Tag Archives: Lumia

Looking Forward to Windows Phone in 2015

windows-phones

As 2014 winds down, Windows Phone is at a crucial stage in its lifecycle. Again. Earlier in 2014, Microsoft closed the acquisition of Nokia’s hardware division and Windows 10 was launched in a Technical Preview form. Nokia’s acquisition, combined with the upcoming Windows 10-based version of the phone operating system, has perhaps resulted in a slight pause in release of true flagship devices that can compete with the latest versions of competing platforms, the iPhone and Android/Nexus lineup.

So, as we look forward to the early 2014 look at the combined Windows RT and Windows Phone OS based on Windows 10, what can Microsoft do to preserve and grow its share, both market share as well as mind share? Recently, some prominent writers have written in detail about why they are no longer using Windows Phone as their primary device. Key takeaways there were lack of proper support of the platform by the largest mobile network in the US, Verizon Wireless, as well as lack of key apps on the platform. Apps that include the likes of Slack, Trello, Snapchat, Tinder, etc.

I have my own reasons why I switched to using iPhone 5s as my primary device last year. I know Windows Phone 8.1 added Notification Center but many of the problems are still valid issues for those who care about top-end Windows Phone experience. For example, adding Action Center to store all notifications is a great start, but in order to take action on those notifications, you have to tap it which opens the app, and then you take action within the app. Android, and now even iOS to a certain extent, have actionable notifications and those need to be implemented on Windows Phone.

The broader issue with Windows Phone is that for the third year in a row, enthusiasts are made to wait for “the next version” for feature parity with iOS and Android. Meanwhile those two platforms, due to the incredible ecosystem which creates a great virtuous cycle, have implemented next-generation features that move the goal posts for Windows Phone. Also, this wait for the next version of Windows Phone only takes care of part of the problem plaguing the platform; app developers are still not flocking to the platform because in the US, where most of the innovative apps have been created in the recent past, Windows Phone is still languishing around the 3% market share. Forget Windows Phone, even choosing Android as the second platform to be supported by small developers, is hard (although that Android situation is changing slowly).

Here are some things to look forward to as yet another chapter opens for Windows phone (yes, the “p” is lower case, because rumors suggest that Windows Phone operating system will be merged with Windows RT and just called Windows 10):

Windows 10

There’s a lot of hope for Windows 10’s ARM-based OS version, the merger of Windows RT and Windows Phone. How will apps built for Windows Phone work on Windows 10? What about additional features in the OS which will create an unforeseen appetite both on the consumer side as well as on the developer side? Cortana has rightly won accolades for how well she works, but it has not moved the needle much for device sales. Granted, it is not fully launched yet, but still. Also, what else can Windows 10 do that iOS and Android don’t do, and more importantly, can Microsoft find something that Windows 10 can do which iOS and Android *won’t* be able to do?

Windows 10 Product Family
Windows 10 Product Family

Flagships

One of the issues I had with Windows Phone when I got my iPhone 5s was the increased (and justifiable) focus by Microsoft on the lower end. They see their best market potential in markets which haven’t achieved smartphone saturation yet. In those markets, Microsoft has been able to sell their entry-level devices quite well. So Microsoft making “affordable flagship” a term for mid-range devices with some high-end specifications is completely understandable.

However, many customers in the developed markets would love to get a true high-end phone that competes well with the flagship iPhone and Android devices. The Lumia 1020, for example, has no successor yet. Yes, the Lumia 1520 is a great phone but there needs to be a non-phablet version of that device to make it appealing to the larger customer base.

Lumia 1520
Lumia 1520
Lumia Icon
Lumia Icon

Updates

Yes, Microsoft did create a bypass of sorts by making it possible for any “developer” to get direct updates of the software from Microsoft. Pretty much anyone can sign up to be a “developer” by signing into App Studio online, thereby making sure any enthusiast who cares about latest OS versions, will get it directly from Microsoft. That has helped reduce the angst among the enthusiasts but it is only one part of the updates customers need; firmware that makes devices work better, is delivered by the OEMs and via the carriers. Carriers have no real urgency to complete (or in some cases, even start!) testing and delivering the firmware to Windows Phone devices.

Could Microsoft come up with a way to deliver even more firmware directly? I mean, Windows on PCs get all updates delivered directly, and if Windows 10’s mobile version is going to be like “big Windows”, then I am optimistic that most of the updates could be delivered directly by Microsoft. Having said that, could Microsoft find a way, Windows 10 or otherwise, to deliver it without the need for the device to be a developer device?

Mind share

This is a really tough nut for Microsoft to crack. Much of the mind share these days is delivery via the Microsoft-averse tech blogosphere which has settled down on Apple and Google as being the only two players worth caring about. In order to win them over, Microsoft has to climb a virtually impossible mountain but as we have seen in the enterprise/cloud space, it is not impossible. A few crucial strategic moves on the Azure/Visual Studio side have made Microsoft somewhat of a darling in the same tech press, and Microsoft has to find a similar set of moves to make on the consumer side in order to increase their mind share. I say this because even Windows Phone 8.1 is an excellent operating system and there is a lot to love there, but if the writers who write at prominent tech blogs don’t care to use it, and worse, dismiss it, it does not help. I am not sure what those strategic moves could be, but Microsoft does need to make those moves so that the tech press actually cares about writing about Windows devices.

I am optimistic about Windows 10. I like the fact that there will be one OS for phones and tablets and I look forward to seeing some of the well-established Windows Phone apps get upgraded to be Universal and work on small tablets as well. But most importantly, I want to see how Microsoft expands Windows 10 to work as one OS across phones, tablets and PCs. There are many interesting applications of having one OS work across devices of all form factors and I am curious to see how today’s excellent phone applications work on my Windows tablets. On the phone side, I am looking forward to some nice high-end devices and some marquee apps releasing their Universal versions soon.

Here’s looking forward to another exciting year for Microsoft and Windows!

Microsoft Lumia 535 Launched In India For INR 9,199

Microsoft finally launched the new Lumia 535 in India. This handset is the successor of the popular Lumia 530 smartphone and it is the first Lumia device to sport the Microsoft branding. Microsoft Lumia 535 is known for its ‘5x5x5′ proposition, which basically means that the device features a 5 inch qHD screen, 5 megapixel rear camera and a 5 megapixel wide angle front-facing selfie camera.

microsoft_lumia_535

It runs on the Windows Phone 8.1 OS with Lumia Denim update. Lumia 535 comes with a price-tag of just INR 9,199 and it will go on sale from November 28 in India. This handset will be available in Cyan, Bright Green, Bright Orange, Dark Grey, White and Black colors.

Microsoft offers 15 GB of free OneDrive cloud storage with this device. Apart from that, Lumia 535 owners will get free recharge worth INR 150 for 4 months on Paytm, BoxTV subscription for 2 months and Flipkart eBooks worth INR 1500. Vodafone subscribers will get 500 MB free 2G or 3G data for two months. Check out the complete specs and hands-on pics after the break.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Specifications:

  • 5 inch qHD Display
  • 960 x 540 pixels resolution
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • 1.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 200 processor
  • Windows Phone 8.1 Operating System with Lumia Denim
  • 5 megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash
  • 5 megapixel front-facing camera
  • Bing vision, Lumia Camera and Lumia Selfie apps
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • WLAN IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 8 GB internal user memory
  • 128 GB expandable memory
  • Up to 11 hours of talk-time
  • Up to 23 days of stand-by time
  • 1905 mAh removable battery

Microsoft Lumia 535 Hands-On Photos:

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IMG-20141126-WA0022

Lumia Denim: Windows Phone 8.1.1 + Firmware Updates

Lumia_Camera

Among many other announcements at IFA 2014 on September 4, Microsoft announced the latest update to the Windows Phone OS. As is usually the case with Nokia’s Lumia updates, this update, called Lumia Denim, is essentially a combination of updates delivered via Windows Phone 8.1 Update (let’s just call it Windows Phone 8.1.1, shall we?) and firmware updates. These firmware updates add some new features and functionality and also improve the overall performance of Lumia devices and pre-loaded apps.

To start with, the newly announced Lumia 730, Lumia 735 and Lumia 830 will come pre-loaded with Lumia Denim. The other Windows Phone 8 Lumia devices will receive this update over the air in Q4 2014 after appropriate partner and carrier testing.

We have provided a brief overview of what’s delivered in the core OS update, but here are the features delivered via the firmware update include in Lumia Denim:

Moment Capture

4K-quality video recording at 24FPS now available on Lumia devices. You can invoke this by long pressing the camera button. Since each frame is 8.3 megapixels, each individual frame can be shared as a still image too.

Rich Capture

Auto-HDR and Dynamic Flash are now included in the images taken. This way, it will be possible to take a picture and then adjust the camera settings later, to get the perfection in the shot.

“Hey Cortana”

Cortana, the impressive personal digital assistant included first with Windows Phone 8.1, can now be invoked by just saying “Hey Cortana”. Similar to Google Now’s “OK Google”, this feature enables even quicker access to Cortana. As a side, this is enabled by the SensorCore technology, so it won’t be available on Lumia devices which do not have SensorCore.

Glance screen

Glance screen (on eligible devices) can now show additional information from Bing Health & Fitness and Bing Weather in addition to notifications, time and date, and application data.

Lumia Camera

Lumia Camera is the updated name of the application formerly known as Nokia Camera. Updates to this app make it faster and more intuitive.

Speed and improved image processing

It is now even faster to invoke the camera, and there have been speed improvements made in going from shot to shot. In addition, new image processing algorithms make lowlight images even better than before.

These non-core OS updates show again why Lumia devices are still the best bet if you want to own a Windows Phone. Unless and until we see such innovation come from HTC, Samsung and the others, it is hard to see why you would think of using a non-Lumia Windows Phone device.

Lumia 530 Announced with a Dual SIM Variant

The budget segment has been the biggest area of strength for Windows Phone devices, with handsets like the Lumia 520 and the 620 doing brisk business. The Lumia 520 alone managed to capture over a third of the Windows Phone market. Now, this crucial low-end Windows Phone handset is receiving a refresh in the form of the Lumia 530. The Lumia 530 promises to deliver more for less. However, the competition has gotten a lot tougher over the past few months with the launch of well-built Android devices like the Moto E. Does the Lumia 530 have enough to put up a good fight?

Nokua Lumia 530 1

The Lumia 530 is identical to its predecessor in terms of size and weight. The display still measures in at 4 inches, but the pixel density has been marginally improved to 245 ppi with the change in resolution to 480 x 854 pixels. The bright and vibrant colors that we associate with Nokia’s Lumia series are still there, but the Lumia 530 eschews the sharp, rectangular design in favour of a more conventional curved appearance.

Nokua Lumia 530 2

Nokua Lumia 530 3

The Lumia 530 features a Qualcomm Snapgradon 200 with a quad-core 1.2 GHz CPU that Microsoft will undoubtedly pitch as an improvement over its predecessor. However, in reality, the new processor will deliver roughly similar performance since it is a Cortex A-7, while the older one was a Cortex A-9 (Krait). Even the GPU is marginally inferior (Adreno 302 in 530 vs Adreno 305 in 520). The amount of RAM has remained unchanged at a measly 512 MB, but internal storage has been halved to 4 GB. Thankfully, the new Lumia is runs on Windows Phone 8.1, which allows the installation of apps on micro SD cards. Windows Phone is also less memory hungry than Android. So, even a device with only half a gigabyte of RAM should still be responsive and usable.

Nokua Lumia 530 4

Another piece of hardware that has been downgraded is the camera. Both the 520 and the 530 feature a 5 megapixel camera, but the latter is fixed focus and can’t capture HD (720p) videos. Front camera for video calling is still missing. The battery unit, which is unchanged, is rated at 1430 mAh.

Nokua Lumia 530 5

The Lumia 530 will be available in two variants – Single SIM and Dual SIM, and is expected to be priced at around €85 (a little over $110). Nokia also announced a companion Bang mini speaker by Coloud, which will retail for €19.

Somewhat surprisingly, the new Lumia appears to be a weaker phone than its predecessor. Everything including the chipset, camera, and storage have been downgraded. However, it might still end up being a big seller due to its newly earned quad-core status and the reduced price tag.

Official Rollout of Windows Phone 8.1 Begins. Lumia Cyan Also Released.

 windows-phones

Microsoft announced on July 15 over on the Nokia Conversations Blog that Windows Phone 8.1 is beginning to roll out to general public starting today. In addition, for Lumia devices, Nokia is also making their firmware named Cyan available in tandem.

Windows Phone 8.1: Action Center
Windows Phone 8.1: Action Center

 

As you know, Windows Phone 8.1 is a major update to Windows Phone 8 (despite the .1 name, which is mostly to be in line with Windows 8.1) which includes many features that bring it up to par with iOS and Android, and in some cases, catapult it ahead of those two. For example, Windows Phone finally gets a notification center in the form of Action Center to bring it up to par with iOS and Android. There are many other new and updated features, including:

Cortana

A digital personal assistant with a personality of her own. Many think  of it as a good blend of Siri from iPhone and Google Now. It takes the personal nature of Siri and combines it with the ambient and context-aware nature of Google Now, and throws in a privacy-focused “notebook” which stores all the information that one would want the assistant to track. I have used Cortana quite a lot since the developer preview was released and am really happy with how she works, including the recent sports predictions.

Third column of tiles

Previously this feature was only available on the larger, 1080P screen devices but now it is a setting on all Windows Phones. The added density of tiles makes it possible to see even more information on the go, and thereby makes it possible to have more wide tiles which surface more information on the live tiles.

WiFi Sense

 

Windows Phone 8.1: More tiles
Windows Phone 8.1: More tiles

This feature allows one to automatically log in to wireless hotspots, including optionally filling out browser-based login screens which are common at many wifi hotspots. The settings are saved so that the information does not have to be entered over and over again. WiFi Sense also allows one to optionally share wifi username and password with connected contacts (who obviously should be using Windows Phone), so there is no awkward password sharing involved when friends and family visit each other.

Word Flow goes to the next level

The Windows Phone keyboard is one of the best among its competition, especially given the accuracy of its predictions of the next word, but with Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft added a gesture-based keyboard. This keyboard is similar to the ones found on Android (and coming soon to iOS 8) but combine that gestures with the predictions and you get a fast, fantastic typing experience.

Windows Phone 8.1: Wordflow with gestures
Windows Phone 8.1: Wordflow with gestures

 

Internet Explorer 11

Besides an updated browser engine, Internet Explorer now lets you share favorites, open tabs and most importantly, passwords among Windows devices (as long as they are Windows 8 and above :-)).

New Calendar view

Not only is the Calendar app now a standalone app (as evidenced by updates to the app delivered recently to those who are on the developer preview of Windows Phone 8.1), but it also adds a much-requested week view. The view is very smartly designed because when you tap on the date icon in the app bar below, it keeps the weekly view but simply expands that day of the week. Similarly, if you tap on any other day of the week, it simply expands that day. Tapping it again will switch the view to the daily view.

The Cyan firmware update is applicable to Lumia devices, and as suggested by it being firmware, the update provides lower-level improvements to the device in general. These improvements help Nokia’s great photo applications like Nokia Camera, Creative Studio and Storyteller.

Cyan also delivers a new Device Hub, which is meant to identify devices near you which you can connect to, as well as suggest apps which will be able to take advantage of the connection to the said devices. For example, if it finds a Windows 8 PC nearby, it may suggest Remote Desktop as an app, if it detects a media streaming device like a DirecTV receiver, it may suggest a media streaming app.

For the low-end Lumias like Lumia 520, 525, etc., the HERE Drive app gets bumped up to HERE Drive+. For the high-end Lumias like Lumia 1520 and Lumia Icon, Cyan enables Rich Recording and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 sound. The high-end Lumias also get improvements in photos with improved colors and even better low-light photos along with RAW images and a new Living Images feature which adds a tiny bit of animation before the shot is taken, to add “life” to the image.

Now, for the not-so-great news. Windows Phone 8.1 and Cyan are available but they have only been delivered to the carriers. The update rolls out based on the carriers’ testing. The good thing is that Nokia is documenting the updates on their page as usual. The page is here.

I have been running the developer preview and I feel it is now up to the developers to bring their apps to the performance level that Windows Phone 8.1 provides, especially on the higher-end devices. I had almost given up on Windows Phone but Cortana and Action Center kept me interested. Along with many new apps coming to the platform, it has become a truly legitimate contender from a features perspective. The market, especially US and China, will of course speak with their wallets, but at this point Windows Phone 8.1 on a recent Lumia is not a bad choice to go for.

Here’s Nokia’s official video walking us through Windows Phone 8.1 and Cyan:

 

All images from Nokia and Windows Phone sites

Powerful and Inexpensive Lumia 635 Available on T-Mobile and MetroPCS in July

Lumia 635
Lumia 635

The extremely affordable Lumia 521 (a variant of the Lumia 520, made for T-Mobile) has a successor. Microsoft announced on July 1, that the first Windows Phone 8.1 device for the US will be arriving on T-Mobile/MetroPCS soon.

The schedule is a bit hairy, so here goes:

  • From July 5, this phone can be purchased via the Home Shopping Network
  • From July 9, it can be ordered online at t-mobile.com
  • From July 16, it will be available at T-Mobile stores
  • From July 18, it will be available at select MetroPCS stores

The pricing is $0 down and $7/month for 24 months or a promotional price of $99 off-contract.

 

Lumia 635
Lumia 635

The phone has a 4.5” screen combined with a quad-core Snapdragon processor, and unlike its predecessor, it works on the fast 4G LTE speeds. The phone will come pre-loaded with Windows Phone 8.1 and its personal digital assistant Cortana.

It is also one of the first phones to include software-based buttons on the front as well as SensorCore, the technology which enables low-power tracking of various sensors in the phone.

Here’s an official hands-on video:

I am a big fan of these low-cost Windows Phone devices, and I love my Lumia 520. Most apps work flawlessly on my 520 (subject to the 512MB RAM limits) and I am sure the same will be true for the Lumia 635. Another improvement in this phone over the 520 is that the microSD card slot can accept cards up to 128GB, and Windows Phone 8.1 allows apps and media to be stored on the expansion slot, so the 8GB default storage is no longer a concern.

Windows Phone has not picked up any steam in the US market and while in the rest of the world has shown a fondness for the low-cost Windows Phone, it remains to be seen if the Lumia 635 can change any of that. I am considering swapping out my 520 for the 635. Are you thinking about getting one?

Nokia Launches The Lumia 920 and 820 In India; Lumia 620 Coming Soon!

Today, at an event in New Delhi, Nokia unveiled its new range of Lumia smartphones running on Windows Phone 8. Sitting at the top of their WP8 Lumia range is the Lumia 920. The handset that was unveiled nearly 3 months ago is finally hitting the Indian shores.

The Lumia 920 sports a 4.5-inch ClearBlack Display with 768p+ resolution Puremotion HD+ display. Internally, the handset is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon Krait processor, Adreno 225 GPU, 1GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. The highlight of the Lumia 920 is, however, its 8.7MP PureView camera at the back. It is the first smartphone to feature Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and a floating lens technology, which helps in reducing the visible shake while taking videos. It also immensely helps in low-light photography by allowing a long shutter time, thus allowing more light to be captured.

Other features of Lumia 920 include wireless charging, NFC, GPS with A-GPS, Nokia Drive with free turn-by-turn navigation, and the usual bunch of sensors and connectivity options.

The Lumia 920 is accompanied by its smaller brother – the Lumia 820. The 820 sports a 4.3-inch WVGA AMOLED display with ClearBlack Display technology, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot and the same 1.5GHz dual-core Krait and Adreno 225 GPU as found inside the 920. The 820 does not sport a PureView branded camera, but instead comes with an 8MP Carl Zeiss lens aided by dual-LED flash.

Completing Nokia’s WP8 portfolio in India is the Lumia 620 – a budget oriented Windows Phone 8 handset. The handset sports a 3.8-inch TFT ClearBlack Display with WVGA resolution, 1GHz dual-core processor, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of free storage space, a microSD card slot, a 5MP camera at its back and the usual sensors and connectivity options.

The Lumia 920 will be available in a bunch of bold colors including yellow and white for Rs 38,199 beginning from January 11th. The Lumia 820, that also comes with interchangeable back covers, will officially set its buyers back by Rs. 27,599.

Sadly, Nokia did not announce the pricing of the Lumia 620, but it did say that the handset will be priced between the Lumia 510 and Lumia 710, which makes it a fairly tempting device. The handset is expected to be launched in India in the 1st week of February.

Nokia Reports Better Than Expected Q4 2012 on the Back of Strong Lumia Sales

Nokia finally seems to have caught a break, and has kicked off the new year with some unexpected good news. The fourth quarter turned out to be better than expected, and the Lumia series experienced solid sales.

“We are pleased that Q4 2012 was a solid quarter where we exceeded expectations and delivered underlying profitability in Devices & Services and record underlying profitability in Nokia Siemens Networks”, said Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia. Nokia sold 4.4 million Lumia smartphones during the last quarter of 2012, which is more than what it managed during the previous two quarters combined. The well received Lumia 920 obvious played a significant role in Nokia’s strong performance; however, Nokia didn’t officially give a model-wise breakdown of Lumia sales.

Nokia-Lumia

The other good news is that Lumia is finally outselling Symbian devices, whose sales tally stood at 2.2 million. “We focused on our priorities and as a result we sold a total of 14 million Asha smartphones and Lumia smartphones while managing our costs efficiently, and Nokia Siemens Networks delivered yet another very good quarter”, added Elop. 9.3 million units of Asha full-touch smartphones, which have been performing well in markets like India, were sold.

Lumia’s sales numbers were undoubtedly helped by the holiday season, but the total sales tally would have probably been higher if Nokia hadn’t been conservative about the number of handsets manufactured. Nokia is predicting a weaker Q1, 2013, based on the fact that it doesn’t have any new device launches, and Q1 is a seasonally weak quarter. However, the introduction of Lumia 920 in several new countries is expected to help the sales figures. Lumia 920 was launched in India just a few hours ago, and was launched in China last month.

AT&T Lumia 920 And Lumia 820 Coming For $99 And $49 On November 9th

The Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 are important handsets for Microsoft and Nokia. With the Finnish giant suffering huge losses every quarter, the company has offered the best of everything it can with the Lumia 920 which includes an 8.7MP PureView Camera with optical image stabilization and Windows Phone 8.

While Nokia announced the Lumia 920 and 820 back in September, it has been mum on the final pricing and availability of the handset, especially in the United States. The Lumia 920 is already available for sale in certain regions of the world, including Russia where Nokia’s CEO, Elop, himself is at the store greeting customers.

Today, Nokia and AT&T announced the availability and pricing of the Lumia 920 and 820 in the United States on the carrier’s LTE network. The Lumia 920 will set users back by $99 on a two-year contract, while the Lumia 820 will cost them only $49.99. The pre-orders for both the handsets start on November 7th, with the phone hitting the retail stores on November 9th. For a limited time, AT&T will also be offering a wireless charging backplate with the Lumia 920.

The Lumia 920 is going to remain an AT&T exclusive for sometime, but the Lumia 820 will be available on Verizon’s network albeit with some slight radio changes and a different name – Lumia 822.

Via – The Verge

Nokia Unveils The Lumia 510 For Indian And Chinese Market; Coming This Diwali!

Nokia today unveiled a new budget oriented Windows Phone 7.5 running handset especially meant to cater towards the budget segment of the Indian market – the Lumia 510.

The Lumia 510 sports a 4-inch TFT screen with WVGA (800×480) resolution, a 800MHz Snapdragon S1 processor, 256MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage, a 5MP camera at the back, along with all the usual connectivity features except for the lack of 3G and a microSD card slot. Nokia does provide 7GB of free storage space on SkyDrive to make up for the lack of space on the handset.

Keeping in mind the Indian market, Nokia will be launching the handset in five trendy colors including red, yellow, cyan, white and black.

On the software side, the Lumia 510 runs on Windows Phone 7.5 but will get the Windows Phone 7.8 update, whenever it is available. It will also come pre-loaded with Nokia’s own navigation services and apps – Nokia Maps, Drive and Transport.

The Lumia 510 will hit the retail stores in the beginning of November in India and China and will cost $199 (sub-Rs 11,000 in India) before taxes and subsidies.