Thursday, 24 May 2012

Nokia Asha 302 - Conclusion

I have to start by saying that I failed in my experiment to use the Asha 302 solely for a week, I just could not manage to do it. I'll talk more about the reasons why towards the end of this article but for now i'll talk more about the phone.

When used for calls the Asha 302 is superb, on this front it's probably one of the best I've used in years. The voice quality is crystal clear with plenty of volume, this makes calls very pleasant. The volume of the ringer and strength of vibration also make it a great device for calling. Text messaging is good too, the qwerty keyboard is of high quality and the initial stiffness soon wears off making it easier to use. I did find it a bit small and very difficult to use one handed due to the shape of the phone, nearly dropping it several times. The speed of the messaging app is good and it worked very well although the conversation view was a little cramped due to the screen size.

One feature I really disliked was the email client, it took a lot of attempts to get my Gmail working on it as it kept on failing to connect for no reason. The app is basic and emails are shown in plain text which I find very annoying and there didn't appear to be an option to show them in the original format. It was also quite hit and miss whether it notified me of messages or not which mean't I had to keep on accessing the app to check for new messages. The web browser was ok, not overly good or bad it just worked and at a reasonable speed.

Built into the Asha 302 is Nokia's social app for services like twitter and facebook, both services worked ok but I found the twitter app to be very restrictive as it only loaded around ten tweets at a time. For a heavy twitter user like myself it wasn't a pleasant experience and found myself trying web based alternatives instead. Twitter mobile and dabr both work ok through the Asha's browser but neither gave me the twitter experience I wanted plus were a chore to access quickly being within the browser.

The user interface on the Asha is fairly easy and attractive to use but there's a lot of items buried in sub-menus and some that aren't obvious as to what they do. There's also a lot of confirmations to your actions which lead to lots of extra button presses, this makes it feel slower than it is which is a shame because it is quite a fast device. I often found myself getting frustrated when navigating the phone but I put that down to my love of touch screen devices. In the past series 40 phones like the Asha were regarded as the simpler, more basic alternative to Nokia's smartphones, to me it felt far more complex than a modern smartphone and a real throw back to the past.

After using the Asha 302 for three days I admitted defeat and put my sim back in my Lumia 800, I was happy again. I don't know if I've been spoilt by the Lumia's speed, blown away by it's twitter experience or have become addicted to windows phone but either way it was good to be using it again. I would say the Asha 302 is a good phone for someone who makes a lot of calls but isn't that interested in social media or a heavy email user. It's built well, looks good and the battery lasts for ages in it which few modern devices can claim nowadays.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

48 Hours With the Nokia Asha 302

Years ago I used to love Nokia's series 40 phones, they were attractive and relatively simple compared to Nokia's smartphones. The last series 40 phone I used as my main personal phone was back in 2007, a 7500 Prism which I purchased after becoming annoyed with the E65 smartphone I had. It was quick, fun to use and fast compared to the E65 and kept it for several months until the legendary N82 was released. Since then i've owned a couple of other modern series 40's but never for use as my primary phone, always as backups.

I've now had the Nokia Asha 302 for around 48 hours now most of which was spent using it as my sole phone. Previously I shared some pictures and a few comments but now i'll talk more about my experience so far with it.

As an experiment and for a bit of fun I've ditched my Lumia 800 which I still absolutely love after nearly six months and am now using the Asha 302 for a week or so. At first I thought "how hard can it be, series 40's are simple" but after a rocky start i've quickly changed my opinion. The first challenge I faced was getting my contacts and calendar from the cloud (Google) onto the Asha. Unlike modern phones that have a simple step by step set up procedure there's nothing like that on the Asha, it's back to doing it manually. At first I thought I'd try the new mail for exchange beta but quickly found that it wasn't supported due to the firmware version on this phone and no update was available. Knowing the Asha and gmail contacts supported the SyncML standard I set about creating a profile to get this working, it was slow and I had to google the settings but eventually it worked and I had my contacts. For the calendar I had to use an app, GCalSync which has brought all my calendar entries in, but has messed up the reminder times so am going to keep that a one way sync.

Setting up the rest of the phone was fairly straight forward, but some of the options are buried quite deep in sub menus and aren't at all intuitive. Had a few issues getting my email to work (Gmail) with constant errors about being unable to connect but eventually it just worked, still don't know why! Nokia has included a social app for accessing services such as Twitter and Facebook, both work reasonably well but compared to my Lumia they are slow and not ideal for a heavy twitter user like me. There's a lot of ways to customise the keys and homescreen on the Asha, a good set up there can make it so much easier (and quicker) to use than it's default settings. So at the moment i've got it set up to cover the basics and going to continue using it over the weekend into next week. It's been frustrating so far being without my smartphone but hopefully things will improve now that it's set up and as I adapt to it.

Later i'll talk about messaging, calling, the device itself and how i've been using it. Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Nokia Asha 302 - Photo Unboxing

Just for a bit of fun I'm going to be using a "dumbphone" for the next week or so which Nokia Connects has kindly loaned me. The model i'm using is the new Nokia Asha 302 which is a compact feature phone with a full qwerty keyboard. It features a 1ghz processor, 3.2 megapixel camera, 2.4" screen, Wi-Fi and Nokia's latest non-touch version of the series 40 operating system. I'll be posting more about it later but for now here are a few photo's with comments.

Front of the box, compact and typical Nokia.

Rear of the box, details it's key features such as wi-fi and 1ghz processor.

Open the lid and the phone is there on display.

I do like the silver/grey colour combination, looks and feels like a premium product.

The back is metal, curved to sit nicely in the hand. Sadly no flash for camera or torch use.

USB, headphone and charger ports on the top.

Memory card slot, top left hand side.

It takes a standard sized SIM card, not micro.

The rest of the box contents, manual, headset, battery & charger.

Basic headset included in the box, ok for calls and radio.

UK charger, quite a low output (450mA) for a phone with a 1320mAh battery.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Nokia Portable USB Charger DC-16 - Photo Unboxing

"Carry a power socket in your pocket". Modern smartphone batteries can be pretty poor if you use them to their full potential so it's often wise to carry a bit of extra power with you. With a holiday coming up I thought it would be wise to invest in a portable charger to help keep some of my gadgets going throughout the day. After looking around I settled on the Nokia Universal Portable USB Charger DC-16 as not only did it look good and offered a decent amount of power (2200mah) but was also priced reasonably too (£20 in UK). The DC-16 can charge any device that uses a USB cable for charging, even fussier devices that need high output chargers. Now for the pictures:

Compact classic blue box, I like the tagline "Carry a power socket in your pocket".

The colour of the charger is shown on the side, I chose cyan, again.

Rear of the box and the slide out tray.

This is it, charger, short USB cable and instruction booklets in many languages. 

At only 120mm long the DC-16 is easy to carry in the pocket or a bag.

Charger and cable together, you can use your phones cable if you need a longer one.

Putting a bit of juice into the Nokia Lumia 800.

One end has a standard USB port for connecting any USB device.

The other end has a micro USB port for charging the DC-16. The four dots are lights that show the charge level when the battery icon is pressed.

Here are the lights, they also show during charging, flashing one by one. When all stop flashing it is fully charged .

Friday, 20 April 2012

Nokia Purity In-Ear Stereo Headset - Photo Unboxing

This week I took delivery of the gorgeous looking Nokia Purity In-Ear Stereo Headset and so far i've been seriously enjoying it! Whilst i'm no audiophile and i'll never pretend to be one all I can say is they sound absolutely great to me! I can hear detail in the music that I swear i've never heard before which makes it all the more enjoyable!  The headset is produced for Nokia by Monster, full product details can be found here. Now take a look at the pictures and feel free to ask any questions in the comments section.

The outer sales package, looks good and gives a real sense that it's a quality product inside. 

The inner pack slides out from the bottom, it's held shut by a magnetic flap on the bottom.

The lovely cyan (also available in Black, White or Magenta) coloured headset is the first thing you see after opening along with the soft case.

Underneath you'll find the instruction booklet, adaptor cable and five pairs of different sized ear buds.

Close up view of the headset, the media remote works with Windows Phones like Nokia's Lumia range.

This adaptor is required if you use the headset with non Windows Phones, without this the sound may sound odd from other devices and the microphone may not work.

The bag of spare buds, five sizes ranging from very large to very small. You get two sets of the medium sized bud.

The inside of the case, enough room for the headset, the adaptor and the spare buds.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Twitter on Windows Phone - From Zero to Hero

To me one of the most important features on a modern phone is twitter, it’s right up there with the basics such as calling and texting. That being the case having a choice of good twitter apps is a must on any platform nowadays. In my relatively short time using Window Phones (WP) there’s been a lot of development in this area, to the point that I’m feeling like I’m spoilt for choice, but that wasn’t always the case.

Back in my Symbian days like many I felt forced to pay the overly high price for Gravity, which to me was the only worthwhile app that offered a full twitter experience on Symbian. In fact back at Nokia World in October 2011 I practically begged its developer to port Gravity to WP given the state of WP twitter apps back then. This has not happened but now I don’t feel it is needed, it’s missed the boat thanks to several great apps that we now have or can look forward to. Before I continue I must add that I respect Gravity for all that it did on the Symbian platform in its time, and it’s far more than just a twitter app.

My first taste of twitter on WP back in October was with the built in twitter support, whilst ok for casual users it’s not that great for heavy twitter users like myself. This led me to trying the official Twitter app which whilst looking ok it’s a bit lacking on the features and speed I wanted. I dabbled with a few others that were available at the time but was left pretty much unimpressed. Fortunately since October the twitter app scene has exploded with top quality twitter apps, many of which offer unique or fun features that set them apart from each other.

The first WP twitter app I spent quality time with was Mehdoh, it was the first twitter app I used when I got my own Nokia Lumia 800 back in early December. This gave me hope that twitter on WP could be good by giving me most of the features and speed that I wanted from a modern twitter app. Mehdoh is currently free in the marketplace with a new major version on its way that is so far looking impressive. After Mehdoh other twitter apps really raised their game and we now have several competing to be the best on the platform.


The next twitter app I spent time with was Carbon which looks wise is my favourite due to the way it displays images within the timeline. You get a large image, the width of the timeline with the text on top which to me looks great. So far it seems to be developing at quite a nice pace with more features and fixes in every release. Upcoming features include instant push notifications so that a tweet feels as instant as a text message.


The app I use mostly at the moment is rowi ever since it was updated it to version 2.0 it has become the one I absolutely love. I have to admit I wasn’t that impressed with previous versions but since the new one it’s become the premier twitter experience on WP in my opinion. Whilst not quite instant yet it already has push notifications which are a must for me sometimes. It’s fast, it’s smooth, looks great and like the others it’s easy and intuitive to use thanks to the familiar metro design elements. A free version of rowi is also available that gives you most of the great features but lacks push notifications. 


Other WP twitter apps worth checking out include: MoTweets, Gleek (which has some pretty unique/crazy features), Seesmic, Tweetcaster and Birdsong. If I’ve missed out your favourite twitter app feel free to tell us about it in the comments section, letting us know why you like it. Worthy of a special mention is Twabbit, it’s not yet available in the marketplace but it’s already showing great promise of becoming one of the best apps on the platform. It’s got the right ingredients so far, a rapid development pace, engages with its beta testers and listens to their ideas and requests. Keep your eye on the market for Twabbit, I’ve been testing it and really do like it so far.

Twabbit Beta

So to conclude I really would say that the state of twitter on WP has gone from pretty poor to possibly the best on any mobile platform in a very short space of time. This is very encouraging and really do hope it continues as it’s refreshing to see such a fast development pace. To the big twitter fans out there, get a Windows Phone and try these apps, you will not regret it.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Nokia Lumia 800 - Four Months On

It’s now been around four months since I first got my Lumia 800 and it’s been a great experience so far. Usually by now I’m desperately searching for something newer, better, faster to buy but I’m still yet to feel that. In this short period we’ve seen several software updates, tons of app updates and plenty of new apps to sink our teeth into and those are just what Nokia has given us. The pace of development really is a breath of fresh air compared to Nokia of the past, long may it continue!

In this short time the windows phone marketplace has seen so many quality additions and updates that for some things we’ve become spoilt for choice. The biggest example of this I’ve seen is with twitter apps and the overall quality of them. Back in my Symbian days the choice was pretty limited, it was either buy Gravity for a whopping £8 or make do with one of the free ones, none of which were really that good or as fully featured. On windows phone we’ve got Carbon (£1.49), Rowi (£2.29) Mehdoh (Free), Official Twitter (Free), MoTweets Pro (£1.49) all of which are being actively improved, some of which also have free ad supported versions available. These are just a few examples, there’s even more to choose from and some great ones are yet to be released on the market such as Twabbit. It’s safe to say that I have not been disappointed by the twitter experience on this platform and intend to go into more detail about twitter on windows phone in a future article.

Recently I was given a Nokia 603 to trial for two weeks and that phone really made me appreciate Nokia’s decision to switch to windows phone for its primary operating system. Like many I was against the switch at first but after spending time with the Symbian again I can safely say I was wrong and Nokia was right. The selection of apps, the awful text input, the slow speed the dated look of much of the OS and apps really made me dislike the device to the point that made me wonder why I ever loved Symbian.

As a whole package I’ve found the Lumia 800 to be truly great, it just works which is really important to me. Rarely does it crash, reboot for no apparent reason or lag which makes it very pleasant to use. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a phone that was this stable and this gives me great expectations for future Nokia windows phone devices. After Nokia’s recent announcement of the Symbian based 808 PureView with its amazing 41mp camera I’m eagerly awaiting a PureView windows phone to be announced, it really could be the phone of my dreams.

So that’s another fun and smooth stint with the Lumia 800 for me, will I still have a Lumia in another two months time? I think the answer to that is a massive yes and even though I’m tempted by the bigger Lumia 900 I am still very happy with its little brother.

This article is also available on

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Guide: How to get the latest Lumia 800 update now.

Waiting for updates to be released can be annoying and like many when I heard about the new update I instantly wanted it. Fortunately there is a way and hopefully by following this guide you'll be able to get it as quickly as I did. This guide is for the Lumia 800 1600.2487.8107.12070 update but it can be adapted for other updates if you have the necessary update files.

Disclaimer: Following this procedure is entirely at your own risk, neither I, Nokia Inspired or it's owners accept any liability or responsibility for any failures, undesirable results, data loss, loss of warranty or damage to the device. The information contained within this guide and the tools to carry out the procedure have been collected from forum posts made on the XDA Forums.

This guide is based on carrying out the procedure using Windows 7, it may be possible to do it on other operating systems, please see the source link at the end of the article for more information. What you will need (click the links to download the software):

The latest version of Zune.
The WP7 update tool.
The WP7 update cab sender tool.
The software update file.
Software capable of opening .rar files.

1. Make sure Zune is installed and working correctly with your phone. You must have it set so that it's the primary sync relationship, if the sync relationship is set to guest mode the update will not work.

2. Double click on the WP7 update tool, inside you'll find two versions, x64 is for 64bit versions of windows, X86 is for 32bit versions of windows. To check which version you have click your windows start button, right click the  "computer" button, select "properties" and you'll find the information in there.  Now you know your version open the correct folder and you'll find a file called "Setup-UpdateWP-Xxx.exe", run this file and it will install itself. You'll see it start to install then disappear, that is normal.

3. Extract the contents of the file to an empty folder on your PC, you'll see two folders and a batch file "Wp7 Update Cab Sender".

4. Copy the software update .cab file you downloaded to the same folder as the batch file, this is important. Do not extract the contents of the .cab file.

5. Connect your phone to the PC, allow it to sync with Zune as normal, then close Zune leaving the phone connected.

6. Run the "Wp7 Update Cab Sender" batch file and you'll see a DOS style text window asking you to select a letter. To start the procedure press the letter "S". Do not close the text window, as it shows you the progress of the procedure or any warnings. Do not disconnect your phone until it is up and running again.

7. Sit back and watch as the progress is updated in that window, first the phone will reboot then it will display an updating screen. After a while a white bar will start to move across the screen showing the progress, when it's finished the phone will reboot. From sending the cab file to the phone to the procedure completing it takes around 10 minutes. When the phone reboots it will tell you that the update completed successfully, now enjoy your freshly updated phone!

You should find that your phone updated without any loss of data at all and that it is still the correct regional version. I do not believe that this procedure voids the warranty, but I cannot guarantee that. No carrier branded is added or removed by using this update.


Source and thanks to: XDA Forums

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Nokia Lumia 800 - Two Months On

Little over two months have passed since I started using the Nokia Lumia 800 so it’s about time I wrote a follow up to my previous article. Usually I’m the kind of person that gets bored with a phone very quickly or starts to get annoyed when little issues start stacking up, fortunately this isn’t the case with this phone.

It’s been quite an interesting learning experience with the Lumia getting to know it’s features and foibles and have extremely enjoyed it. I can safely say now that it’s the phone I’ve enjoyed the most in recent years and hope to continue using the Windows Phone (WP) operating systems on Nokia hardware for the foreseeable future.  In recent years I’ve tried Meego, Symbian, Android (eclair-honeycomb), iOS and found that WP suits me the best overall. Many throw complaints at WP saying it’s missing this or lacking that but I’d say it’s better than the sum of its parts and has a great future ahead of it.

The single most stand-out feature for me is still the speed, everything is just so quick and responsive which really does make the user experience enjoyable. I believe it’s this that’s responsible for why I feel so positively about the device after extended use. I used to be a fan of multiple home screens but now when going back to devices with them they just seem cluttered, guess I’ve become a fan of the minimalistic metro design on WP without realising it. I really do love how the design is used on many apps too, makes them instantly recognisable and easy to use.

Most of my gripes still stand but they've faded and I’m enjoying the positives that the Lumia has to over way more than the negatives.  Since my last article a major update was released and I now get improved battery life which is always a bonus! Hopefully we’ll see more tweaks and fixes from both Nokia and Microsoft to make the Lumia even better. The only app that’s really given me any trouble is spotify, it can be quite unstable at times and is in need of a major update, hope this happens soon.

I’ve given the camera quite a work out over the last couple of months and whilst not the best it’s certainly possible to get some good results from it, you can find some samples lower down. It’s been enjoyable using silly apps such as face swap and face mask too, great for having a bit of harmless fun at others expense!

After two months would I still recommend the Lumia 800 to friends and family? The answer is still a massive YES! In fact one of my work mates recently bought one and loves it, says it’s her best phone ever. Many others I’ve shown it to like it and would consider it, or its successor when their contract is due for renewal.  Me, I’ll be sticking with it until Nokia release a Lumia with a truly N8 beating camera comes along!

Testing out the macro mode using lego, that was my excuse anyway!

Don't ask, all good fun ;)

Our rabbit, "Rocket" digging in the snow, loves the stuff!

Fat cat "Robbie" taking over the sofa as usual.

Early cold morning walk.

Late afternoon stroll past the reservoir. 

Monday, 16 January 2012

Nokia CC-1031 Lumia 800 Soft Case Review

It's great that Nokia gives us a free case in the box with the Lumia 800 but what if you fancy something a bit more colourful? If that's you then you will want to check out Nokia's range of coloured cases.

Many people that have already purchased the Nokia Lumia 800 will be familiar with this case as it's identical to the one included in the box, except that this one is red.

The soft cases offer better protection than the hard CC-3032 case that I recently reviewed plus you get the reassurance that they are easier to grip and harder to drop.  The downside is that more of the phone is covered so less of the Lumia 800's beautiful design can be seen. It's hard to show on pictures but the colours used on these cases really are striking, bright but also deep and have a real quality look to them.  After normal usage picking up normal dirt and grease the colours do start to fade but a quick clean and they are back to looking their best again.

I would strongly recommend these cases to anyone that likes the case included with the Lumia 800 but would prefer a splash of colour to make their phone stand out in the crowd. I purchased my red case from amazon for just under £10, other colours are available such as green, cyan, magenta and black.  There's also a white version of the case but at the moment they seem to be limited to promotional packs that some retailers are giving away with the Lumia 800.

Any questions about the case? Feel free to leave them in the comments section below the images.