worst possible idea. What do you listen to in case of emergency? Xbox music?
  • Make features available to wider audience – There’s something called Xbox Music on my Windows Phone – fancy, right? Wrong. Xbox Music doesn’t work in India and many other countries and it’s been 3 months since launch and there’s no launch in site. Same thing happened with the Bing audio detection feature in Windows Phone 7. Xbox Music is extremely important, especially for HTC and Samsung users who not only are excluded from Nokia Music access but they also do not have services like Spotify on Windows Phone 8.
  • Making a call is still time consuming:   Just make “RapDialer” the default  application experience on Windows Phone 8. I know MS hasn’t prioritized a lot of things so just buy the company / dev team who made it and make it default. Not asking too much now, am I?
  • Fix the calendar: Not exactly sure what changes Microsoft has made to WP8 calendar coming from WP7 but I don’t see any. There’s still no weekly view! One thing I do not understand is why I cannot see more than one event/appointment on the wide tile. It’s a wide tile now, show us more information!
  • Settings page: If somebody can explain to me the logic behind the ordering of the items in settings page, a free WP goodie for you. I am serious. Make it alphabetical or rearrange it dynamically based on usage pattern. Right now, important stuff are at bottom and everything is mixed up.
  • Lose the password on Kids Corner: I love the concept of Kids Corner (corrected!)  but I hate the name. I’d love a Guest Corner instead – A Kids Corner without a password. The password defeats the purpose of a separate homescreen.
  • Homescreen sync/backup: Creating a perfect homescreen is an art, isn’t it? I am spending a lot of time tweaking my homescreen on both wp8 and w8 and would appreciate a homescreen synchronization between multiple devices or backup of your homscreen so you can switch between different layouts immediately.
  • Select All – There’s no way to select all messages ( I stand corrected, thank you noroom – pretty crazy how I didn’t see this one – was expecting select all on the app bar icon) and emails and delete them at once and this is something that is so basic it’s hard to comprehend why it’s still not there. It’s there for music and they just need to do a tiny bit of work to add it to application bar, simple – right? It’s already there for music so don’t see why it isn’t in email and messages.
  • Revamp Podcast support in Windows Phone 8: Bundle “PODCASTS!” app with all Windows Phone 8 devices or make a similar app. That is how you make Podcasting work.
  • IE10: IE10 is amazing. I use it a lot on desktop and loving the performance on Windows Phone 8 so far. However, the UI isn’t good enough. There’s no forward button on IE10 and no speed dial like feature which every single browser has it now and even Opera Mini had it for years now. This reminds me of a simple request : Open marketplace to more browsers Microsoft - help Opera develop Mini for Windows Phone 8.
  • Allow apps and attachments to be installed on SD Card: My friend bought a HTC 8S recently and he is genuinely frustrated. Games + apps + map data and less than 3GB of usable space – you are in for trouble and I can see Nokia doing a 4GB phone soon and it would suck to see 510 issue (it didn’t even have SD card support to make matters worse)  happening all over again.
  • A better Zune alternative: I am using the Windows Phone App Preview 3 right now to sync playlists and yes I know it’s a preview build but it’s extremely basic. Had issues syncing playlists multiple times but it went through in the end. If you want to just transfer stuff – just use the good old file system method – this app experience is not good enough. Another issue which puzzled me was the lack of Xbox Music playlist sync ability. I have been told Xbox music playlists are synced to cloud and they automatically appear in the app on your phone (it didn’t work for me but it did for many) but it still streams your stuff via whatever connection you are on – it doesn’t download em all at once immediately which is puzzling but not surprising, if you went through the whole upgrade process from wp7 to wp8.
  • VPN: Businesses need VPN. You cannot call it an enterprise smartphone without VPN support.
  • Remember Xbox Live?:  When Windows Phone came out, I was personally very excited about the potential future of XBL on WP and future iterations. When WP8 came out, I was even more excited. Now the devices have power and potential via the software for some cross platform action – where are the games taking advantage of it? Why isn’t MS flooding marketplace with XBL games? I remember seeing more XBL games during mango launch than I remember post WP8 launch. MS needs to realize Xbox is BIG and they cannot just take a break and stop releasing games. Now if Quad Core WP8 devices rumored this year, I am sincerely hoping for cross platform action.

 

..and that’s about it. These are the major and few minor (not all of them are listed here) features that have troubled me for a long time now. Honestly speaking, Upgrading from WP7 to WP8 felt like a minor upgrade. I am sure this WP8 will be amazing for someone who is fascinated by the UI and simplicity or is buying a smart phone for the first time but iOS and Android hardcore users who are addicted to applications and features / customization (droid) aren’t going to be too happy with it. Windows Phone 8 is a neat little Operating System but not even close to what I had in mind for WP8. Probably I set my expectations too high or MS didn’t deliver what we asked for.

Windows Phone 8 launch has been very good in nearly every single place. One big reason is Nokia. Their Lumia 920 has caught everyone’s eye and the only thing that bothers people about the device (no, not the weight..) is the Operating System. This is something I have observed from a lot of reviews. However, Windows Phone 8 seems perfect for most usecases. I do not disagree with that and probably most of the people don’t even care with my list. They have very limited uses with their phones, why would they want a Notification center? What for? Valid questions but we are looking at a bigger picture here. Sailfish, Ubuntu, Tizen and Blackberry 10 are few Operating Systems that are going to come really hard to Windows Phone very very soon. iOS and Android are going to get a major update. Imagine if Ive’s next iOS is just as “magical” as his devices are, iOS is going to take another leap and I have no doubt in my mind that Google will continue their success on the next version of Android. No.1 and 2 are realistically impossible for WP to get to at this point, this year atleast, but what about number 3? I think Microsoft is happy with number 3. They aren’t iterating quickly. WP8 was launched in October and we still have no signs of any major update – too much to ask for new updates in  3 months? I don’t think so. Microsoft needs to be on cutting edge of things if they want to jump to the top of  the podium. Now with increasing competition from OSs mentioned above – thing are looking tough for Windows Phone in my opinion. That number 3 spot is a scary place to be. The application story hasn’t changed much. Still a lot of top publishers chose to ignore WP8 just like WP7 eventhough WP8 is selling way better than WP7. What could be the reason? Why isn’t there a Spotify, Path, Flipboard, Instagram, Vine, Temple Run, Twitch, etc on Windows Phone 8? Surely Microsoft has the power and money to convince the developers but even then developers aren’t bothered. This is a shocking state of affairs and something I am used to now on Windows Phone, sadly. We have some absolutely fantastic third party apps like Baconit, Metrotube, Mehdoh, Weatherflow, 4th and Mayor, etc. We need more of these – what’s the killer WP8 app? I don’t think there is one. Microsoft should be worried. Belfiore needs to come out on February 25th with Stephen Elop and tell us about he future roadmap of windows phone 8 at MWC on February 25th this month. Microsoft needs to push the boundaries here. They have a great product. Great OEM products. Everything is set. Now they need to get in all the needs and demands of current users and then match up with future OS updates or better yet, innovate and get 2 steps ahead of other operating systems. The future for Windows Phone is great if Microsoft takes a bit more effort to communicate on the demands and needs of users and convert that demands and needs into a final consumer feature quickly. Windows Phone 8.5, I am counting on you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nokia Lumia 510 review

Nokia was kind enough to lend us review units of their latest and cheapest Lumias yet – 510 and 610. Lumia 610 was launched way back in July in India and was mostly received to negative responses from Windows Phone fans calling it the beginning of fragmentation in the ecosystem. However, with less than 5% apps being affected – I strongly disagree. Lumia 510 on the other hand, was launched last month as Nokia’s Diwali gift to India. I am going to do a quick impressions on Lumia 510 and what it means to consumers in India and why you should/shouldn’t buy it.

Hardware \ Design 

Here’s a question for you: Why Lumia 510? Why couldn’t Nokia just reduce the price of 610? It does make sense until you start using 510. Lumia 510′s back is surprisingly a soft touch cover panel coupled with subtle curves which make it a joy to hold. Lumia 610′s back is a wholesome plastick-y experience, so 510 definitely feels better in hand – sturdy and safe. There’s one downfall to this back cover though, it’s a dust magnet. However, the sturdy and well built hardware should make up for those tiny little dust particles sticking on the back of your phone. Lumia 510 weighs in at 129g v/s 132g on Lumia 610 however when you hold both the devices – you’ll feel that there is a lot more bulk attached to the 610.
When it comes to design – let’s put it simple terms – it’s uninspiring. Let’s just say it’s a mixture of Lumia 710 and Lumia 610, unfortunately the design borrows more elements from Lumia 710. I personally love the design on 610 but as mentioned above when you hold it – physically it feels a bit cheap. So again, Nokia had to make a compromise which some may or may not like. 

Lumia 510, exactly like the 610, has all the physical buttons (lock screen, camera and volume rocker) on the right side which is incredibly frustrating for me. Probably because I am used to HTC Mozart’s button placement – Lock screen button on top, volume rocker on top left and camera on bottom right. Sometimes when you are listening to music, you need to mess with the volume rocker without actually watching the placement of the button and I have ended up pressing lockscreen button most of the time. This isn’t much of a problem to be honest and if it is – I am sure with  a little more time, people can get used to it. You have a usb charging point right at the bottom and headset port at the polar opposite.

Let’s talk about my favorite part now – The screen. We are living in the world of smartphones where there’s a PPI war raging on..at the time of review – HTC just blew everyone away 5-inch 1080p 440ppi phone which is just an incredible achievement. However these are high end phones and it will take a considerable time for manufacturers to come out with non WVGA displays on lower end models (unless Apple comes out with an iPhone Mini!). Right, so Lumia 510 display is what makes it stand out. Lumia 510 comes with a 4 inch TFT 480 x 800 pixels (~233 ppi) display. Keep this in perspective, it has a larger display than Lumia 610, 710 and 800 and all these phones have WVGA resolution at 3.7inches. However the other models have higher PPIs but if you aren’t really used to retinas and One Xs (which you probably aren’t if you are looking to buy a lumia 510) – it won’t really be any issue at all. In fact, 4 inch v//s 3.7 inch difference is significant. After using 510, I personally am never going to a display < 4 inches. Windows Phone should be experienced at such displays – however at higher PPIs, no excuse on that which is why you should look at HTC 8X and Lumia 920,  meanwhile display nerds can feel free to skip WVGA displays on 820 and 8S (which is really a shame considering their pricing and competition).

Anyways, back to the screen. 4 inch display is a joy to use and Nokia undercutting 610′s price to bring out a larger display is an incredibly bold move (which resulted in some compromises that we’ll discuss later). The color reproduction is solid however the display is not to be compared with high end Windows Phone counterparts sporting SAMOLEDs and SLCDv2. It’s not a vibrant display and  lacks the viewing angles that I’d personally like. The outdoor visibility is fairly average. I prefer the 610 display if you look closely however I enjoyed 510 display more. Here’s another incentive to pick 510 display over 610: Windows Phone 7.8. Customizable tiles that would cover up your entire screen – the bigger the better, folks!

I am going to quickly go through some of the features on 510:

  • Camera: 510 sports 5 MP autofocus camera with no LED flash. The 5MP camera is highly unimpressive. I am no camera expert so I cannot really expand upon this, but as a consumer who can differentiate between a good and bad photograph, I’ll strictly put 510′s image taking ability at “below average” – keeping in mind the price point on this. There’s also no front facing camera which is also a huge downside to this device.
    As mentioned above, 510 undercuts 610′s pricing and had to compromise on some of 610′s feature. Well they didn’t compromise on the camera itself but on the lack of LED flash which is a bit hard to comprehend when all your competitors have it, something as simple as LED flash is missing. I can tell you my photo taking experience on Diwali (festival of lights) wasn’t pretty. Video recording is capped to VGA resolution (at 30fps) so it’s again..average.
  • Speakers: One word: Loud. The speaker grill is at the back and is a significant improvement to the disaster that the Lumia 800 loudspeakers are. I wrote this impression while listening to Nokia Music on 510′s loudspeaker and it’s an incredibly positive experience at this price range. I can’t stress enough how amazing Nokia Music is for the Indian market.
    Battery life: 510 has a 1300mAh battery. Nokia impressed me quite a bit here. The battery lasts more than a day of moderate use (over wifi). Unfortunately, haven’t been able to test this device on 3G. The back panel is removable – nothing new but many new phones tend to have a sealed back.
  • Storage: Alright, this is the only point where it becomes hard to justify the purchase of this device unless you are already on the cloud bandwagon and are connected to the internet at all times. Lumia 510 has just 4GB memory onboard with less than 2.9 GB memory available and most importantly, it doesn’t have Micro SD support so you have less than 2.9 GB to utilize. This can be a deal breaker for quite a few,. Personally, it hasn’t been much of a problem for me – all my files are on skydrive (free 7GB storage for all 510 customers) and  I am spending a lot of time listening to Nokia Music radio (free for one year). But yes, using Nokia drive offline maps coupled with applications and local music, videos – this is definitely not a device for offline media junky. This can be a deal breaker for quite a few.

Camera Samples

Lumia 510 camera sample at moderate lighting

Lumia 510 camera sample at moderate lighting

 

Lumia 510 camera sample outside shot

Lumia 510 camera sample outside shot

 

 

Lumia 510 camera sample outside shot - night | no flash

Lumia 510 camera sample outside shot – night | no flash

Performance

Powering the 510 is a familiar looking  Cortex A5 MSM7227A Snapdragon processor clocked at 800 MHz and of course the measly 256 MB RAM. There’s a lot of buzz around how this 256MB RAM is causing WP OS to move towards an era of fragmentation and how it’s not the right way to experience Windows Phone. This is the first time I have spent significant amount of time with a 800 MHz processor WP device coupled with 256 MB RAM and I can frankly say that if you have used a Windows Phone device before – you will never touch this device again. If you haven’t – we’ll it’s a smooth sail.
What this 256 MB of RAM does is that it excludes nearly < 5% of the applications from your reach. However this minority includes some massively used applications like Skype, Tango, Angry Birds, etc and even excludes Nokia’s own application City Lens so this is a bit of a bummer.

However, let me write about the much  exaggerated lag story on Lumia 510. Lag is there, no doubt, but it’s not really noticeable most of the times. Yes, the OS struggles to keep up sometimes – you miss a transition or two or you get a 2-3 second delay but it’s not signifcant enough to make a difference in buyer’s opinion. You have to keep two things in mind:

1) The competition is cheap android phones and Android tends to lag on dual core OS as well.

2) If you are using a Windows Phone already, you are not going to buy a cheap Lumia device. You notice the lag because you can relate to your existing device – for a new customer, this lag will be relative to either Android or Symbian which I can assure you would beat WP on 510 in terms of lag and performance issues at this price point.

 I have been using extensively 510 for couple of hours now (at the time of writing) with Nokia Music running in background with Mehdoh realtime streaming and I am constantly switching between Baconit and Metrotube and there’s no sign of lag anywhere. Sometimes it does lag inside the third party apps  and yes it’s not as buttery smooth as you’d expect from Windows Phone but it’s barely enough to deter users.

Nokia Windows Phone ecosystem

If you are buying a WP7 device, no two thoughts about it – get a Nokia Lumia. Nokia, since their announcement of WP device, has been working really hard and has produced an array of exclusive Nokia Lumia applications offering unparalleled experience on Lumia devices. Other OEMs don’t even come close to the offerings from Nokia on Windows Phone. There are a few applications I’d like to point out that you should weigh in when you put 510 in your buying list:

  1.  Nokia Drive: This is undoubtedly the best turn by turn voice navigation tool and every lumia owner gets this application for free. You can use it both online and offline. My city map was just worth 100MB of data so don’t worry about the   space on your device – there’s plenty left. My dad has a lumia as well and he absolutely loves Nokia Drive.
  2.  Nokia Maps: Well,  since the Bing Maps weren’t upto the task so again, Nokia saved the day with Nokia Maps. There are alternatives in the marketplace (such as gMaps which offer Google Maps based solution).
  3.  Nokia Music: This is on top of the list of why you should buy a Lumia. Nokia Music is just absolutely incredible. You can stream songs from their radio, download songs and best part is that it’s absolutely free (free download for first three months). Since there’s no spotify, pandora or even xbox music streaming – Nokia Music stands out as the best streaming solution at this point of time in India.
  4.  More incredibly useful applications like App highlights which give you list of relevant and popular applications, Counters – to check your data usage, Contact Transfer and Share – for contact management and lot more. There’s no doubt that Nokia has the best OEM marketplace and they do really offer substantial applications that contribute to your platform experience.

Final Thoughts

Summing it up: 510 is priced at Rs 9,999 and I will recommend it if you can survive the 4GB memory on board – if not I’d suggest you take 610 route. With Windows Phone 7.8 coming with bluetooth file sharing, I think 510 will definitely be a Value for money device which is exactly what the consumer at this price range requires.

Challenge for Nokia is to beat Samsung at micro level – starting right from local retailers who prefer to sell cheap Android phones over any other OS – it’s a big long struggle for Nokia. This is the device that we have been waiting for since WP7′s inception, the sub 10k WP device and I can say it doesn’t disappoint at all and with time – the  price will go down making way for WP8 to seep through the price barriers and this becomes an even better phone as it goes down the price rank. With right marketing push and most importantly, with help of local retailers – 510 could be a bestseller for Nokia that this company’s been waiting for a long time.

Further reading:

Lumia 510 specs

Lumia 510 review at UTP

Lumia 510 review at FA

 Lumia 510 review at WPDang

Lumia 510 and 610 compared at WPXbox

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Lumia 510 now available in India via Flipkart for Rs 9,999

Lumia 510 was announced in India last week as a Diwali gift from Nokia to India. Lumia 510 is Lumia 610′s taller but younger brother. 510 has a 4 inch display and 4 GB memory (plus 7 GB free on skydrive) and that’s the only thing which separates it from Lumia 610.  Last week, Nokia stated that 510 will be priced below 11,000 Rupees and I wanted them to price it below 10,000 and lo and behold – Flipkart is now listing Lumia 510 for immediate purchase at 9,999 Rupees.

 

lumia510 now available on Flipkart for Rs 9,999

lumia510 now available on Flipkart for Rs 9,999

 I recently received Lumia 610 review unit from Nokia. At first, I wasn’t too sure if the processor could handle it but I can tell you it’s been mostly a lag free experience but not as smooth as I’d like. Some applications also refuse to work but that’s a small number (yet some are important apps) that you’d be missing out on so do make sure that you keep this in mind when you purchase 510 as they have the same processor. For the first time, Nokia India has priced a Lumia device right and not only that, they have launched it right before Diwali and this could be a huge boost in sales for them. Also, with Lumia WP7 filled with Diwali offers and price cuts  and most importantly, with Lumia WP8 family arriving this month – this is Nokia’s most important month in a long long time.

Source: Flipkart via Sirajsoft

HTC Windows Phone 8

HTC to launch Windows Phone 8 devices 8X and 8S in India next week!

HTC 8X is the flagship Windows Phone 8 device we have all been waiting for – take a look at how critics absolutely loved this device  while they weren’t too impressed with Windows Phone 8 OS  (which I tend to agree with). HTC 8S however is the one to watch out for in Indian market – it is supposedly the cheapest Windows Phone 8 device and is expected to sell at <  25k Rupees (my estimation – I could be wrong though) while 8X is expected to sell at Rs 35,000.  Windows Phone 8 was launched last week and Microsoft announced global availability in November. Both HTC and Nokia are coming up with devices next month and looks like HTC is ahead of the race already: HTC India posted a Facebook update confirming the availability of HTC WP8 devices as early as next week. Why the hurry? Now is the time I’d like to redirect you to couple of my previous brief rants here and here. Yes, it’s all about Diwali. Diwali is on 13th of November which gives us 13 days. Diwali is THE festival where people save up money all year to invest in their favorite gadgets, companies take months to plan out their Diwali strategy so it is incredibly important for any company to come up with exciting products during this time. HTC is doing the correct thing by bringing their devices to the market right before Diwali – if marketed, promoted and priced well – HTC could be in for a  treat this Diwali. We’ll update you very soon with official pricing. Stay tuned.

ProTip – Price 8S at 20,000 Rupees, HTC and I can guarantee you a bestseller this Diwali.

Nokia India reveals Diwali plans – free accessories for everyone!

Diwali, where suddenly everybody gets truckload of money and goes on a shopping spree. Yes for that exact market..companies spend a lot of time strategizing their “Diwali marketing and promotion” plans and boy has Nokia missed the boat. Most of the OEMs are working hard on price cuts and Nokia India instead stuck to their official price and instead introduced a Diwali only free accessory offer with every purchase of Nokia Lumia. More details below:

Nokia Lumia Diwali 2012 offer

Nokia Lumia Diwali 2012 offer

 

So let’s cut it short. No significant price cut on Lumia devices. This is clearly not one of their smarter moves. Here’s another bad news – from the lack of price cut – we are going to assume that Windows Phone 8 devices won’t be here for Diwali. Why? If indeed they were coming before Diwali, surely we would have seen significant price cuts on Windows Phone 7 devices which doesn’t seem to happen. Another opportunity wasted. Now if Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra gets her Diwali act going really well..we’ll probably see a spike in sale. Probably.

Source: Nokia India

windows-phone-8-start

Following the tradition – The Windows Phone 8 Ship Party!

Windows Phone 8 hit RTM this month so according to the tradition – there should be a Ship Party and that’s exactly what Microsoft employees got. The party was held on Friday September 28th and it was documented on Twitter / Facebook as well.  If you remember from last year, Microsoft had a Mango ship party last year and probably the most memorable ship parade ever: the Windows Phone ship parade numero uno which had a parade going on (with RIP RIM and other bold stuff) and most importantly a “Thriller” flash mob (view the video here ).

So what happened at the Windows Phone 8 ship party? Well, we are guessing that they had  a lot of fun. We have a few pictures from the event for those who are interested :

Got more pictures to share? Hit the Tip button and send us your shots!

Now let’s get some Windows phone 8 consumer preview rolling in, Microsoft!

Windows Phone 8x by HTC released

HTC and Microsoft today unveiled the Windows Phone 8x by HTC.  Speaking at the event, Steve Ballmer said “The Windows Phone 8X is truly a Windows Phone hero product. It has an iconic design…incredible cameras, and killer sound.”

Press Release :

 

HTC AND MICROSOFT UNVEIL FIRST SIGNATURE WINDOWS PHONES

New Windows Phone 8X and 8S by HTC to be available through more than 150 mobile operators globally

NEW YORK, 19th September, 2012 – HTC, a global leader in mobile innovation and design, and Microsoft today unveiled the first signature Windows Phones, the stunning Windows® Phone 8X and 8S by HTC®. The smartphones feature the new Windows Phone 8 operating system and boast iconic design, studio-quality sound with Beats Audio™ and incredible camera capabilities.

“Pairing HTC’s beautiful new Windows Phone 8X and 8S with our brand is a big milestone for both companies,” said Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft. “Together we are offering customers a clear choice and a truly unique experience. I’m thrilled to take our longstanding partnership to the next level.”

“We’ve been inspired by Windows Phone 8 to create new smartphones that give the platform the iconic design and personality it deserves,” said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC Corporation. “Windows Phone has clearly emerged as one of the top mobile ecosystems and is competitive against any other smartphone platform in the world.”

Iconic Design The only phone with Live Tiles, Windows Phone has a clear, differentiated vision and the consumer experience has been widely recognized as being groundbreaking, innovative and fresh. HTC created the Windows Phone 8X and 8S to blend the virtual and the physical utilizing a three dimensional, pure uni-body design based on the Windows Phone Live Tiles. The Windows Phone 8X and 8S by HTC are perfectly sculpted with a dramatic taper making them feel magically thin in your hand.

Because color is such an integral part of the Windows Phone experience, HTC is bringing bold, sophisticated and adventurous colors in a premium matte finish to these devices. The Windows Phone 8X will come in a variety of colors including California Blue, Graphite Black, Flame Red and Limelight Yellow. The Windows Phone 8S by HTC will be available in Domino, Fiesta Red, Atlantic Blue and High-Rise Gray.

Capture and share your world For the first time, HTC is introducing a 2.1mp, f/2.0 aperture, 88° ultra-wide angle front-facing camera that allows up to four people and more to be captured at once. It also supports 1080p video capture. The rear camera sports an 8mp CMOS sensor with backside-illumination (BSI) for improved low-light performance, along with an f/2.0 aperture, 28mm lens and a dedicated imaging chip. A physical shutter button makes it quick and easy to capture spontaneous action, even if the phone is locked.

Spectacular Sound with Beats Audio Exclusively available on HTC smartphones, Beats Audio provides authentic, studio-quality sound that delivers the spirit of the original recording. The Windows Phone 8X by HTC featuring Beats Audio also offers a unique audio amplifier powering the 3.5mm audio jack and the speaker, boosting the audio signal for even better sound no matter if you’re listening to music, playing a game or watching a video.

Brilliant Display The Windows Phone 8X by HTC features a beautiful, 4.3″ HD-resolution super LCD 2 screen protected from everyday bumps and scrapes by lightweight Gorilla® Glass 2, while optical lamination reduces reflections and glare, ensuring you see every detail. The Windows Phone 8S by HTC boasts a bright super LCD 4″ screen with Gorilla® Glass, allowing users to see the Windows Phone Live Tiles, and every message and photo, with crystal clarity and sparkling color.

Entertainment With the Windows Phone 8X and 8S by HTC people can carry their favorite music, movies and photos with them wherever they go. With the Windows Phone Store and Xbox Live, it is easier than ever to enjoy the latest video, music and games on the move.

Availability The Windows Phone 8X and 8S by HTC will be available beginning in November. Available through more than 150 carriers in 50+ countries, the Windows Phone 8X or 8S by HTC will be available from the world’s top carriers including: United States: AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Europe: Orange, O2 Telefonica, MTS, Three UK, T-Mobile, and Vodafone Asia-Pacific: Chunghwa Telecom, Optus, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (Singtel), Smartone, Telstra and Vodafone Australia.