I remember the day when I was invited in one of the Nokia workshop in Delhi to sneak through a glimpse about the new generation of their Phone OS, which was about to unveil at the same day. I was also given glimpses of the upcoming marvels Nokia Lumia 820 and Nokia Lumia 920 at the same day even though wasn’t allowed to operate it myself. Even though Nokia Lumia 920 was a show stopper, Lumia 820 found many a people staring over it more (including myself) considering the size and build quality. It took a little long to come to me, but finally its here and finally its time to write Layman’s Take after a real real long while (Being a Daddy at home and a manager at office taking big time toll over me).
Windows Phone 8: The background
First Generation of Nokia Lumia Series had entered into the already crowded phone market as a fresh breath of air due to the fact that they took many of the basics right. But due to changed dynamics of the market, when this all moved to the second generation of Lumia Series, then there was a lot on stake and huge expectations coming from users spoiled with changed smartphone habits.
Windows Phone has gone through something game changing beneath the surface, so that Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 may share a lot of code and even kernel with each other. Its game changing because Microsoft would be the first one to have their phones, tablets and workstations all sharing same code base & hence less trouble for developers and users as well. Helps in mobilizing developers and also in making a coherent ecosystem as well.
In all, I did appreciated what Microsoft did or what they intend to do and actually can vouch that they doing a brave and right thing but at the same time being an active user/ analyst about other platforms, I also see that how hard it is to lure the users from other platforms if you ask users to do things differently. Let’s see where it leads to.
Nokia Lumia 820 – The Unboxing
Like all the recent Nokia Boxes, Nokia Lumia 820 comes in a compact blue themed recyclable box with the similar box content as been in rest of its siblings earlier.
- Nokia Lumia 820
- Nokia AC-50N MicroUSB Charger
- Battery BP-5T 1650 mAh
- Nokia Charging and Data Cable CA-190CD (black colored with a white device)
- Nokia Headset WH-208 (matches the color of handset means white)
- Product user guide
Here goes the quick and short unboxing video of the beautiful phone …
Nokia Lumia 820 – The Exteriors
The first look over Lumia 820 with Nokia Lumia 800 in my hands made me think that this thing is really big though keeping the two side by side made me feel that its more about bigger screen size than the build itself. It might look bigger to those who are coming smaller handsets like Lumia 800, iPhone, but hands get adjusted with it pretty soon. The edges have no sharpness around it and curves really melt in hands pretty well. Once adjusted, you will find Lumia 800 or iPhone like handsets too small for your taste.
If compared with Nexus 4 likes then its not that big either. While it looked like making most of the front with the screen if compared with Nokia Lumia 800, when compared with Nexus 4, it seems that there is still some spacing left. Still I would call it a very premium build which can be placed in top shelf of upmarket devices.
Interesting part about the screen is, though Nokia Lumia 820 got a premium ClearBlack AMOLED display with a screen resolution 480×800 and it is obviously a scratch resistant glass, but there is no Corning Gorilla branding behind it. I know it might cause panic for few, but as I have seen my Galaxy S shattered not once but twice, Corning branding hardly matters for me now. Yet to know that which of the brand is being used here and would appreciate if any reader updates me about it.
The display part of Nokia Lumia 820 is quite interesting.
Like I myself had a conversation with @gx_saurav about it before getting hands on it, many been skeptical about the lower ppi density in comparison to those HD, Full HD displays which started popping up in market. No doubt that an HD or Full HD screen is a pleasure to use but at the same time, no reason to discard a handset for lower ppi, specially when its running Windows Phone.
I wrote it earlier as well, Windows Phone takes an entirely different approach over Mobiles when compared to the rest. By design itself, it doesn’t mimics desktops & go by tiny icons and graphics, where the higher resolution would have mattered. Thick tiles and Large Text used as UI elements means even a reasonable ppi would work just perfect as some HD resolution in daily usages. Not only in theory but it doesn’t felt opposite in practical usages either to me.
Another thing is Stripe RGB matrix which is sure superior over Pentile system which Lumia 800 and many others been using lately. Add the CBD AMOLED Display in it and you find a very good display with much better sunlight visibility. Leaves not much room to complaint against a handset priced with 26k as MRP.
The device is so compact that I was used to bet with people that show me how to open the back panel. Trust me, if you aren’t told that the back panel is detachable then you will wonder for mins that how to put the SIM inside and where goes the memory card.
On the troubling side, opening the back panel is actually a nightmare for a first timer considering he is dealing with a brand new phone and doesn’t want to scratch it anywhere. I did struggled for mins to understand the process and so thought that it would be more helpful if I show readers that how to do it conveniently rather than relying on instructions.
The trick to open the back panel easily is careful usages of nail on the right top corner and then once out a little, then use two finger press on the camera panel.
I don’t blame Nokia on this considering the fact that they actually made a detachable back panel, which can fool almost anyone as unibody build. Just think if you just buy some of the additional Wireless Chargeable back panels, then you can have a new phone any day in different colors.
The top of the device makes way for 3.5mm Audio jack only. No SIM slots like earlier Lumia series phones. The exteriors of the device are minimum with a glossy back. Sure looks susceptible to scratches in long run even though is a toughen polycarbonate. A long time with Lumia 800 likes though hopes otherwise. Reason to choose Polycarbonate been the greater RF Transparency provided by this material and the tap on weight part.
The left side of the device is completely clean with no button or port at all while Power/Lock, Volume and camera buttons find their place on the right side of the phone.
Bottom of the device finds Micro USB port and a hole for the speaker with a neatly written logo on the bottom side of the back. Speaker is on side means no chance of volume getting muffled. Though rounded corners means the device can’t stand on its own like Lumia 800/900. Not a big thing though.
Just notice the corners that how well made the device is. Hard to notice any cracks even on the point from where one is supposed to open it.
One minor thing to notice is the logo placing. Most of the Nokia device I seen so far had their logo placed in middle but Nokia Lumia 820 must be among few if not the first Nokia device to showcase it on the right top rather than the center. Also notice the much needed front camera finally.
The bottom of the device shows the another change that is changed Logo though the search button still here to stay (and its still not contextual).
Nokia Lumia 820 comes with a 8MP Carl Zeiss Camera module, which is exactly same hardware wise with those on Nokia Lumia 800 or Nokia Lumia 900. Same f/2.2 aperture and same 1/3” sense size.
But one can sure feel some certain improvement in image quality in comparison to the last generation of Lumia devices. Also notice the much needed refinement over the last generation that is the material used in Camera Module and buttons on the side, which is a scratch resistant zirconium based ceramic. Still not completely invincible, but much better than first generation.
Like I described earlier, it’s not an easy job to open the back panel, but once you open it, you find the slots for MicroSIM and MicroSD card. Both are beneath the battery means no hot-swap, wasn’t expected either.
The device got quite a long battery and interesting part is, it stays at one side of device and still the weight of device remains balanced & homogenously distributed. Designing a device in such a way takes skills and I can only hope that people may really notice that what it takes to make such a perfection even for a handset that is not their top flag bearer (Lumia 920 is that as of now).
The back panel quite flexible and tough enough to handle opening/closing it with sound though I was a little surprised about the unusual assembling. The best part about the back panel is, there are multiple colors available for it (not aware of exact price, still shouldn’t be much expensive) and once bought, one can have an entirely different looking device with each new cover, which will still look unibody.
Another interesting part with changeable back covers that not only gives choices like textured back but also back covers which bring up Wireless Charging Capabilities just like Lumia 920 without compromising the looks.
Nokia providing three types of shells as of now for Nokia Lumia 820:
- Standard shells: gloss finish – red, yellow, cyan, purple, white; matte finish – grey and black.
- Wireless charging shells: matte finish – red, yellow, grey, cyan, purple, white and black.
- Active shells: matte finish – yellow, green, and orange, with black highlights.
Apart of these, Nokia also encouraging others to come up with more innovation with these shells.
Isn’t it an exciting thing to have such a phone? Can make it quite hot with ladies just like some fashion statement. A new day, a new phone and third party cover makers can even make cover to match your outfits if one needs so. NO?
Nokia Lumia 820 – The Interiors
Using Nokia Lumia 820 for a while kept on making me feel if Nokia somehow was closely reading my last mammoth post about Nokia Lumia 800 as many of the shortcomings of earlier generation Lumia seems to be fixed in exactly the way bloggers been suggesting. Be it Bluetooth transfer of music\video\contacts, be it NFC, be it sending maps\contacts via SMS, be it ringtones or be it the lock screen, it clearly looks that Nokia listened almost all the suggestions patiently and worked hard to blend in the solution within permissible limits.
Due to its unique UI based on Text rather than graphics and optimizations beneath, Windows Phones actually didn’t needed those Quad Core processors to start with but once they got it, the feel of flying is easily visible across usages.
Let’s visit the specs:
– Dimensions 123.8 x 68.5 x 9.9mm (slimmer than 12.1mm of Lumia 800), 83.5cc, 160g (20g +Lumia 800)
– 4.3”CBD AMOLED with a WVGA resolution of 800×480 pixels, RGB Stripe Display (No PenTile Matrix)
– Super Sensitive Touch aided by increased SNR in Capacitive Touch, allows usages with hand gloves
– 1.5GHz Dual Core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960, Adreno 225 GPU (In a way similar to A5 GPU)
– 1 GB LPDDR2, 8 GB Mass Memory (Plus 7GB SkyDrive), MIcroSD Card support up to 64 GB
– HSDPA+ Dual Carrier Cat24 42 Mbps, HSUPA Cat6 5.76 Mbps, LTE Cat3 100 Mbps/50Mbps
– Quad band connectivity rather than Pentaband connectivity though LTE included
– 3D Accelerometer, Ambient Light Sensor, Compass (Magnetometer Sensor), Proximity Sensor, Gyroscope
– 8.0 Megapixels Carl Zeiss AF camera with an aperture f/2.2 & Dual LED Flash
– 1920 x 1080 pixels video recording resolution with 30fps
– Second camera with VGA 30 fps recording caliber
– Windows Phone 8
– No FM Radio (Came as a shock to me) though Bluetooth Stereo Audio
– 2 High Dynamic Range Microphones, one serving purpose of uplink noise cancellation
– Micro SIM Support only, Secure NFC Support, Wireless Charging via special Back Panel*
– Bluetooth 3.0 with a capability transferring Data though still no Dial Up Networking support
– BP-5T 3.7V 1650 mAh removable battery
The surprising fact about Nokia Lumia 820 is, this is probably the slimmest Windows Phone device (under 10mm, check pics with Nexus 4) from Nokia despite of having a removable battery. Its hard for anyone to rule out this as a mid-segment device even if it is positioned as so by Nokia itself. Sure, the other manufacturers running behind slimness and lightness should take some clues from this device.
The other subtle change that brings Nokia Lumia 820 as a premium device is the super sensitive touch which allows you to operate device in more ways than using just fingers. (even hand gloves). One who didn’t used this device can easily call it another gimmick but trust me once you spend much time with it, it grows over you just like Windows Phone UI and then you will always miss the same element, even if you choose other features to outweigh it.
On the other hand, though Nokia Mix Radio & other features are here to balance the absence of FM Radio, it doesn’t look right at all on Microsoft part to remove it. Removal of UMTS Video calling feature across various ecosystems had its reasons including lower traction among users, but FM Radio is certainly not such a feature that could have been skipped this way. NOT ACCEPTABLE I would say.
Still quite clear that this device means business and any Nokia Lumia 800\900 owners won’t even blink their eyes before settling for this one over his device. Looks as good as Lumia 800/900 were and even improves the feeling, still drops the nuisance of non-removable battery, adds a big screen, adds option of changeable colors, adds NFC, adds optional Wireless Charging and upgraded hardware beneath makes it a real real buttery.
Nokia Lumia 820 – The Software Improvements
When the last time I did my mammoth post about Windows Phone Experience then the most painful part was taking screenshots hence I couldn’t demonstrate the beautiful interface of Windows Phone in pictures and when Windows Phone got the screenshot feature then I am not sure from where to start. I think rather than going for each and every feature, I would go for the prominent changes with Windows Phone 8.
With Windows Phone 8, Microsoft had two tasks in their hands.
First and of foremost importance task was to unify the Phone OS with the desktop OS, which they introduced along with Phone OS and hence rightly intended for creating a closely associated Ecosystem around.
Improving their phone OS to bring distinctive features and reducing common user annoyances.
Many Windows Phone users (including me), who had their high hopes with Windows Phone 8 and were expecting a dramatic fury of features with the OS, sure been disappointed when the day of announcements came as the end result almost sees no big change in the way it looks or common features it present to users. But once you look over the bigger picture and get adjusted with what you got then the perception changes dramatically.
The theme of Windows Phone always been easy on one handed operations, which weren’t needed to be precise like a nail. Microsoft categorically refused to blindly mimic icon based interactions intentionally, a path that was led by their own Desktop OS. Big Sized Text leading the UI removing the pressure from OS/HW to handle the un-necessary graphics and colors. Windows Phone always intend to be an OS, where apps seem to be part of OS rather than a mob wearing different cloths.
In the above context, when we look back over Windows Phone 8, then suddenly it looks very obvious in the way Windows Phone 8 is coming out to be. Its unique and doesn’t feel the need to mimic MeeGo like BlackBerry or possibly Ubuntu did, nor need to lift features from others like Android/iOS often do to each other. Stick to what makes it unique, go closer to the desktop counterpart for formation of Ecosystem and listen to user feedback to fix annoyances. Sounds like a brave plan against odds from whole world even if a noble task.
So after the context and official changelog about OS which can be checked here, let’s move over what I observed about the OS…
Windows Phone written along with new logo on blue background, still reminds me of the time, when we were used to see two joining hands on white background. The identity got dissolved once Nokia partnered with Microsoft. The bigger picture that emerges is, battle of mobile companies dissolving into battle of ecosystems: Google, Microsoft and Apple. Even though later entrant, Microsoft boosts over their long monopoly over Desktop business and credentials as a technology leader and sure has every reason to succeed in longer run.
Once the phone is switched on then two things to notice new about Windows Phone 8, first the smaller and resizable tiles then second the innovative new lock screen that is accessible to third party developers to a lot of things with it (at least for decoration, no actionable item).
Home screen first.
The weakest point of Windows Phone till date been lack of a notification center. They made the same mistake as iOS did in start by having notifications scattered around apps (Tiles in case of Windows Phone). It works well till you have less apps or they are grouped properly, but the problem grows when you have a lot of them scattered all over your phone.
Windows Phone started with handling this issue by Hub concept first but with Windows Phone 8, it moves toward possibility of smaller tiles too. Now in place of one WP7 tile, one can has 4 tiles means watching over notifications coming from 4 times more apps if one wants so. Moreover, increased resolution support (not the case of Lumia 820 though) like the case of Nokia Lumia 920, makes it possible to accommodate more and more tiles visible in one glance.
It sure helps a lot but won’t satisfy people. Better than earlier though. Issue is People don’t prefer to keep all apps on top of screen but the important ones means they will get to see notifications from those selected apps only. At least a common notification tile needed to put all the notifications at one place. Yet to see one such.
Then comes the Lock Screen.
Lock screen with Windows Phone 7 been conservative, the way Symbian lock screens been. Limited notifications and a wallpaper, just that. Windows Phone 8 decides to change that and permits third party developers to play with it as they want except the limitation that no actionable items will be there but just decoration.
The above are few examples. First one takes “Photos of Me” from Facebook app and places them one after one on the lock screen. Second one takes the photos of a particular album from Facebook again and places them in slightly different way. The third one is Mehdoh which is placing the DPs of the people whom I follow on twitter in a collage style.
Apps can also make status icons available to the lock screen, and you can choose up to five icon types to show at a time: Facebook messages, Xbox notifications, unread email, text messages, missed calls, and the like.
All of this with keeping earlier Windows Phone options about Lock Screen as it is. Just new additions to background, which can be used by range of apps either it be related to photos, Weather apps, Social Apps or News apps. Apps can make it change as per your location, as per even some Windows Phone users nearby, as your social network circle, as per your search trend, as per your game scores, as per new movies or new TV shows come…. you can just think of possibilities of the level of personalization it might offer.
Cloud Sync is the next interesting part that caught my eyes.
App lists, settings, Text Messages (Facebook and SMS) and photos … tell me about it that how much efforts I was needed to put every time I change to a new phone or flash a new ROM on my Android devices.
A dream for any smartphone user to pick up from the same place with a new phone, where he left it of on his older phone and that too without need of some computer based restore. Same apps along with same settings, all your messages and photos, always with you. It would be a shame if such disciplined focus on the right things which Windows Phone been doing since start gets no traction just because the market is not the same. A real big loss to the users themselves.
Always improving People Hub
Since day one Windows Phone was born, the feature that been in top center was people hub, beautiful yet product, yet flexible and yet soft on data. Nothing ever did organized/personalized Social Feeds in the way possible with People Hub of Windows Phone. You were able to make a tile for a person or a group and always aware that what they are updating or doing or sharing without any need of doing something on each Social Network. When Windows Phone moves to another big version, one sure would like to see what got improved in People Hub.
First change was as per Facebook Policies. Now we have options to share the update with privacy settings (obviously for Facebook only). Still no option for uploading pictures to Social Networks via People Hub, which I know would complicate the things a little but still I expect it to be here any time.
The next improvement in People Hub is Rooms. There been groups in which you were able to arrange people on your phone to follow and interact with their feeds but rooms take it to another level. Groups been limited to your phone but rooms are global.
You create a room at your phone, invite people, they get text message of invite, they accept and the same room gets created in their Windows Phones as well. Once done, you can now share calendar/ photos/ notes and chat. If you invite somebody who doesn’t have a Windows Phone device, they can still use the shared calendars and interact via Messenger on the desktop, but they’ll need a Microsoft ID to set it all up.
Yes! this is a mostly Windows Phone only thing and would be limited for now but sure has potential to go further even though I am not sure if Microsoft would want to make Android\iOS apps for this at some point of time.
Regional support finally reaches to Windows Phone
You just don’t know how much I was bugged by colleagues on lack of Hindi Font support on Windows Phone.
And finally its here. Windows Phone 8 not only supports Hindi and other language, but the keyboard itself follows the same pattern as we would have read in our kinder garden books. Not sure how well it goes with the other keyboards handling it but sure I am happy to see that now Google, Microsoft and iOS equally improving on handling Hindi and other regional languages.
Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive+ both on Windows Phone are now offline finally
I have written about offline Nokia Drive before as well and we all know that nothing been as perfect as Nokia drive about navigation. Offline maps, even regional languages like Hindi to guide you perfectly turn by turn rather than Google solution which tells you right at the moment of turn that too with an UK English tone which would be stranger for most of the people outside.
But offline navigation wasn’t the only thing. The coverage has broaden and Nokia maps are also offline to allow you search through place and plan accordingly before you go some place. Also the integration of maps across Windows Phone get improved and now switching between Nokia City Lens and Nokia Drive like apps doesn’t feel strange like it happens to be in start.
I actually was puzzled that where gone Bing Maps or even Maps as with Windows Phone 7, there were used two maps applications in the phone. Apparently all the Nokia Lumia devices will come with Nokia Maps preloaded while the other manufacturers will get the app named Maps.
Kid’s Corner is the other thing that was talked about
The concept of Kid’s Corner was interesting. A locked up phone that is providing access to restricted apps, data only like you give your phone to your kid and are sure that he would be playing games only because nothing else would be accessible to him. I waited to see that how this actually work.
So the above was how one creates Kid’s corner and how it works. While the concept is perfect. Kids can access the data which we designate them but can’t delete any pictures or video. Also browser, emails, dialer etc are already off grid. In short, kids can play with your phone without doing anything that can cost you.
Though it looks perfect but I found an issue in it. Kids can play with the phone only till the phone doesn’t get locked and once locked, it will not go back to kids corner. Not sure if kids can be disciplined that much for not letting the phone idle for few seconds to get it locked.
But anyway.. that can be fixed in any of the next iterations about the feature.
Windows Marketplace is intelligent enough to learn about you now.
A short stint with the Windows Phone wasn’t enough to suggest me that how accurate and precise the automatic suggestions about apps are.
But it sure suggests that things are moving towards right direction. It might not be the case that Windows Phone get that kind of huge traction that Google Android managed within years (because of being closed source, a license cost over vendors and moderately rising interest of developers due to pace of other ecosystems.), but the discipline with which its doing right things and sticking with them is sure appreciable. Results are definitely coming.
Camera Lenses for Windows Phones
Out of all the thing that were announced with Windows Phone 8, somehow Camera Lenses were least unexpected one for me. If you follow the trend and mannerism of Windows Phone, which essentially wants to make sure that Apps get immersed into the whole OS experience rather than alienating users by trying various UI experiments, then you would have known that it was obvious way Microsoft would have gone through about their Instagram like solution.
Camera lens are actually camera app which merges themselves completely into the camera interface making it impossible to differentiate between them and camera. Moreover these lens open to developers to as well.
Windows Phone 8: A lot of more improvements
Windows phone finally supports MicroSD cards, NFC and even Bluetooth transfers. Not very big improvements, but just the hint that Microsoft/Nokia listening and acting as fast as they can. Remember iOS which been based on similar model, couldn’t manage to bring SD Card or NFC or Bluetooth transfers till date. Not saying that winning over iOS on these something big but just a hint that they listen and act despite of their disciplined focus on the core theme.
Not only that but Nokia\ Microsoft also found out solution about the ringtone issue. There were always workaround about making ringtones via desktop or even some paid apps, but better that finally there is an in-house out of box solution for making ringtones from any song. Nope! iOS still rigid on this.
Other features been a much faster browser than earlier generation, option to send picture/video/map location/voice note and contact via SMS (Don’t know why the same generosity shown to Emails as well) … and so much more. Obviously, most of the complaints which been here about Windows Phone 7 have got resolved with Windows Phone 8 along with strict focus on core theme.
Improved battery life
Battery life is always an aspect that people look for first after any update. It hard to judge with Nokia Lumia 820 being on just another set of hardware and battery, but the results are sure satisfactory if not some ground breaking.
Better picture editing options
One more issue with earlier generation Windows Phone was, while it was easy to snap and upload but there weren’t same fast options about editing. Not anymore by including the common edit options available with photos. Now you can crop, rotate or autofix your picture and then upload it to your favourite social network.
I actually wanted to explore this but couldn’t as there was no similar setup available with my enterprise yet. But the descriptions look interesting and reminds me of similar features from BlackBerry only. Definitely interesting …
A lot new apps
I couldn’t really make a video about interesting Cinemograph but here I found an interesting demo of the same app.
So these were my views about Nokia Lumia 820 and Windows Phone 8. Obviously it wont be all about Windows 8. I intentionally skipped the under the hood improvements related to developers like multi core processor support, better resolution support and many a thing which makes smaller operations like loading of apps, flicking etc much better than last generation. But going into those details might have been much technical and this post would have been more lengthy.
Did I missed something? Do you want me to cover anything more about? Want some answers about it? Drop me a comment on twitter @nkumar_ or just leave a comment here. I will be obliged to answer.