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Editorial: Windows Phone 8 looks good, but can it uproot those entrenched in other ecosystems?

Editorial Windows Phone 8 looks good, but can it uproot those entrenched in other ecosystems

At the tail end of Microsoft's marathon Windows Phone Summit keynote, the company's own Kevin Gallo said the following: "Everyone in the Windows ecosystem benefits." He was waxing poetic about the myriad new features coming to the outfit's latest and greatest mobile operating system, and nothing about his quote was incorrect. Developers will adore the shared codebase. Users will adore the new additions to the software framework. Carriers probably won't shun the opportunity to push yet another platform this holiday season. But the one word in there that sticks out most to me is this: "Windows."

I've been wrestling with the ecosystem issue for some time, but the gravity of it has never been so evident. Starting in 2008, one could argue that it stopped being purely about hardware. Purely about design. Purely about software. Purely about partnerships. Particularly when it came to smartphones. Slate-style handsets were en vogue years ago, with design changing extremely little and software becoming ever more of a factor. But it wasn't just software in the simplest sense -- it was how the software was interconnected to every other piece of the digital ecosystem. Phones were no longer standalone devices; they were simply the most convenient entry into a rabbit hole that Microsoft's going to have a tough time digging people out of. Allow me to explain.

Continue reading Editorial: Windows Phone 8 looks good, but can it uproot those entrenched in other ecosystems?

Editorial: Windows Phone 8 looks good, but can it uproot those entrenched in other ecosystems? originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 21 Jun 2012 12:15:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Darren Murph

June 21st

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Editorial: Windows Phone 8 looks good, but can it uproot those entrenched in other ecosystems?

Editorial Windows Phone 8 looks good, but can it uproot those entrenched in other ecosystems

At the tail end of Microsoft's marathon Windows Phone Summit keynote, the company's own Kevin Gallo said the following: "Everyone in the Windows ecosystem benefits." He was waxing poetic about the myriad new features coming to the outfit's latest and greatest mobile operating system, and nothing about his quote was incorrect. Developers will adore the shared codebase. Users will adore the new additions to the software framework. Carriers probably won't shun the opportunity to push yet another platform this holiday season. But the one word in there that sticks out most to me is this: "Windows."

I've been wrestling with the ecosystem issue for some time, but the gravity of it has never been so evident. Starting in 2008, one could argue that it stopped being purely about hardware. Purely about design. Purely about software. Purely about partnerships. Particularly when it came to smartphones. Slate-style handsets were en vogue years ago, with design changing extremely little and software becoming ever more of a factor. But it wasn't just software in the simplest sense -- it was how the software was interconnected to every other piece of the digital ecosystem. Phones were no longer standalone devices; they were simply the most convenient entry into a rabbit hole that Microsoft's going to have a tough time digging people out of. Allow me to explain.

Continue reading Editorial: Windows Phone 8 looks good, but can it uproot those entrenched in other ecosystems?

Editorial: Windows Phone 8 looks good, but can it uproot those entrenched in other ecosystems? originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 21 Jun 2012 12:15:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Darren Murph

June 21st

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Samsung’s SGH-i667 ‘Mandel’ Windows Phone: surprise, it’s the Focus 2

samsung mandel focus 2 windows phone at&t

Mystery, solved. That SGH-i667 'Mandel' Windows Phone that cropped up earlier in the month (and is shown above on the left)? Word on the street at that point was that it had been nixed from AT&T's lineup, but somehow, that same device actually made the trip to New Orleans. Sure enough, it debuted at CTIA as the Focus 2, a mid-range followup phone that's destined to tempt smartphone buyers to the WP7 side with a rock-bottom $50-on-contract price point. Hard to say if Samsung and AT&T mutually decided to carry through with launch plans after initially spiking 'em (or if that intel was just wrong to begin with), but we can think of it least one recently-canned phone that's hoping it's the former.

Samsung's SGH-i667 'Mandel' Windows Phone: surprise, it's the Focus 2 originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 09 May 2012 17:59:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Darren Murph

May 9th

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Conflicting reports question Windows Phone 8 upgrade plans

Following reports of a Windows Phone developer evangelist claiming that every Windows Phone 7.5 device currently on the market will receive an upgrade to Microsoft’s next-generation Windows Phone 8 operating system, doubt has been cast over the accuracy of his claims. In an interview with Portuguese technology news site Zwame, Microsoft developer evangelist Nuno Silva stated that all current devices would eventually be updated to the ”next major version” of Microsoft’s mobile platform. A subsequent report from The Verge contradicts Silva’s claims, however, and cites an anonymous source in stating that devices running Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” will not be upgraded to Windows Phone 8 “Apollo.” Microsoft would not clarify its upgrade plans. ”We have stated publicly that all apps in our Marketplace today will run on the next version of Windows Phone,” a Microsoft spokesperson said. “Beyond that, we have nothing to share about future releases.”

Read [Zwame] Read [The Verge]

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Zach Epstein

April 18th

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Windows Phone 8 reportedly coming to ‘all’ WP smartphones (updated)

nokia windows phone

We've heard it rumored, but this is as close to an official confirmation as we've seen. Windows Phone 8, affectionately known as Apollo 'round these parts, will reportedly be available on every single Windows Phone device to ever ship. Let that sink in a second. Now that you've been appropriately wowed, we'll point you to the video just after the break, which shows a Microsoft spokesperson affirming that "all" devices -- including those first-generation handsets from LG and Samsung -- will be included in the WP8 rollout. No details regarding timing were revealed -- and it remains to be seen if this will prove true in the States, where carriers have just as much say on updates as the OEMs -- but you can consider us cautiously optimistic in the meantime.

Update: Hard to say if wires have been crossed, but The Verge is reporting that while apps are included in the upgrade path, the spokesperson here may have been incorrect in his assumptions that devices will be upgraded in due time. At this point, we're left to wait for Microsoft to clear things up. So, Microsoft -- care to clarify?

Continue reading Windows Phone 8 reportedly coming to 'all' WP smartphones (updated)

Windows Phone 8 reportedly coming to 'all' WP smartphones (updated) originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 17 Apr 2012 19:17:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Darren Murph

April 17th

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Nokia Drive gets full offline access, Maps / Transport also updated

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For the smattering of hardcore argonauts on staff here at Engadget (guilty as charged), we've clung tightly to Android when it came time to navigate on the move. Why? Google Maps Navigation, that's why. To date, there's simply no better all-around navigational app from a global perspective -- one that gets updated daily in the cloud gratis, and one that provides at least basic roadways in pretty much every nation that's fit to visit. Slowly but surely, Nokia and Windows Phone have been building a formidable opponent, and today's updates to Nokia's trifecta of navigational tools might be just the thing Google loyalists needed to cast a glance in Microsoft's direction.

For starters, Nokia Drive is seeing a monumental update -- one that supports a completely offline experience. Anyone who has traveled overseas and been forced to find a local SIM (or worse, eat roaming charges) in order to navigate understands just how crucial this addition is, and we're hoping that Nokia's inclusion will force Google to take its own offline offering to the next level. Moving right along, Nokia Maps has seen an update that makes sharing favorites a bit easier, and you'll also get live traffic in a slew of countries. Public commuters will appreciate the overhauled Transport app, which is now capable of providing walking / mass transit directions for over 510 cities in 46 countries. The new kit is available in the Windows Phone Marketplace today for those lucky enough to own a Lumia.

Nokia Drive gets full offline access, Maps / Transport also updated originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 20 Mar 2012 16:54:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Darren Murph

March 20th

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AT&T’s Nokia Lumia 900 launch delayed, now set to debut on April 22nd for $99.99

BGR exclusively reported this past January that the Nokia Lumia 900 will retail for a mind-blowing $99.99 with two-year agreement when it launches on AT&T. We also reported that the sleek smartphone was slated for a March 18th release, but we noted that the Lumia 900 hadn’t yet received technical acceptance so the launch date could slide. We have now been told by a trusted source that the launch has indeed been delayed, and AT&T is now aiming to make the Lumia 900 available online and in stores on April 22nd. The handset’s amazing price point remains unchanged, however, so Windows Phone fans can look forward to seeing Nokia’s flagship smartphone launch next month for less than $100.

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Jonathan S. Geller

March 9th

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Here’s What Won’t Work in Cheaper Windows Phones [Windows Phone]

They good news: Microsoft is loosening its strict spec standards to push some highly affordable Windows Phones to the market. The bad news? Those phones are going to be gimpy little crud boxes. But hey, that's compromise. More »


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Brian Barrett

March 8th

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Nokia clarifies battery update on Lumia 800, promises audio / camera fixes soon

Nokia already came clean about the Lumia 800 battery bug, but evidently that just wasn't enough to appease the masses. A community manager in the outfit's own forums has just responded to pages upon pages of comments regarding the most recent update, partly to (re)set the record straight regarding the battery, and partly to address more fixes that are just around the bend. The latest update (1600.2483.8106.11500) was meant to "enhance standby time as well as to bring an improvement to the issue reported by some customers in December," and according to Nokia, said update does indeed address those problems. However, folks that still have concerns regarding audio and camera settings aren't being ignored; those quirks will be worked out in "a series of future updates." Eager to learn more? The full reply is embedded just after the break.

Continue reading Nokia clarifies battery update on Lumia 800, promises audio / camera fixes soon

Nokia clarifies battery update on Lumia 800, promises audio / camera fixes soon originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 29 Jan 2012 14:12:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Darren Murph

January 29th

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Nokia Lumia 710 review

Nokia Lumia 710 Review

Nokia proved it was back in the smartphone game when it launched the Lumia 800 last year. But can its Lumia 710 gain the attention of U.S. consumers? Many would argue that Nokia should have decided to launch the Lumia 800 to make a bigger splash in a market that has long forgotten the Finnish smartphone maker. But the Lumia 710 is affordable — it only costs $50 with a new two-year contract — and it’s also powerful. It’s not as feature-rich as the Lumia 800, but can it still compete with other smartphones in its price range? My full review follows after the break.


Hardware

The Lumia 710 looks and feels like a decent device. The back cover is plastic but it has a nice soft-touch rubber feel and the entire face is glossy black, although a white version is also available from T-Mobile. There are three hardware buttons below the phone’s 3.7-inch display, which actually isn’t that impressive. While the curved glass AMOLED ClearBlack display on the Lumia 800 was very impressive, the standard ClearBlack display on T-Mobile’s Lumia 710 is not. Colors are washed out and the brightness is not where it needs to be, but this was likely required in order to keep the cost of the phone down.

The volume controls and a camera quick-launch key are in easy reach on the right side of the phone and there is a power button, a microUSB port and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top of the device. The back is home to a 5-megapixel camera and a single LED flash.

Under its hood, the Lumia 710 is powered by a 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and is equipped with 512MB of RAM, a 1,300 mAh battery and 8GB of storage. As is typical with other Windows Phone 7.5 devices, you can’t add more storage using a microSD card, which is unfortunate if you’re like me and prefer a phone with a bit more memory.

Like the iPhone 4S and the Lumia 800, the Lumia 710 uses a microSIM card that pops in under the battery as opposed to on the top of the device, as it does on the Lumia 800.

While it’s far from a deal-breaker, the most upsetting point about the hardware is that T-Mobile decided not to offer the device in the various colors that are available on international carriers. I think Nokia really could have turned heads if it launched a yellow, pink, green or blue Lumia 710 in the United States, but instead the Lumia 710 will sit camouflaged on store shelves next to other black and white smartphones.

Software

The Lumia 710 runs Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango), Microsoft’s latest mobile operating system. I wrote about Windows Phone 7.5 in great detail in September when it launched, so we’ll stick to discussing what Nokia has done to the phone.

Nokia, unlike other manufacturers, has an agreement with Microsoft that allows it to customize the phone in a number of ways. You won’t find anything intrusive, but Nokia did add its own free GPS navigation software and its own Nokia Maps application, which I like better than Bing Maps. It’s not incredibly accurate, however. A search by name for a bar a block away from me didn’t turn up any results, for example.

As I said in my aforementioned overview of Windows Phone 7.5, I really, really love the Windows Phone 7.5 operating system. It’s one of the cleanest and most intuitive mobile operating systems on the market today, and for that reason it should be a top choice for first-time smartphone buyers or anyone who wants the functionality of a smartphone without complicated menus or settings.

I love the live tiles on the home screen as well, specifically how foursquare shows the leaderboard and how my avatar jumps around the Xbox Live tile. I also enjoy the fluidity and speed of the entire OS. My biggest gripe overall is that there’s a lack of applications for Windows Phone right now, but the Windows Phone Marketplace is growing every day and recently just surpassed the 50,000-app milestone.

Camera

The Lumia 710 packs a 5-megapixel camera and it’s not the greatest sensor I’ve used. The pictures were mediocre at best and not near as good as the shots we snapped with the Lumia 800, which has an 8-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics. The camera is capable of recording 720p HD video and it was satisfactory. There was a bit of blurriness from time to time, but otherwise it was OK. The device also lacks a front-facing camera for video chat, which is supported on other Windows Phone 7.5 phones such as the Samsung Focus S, Samsung Focus Flash and HTC Titan.

Call Quality / Data

The Lumia 710 supports T-Mobile’s 14.4Mbps HSPA+ “4G” network in the United States. Data speeds were decent in New York City, but they were nothing compared to AT&T or Verizon’s 4G LTE networks. Using the http://dslreports.com/mspeed speed test, my download speeds averaged between 1.1 Mbps and 1.26 Mbps with the device reporting a full signal. That’s on a par with most 3G networks.

Calls placed on the Lumia 710 were pretty solid in New York City. I wasn’t blown away by the call quality, but I didn’t have any real problems with it either. The speakers were satisfactory during a phone call with the speakerphone turned on, but my caller could easily tell when I was using speakerphone.

Battery

Windows Phone 7.5 has been praised for its solid battery life in the past and the Lumia 710 wasn’t an exception. It’s equipped with a 1,300 mAh battery, which is a bit smaller than the 1,450 mAh battery inside the Lumia 800, but it lasted two full days with moderate usage and was able to idle for many more. Overall, I’m impressed with the battery life and think it’s better than most smartphones on the market today.

Conclusion

The Lumia 710 isn’t as exciting as its big brother, the Lumia 800. Nokia announced a flagship device that is, in many ways, a game changer for the company moving forward. And yet even still, T-Mobile decided to launch the company’s lower end device, which surely won’t turn as many heads. Worse, it decided to launch the phone without a wide color selection that could have made the device stand out more in public. It just seems like Nokia and T-Mobile missed an opportunity to really hit the U.S. market with a bang, but perhaps Verizon Wireless or AT&T will do that with Nokia’s expected 4G LTE device.

No, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the Lumia 710. It offers decent battery life, fair data speeds and a really solid hardware design. In fact, even its letdowns are justified by its affordable $50 price point, and the Lumia 710 is absolutely not aimed at seasoned smartphone users. Instead, this phone is aimed squarely at feature phone users that T-Mobile hopes to turn into smartphone owners. The handset is reliable and easy-to-use, and I highly recommend the Lumia 710 to first-time smartphone buyers.

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Todd Haselton

January 5th

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