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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Nokia World 2011 – Nokia debuts new ‘Lumia’ series Windows Phones for November release

At the Nokia World 2011 conference yesterday, CEO Stephen Elop introduced the first fruits of their ‘strategic partnership’ with Microsoft.  The Nokia Lumia 800 and Nokia Lumia 710 are being heralded by the marketing blurb as the ‘first true Windows Phones’, (which presumably had executives at HTC and Samsung spraying their coffee over the boardroom table in shock). 

NOKIA LUMIA 800

First up is the Lumia 800, the flagship handset, and the one to drool over. Phonespotters and Nokia fanboys among you (yes, you over there in the corner) may find it somewhat familiar, as externally it looks pretty much identical to the Meego-running N9. It has the same highly engineered ‘unibody polycarbonate’ shell, looking similar to the last vertical iPod Nano, although with a 3.7” curved glass front and a fantastic ‘ClearBlack’ AMOLED screen running 800×480 pixels.

When it comes to the internal gubbins, the Lumia 800 is unlikely to win any games of Mobile Top Trumps. The processor is a qualcomm single core running at 1.4GHz, running 512MB of RAM, which won’t scare off drag-racers like Motorola Atrix or the Galaxy SII. This should be perfectly adequate for the resource-light Windows Phone 7.5 Mango operating system, (plus the iPhone 4S runs just fine on the same amount).  Storage is also somewhat disappointingly limited to 16GB, with no memory card slot, although users will be able to use 25GB of cloud storage with the Microsoft SkyDrive service. The Lumia 800 has removed the front facing camera of the N9 (not that anyone really uses them anyway) but it does pack a whopping 8MP camera at the back with Carl Zeiss optics and the (essential for shooting on nights out in Helsinki) good low light performance.

The handset will be released this November in the UK and Europe in three colours, black, cyan and magenta in the UK and Europe with a suggested price of around 420 Euro’s.

LUMIA 710

Playing the 800′s less attractive but no less powerful sibling, the ‘no nonsense’ (read affordable) Lumia 710 comes with the same 3.7” screen, 1.4GHz processor ad 512MB ram, and a smaller yet respectable 5MP camera with all the usual social network hook ups for image uploading. Users will however only have 8GB of unexpandable storage for music, video and images however, although Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud storage is here aswell.

Whilst it lacks the smooth unibody appearance of the 800, the Lumia 710 is available in both black and white flavours, with the distinctly Nokia interchangeable back covers making a return in black, white, cyan, fuchsia and yellow.  Hello Kitty ones are probably being moulded in China as we speak, coming to a market stall near you.

The Lumia 710 will still have access to all of the same services such as Nokia Drive navigation, Nokia Music, a Spotify-esque service and also run a fully functional Internet Explorer 9. This handset is aimed at the fun young and price conscious market, and will bring Windows Phone functionality to a lower price point of 270 Euro’s.

Both Microsoft and Nokia are pinning a lot of hopes on this  initial lineup. Whilst Nokia were arguably the original smartphone manufacturers with classic handsets like the Nokia Communicator and the N95, the App-led (pardon the pun) ecosystems of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Andoid Marketplace have since left Nokia shivering at the bus-stop. In the year that we’ve had it, Microsoft haven’t managed to make a mark with their Windows Phone OS, outside of critical commendations, and whilst a few handsets are available at present, none really have the ‘wow factor’ or mass market appeal of a ‘killer handset’.

With Lumia, Nokia and Microsoft are making a two pronged invasion of the marketplace. The Lumia 800 is clearly targeting  phone fashionista’s and getting people talking about Nokia’s design skills again. The Lumia 710, whilst not as flash, is aggressively priced to give a much needed boost in numbers to the Windows Phone platform, which will live or die on the number of users in the marketplace.

No doubt anyone that remember Nokia’s domination of the mobile market, back when Snake was the pinnacle of mobile gaming, will be hoping that the Lumia range will be the first step to restoring some of their former glory.

Check back here for more info as we receive it, and on Omio’s deals page for and the best contract deals for the Lumia 800 and the Lumia 710.

Apple iPhone 4S Launched: New CEO Talks Future Of Smartphones, Talking Smartphones

 

A casually clad CEO, a hand-picked captive audience and lengthy self-congratulations before showing off a few new devices…yesterday’s announcement certainly captured some of the essence of an epic Apple reveal, but the new Apple iPhone 4S has truly divided early opinion.

The Apple iPhone 4S (due on the 14th of October) is not the iPhone 5, but once again Apple never acknowledged the maelstrom of rumours that always surrounds their gadget launches, and the blogosphere simply whipped itself into a frenzy of hype…one that perhaps the Cupertino company could never have lived up to.

Extremely high levels secrecy and a desire to control every aspect of the unveiling has only seen intrepid bloggers and journalists become more creative in an effort to leak the year’s biggest tech story…

From blurry images on a Brazilian production line to a unibody prototype iPhone 5 hewn from aluminium, all wanted to know…yet many were a tad underwhelmed when they finally found out.

First things first, the iPhone 4S is a dramatically different smartphone underneath the overly familiar shell, updates include a new A5 dual-core processor (currently starring in the Apple iPad 2), a camera sporting an 8-megapixel lens – also with the ability to film video in 1080p – and an ‘intelligent assistant’ in the form of voice-driven application Siri, all making for an improved handset in the arena that it current shines brightest – user features and functions.

The fact that it looks near identical is unavoidable. Placing the handsets side-by-side makes the 4S a tough sell over its precursor at face value, as does the incremental naming change – seemingly a bunny-hop rather than the hardware leap between the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4, and at a standstill in aesthetic terms.

The marvel is what they’ve managed to contain in the same package. An improved battery life, touting 8 hours of 3G talktime and 40 as a mobile music player. The ability to download data at 4G speeds (as long as the network supports it) is another string in its next-gen bow.

An all-new pair of antennas (hopefully less error-prone!) enables the iPhone 4S to act as a ‘world phone’, operating on both GSM and CDMA networks – perhaps a bullet-point more for those on the other side of the pond, but still impressive.

Feature fiends may claim that many of these specifications have already debuted on Android handsets from the likes of HTC and Samsung, also touting larger displays and more affordable price-points – an incredibly valid point.

However, even though the Nokia N95 won the tale of the tape against the original Apple iPhone, we all know how that story turned out…and it’s important to note that the iPhone 3GS hasn’t quite been put out to pasture just yet, enabling some real mid-range options for price-conscious shoppers.

Consumers are all about the user experience, and the iPhone 4S continues the intuitive touchscreen experience Apple’s devices have become famous for, replete with flourishes of the new iOS 5 software (due to arrive on iThings from the 3GS upward on the 12th of October).

iOS 5 upgrades include a notification centre which is home to the latest events on your device (shades of Android…), free texts to iPod, iPad and other iPhone users with iMessage (more than a little of the BlackBerry Messenger in there) and the ability to finally sever the iPhone’s constant need to connect to a computer with wireless updates as well as data storage on the new web-based iCloud service.

Perhaps some of these ideas were cribbed from the competition, but the enduring march of the Android phones helped Apple realise the iPhone was far from operating in a vacuum, and needed to step up in a few key areas, which they have done.

Much time during the announcement was spent explaining the improvements in image fidelity from the camera’s new 8-megapixel lens, as well as the graphical grunt and ’7x’ improved gaming experiences that the A5 chip will deliver, proving to many that hardware steps had indeed been taken.

Needless to say, Gears of War developer Epic’s Infinity Blade II more than served its purpose as technical showcase, much as the original title did for the iPhone 4 (had to chuckle at the ‘RIP battery life’ comment on YouTube though!).

This portion seemed to serve as Apple’s most overt rebuttal, which smacked of ‘we know the 4S doesn’t look different, but trust us that there’s a lot more going on here’.

As for what the world has in store with voice-driven mobile marvel Siri…well, I went into a bit of detail on that exciting bit of tech on the uSwitch Tech site, alongside constantly pressing F5 in an eternal quest for Apple iPhone 4S deals.

As stale as the ‘evolution, not revolution’ line might be – aside from the gear change from the 3GS to 4 – that seems to have been the mantra that Apple has stuck to for the iPhone since the original device back in 2007.

So maybe we shouldn’t be too disappointed with another ‘S’ model…and Siri truly has the potential to change the way we use all technology, not just mobiles. Check it out.

But I still want my iPhone 5.