Just another blog.

Posts filtered by tag: opinion

Review: Nokia Lumia 520 (and Windows Phone 8)

I got myself another phone just two weeks ago. A Nokia Lumia 520.
Because it's been almost two years since the last post on Windows Phone I've thought it's time to see what has changed in the meantime and whether Windows Phone gets a better mark than last time.

First a few words on the phone itself.
Nokia is known for making good quality and especially very stable phones. I haven't dropped mine so far but I can say that the phone feels very worthy of the price.
While holding it in the palm of your hand you wouldn't be able to tell that it costs less than CHF 100! There are phones by a big Korean company (I don't want to mention the name) which cost a lot more and feel cheaper.
It's not only the enclosure which is very well made it's also the rest of the phone.
The phone features very good specs. It's powered by a Snapdragon S4 processor, has 512MB of RAM, 8GB of built-in storage (which is expandable with a microSD card), a 5MP rear-side camera (which doesn't have a flash though), a high-sensitivity touchscreen (which means you can use the screen with some pens or while wearing gloves), and a lot more.
So far the phone is a steal, there are a few cons though. The capacitive buttons aren't back-lit, the phone doesn't have NFC, a camera flash, or a front-facing camera.

But these are minor details compared to what the phone has.
If you decide to get a Lumia 520 you also get the latest and greatest operating system (Lumia Amber, which is based on Windows Phone 8 GDR2) and an almost lag-less experience!
Very very nice!

Now let's see whether Microsoft has improved its Windows Phone system.

Two years ago I criticized the notification system.
Unfortunately it's still the same. It was and still is pretty much useless.

On the other side I liked the music player and I still do.
It also is pretty much the same (though it plays FM radio now). A few design improvements. Still very good, except for the imho very annoying Xbox ads everywhere. Google does the same with their Play Services on the other side, so it was to expect that they'll be offering some "value-adding" service.

The picture gallery was pretty well-made already two years ago and it has also advanced a bit.
You don't get your Facebook feed on the first page anymore which is a good thing if you ask me, but instead you have access to your pictures (which was probably what you wanted) with just one tap.
Nokia has also developed a very very good camera app called "Nokia Pro Cam". Officially it's not available for the 520 but you can still get it installed if you really want to.

A thing I really hated two years ago was the browser. It wasn't able to display a single webpage properly, but fortunately this has changed.
IE still is not my preferred browser, but I have to say that IE 10 Mobile is definitely useable. It gets almost everything right.
So a huge step in the right direction here. Great work Microsoft.

Buying advice?
Definitely, if you're looking for a reasonably priced device and you don't need an endless collection of apps.
The main thing that's stopping Windows Phone enjoying huge success is the app collection. While you can get most apps you need, you just can't get them all.
If you're ready to relinquish some apps, you get a very good device for what you pay.
"Bang for the buck" is definitely there.

written by: Takashi Yoshi
Tags: opinion, Review, Windows Phone

Billophones - How awesome are they really?

If you're like me you like cheap low-end smartphones for less than 100.- CHF. Let's call them billophones.

It's self-explanatory that they can't keep up with flagship devices like the HTC One or the Sony Xperia Z1 on the spec sheet.
Flagships have quad-core processors, 2 GB RAM, 16+ GB storage, 8-42 MP cameras, LTE, NFC, 5" screens with 400+ ppi and whatever.

And it's clear that you can't expect all that stuff you get in 600+ CHF devices in one 60.- CHF device.

But do billophones have qualities flagship devices don't have I asked myself.
I've come up with five things billophones do better than their expensive counterparts:

  1. SIM card
    Expensive devices use micro or even nano SIMs to "save space".
    Billophones mostly offer a normal mini SIM slot. So you can use your elderly SIM cards.
    Smaller providers often only provide mini SIMs. You can put them into a billophone while you would have to cut them into pieces to work in your flagship device (and you maybe destroy the card by cutting it).

  2. "Bang for the buck"-ratio
    While you can't expect all the performance you get from a flagship device from a billophone you get an incredible amount of technology for next to nothing.
    Of course you buy most of these phones on a pay-as-you-go plan which is why they are so cheap, but you can unlock most of them for less than 10.- CHF.

    So overall they're well worth what you pay for them.

  3. Battery
    Most billophones come with a battery around 1500mAh. This is not much compared to 2300mAh or even more you get from today's flagships but if you realize that billophones don't have power-hungry DC-HSPA+ or LTE radios, a smaller screen, a slower processor, less memory, etc. which all consumes power, you can still get a day or more of juice out of these batteries. Which is more than you get out of some much more expensive models.
    Another plus is that if your battery goes empty, you could just open the back, put another battery in and get another full charge.
    Of course you could get a battery-pack for your flagship and recharge your battery on-the-go, but you have to charge your battery-pack to charge your battery with it, which means that you have to wait and it's not very handy to have a cable at your phone all the time. It's also very stupid to charge a battery to charge another battery with it. Which means that you lose (a lot of?) power.

  4. Storage
    Most flagship phones come with a certain amount of built-in storage and that's it. Since Android 4.0 most of them have a huge data partition which means that you have to transfer your data using MTP.
    But with billophones you get maybe 2-4 GB built-in storage and you can extend its storage with microSD cards. And the best part of it is that most of them still have a separate data and sdcard partition. Which results in you having two SD cards but you can mount both of them using the standard USB mass storage mode, which is just AWESOME.

  5. Durability
    Because most billophones are made out of plastic they should be a lot stronger than devices like the Sony Xperia Z which is made almost completely out of glass.
    Smaller displays (and thus handsets) reduce the chance of getting your glass broken, so overall you have a pretty durable phone.
    And if it breaks you just get a new one because they're so cheap.

So there you go! 5 reasons why billophones are better than their counterparts for maybe 10x the price.

Billophones I can recommend are e.g.:

There are many more available. Just check your local phone store.
Of course it depends on your local carriers whether they have something to offer, but if they do, I'd get one ;-)

written by: Takashi Yoshi
Tags: Windows Phone, Android, opinion

written by:

written by:
Tutorials, reviews, experiments, and, of course, my opinion on things…
Subscribe our feed:
RSS2.0, RSS1.0, Atom
blog powered by EF Blog