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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Symbian Donna aka Nokia Belle FP2 could be launched this year

The above picture emerged over at Symbian-Developers.net that shows something that looks like an internal memo from Nokia regarding software updates.

This memo is kind of old, so the info on it may not be as accurate as it can be, but nevertheless we have an estimate for Belle FP2, or Symbia Donna if you will, and that is week 36 of 2012.

Now don't get overexcited because that is the estimate when Donna will reach software approval, which could mean a few weeks to a couple of months before it hits the market. Remember that Belle has a October 2011 timestamp when it hit the market in February.

In my opinion, this update will only reach last generation Symbian devices such as 603, 700, 701 and 808, with the first generation phones such as N8, C7, X7, E7, E6, C6-01 and 500 reaching the end of the line with Belle Refresh.


N8PictureADay #27 - Cheers!

"Yeah, I know it's the middle of the day and we're eating, but come on! Drink up!"


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

N8PictureADay #26 - The keyboard zoo

So my kid was hanging around my computer. He started bringing his toy animals in the room, and this is what happened.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

N8PictureADay #25 - Asha, again

Yes, the Asha is at it again. Soon I'll have to call this series N8 Asha Picture A Day. It looks like I can't stop snapping shots of this phone that changed my way of looking at S40 phones.


Nokia Belle Refresh for Nokia 500

Good news dear Nokia 500 users! It looks like the Nokia 500 WILL get the Nokia Belle Refresh update along with the Nokia N8, C7, C6-01, X7, E7 and probably E6 too.

The new update will bring lots of new widgets and usability features along with a slightly redesigned user interface which is more in line with the latest Qt UI. This means that the native Belle apps will be even harder to distinguish from the usual Qt apps. It also means that the user experience will be more consistent than with the current Belle OS.

I do hope that with this new update we'll also see Belle themes applied to Qt apps too. But it might just be wishful thinking.

The update is expected to roll out soon, but I wouldn't expect it until Q3 2012.


Monday, May 28, 2012

N8PictureADay #24 -Green, green grass


Sunday, May 27, 2012

N8PictureADay #23 - Dark clouds taking over

It's not the end of days, of course, but it sure looks like it. This dark cloud has been above my city all day long.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

N8PictureADay #22 - Asha

The nice and curvy back of the Asha 302.


Nokia Asha 302 review - Smartphone Lite

As you may or may not know the past week I used a Nokia Asha 302 as my main device, as part of a challenge. The nice folks over at Nokia Connects sent the device over to me, and so I turned of my N8 and went Asha for a week. I wrote a series of daily posts describing each day and the challenges I faced with the Asha, if and how I got around them. Now it's time for the full review. I won't go trough every little setting on the phone since the purpose of this review is to show how you can get along with the Asha 302 to do your daily tasks.

First of all let's see the specs.

Spec sheet

Storage 100MB
Micro-SD up to 32GB
Primary 3.2MP 2048x1536 pixels, no flash
Front facing No
Video VGA 640x480@15FPS
Size 2.4 inch
Resolution 320x240px
Technology TFT, 256K colors
Endurance Plastic
WLAN Yes, b/g/n
Network GSM, 3G
Bluetooth 2.1 A2DP
USB on the go Yes
Radio Stereo FM with RDS

As you can see, the specs are very impressive for a feature phone, rivaling some of the early Symbian devices with 128MB of RAM and the 1GHz CPU. My guess is the Asha 302 could have ran Symbian S60v3 without a hassle, but since Nokia is ditching Symbian, S40 will have to do.

The box

Here is where the Asha 302 is lacking. The box is bare, only a charger, a headset and the phone itself. No data cable, no USB on the go data cable, no SD card. That's a pretty lite box to say the least. Oh, well, at this price point what did you expect?


The 1GHz CPU makes S40 look like it's on steroids, which makes the Asha 302 the snappiest S40 I've ever seen so far. Everything is nearly instant. Opening apps, going back to the homescreen, everything.

The phone is powered by Nokia BL-5J 1430 MAh battery which is actually bigger than the 1200 one on the Nokia N8. That keeps the Asha 302 alive for more than 3 days of moderate usage.

The SIM card is under the battery cover so is not hot swapable.

On top of the phone we have the Nokia 2mm charging port, the micro-USB port that can also be used for USB on the go and charging, and the 3.5mm audio jack port.

On the left side of the phone we have a plastic lid covering the micro-SD card slot which makes it hot swapable.

On the front of the phone we have the ear piece on top, the 2.4 inch TFT 256K colors plastic covered screen, and the keys. The plastic covering the screen stretches from the top of the phone down under the D-pad keys group.

The keyboard is composed of two parts: the upper group includes the D-pad, Call key, End call/Exit key, Left soft key, Right soft key, the Contacts and the Messaging keys. Below there's the 4 row full QWERTY keypad.

On the back of the phone we can find the speaker grid and the 3.2MP snapper. The back cover is made of metal to better protect the battery and the camera.


Seen from the front, the Asha 302 looks like a rounded E63 and that's a good thing. It's reasonably thick at 13.5mm but it compensates with a very low weight of 106 grams.

The build materials are pretty good, though I have to say that after using a keyboard such as the E6's, the materials on the Asha's look cheap. However, the keyboard handles great.

The metal cover on the back melds into the back of the phone perfectly, so you hardly notice there are two types of materials used there. The color on both the metal and the plastic body is identical, though light reflection tells the truth about the metal cover.

One thing that worries me about the design is the chrome accents on the front and keyboard of the phone. I hope they are of good quality and don't rub off in time. Otherwise, the Asha 302 looks like phone with double the budget.


The S40 series on the Asha 302 has surprised me many times. The phone comes packed with a lot of communication and messaging apps and it handles connectivity flawlessly. I never once had to manually configure how it connects to the internet. I never once encountered a unable to connect message of some sorts. It just worked.

Since widgets are the new hype, Nokia deciced the Asha should get them too. You can configure your homescreen to include up to 3 widgets. There is a pretty wide range of widgets like Contacts, Shortcuts, Mail, Chat, Social, Calendar, only to mention a few.

You can check out the video below for a demo on how you can configure your homescreen widgets.

The homescreen personalization does not end here. You can assign applications or actions to any key on next to the D-pad. You can reasign the Left soft key, the Right soft key, the D-pad keys and even the Contacts and Messaging keys. One key of the D-pad has to remain assigned to switching to homescreen mode though. You can configure these shortcuts by enter the homescreen edit mode and pressing the Options left soft key. Now select "Home screen settings" and everything is there to be configured.


The menu has a default layout of 4x3 icons grid, but can be changed to a list view. The icons remind us of the Symbian and MeeGo icons, though these are clearly more simple mainly because of the low resolution screens on the Asha series.

Check out the video below for a tour of the menu and the preinstalled apps.


The contacts application is the standard S40 application, it does not include smart dialing or number search, but you can search for names very easily.

For each contact you can assign lots of phone numbers, email address, web address, ring tone, image and even video. You can also add personal information to each contact like Birthday, Postal address, nickname, Company, Job title and more.



The calendar application on the Asha 302 is the stock S40 application good enough for daily use. It's a shame it can't be synchronized with your Nokia account calendar, but only with your Nokia Suite app. The calendar has three views: Month, Week and Day.


The email client supports multiple accounts and the email notifications can be seen on the homescreen widget. If you don't have the widget visible you can still see a new email notification on the top status bar. This is a feature that Symbian still does not have yet. The message view is pretty simple, and cannot handle complex HTML emails. It shows the plain text email instead. It does handle attachment downloads, so that's a plus.

The email client has advanced features like update frequency, and notification period (like between 7 AM - 11 PM) just like the bigger Symbian brothers. It can also add a signature to your sent emails.


The social client is decent enough satisfy your daily Twitter and Facebook needs, but I did find some shortcomings such as the inability to reply to all people mentioned in a tweet, or the fact that you can't see more than 10 tweets in a page. You have a "Get more button" but it's not as intuitive as a method such as load as you scroll would have been. The social client comes with a homescreen widget that allows you to see tweets and status updates from your friends. There are also separate shortcuts for Twitter and Facebook available for the shortcuts widget.

Anyways, check out the video below for a demo of the social client.


The store application is similar to what you can find on S60 devices, sporting four tabs: Home, Categories, Search and My stuff. The choice of apps is somewhat limited, but considering we're talking about a feature phone, it's actually very good.

Connecting to the Store requires a Nokia account. If you don't have one, you can choose to create one on the spot. The process is easy and it takes a few moments not more.

The apps are split into categories but most of them are games and audio/video stuff. I was very surprised to see that the official Facebook java application was missing from the Store. I tried to install it from the web but it was unsigned apparently so it kept asking for permissions. Being a new device a few incompatibilities with the Store are expected, but they will eventually be fixed. However, it makes you wonder how many apps I actually missed in the store because they did not have the Asha 302 in their manifest.

Web Browser

The web browser on the Asha is excellent. It surprised me more than once with the rendering accuracy and most of all, with the data consumption. The entire week I used the Asha 302 as my main phone I only consumed 10MB of data.

What's staggering about the browser is the fact that it shows you the renderings of the most obscure javascript from the website you're trying to view. I think that besides the data compression benefits of the cloud, Nokia is using the cloud to actually render complex pages in HTML form that's easier to understand by the Nokia Browser. As you can see in the right photo above, even the number of likes is displayed, and that number is rendered my a very complex javascript snippet.

Check out the video below for a demo of the web browser.


The camera on the Asha 302 is nothing special, but at this price point it would require magic to have a special camera. The 3.2MP shots look decent enough in good light conditions, but that changes when you're trying to shoot in low light. Don't event try to shoot moving objects in low light.

The video recording is actually very decent with a resolution of 640x480 at 15 FPS. The videos are not large in size, and are recorder in 3GP format. For example, a 2 minutes video weights around 30MB of storage.

Check out the video below for a tour of the camera and video recorder software.


The gallery app is called Photos and it lets you access your snapped photos and videos as well as start up the camera or the video recorder. The My Photos section is the actual photo gallery. You can also view your albums and you videos.

The Timeline section shows you the photos in a streamed view according to the date they were taken, something similar to Symbian's cover flow.


For this price bracket, the Asha 302 is the phone to have. It's very well connected and social. You won't have to go trough the painful process of setting up as you do on smartphones. For most users the Asha 302 is going to be "plug in your SIM card and ready to go". This is what Asha is all about: connecting.


Friday, May 25, 2012

N8PictureADay #21 - Birthday cake

A month ago we went to a birthday party for a 2 year old boy and this is the cake.


Nokia Belle Refresh replaces FP1 for the Nokia N8 and it's siblings

So the Nokia N8 is going to get some FP1 love after all under a new set of clothes, Nokia Belle Refresh.

The guys over at Unleashthephones.com got their hands on some screenshots from the upcoming update and it's all good news.

There is a new browser version, 8.3 which should improve the usability of the Nokia Browser and the new version will be dubbed 111.040.

The N8 will also get the new widgets that we've already seen in the FP1 update, including Mail, new arrivals, Gallery, Mobile Data counter, various toggles and a greater variety of clock widgets. Another useful widget that I was desperately waiting for is the notes widget which gives you quicker access to creating and reading your notes.

There is also an update for the Music player and it looks like we're going to finally get Microsoft Office probably as a download from the Nokia Store.

Rumor has it that the N8 will also get a boost in CPU speed, "a minimal overclock" to quote the Nokia spokesman that provided the news, Mathias Fiorin. That means the N8 will probably be bumped to 800 MHz even though the SoC inside can do 1 GHz by design.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

N8PictureADay #20 - Just hangin'

Me and ma' boy were just chillin', hangin'round with Bambi, Winnie the effin' Pooh, Tom and Jerry. Snow White joined the party later on(taken with the front camera).


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Asha 302 - Day seven of #SmartphoneLiteWeek - Mission complete

The final day has come. The challenge is complete. Asha has served it's purpose well. It replaced my N8 for a week, and for in most aspects, excepting the camera of course, it has done it pretty well. I had to suffer some shortcomings, but I have to say that the intended audience for the Asha 302 will be more than thrilled with the features it has to offer.

The handset is well connected, with 3G and WiFi, which work incredibly well, comparable if not even overtaking some of today's smartphones in that department. I could tweet, use Facebook, browse (and quite good browsing considering it's a feature phone after all), email, IM, but unfortunately a very small selection of games.

I have used 10MB of data, yes ten, in a whole week. The Nokia cloud based browser is very good at compressing stuff, and my guess is the Social app and the Email client have some kind of compression too.

Once it will be updated to the latest software version, the Asha will be able to run the Mail for Exchange client giving you access practically to every type of email account you can think of, which puts the Asha on par with any smartphone outthere, even beating some of them at email capabilities I might say.

On the other hand, I have missed multitasking a lot, even though apps support some kind of hybernation I suppose. For example if you open a link from the social browser, when you close the browser you're back in the social client exactly where you left off.

The intended audience for the Asha is teenagers with messaging habits, feature phone upgraders and probably companies that want to keep their employees connected without needing document transfers or editing. This audience will love the Asha 302. It looks good, the battery lasts to about 3 days od moderate usage, it's cheap and brings great value for money.


N8PictureADay #19 - Craiova City from the airplane

I took this picture while I was having my flight lesson. Amazing view of the city from above.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

N8PictureADay #18 - Colosseum

One of Rome's main attractions, the Colosseum.


Asha 302 - Day six of #SmartphoneLiteWeek

So far I didn't get the urge to shoot photos so often knowing I don't have the N8 in my pocket no more. But when I could actually take a great snap, I pulled the Asha from my pocket and I just went for it.

I wasn't expecting much, so I was surprised to see a decent snap in my gallery, but I noticed that the Asha is very quick to snap a photo. I removed the review time from the camera (first thing I do on any phone I get my hands on), and noticed that Asha is a very happy snapper. It snaps photos with a speed I've never seen in a feature-, ahem, smartphone lite. In broad daylight, the snaps look great, but indoors it get tricky because there's no flash on the Asha. Even so, if you get a steady shot, the pictures look good. Here are some sample shots in various lighting conditions.

The sleeping beauty, close range, poor light

The sleeping beauty, close range, poor light, slightly better shot

Rainy sky, good light conditions

Landscape, good light conditions

Next, we go on to the video recording. 640x480 pixels at 30 frames is not much, but if you consider that the Nokia 500 has the same resolution, I'd say the Asha is game. Here is a video sample of what you should expect.

Some people may not have all these expectations from the Asha because if you compare it to other phones in it's price bracket, you won't get a better camera than this one. Frankly I was expecting a 2MP snapper when I first heard the price of the Asha 302, so with a 3.2MP one, in this price range, I'm more than happy.

One more day to go and the challenge is complete.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Asha 302 - Day five of #SmartphoneLiteWeek

Once upon a time there were four warriors. These brave souls swore to let go of their favorite smartphones and use only an Asha 302 for a week.

One has fallen prey to the demon lord Windows Phone, who lured him away from the Asha with it's seductive tiles. But three, will carry on, to reach new heights and conquer the challenge that lays before them. Two more days... and the brave warriors will have succeeded.

Asha cannot compare it's powers with the reigning lords Windows Phone or Symbian, but it sure is agile enough to elude them for a while, a week, that is.

This is day five. Asha is still in my pocket. When I pass my N8 around the house, I feel like an addict near dope. Hard to resist, yet I must. A challenge is a challenge, and once I accepted it, I must see it trough.

Today Asha has shown one if it's limits. When trying to send a raven in reply to the other brave warriors, I realized I could not. Asha would only let me send a raven to the first one of them. But Asha's help, the Opera lead me to the raven's official guild, where I could send messages to all of them at once.

Day six is ahead... What other challenges must I face next?...