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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Windows Phone 7.8 for Lumias on Navifirm - Update getting closer

Windows Phone 7.8 builds just popped up on the infamous Navifirm app that scans Nokia's software servers. The builds are available for at least the Lumia 800, 900, 710 and 610. These are not production builds, they are Nokia Care builds which means they are intended to be used at Nokia Care service points. That could mean these very close to the final builds that will be made available in January.

Those of you who haven't flashed a custom ROM so far, I recommend you wait a couple more weeks to the official update. The rest of the geeks can go download Nokia Care Suite and install it like you would any custom ROM.

Image courtesy of GSMArena.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Nokia Asha 308 review - Touch duality

The Nokia 308 does not pretend to be a smartphone, but it does claim to be a smart feature phone. The device looks attractive and will certainly appeal to the youth crowd. The build quality is good even though not extraordinary, but considering the price tag you get more than enough for your dollar. The 308 is made of good quality plastic material and offers a squeak free experience.

The dual SIM capabilities are another plus for the budget phone buyer, but the lack of Wi-Fi is a show stopper for those who want internet on the cheap. No Wi-Fi means you gotta have a decent data plan in order to use intensity on this phone. The bright side is that the 308 is very network friendly and consumes immensely less data then your average smartphone. A couple if days of usage only ate 4MB of my data plan in which time I've download a game and used Facebook And Twitter more than a couple of times.

The hardware of the phone is not stellar, but nor should we expect such hardware at this price point. The multi touch capacitive display is I believe a first in this price bracket and a welcome addition. The 308 sports a 3 inch screen with a resolution of 240 by 400 pixels. The resolution is pretty decent for that display size keeping in mind that some Android phones have lower resolution on bigger displays. The Asha 308 is equipped with an accelerometer which comes in handy for text input in landscape mode and when playing games.

On the right side of the phone we can find the volume rockers and the lock/unlock key. On top we have the 3.5mm jack port, the micro-USB port and the 2mm charging port, while on the back we have the 2MP fixed focus camera with no flash light. On the right side of the phone we have the second SIM card and the micro-SD card slots. The primary SIM card slot is located under the battery so it's not hot swappable. However the phone can switch from SIM1 to SIM2 in a heartbeat without needing to reboot.

The box contains the phone itself, the battery, a 1GB memory card, a Nokia headset and a Nokia 2mm charger. The phone can also charger tough the USB port. Unfortunately there is no USB data cable included, but at this price point it wouldn't be a first. The usual leaflets can also be found in the box, along with the warranty card.

The camera takes not very good pictures, and it seems that the camera sensor is not the same as on the Nokia 5230 add I was expected, but a cheaper unit. Video recording is disappointing with a resolution of 176x144 pixels at 10 frames per second. I was expecting at least QVGA at 15 frames per second.

The photo gallery had punch to zoom, a feature you don't see too much in feature phones. Zoning in and out is decent even though it takes a while until you see the full quality zoomed in picture.

The Asha 308 comes with Facebook and Twitter apps preinstalled, a great email client and 40 free EA games. Yes the games are java games but just the ability to download them from Nokia Store is something not many phones can brag about.

The homescreen had been completely redesigned compared with the non touch S40 devices. The new homescreen looks more like MeeGo than an S40 homescreen. There are three panels. The middle panel is a the columns grid of applications. On the right side panel you have the phone dialer, and on the left side you have your favorite panel. Here you can add it pin shortcuts to the installed apps and also add your favorite contacts.

What amazed me about this phone was that it has badge notifications for some apps like the phone app or the messaging app, which it's a first for S40.

Bringing S40 into the touch era meant Nokia had to create an on screen input method and it looks life they've learned from the mistakes they did with Symbian touch. The full qwerty keyboard is excellent in both landscape and portrait, supporting split screen too. Another welcomed addition is the pull down notifications and switches area. Just like on Nokia Belle, you can pull down from the top of the display and you can change your connectivity settings and see your incoming notifications.

The web browser is Nokia's new Xpress browser. A cloud based browser that keeps data consumption down, compressing web pages up to 90 percent.

The Nokia 308 and the Asha touch series in general meant bringing a smartphone like experience to the low end budget phones. Nokia tried to create an ecosystem for the Java based S40 devices, with an app store, games and social apps. That is what smartphones are really about, keeping you connected and making your life easier. The Asha 308 manages to do just that, and even though it's not a real smartphone, it brings you a lot of features and apps that you won't find on any other smartphone. That being said, the entire Asha series has one great advantage over other feature phones, and that's Nokia Store. I don't mean the free app catalogue, I mean the paid ones. With Nokia Store you can pay via SMS which is a golden egg in developing countries, Asha's main targets.