Geeks in a Corner, Talking Tech
May 3, 2013 by thewheat

Corner Geeks 25: The Windows Phone Experience

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Windows Phone Live Tiles

  • Lumia 520 for AUD$176
    • Specs don’t really matter because it’s a pretty good experience
    • 512MB RAM which limits some heavier apps but still a pretty smooth experience. Much better than cheap Android phones
  • Good Polish unlike Android back in the day that had a lot of rough edges
    • In between iOS and Android but closer to iOS
    • Find my phone
    • Sky Drive Integration
      • Save Photos automatically
        • can’t seem to enable only on WiFi so may be hazardous to your 3G data
        • doesn’t upload screenshots
      • Office Documents synced in the cloud
    • Office
      • Can create and edit Word and Excel files offline
      • Can view Powerpoint files
        Windows Phone - Office - vlookup
    • Bluetooth transfer data migration
    • Consolidated settings (like iOS) but also and in app
    • Glove usage! (probably a Lumia feature)
  • Good Features
    • People Hub
      • Combines all social streams (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) into one stream
        Windows Phone - People Hub - social stream
      • Like Twitter lists but for all social networks supported
        Windows Phone - People Hub - groups
      • Photo Stream of all updates with photos
    • Bluetooth image sharing!
    • Has Android like intents/sharing of data to other apps. E.g. from photo app, can share photo to apps like WhatsApp / Email / any app that supports receiving images
  • Gripes
    • App selection still small. No official Dropbox app, no instagram
    • Search page is not a web page. E.g. Search in browser address bar brings you out of the browser to the search page, and clicking a link in the search page goes back into the browser
    • Sharing Intents inconsistent
      • But doesn’t seem to work for all things… Can share photo (.jpg file) from camera to WhatsApp but cannot share screenshot (.png file)  to WhatsApp. Can’t share URL to WhatsApp.
      • Perhaps more of a non-mature app ecosystem rather than Windows Phone fault. App developers need to program their apps right
    • Notifications could be better
      • If app is a Live Tile, then you can see the notification number
      • If app is not a Live Tile, there is no easy way to know what app caused the notification (iOS has it best with badges)
    • No quick toggles
      • Have to go into settings to turn things on and off similar to iOS (e.g. enable/disable data / WiFi)
      • Hard to toggle vibrate
    • Can’t disable screen rotation. Less sensitive than Android which is good.
    • No file explorer or file system like Android
    • No auto-sign in like Android for Google sites
      Windows Phone - no auto sign-in
    • Switching apps shows “Resuming…” quite a bit. More to do with how Windows Phone handles apps. Could be due to limited memory of 512MB and may not occur with higher end devices with more RAM
    • No Bluetooth tethering (available in iOS and Android)

Links

 

Windows Phone - Me app  Windows Phone - opening unrecognized files

 

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February 15, 2012 by thewheat

bdfone A2W: The Brunei-made Android phone

It seems that bdfone has finally released their first Android phone: the bdfone A2W. I previously mentioned them having a prototype over 1.5 years ago but it seems that they have finally got a production unit. From their Facebook page it seems to have started selling in December (in my last of connectivity, I must have missed it). It is currently priced at B$290 on QQeStore

bdfone A2W - Android phone

They have hit a good price point, but with an older version of Android (not even 2.3) and a relatively old and slow CPU, it seems to lose out to the competition. There is also no mention of resistive or capacitive screen, just a “touch screen”. I also wonder how they will support Android updates or if they will at all. For the price I would recommend the Sony Ericsson WT19I Live with Walkman for B$308 (which has better specs) or even the LG Optimus Net P690 for B$268 (which has very similar specs).

Good

  • Brunei made Android phone
  • Decent Price

Bad

  • Competitors with better specs in the same price range
  • Old slow 600MHz CPU (other budget phones use 800MHz)

Ugly?

  • Unknown screen type
  • Unknown Android update possibilities
  • Unknown available space for apps

Specifications

  • Android 2.2
  • CPU: 600MHz (based on Wikipedia’s entry on the MSM7227)
  • 3.2 HVGA (480×320) screen
  • 512MB + 256MB Memory
  • 3.0M Camera
  • 1500mAh battery
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, GPS, WiFi, T-Flash Card aka microSD card (up to 32GB support)
  • Mini USB 2.0 for Data / Charger / Audio
  • Frequency band support: GSM: 900/1800/1900, WCDMA/HSDPA: 2100

Note: image taken from bdfone website. I’m not sure how to license images like this and thus I am following Wikipedia’s policy similar to the usage of the Portal 2 logo. If there are any lawyers who could advise, please let me know.

 

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January 23, 2012 by thewheat

CES 2012 Phone Roundup

Overview of Devices:

  • HTC Titan II: huge phone (4.7″ screen) with a 16 megapixel camera
  • Nokia Lumia 900: Nokia’s first truly competitive Windows Phone device (previous had no front facing camera)
  • Huawei Ascend P1 S and P1: Super slim Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) device
  • Lenovo K800: First Intel Atom powered Android (2.3) phone with a 720p screen
  • Lenovo LePhone S2: Unique gesture area for an Android (2.3) phone with iPhone 4S screen resolution (960×540)
  • Sony Xperia Ion: big LTE phone (4.6″ screen) with a 12 megapixel camera and 720p screen
  • Sony Xperia S: mainstream 4.3″ screen with a 12 megapixel camera and 720p screen
  • LG Spectrum 4G: 4.5″ 720p screen with LTE 4G (LTE/CMDA device not workable in Brunei)
  • LG Connect 4G: 4″ 720p screen with LTE 4G (LTE/CMDA device not workable in Brunei)

HTC Titan II

HTC Titan II

  • 4.7″ WVGA (800 x 480 pixels) super LCD screen
  • Single core, 1.5 MHz
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 16MP rear camera, 720p video, dual-LED flash
  • 1.3MP front camera
  • Windows Phone 7.5 Mango
  • HSDPA 850 / 1900 / 2100
  • LTE 700 MHz Class 17 / 1700 / 2100
  • Links: GSM Arena, HTC Press Release

Nokia Lumia 900

Nokia Lumia 900

  • 4.3″ WVGA (800 x480 pixels) AMOLED ClearBlack display
  • Single core, 1.4GHz
  • 512MB RAM
  • 8 MP rear camera, Carl Zeiss optics (f2.2/28mm), 720p video, dual LED flash
  • 1 MP front camera (f2.4), VGA video
  • Windows Phone 7.5 Mango
  • HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
  • LTE 700 MHz Class 17 / 1700 / 2100
  • Links: GSM Arena, Nokia Press Release, Nokia Lumia 900 microsite

Huawei Ascend P1 S and P1

Huawei Ascend P1 S

  • 4.3″ (960 x 540) Super AMOLED with Gorilla Glass
  • Dual core 1.5GHz
  • 8 MP rear camera, 1080p video, dual-LED flash
  • 1.3 MP front camera
  • Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS)
  • HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100
  • “World’s slimmest smartphone”
  • Links: GSM Arena (P1), GSM Arena (P1 S), Huawei Press Release

Lenovo K800

  • 4.5″ 720p (1280×720) screen
  • 1.6Ghz (Intel Medfield platform)
  • 8MP rear camera
  • Android 2.3, Gingerbread
  • Links: GSM Arena, Intel Press Release

Lenovo LePhone S2

  • 3.8″ WVGA (800 x 480) TFT display,
  • Single-core 1.4GHz
  • 8MP rear camera, 720p video
  • 1.3MP front camera, VGA video
  • 200 GB of free cloud storage, gesture area below the screen
  • Android 2.3
  • 8/16GB storage, 512MB/1GB RAM
  • HSDPA 850 / 1900 / 2100
  • Links: GSM Arena, GSM Arena’s Lenovo’s Announcements

Sony Xperia Ion

Sony Xperia Ion

  • 4.6″ 720p (1280×720) HD Reality display
  • Dual core 1.5GHz CPU.
  • 12MP rear camera, 1080p video, LED flash, image & video stabilization (standby to ready in 1.5 seconds)
  • 1.3MP front camera, 720p video
  • PlayStation certified
  • Android 2.3 (Android 4.0 to come)
  • 1GB RAM
  • LTE Band IV and Band XVII
  • HSPA 850/1900/2100
  • Links: GSM Arena, Sony Ericsson Press Release

Sony Xperia S

Sony Xperia S

  • 4.3″ 720p (1280×720) HD Reality display
  • 1.5Ghz dual-core processor
  • 12MP rear camera, 1080p video, LED flash, image & video stabilization (standby to ready in 1.5 seconds)
  • 1.3MP front camera, 720p video
  • PlayStation certified
  • Android 2.3 (Android 4.0 to come)
  • 1GB RAM, 1-1.5GB ROM
  • HSPA 850/900/1900/2100
  • Links: GSM Arena, Sony Ericsson Press Release

LG Spectrum 4G (CDMA/LTE phone, not GSM/UMTS)

LG Spectrum 4G

LG Connect 4G (CDMA/LTE phone, not GSM/UMTS)

LG Connect 4G

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December 20, 2011 by thewheat

Huawei Ideos X5

Huawei Ideos X5

I managed to take a look at the Huawei Ideos X5 that I first laid hands on at the TechXpo 2011. It is a very decent device at an affordable price of B$399. My only gripe is the lack of a front facing camera which means you will not be able to do normal video chats. If it had a front facing camera, this device would be one of the best budget Android phones. It has a bigger and higher resolution screen compared to the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman and the Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro and thus makes it a good size for thumb typing, even for those with fat fingers like mine. Overall a very decent device, with 450MB+ for applications (a lot of space for a budget device), but I fear that there will be no official Android version updates.

(YouTube link to video)

The Good

  • A decent Android device at B$399 with larger and higher resolution screen compared to some cheaper phones
  • High resolution 3.8″ WVGA (800×480) screen
  • Support for Flash
  • On customer request the device will be rooted and upgraded to Android 2.3 running CyanogenMod

The Bad & the Ugly

  • No front facing camera
  • There are cheaper phones with front facing cameras
  • May not have Android updates

Specifications

  • Android 2.2 / Android 2.3 (upgrade to 2.3 upon customer request)
  • 3.8″ WVGA (800×480) capacitive multi-touch screen
  • 1GHz CPU
  • 460+MB available for apps
  • RAM 350MB+
  • 5 megapixel camera with flash (no front facing camera)
  • microSD card slot
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS
  • Micro-USB connector

Note: We would like to thank TenTen for allowing us to film this at their shop in Kiulap. TenTen offers many Huawei and they also have battery packs for your iDevices or generic battery packs with a USB output to charge for your phone

Sample Photo (max resolution: 5 megapixel 2592×1944)
sample photo from Huawei Ideos X5 2592x1944

Sample Video (max resolution: HD 720p, 1280×720, m4v with h264 and aac mono encoding)

(YouTube link to video)

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November 30, 2011 by thewheat

The bmobile Pure budget Android Phone

The bmobile Pure is a budget Android phone running Android 2.2 and has pretty device specs but a pretty good 3.8″ high resolution screen. The high resolution 3.8″ screen makes it nice to read and surf the Internet but the 256MB RAM may be limiting for multi-tasking and general smoothness of the device. I was not able to get the Flash apk to try install and test Flash on the device but the 600 MHz CPU may not be capable of Flash, so I wouldn’t expect it to run.

Sadly there is no Android Market or Google apps such as Gmail, YouTube, Maps and the Market. Not having the Market means that the device needs an alternative Android app store. The Pure is bundled with the local grown Widget Warehouse for apps, however it seems that the Widget Warehouse doesn’t even work with the Pure. So I guess there is a need to rely on other 3rd party app stores such as GetJar, Soc.ia Mall (previously AndAppStore), SlideME, Opera Mobile Store. Side loading apps via downloading apk files (Android installer files) work well and that was how I installled apps to the device.

I love the fact that Android is able to scale down to a device as cheap as B$199 and with that device, although having limitations such as not having Google apps, it still has all the full functionality of a smartphone.

Video Overview

(YouTube link to video)

The Good

  • Cheap at B$199 (existing b-mobile customers) / B$229 (non-existing customers pay an extra B$30 for a Yes! prepaid mobile broadband starterpack)
  • High resolution 3.8″ WVGA screen
  • 2 stage dedicated camera button

The Bad & the Ugly

  • No Android Market or Google apps (Gmail, YouTube, Maps, Market)
  • No 3.5mm headset jack
  • Locked to b-mobile
  • Not likely to get any updates

Specifications

  • Android 2.2
  • 3.8″ WVGA (800×480) capacitive multi-touch screen
  • 600 MHz CPU
  • ROM 512MB (260+MB available for apps)
  • RAM 256MB
  • 5 megapixel camera with flash (no front facing camera)
  • microSD card slot
  • 3.5G handset
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS
  • Mini-USB connector
  • 1500mAh battery

Sample Photo (max resolution: 2592×1944, 5 megapixel)
bmobile pure sample photo - 5mp

Sample Video (max resolution: 640×480, VGA, 3gp with h264 and amr encoding)

(YouTube link to video)

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October 16, 2011 by thewheat

Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman available in Brunei for B$350 at Incomm and QQeStore

Seems like a great budget Android phone with a slightly larger screen than the Xperia Mini pro but without a keyboard to make it more svelte. Seems to share all the same common good specifications for a budget phone but a slightly larger screen and slightly cheaper at B$350.

Quick Specifications

  • Android 2.3
  • 320 x 480 pixels, 3.2″ capacitive screen
  • 1GHz Processor
  • 512MB RAM
  • 320MB for applications
  • 5 megapixel camera w/ 720p video
  • Front facing VGA camera
  • xLOUD™ loudness enhancement makes it possible to listen loud without distortion.
  • Full specifications / details at Sony Ericsson / GSM Arena
    Buy at Incomm or QQeStore

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    August 8, 2011 by thewheat

    Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro – a Great Budget Android Phone?

    Among my usual habits, I will check availability and prices of phones on Incomm and I was surprised to see the Xperia Mini Pro going for B$378.

    This phone seems to be a phone I would buy, if I didn’t buy my LG Optimus One, as a great budget Android phone which seems to have the least compromises. Check out the video that I managed to get at Incomm as I played with the device.

    Notable Specifications

    • Android 2.3 Gingerbread: the current major version of Android of phones
    • Connectivity: 3G (HSDPA 7.2Mbps, HSUPA 5.76Mbps), WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1
    • 3" HVGA (320×480) screen: a bit small in size but good resolution that is widely supported by all apps
    • Slide out landscape QWERTY keyboard
    • 1GHz Snapdragon CPU with Adreno 205 GPU
    • 512MB RAM
    • 400MB for apps (according to GSM Arena): a bit small but acceptable for a budget phone and sadly (for Arc users) it is the same amount as the Arc based on Sony’s specs which says up to 320MB (Arc vs Mini Pro)
    • 5MP rear camera with autofocus, flash and 720p video recording (auto focus while recording video, recorded in mp4 encoded with h264, aac)
    • VGA front facing camera for video calls
    • Supports Adobe Flash
    • Plays 720p videos (mp4 encoded with h264,aac)
    • Can open PDFs and Microsoft Office documents (doc,docs,xls,xlsx,ppt,pptx)
    • microSD support up to 32GB
    • 1200mAh battery

    Full specifications at Sony Ericsson or GSM Arena

    I really like that this budget phone seems to have practically no compromises for a budget phone: there doesn’t seem to be any major show stoppers. Most budget phones will have no front facing cameras and won’t have cameras that can record 720p. A budget phone won’t have a keyboard nor a 1GHz CPU. The CPU couple with a GPU and sufficient RAM should ensure this device is smooth and usable for the regular user.

    The main issue is the small 3" size of the screen (iPhone: 3.5", Optimus One & Wildfire S: 3.2", Galaxy Mini: 3.14"): a small size coupled with a high resolution may make some text small to read and will make using the onscreen keyboard a bit difficult. Thankfully there is a physical keyboard on the Xperia Mini that should help alleviate this (as long as the keyboard is good and usable). Also the smaller 1200mAh battery (vs 1500mAh of the Optimus One) may give it less battery life, but that also depends on the amount of work being done: with a better CPU, the same amount of work may require less energy from the Xperia Mini. I guess we’ll just have to wait for more in-depth reviews with battery life scores and this is the main unknown factor at the moment. Another compromise would possible be the UMTS frequency band support with it only being dual (900/2100) or triband (800/1900/2100) depending on where it is purchased but I don’t think this will affect many. Most of these issues/compromises are acceptable for a budget device.

    With that said, I think I could tentatively highly recommend this phone to users but only after they take a look at it and try to use the keyboard and check to see if the text is too small on the device; and also after some battery life tests are published – all the features are of no use if the battery life is bad. From my use with it, the screen and text size seem fine but my fat thumbs did have a bit of an issue with typing. It could play 720p video, Flash video and even edit office documents. Overall a snappy device and I’m just very impressed at what Sony Ericsson managed to pack on this device hitting all the right check boxes giving the user minimal compromises. Great job Sony Ericsson, now improve your higher end devices!

    Sample Photos (note front camera was covered with a thin plastic film):

    Sample Video from rear camera:

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