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Thinking of a Nokia Astound? Visit your local T-Mobile store

I was chatting with Dieter and told him I was quite pleased with the short time I spent with the Nokia Astound and that I was thinking of picking one up for the site. He gave me the thumbs up and was going to get one for me to use, but I decided to just visit a local store to see what I could work out with the expectation I would pay the full $299.99 (before 9.5% tax) no contract price. I went to my local T-Mobile store in Federal Way and was shocked by what happened next.

I went into the store and there were six employees standing around with only one other customer being helped. Richard asked me kindly what I would like and I told him I wanted to buy a Nokia Astound off contract. He told me they had them in stock and he would see what he could do for me. He said he thought he could work out something in the system because there were some special offers on accessories. After logging into the system and trying some different things, he worked out a deal where he was able to give me the following gear and still cut my total price out the door to $255.08 that included the 9.5% sales tax.

Thinking of a Nokia Astound? Visit your local T-Mobile store

  • Nokia Astound (shown as only $99.99 on the receipt)
  • Jabra Stone 2 Bluetooth headset ($129.99 down to $90.99)
  • MicroUSB car charger ($29.99 down to $20.99)
  • Nokia Astound 2-pack screen protector ($14.99 down to $10.49)
  • Nokia Astound black gel skin case ($14.99 down to $10.49)

I was amazed by what he was able to get for me while still saving me just over $73. My account stayed the same, my excellent family plan remained untouched, and I ended up saving money and walking out with some great accessories. If my head wasn’t lost in the clouds as he was handing me all this gear I would have asked for a 32GB microSD card instead of the Bluetooth headset since I need those more than headsets.

If you are considering the Nokia Astound, you may want to visit your local store and see if they have any special offers for you as well. Richard mentioned that the future AT&T purchase had something to do with his ability to offer me all of these accessories and knock a couple hundred off of the phone price too.

I put my SIM card into my new Nokia Astound and plan to use it as my primary device for a while and create a Guide page for the site. I already like that I can use Swype in portrait orientation and the email client is MUCH better!

SugarSync for Symbian review posted on Ovi Daily App

SugarSync for Symbian review posted on Ovi Daily AppI previously mentioned that Nokia asked me to work with them on five reviews for the Ovi Daily Apps site and I wanted to let you all know they posted my review of SugarSync for Symbian this morning. This is a review I have been meaning to write here for quite some time because I have checked out most every cloud sync/storage solution and found SugarSync to be the best, especially for multi-platform guys like myself.

As you can read in my review, SugarSync is available for S60 3rd Edition, 5th Edition, and Symbian^3 devices. You get a whopping 5GB for free with other storage capacities available at reasonable rates. I hope they eventually add streaming capability of music like they do on other platforms, but just having access to files and the ability to get to them from my Nokia N8 is valuable to me. You can’t go wrong giving it a try for free.

Nokia Astound review: Best value smartphone available in the U.S.

I have had a Nokia N8 (see my Definitive Guide) since November 2010 and overall I am pleased with the device. The last Nokia device to launch on a U.S. carrier was the E73 Mode with T-Mobile and they continue to add Nokia devices to their collection with the new Nokia Astound. The Astound is a Nokia C7 with improvements not seen in any other C7 device while only selling for subsidized price of $79.99. The full no contract price is just $299.99 and both of these amounts are great deals IMHO.

Improvements in the Nokia Astound compared to the N8

Dieter took a look at the Nokia Astound at CTIA last month and I recently received an evaluation unit as well. While I do enjoy my Nokia N8, I am not pleased that it launched without a portrait QWERTY keyboard and with a rather lame web browser and it is taking too long to get updated. The Nokia Astound launches with a newer version of the Symbian software that includes the following:
  • Portrait QWERTY keyboard
  • Improved icons
  • Much better email client

In the box

The Nokia Astound comes in a typical T-Mobile package rather than the sleek Nokia packages I have been used to lately when buying Nokia devices outside the carrier. You will find the following inside the retail box:
  • Nokia Astound
  • Battery & charger
  • Wired stereo headset
  • USB data cable
  • Start Guide
  • SIM card
  • Terms and conditions pamphlet
You won’t find all those great goodies that were in the N8 box (USB on-the-go and HDMI cable), but this device sells for a low price for a reason.

Specifications

  • ARM 11 600 MHz processor
  • Symbian^3 software
  • Quad band GSM/EDGE with 850/900/1800/1900 MHz support
  • Quad band WCDMA with 850/900/1700/2100 MHz support
  • 3.5 inch 360×640 pixel resolution AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass
  • 250 MB of free user disk space
  • 8GB internal memory
  • microSD card slot for expanded memory
  • 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • Integrated GPS with A-GPS
  • Integrated FM radio with RDS
  • FM transmitter
  • NFC wireless technology
  • 8 megapixel camera with 3rd generation dual LED flash
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • BL-5K 1200 mAh battery
  • Dimensions of 4.6 x 2.2 x 0.38 inches and 4.4 ounces
Comparing the Nokia Astound to the N8 shows that the N8 has the better camera while the Astound includes NFC. The N8 also has penta-band WCDMA (the 1900 MHz frequency is missing on the Astound), but the four that are included cover both AT&T and T-Mobile in the US. The Astound also has a removable battery, but I honestly haven’t had any real issue with the battery life of my Nokia N8.

Around the hardware

While the Nokia Astound has the same AMOLED display as the Nokia N8 (I incorrectly said something about ClearBlack in my video) I personally think it looks better for some reason. It is crisp and clear and maybe the shiny finish around it makes it pop out more or something. The 3.5 inch display takes up most of the front with a front facing camera in the upper right, send and end buttons on either side of the menu button and a mic opening along the bottom. Nokia, C7, and T-Mobile brands are stamped on the front as well.

On the bottom you will find the lanyard opening while the top holds the microUSB port, 3.5mm headset jack, and power button. Nokia includes a 2mm standard charging port on the upper left side.

The right side is where you will find a camera capture button, sliding lock switch, distinct volume buttons, and the voice command button.

The 8 megapixel camera and dual LED flash is found on the upper back while a metal cover hides the battery, SIM card, and microSD card slot. No microSD card is included, but you can use up to 32GB in the device.

The Astound has a Near Field Communications (NFC) chip inside, but I was unable to find anything to test it with at this time. It is nice to see they are thinking ahead with the device though, especially given it is an $80 phone.

The Nokia Astound feels fantastic in your hand with solid build quality and its thinness. The Gorilla Glass and metal/plastic frame make it feel like a very high end smartphone too.

Software

The Nokia Astound is a Symbian^3 device so everything I wrote about the Nokia N8 should be the same here too. It is a mature operating system and very customizable, but not necessarily as flashy as iOS or Android. It is an excellent choice though since it is a full smartphone priced down in the feature phone range.

Don’t forget it supports things like USB on-the-go, FM transmitter (called Play via Radio on the Astound), Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity, Nokia Maps (FREE worldwide navigation), and more.

T-Mobile also includes some software on the Astound without turning it into an AT&T disaster with tons of bloatware. These titles include:

  • Swype
  • TeleNav GPS Navigator
  • Slacker
I LOVE the updated email client with a look and feel that is efficient and attractive. It clearly shows read and unread email (something the N8 does a very poor job of doing) and full HTML in a much better interface. It still has issues setting up Gmail right through the Nokia servers so make sure to decline the last prompt when setting it up.

The browser still isn’t the latest and greatest, but I just loaded up the free Opera Mobile and am perfectly happy with its performance.

Conclusion, price and availability

The Nokia Astound is available now for $79.99 with 2-year contact or $299.99 with no contract. I have been seriously considering picking one up because I just can’t stop holding it and flipping it around and around in my hand. It takes good photos, has solid RF reception with excellent call quality, has much improved email software, and is a very nice Symbian device.

I haven’t yet taken a ton of photos or videos with the device so I can’t fully judge the camera yet, but will try to get to that soon. Battery life has gone at least a day for me with heavy usage and push email.

If you are a person with a Nokia Nuron, then this really is a no brainer upgrade if you like Nokia and Symbian devices. T-Mobile can sell a lot of these at this price and unlike some other devices in the past, there are very few (if any) compromises with the Astound when compared to smartphones in this price range. T-Mobile currently has an unlimited talk, text, and data plan for this phone at just $79.99 per month.

Ratings (out of 5)

  • Specs: 4
  • Form factor: 5
  • Customizability: 4.5
  • User interface: 4
  • App support: 4.5

Overall: 4.5/5

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Pros

  • Sleek, super slim, solid hardware
  • Very good quality camera
  • Solid RF reception and phone call functionality/quality
  • Responsive, snappy performance
  • Full support for latest Ovi Store apps
  • High end features for low end price

Cons

  • Native browser still needs an update

Nokia X7 official

x7

Nokia has announced the Nokia X7, a Symbian-powered slate-style phone with a few new features to tout courtesy of a new version of Symbian they’re calling Anna: a proper portrait QWERTY keyboard and improved browser chief among them. This being Nokia, it’s no surprise that the new features take a backseat to the incredible hardware.

  • 119.7 x 62.8 x 11.9 mm
  • 146 g
  • 4″, 640×350 AMOLED touch display
  • 1300mAh battery good for 4 and a half hours of talktime
  • 8mp camera with dual-LED flash and 720p video recording
  • 680MHz CPU
  • 256mg RAM / 1G ROM
  • 8bg microSD included
Nokia would like you to know that they expect this to be an “entertainment-focused” device and so they’re preloading it with Galaxy on Fire HD and Asphalt 5 HD.

More at Nokia.com

Nokia N8 PR 1.1 now available in the U.S.

Nokia N8 PR 1.1 now available in the U.S.Last week I wrote about the PR 1.1 update for the Nokia N8 and I was disappointed that we didn’t have it in the US. Well folks, you can now check your N8 and you should find it available. The update is just about 6.9 MB and I just finished downloading it on my orange N8. One week after it started to roll out really is not that bad, especially when we look at the history of updates for North American Nokia devices.

The way I checked was to simply go to phone dialer and enter *#0000#. Then tap on the left soft key and check for updates. After downloading you then choose to install now or later. After choosing now your phone will shutdown and then a white display with an updating status bar will appear.

Nokia CEO tells it like it is in leaked internal memo

Nokia CEO tells it like it is in leaked internal memoI wasn’t sure what to think about new Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, but after reading the leaked internal memo on Engadget I have new respect for him and am getting more excited about the future of Nokia. As much as I love my orange Nokia N8, it has felt like we have been living in a weird limbo world since mid-2009 when the rather lame Nokia N97 was released.

We never really knew what the strategy was with the OS as we saw S60 evolving, then Maemo released, then Maemo killed, then MeeGo talked about and after reading what Mr. Elop wrote Nokia may not have known internally where they were headed either.

A couple of quotes from the memo that struck me personally were:

The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don’t have a product that is close to their experience. Android came on the scene just over 2 years ago, and this week they took our leadership position in smartphone volumes. Unbelievable.
I still believe there are several innovations and design elements (penta band radio, USB on-the-go, HDMI out, fantastic aluminum in colors) of the N8 where it does beat the iPhone, but Mr. Elop mentions the experience and that is indeed where Nokia has fallen down.

Many of us have said Nokia has been too slow to change with the times and they invented many of these technologies that Apple has been perfecting so they needed to get off the pot. Mr. Elop acknowledges this so it was nice to see we weren’t just crazy thinking things were too slow. Nokia seemed to move along at their own pace, but it sounds like that is NOT going to happen now with Mr. Elop at the helm.

Nokia will be holding their Capital Markets Day on Friday where Mr. Elop will reveal his future strategy. There are rumors that he might partner with Microsoft and release Windows Phone 7 devices or go with Android in an HTC-like multiple platform approach. As a fan of both Nokia and Windows Phone 7 you know what I would prefer. If Windows Phone 7 is brought to Nokia hardware then get ready to see a LOT more writing here on Nokia Experts as WP7 is my personal preferred platform at this time.

What do you think of the memo and Mr. Elop’s statements?

Gravity update adds integrated browser and enhanced Facebook support

gravitykeyboardI have talked a number of times about Gravity here on Nokia Experts and can’t say enough about this fantastic application. The application is so good that it keeps me using Nokia devices more than other devices and honestly, without Gravity I likely would have stopped using many of my Nokia devices and moved on. I saw on Twitter that Jan Ole Suhr released a new version of Gravity with some cool new features that seem to be pushing Nokia to step up to the plate.

Gravity is not just a Twitter client, but has support for Facebook, Google Reader, and Foursquare all in a single application that is well worth the $10. I have purchased something like 4 or 5 licenses so far for my devices and am happy to support great developers.

You can download this new version here and for a fairly detailed walk-through of all the new features and updates I recommend you check out Nitish Kumar’s blog post.

Here are the main new features and improvements:

  • Embedded web browser
  • Split screen keyboard
  • Enhanced Facebook module with conversation view
gravitygooglereaderI was testing out the latest alpha version before and love that I can enter text and see the context of why I am entering text using the keyboard and hope Nokia provides this split screen capability with an update.

The embedded web browser is pretty slick and is good for checking a quick link in a Tweet rather than going out to the default browser.

The enhanced Facebook support is actually what interests me most with this latest update as I have been using Facebook more and more lately with more family and friends joining the social network.

What is your favorite newest feature or improvement?

What happens when you strap a Nokia N8 to a rocket?

I posted about the Nokia N8 Producers contest a couple of weeks ago and have since created three video entries, with a couple more planned before the end of the deadline. The one that carried the most risk and that I thought most people would enjoy was the one I just posted today when I strapped my orange Nokia N8 onto a custom, experimental model rocket that I built many years ago.

While I embedded the YouTube video of the launch preparation, launch of other rockets, and launch of my orange N8 below, please make sure to visit the N8 Producers official video page and Like the video since I understand that this counts for part of the judging.

I won’t give away what happens when the N8 is launched and I’ll let you check it out in the video. Make sure to watch the end since I had the video camera on the N8 turned on and captured the launch from the rocket’s perspective as well.

Have a Nokia N8 and want to fly?

Have a Nokia N8 and want to fly?I have always wanted to be an astronaut and almost applied for a mission engineer position when I was in the USCG and they were looking for engineering officers, but I really did not want to spend the rest of my life living in Houston. There is no an opportunity for me to get a taste of space with a grand prize of a Zero Gravity Flight through the Nokia N8 Productions contest. I see that this has been going on for nearly two weeks and I just now caught wind of it so I am sorry to all you readers for my tardiness.

If you have a Nokia N8 and want to fly then I encourage you to enter this contest now. If you don’t have a Nokia N8, then you can actually submit your video idea and get a chance for a loaner to use for the contest. I have a couple of ideas for videos and plan to start shooting very soon so keep an eye on that site for my videos and I hope you enjoy them.

I just cannot do it, Nokia N8 is here to stay

Sorry folks, dark gray N8 is going, but orange N8 is coming!OK everyone, sorry for that post yesterday. There are probably people that will now think I belong in a mental institution or something after reading this post below and maybe they are right. I understand that I may lose readers too, but you have to admit I do wear my heart on my sleeve and am not afraid to write exactly what I am thinking.  I admit to having an addiction to smartphones, but isn’t that better than drugs or alcohol?

I have been spending a LOT of time recently with Windows Phone 7 and was caught up in the shock and awe of a beautiful and fluid new mobile operating system. After my post yesterday, I received a lot of comments and response on Twitter regarding my thoughts on the N8 so I placed my SIM back in the device and spent several more hours with it last night and this morning to see if I truly could give it up.

First off, the dark gray N8 may still be getting returned. However, it would be replaced with an orange Nokia N8 from Nokia USA since they are now in stock. Chrome crashed on me several times after hitting the submit order button though and now I cannot order one because I tried too many times. Even though I will explain why I am keeping the N8 below, I am still very unhappy with the Nokia USA store experience and recommend you try other places first if you can. Unfortunately, the orange N8 is not available on Amazon, Newegg, or Dell or I would be all over that and will keep trying for a couple more days. Maybe I will give away my dark gray N8 here on Nokia Experts if I can get an orange one for myself, how does that sound?

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