Nokia Lumia 920 low light performance

The kids were watching “The Grinch who stole Christmas”.  I took a pic with my work Nokia Lumia 920 phone.  I also took a pic with my Samsung Galaxy II (AT&T SkyRocket).  Both are 8MP cameras (technically the Lumia is an 8.7MP).  I didn’t enhance either picture.  I am also showing what gets uploaded automatically – Skydrive for the Nokia Windows Phone 8 and Google+ for the Android.

IMHO the Nokia blows the Samsung out of the water.  I didn’t use a flash on either picture.

Nokia Lumia 920 pic

Samsung Galaxy II (SkyRocket) pic

Which mobile device is right for me?

Due to the nature of my work (IT Systems Engineer) and being the “mobile device guy” (BES admin, etc) I often get asked, “I am looking into buying a new phone. Which mobile device is right for me?”. “Well it depends”, is what I usually say.

If you saw my previous post, I carry around four mobile phones (plus I have an iPad). I have ready access to a blackberry 9700, an iPhone 4, WP7 (Samsung Focus), and an Android (Samsung Infuse). When I show people the different phones, they usually ask, “Which is your favorite?” This is the point where my likes might not be the same as the person asking. I am a geek at heart and like messing around with gadgets, so my take on things might be different than someone who just wants their phone to work without much fuss.

Here in no particular order are the pluses and minuses of the different phones. I am not breaking down every single detail of each type of phone OS/device. I am just hitting the high points.

iPhone :

+’s

· Lots of polished apps

· Great camera*

· For the most part it just works

· Pretty good phone sound quality

· Lots of peripherals

-‘s

A little restrictive (for example, try adding a custom alert tone like you can do on most any other phone).

Personal preference, but current hardware is not that great considering you need a cover to prevent the “death grip” reception issue. Also the phone is made with glass that is on the front and back making it easy to drop and crack. Plan on getting a case for the phone.

Lousy camera*

Recommendation:

If you are a diehard Mac fan, this is your phone. If you want a phone that pretty much works like you want it to, again this is your phone. If you like to “hack” your phone, you can always jailbreak it, but this will void your warranty. Why is “camera” listed as both a plus and a minus? The phone sensor is actually really good and takes crisp, clear pictures, but at the same time, it oversaturates the photos which is to me something that should be left to post processing a pic in say Light Room or another photo manipulation application.

Blackberry:

+’s

· Great physical keyboard (if you are into that sort of thing)

· Great messaging device

· Great phone sound quality

· Great reception

-‘s

· Applications aren’t that good and can be a bit expensive compared to the other manufactures

· Phones tend to be on the smaller side which makes the screen kind of tiny and hard to read

· RIM seems to be out of touch with its users and not really innovating for the consumer market

Recommendation:

If all you do is use your phone as a phone and/or for messaging purposes and don’t mind a smaller screen, then this is your phone. Most of the major apps like Facebook and Twitter are available and work ok, but honestly they aren’t nearly as polished as say the iPhone version of the application.  If a physical keyboard is a necessity, you can’t beat the keyboard on most blackberries especially their newer high end models like the Bold series, and the Torch.

WP7:

+’s

· Fast user interface (UI)

· Simple UI

· No crashes

-‘s

· Not as many apps as iPhone and Android

· Not as many phones to choose from compared to Android. For example at the time I am writing this there is only one WP7 phone on Verizon while there are over a dozen Android devices again on Verizon.

Recommendation:

WP7 is not like the older Windows Mobile OS that you might have remembered from a few years ago. It is a complete rewrite. Now that is a good thing and a bad thing. Good because they are getting rid of all the old code and starting over fresh. Bad because all the old apps no longer work and have to be rewritten. Right now there are close to 25,000 apps in the Windows Marketplace with the majority of the well known apps being there. The WP7 is a good OS for an OS that has only been around for less than 9 months.

Android:

+’s

· Plenty of devices to choose from on most carriers

· Lots of apps

· Customizable

-‘s

· Crash prone

· Malware, viruses on the upswing

Recommendation:

Google Android devices are currently the number one selling mobile phone. Many different companies make the devices and they are available on almost all of the carriers. If you like “hacking” your PC with different skins and launchers and what not, then Android is the mobile OS for you as you can hack it any which way you want.

Well Brady, this is all well and good, but if it was your money, what would YOU buy?

Ok, this is usually the second question I am asked after which device someone should buy.

First, I am not a big gaming fan especially on my phone. The screens are just too small and well I am 43 years old and not into gaming like I used to be ;-). I like to play the occasional game of “Go”, but that is about it. I also don’t browse the web that much on my phone. What I do care more about is email, text, phone sound quality, a good camera (like they say, the best camera in the world is the one you have with you and most people have their cell phone with them all of the time), and a few select apps.

I don’t care for Android as it crashes and locks up quite a lot. I shouldn’t have to hack my phone (“root it”), just to make the GPS, wifi, etc work properly. Also the UI is an absolute mess.

iPhones are a good phone, but they are too restrictive. If you want to change your alert tone, you had better like the built in selection because that is all you are going to get. To me it is just too much of a controlled environment.

Blackberry is a pretty decent phone, but it lacks a few apps that I like to use. For example I like going geocaching, but the geocaching app isn’t available for blackberry. Blackberry does a good job with every other function that I look for in a phone. I am looking forward when RIM releases their QNX based phones (maybe by this time next year).

This leaves WP7. My next phone will more than likely be a WP7 device. I really like the UI and the speed. They have all of the apps I need and email on the device works great. I think Microsoft is in this game for the long haul and have committed to a minimum of five years to the launch of the new mobile platform. From what I understand developing for the WP7 platform is relatively easy which should help increase the amount of apps available.

Summary:

In the end when purchasing a mobile phone is personal decision based on many factors like cost, performance, carrier choice, etc.  What is the best phone for one person might be the worst for another.  At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself what do you see yourself using the device for the most and make sure that the device you are purchasing is tops in that category.

 

 

 

 

 

Too many phones

I think I have too many phones to lug around in my “man bag”. 

From left to right:

iPhone 4 with Mophie Juice Pack, HTC Thunderbolt, Samsung Focus, Blackberry 9700

DSC_1111

 

The iPhone is mine.  The Thunderbolt (Android OS) is on loan from the nice folks at Verizon.  I should be getting one permanently soon though.  The Focus is my Windows Phone 7 test device for work.  The blackberry is also for work as I am the “BES” admin.

Technology: Still amazed by it

While at work today I attended an "All Hands IT Meeting".  During the meeting a picture came up on the overhead in a PowerPoint slide that looked kind of like San Francisco.  The picture looked like you were standing on Jefferson or Beach Street and looking West up towards Ghirardelli Square.  Kind of bored and not being one to let things go, I quickly logged onto my iphone and brought up the Google Mobile app:   http://goo.gl/eO3q.  I took a picture of the PowerPoint slide and let the Google Mobile app do its thing.  Now understand I snapped the pic very quickly and was quite a distance from the wall that the PowerPoint was being projected onto.  There were also people in the way, so again this wasn’t the best of situations.

Once the Google App finished, it came up with a link:  http://goo.gl/QtkP2.  The shot I was looking for was in the “Images for traffic at night” link at the top of the results page:  http://goo.gl/lYRTo.   I clicked on that picture and found out that it was a picture of “Harrogate town centre”.  Realizing that it wasn’t a picture of San Francisco, I selected the text and copied and pasted it into the Google search engine.  I learned that this picture was actually in Harrogate, North Yorkshire England (if I had been more observant, I would have noticed the cars headlight trails were on the “wrong side” of the street.  Duh).  I then saved that Google link into another app called “Read it Later”:  http://goo.gl/KsDm.  When I got home at night, I did some reading about the area and learned something about Harrogate England.

This sequence of events utterly amazes me that things like this are possible.  I work around technology all day and stuff like this keeps me energized with the type of work I do.

Mophie juice pack air for iphone 4 review

I was asked if I wanted to test an extended battery pack for iphone 4’s that we might deploy to our iphone fleet at work especially field support people who are on the go a lot.  Test…cool…gadget….hmmmm…Where do I sign up?  Winking smile

The test unit is a Mophie juice pack air for iphone 4.  The device looks like a plain phone case but actually has a 1500mAh battery inside of it (there is also a 2000mAh model available called the juice pack plus).  The standard iphone 4 battery utilizes a 1420mAh battery.  So, technically this battery pack should double my phone’s lifespan between charges.

Looks:

The case comes in two pieces.  The larger piece which contains the battery has a bypass switch on it which allows you to draw from the Mophie juice air battery or the iphone’s internal battery.  There are 5 white LED charge lights on the bottom with accompanying button that when pressed shows the battery strength.  There is a micro USB connection port that allows the device to be charged and sync with a computer via itunes.  There is no need for disassembly of the case to sync and charge both the phone and the battery in the case.  Once the iphone slides into the bottom piece and mates up with the connector that looks like the connector on a standard iphone/ipad/itouch cable, you can then slide the top piece down to cover the top of the iphone. The two pieces come together slightly past a third of the way down from the top of the iphone.

The sides on my juice pack are silver and the back is a matte black.  There are also two other back colors available (red and white).  The back part of the juice pack is a rubbery material that provides some tactile support to help you keep from dropping the phone.

There are cutout slots in the case for the volume controls, mute switch, power button, headphone jack/upper mic, and the camera on the back.

The Good:

The most important question here is does the juice pack well, deliver the juice?  In my testing, the device almost but not quite doubled my battery life.  Normally after a full day of use, my battery is around 50% used up.  I typically have all the antennas on, (3G, GPS, bluetooth, and wifi).  With the mophie juice pack, it doesn’t kick over to the internal battery on my phone until around four in the afternoon.  Realistically, if I pushed it, I probably could get a day and a half of usability from the combination of internal phone battery and the Mophie juice pack.  The documentation says you should get ~500 FULL charges out of the juice pack.  Three recharges of the juice pack while it was at 1/3 battery battery strength counts as one full charge.

The styling is quite nice.  I like the rubberized back on the device.  The juice pack adds about 1cm of length to the phone which isn’t too bad although there is a downside to this as you will see below.  Additionally the back on the juice pack adds about another 5mm of depth to the phone back which isn’t too bad.

I really like how you can charge and sync the device with a micro USB cable.  I have plenty of those floating around from other devices and this makes it easier to sync and charge the device.  I have never liked the proprietary iphone connection cable.

The Bad:

As mentioned above, the length of the juice pack is only increased about 1cm, but that seems to be enough to make the balance of the device “off” in your hand.  When you hold the phone with the juice pack on it, it feels like it going to tip over the top of your hand (and I have fairly large hands).  It isn’t that bad, but it is noticeable.

The phone becomes big enough with the juice pack installed that getting it in and out of jeans pockets takes a little more work.  Again, it isn’t too bad, but those of you wearing tight “lawmen” jeans might want to think twice about getting this battery pack/case.

I wish the case had some sort of latching mechanism for where the two parts of the case come together.  I don’t think it is too big of an issue, but I have already pulled the top piece of the case off pulling the phone out of my pocket.

I would be a little concerned dropping my phone with the juice pack attached to it.  I think my phone would be ok, but I don’t think the juice pack would survive the fall.  With the weight of the phone plus the battery pack and the fact that the silvery band around the case is just colored plastic, I have a sneaking suspicion that it would break quite easily.

There is a very slight degradation in voice quality due to the ports used in the bottom of the juice pack that funnel the speaker sounds up and through it.  Also, callers reported they can hear something when I got a text or email notification and my phone was set to vibrate.  The vibration through the juice pack could be heard according to callers.

The Ugly:

The price.  The list price on the Mophie website is $79.95 at the time of writing.  That is a bit spendy for my tastes.  If it were say $50, I think this would be a much more reasonable price.

Verdict:

If you are looking for a nice extended battery for your iphone 4 and money isn’t an object, I recommend the Mophie juice pack air.  It pretty much doubles your iphone 4’s battery life, it is built well, and it looks great.

******* 7/10 stars

Some pics:  (Note, the LED’s aren’t on all of the time.  I just turned them on to show what they look like)

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