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Nokia E7 in hand shows me again how Nokia excels at hardware design

As I told you a couple of days ago I won a Nokia E7 in a video contest and if you all voted for my video I sincerely appreciate it! Nokia let me choose from a silver or blue E7 and I like color so I went with the blue one. As you can see in my gallery below, I now own three of the latest Symbian^3 devices; the orange Nokia N8, silver Nokia Astound (C7), and blue Nokia E7. No matter what I may think about the response by Nokia regarding software updates you cannot argue they make some amazing hardware and the E7 has fired up my passion once again.

I will be working on my full review of the Nokia E7 as my T-Mobile SIM is back in the device after sending back the evaluation HTC Sensation 4G. Obviously, I am a fan of Nokia and Symbian or I would not write here on this site. I saw a good post on All About Symbian about the powerful and yet simple home screen we have on Symbian devices and it is honestly one of the reasons I use Symbian devices. If we could just get Anna on the E7 and N8 with the email client, web browser, and other improvements I would be happy until Windows Phone comes to Nokia. Even then, I will honestly miss many features of Symbian and plan to hold onto these three devices for quite some time.

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 The Nokia Astound launches with a newer version of the Symbian software that includes the following: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

CTIA 2011: Hands-on with the T-Mobile Nokia Astound

The Nokia C7 was one of my favorite devices at Nokia World and if I didn’t like the camera on my Nokia N8 so much I would like have picked one of these up. I have to admit I am a bit shocked at what T-Mobile and Nokia announced with the Nokia Astound launching at just $79.99 after $50 rebate. Chris already posted on the announcement, but Dieter and Phil are at CTIA Wireless and were able to get a bit of hands-on time with this new Symbian^3 device as you can see in the image gallery below.

The Astound is a Nokia C7 that actually still has the C7 label in the upper left. It feels like a touch screen Nokia E71 in your hand with metal and hard plastic construction. I think that new smartphone owners are going to scoop this up in seconds and all of the teens that I have seen with the Nokia Nuron (thanks in large part to its cheap data cost) will want to switch to this much better device.

Nokia and T-Mobile officially announce the Astound Symbian^3 smartphone

Nokia Astound

Although FCC documentation called this one a while ago, we can now finally put some official verbiage behind the T-Mobile release of the Symbian^3 powered Astound — or if you prefer Nokia C7. Today brought forth the official announcement of the Nokia Astound on T-Mobile, launching as of April 6. Given that the device is a re-branded C7 the specs include a 3.5 inch nHD AMOLED capacitive touch screen with a rear 8-megapixel camera capable of capturing 720p video and a 1.3-megapixel front camera with Qik for video chat.

Aside from Qik being pre-loaded you’ll also get Slacker Radio, Swype and Ovi Maps to make use of the included GPS. If traveling with this device is a concern for you, you need not worry as the quad-band GSM and penta-band HSPA radios have you covered and in case that wasn’t enough T-Mobile has also included Wi-Fi calling. Storage space won’t be an issue either, you get 8GB on-board with a microSD card slot included should you need more. All in all, you get a nice device with a slightly updated version of Symbian^3 for only $80 with a new 2-year contract. [Phonescoop]

Engadget had the chance to try out this upcoming Nokia device and if you are a T-Mobile customer this is definitely a compelling smartphone choice. I have seen a lot of people with the Nokia Nuron who will appreciate a much better device like this on T-Mobile.

Is the Nokia C7 coming to T-Mobile USA as the Tiger?

Is the Nokia C7 coming to T-Mobile USA as the Tiger?I had a chance to play with the Nokia C7 for a bit last fall at Nokia World and found it to be a very good device. It reminds me of the E71 as an all touchscreen device, in terms of overall feel and quality. According to Engadget the C7 user manual hit the FCC with support for T-Mobile AWS. Remember, these new Symbian^3 devices are the world’s only penta-band GSM devices so they work with 3G on T-Mobile and AT&T. Thus, you should be able to buy this, get it unlocked, and use it with AT&T as well if that is your desire.

T-Mobile has done a fairly good job of supporting Nokia with the Nuron and most recently the Nokia E73 Mode. The C7 is a very popular smartphone due to its power and price so having this on T-Mobile should be good for both Nokia and T-Mobile. If my wife did not have the Nokia N8, then I would likely pick up a C7 for her since she likes the battery life, call quality, and reliability of the Symbian platform.

I would love to have a Nokia E7, but it is priced way too high (even for my tastes). However, I may just consider picking up a Nokia C7 if it is priced right.

Does the Nokia N8 excel in the under-hyped features?

Does the Nokia N8 excel in the under-hyped features?I was reading an article written by my buddy, Philip Berne, over on Phonescoop that discussed all of the over-hyped features us smartphone enthusiasts focus on a bit too much. We are into the latest tech and features while “normal” people likely do not care much about these features. Philip talks about 4G, video calls, dual-core processors, HD video recording, and NFC technology. The funny thing is when you read the section on the under-hyped features that really matter it is pretty clear that a device like the Nokia N8 is exactly what Philip should probably consider.

The under-hyped features he mentions that are important to him are call quality, a good camera (Xenon flash is mentioned), and threaded text messaging. The Nokia N8 leads the world in call quality and the best camera on any smartphone while also having a very enjoyable and functional threaded text messaging application.

Are you focused on the over-hyped features? Do you think we should stop focusing too much on technologies that won’t be applicable to the masses for 6 months to a year?

No other smartphone today can match the Nokia N8 hardware & functions

No other smartphone today can match the Nokia N8 hardware & functionsI have a rather huge audience over on ZDNet so I posted an article I have been thinking about for a while regarding the Nokia N8 and the fact that Nokia put technology and capability in it that is not matched with any other smartphone today. You can read my uncompromising Nokia N8 article and see some of the idiotic discussions that people make who have likely never even tried the Nokia N8.

I am currently using my Nokia N8 and Samsung Galaxy Tab, both on T-Mobile, and have no plans to change to anything else for the foreseeable future. The Nokia E7 does look sweet and if I do anything it will be move to that and pass my N8 to someone else in my family.

Do you agree or disagree with my take on the fabulous N8 hardware specifications and functions?

My wife looks at the latest and greatest smartphones, Nokia N8 is her choice

My wife looks at the latest and greatest smartphones, Nokia N8 is her choiceI wanted to share a short story with you about my wife and her recent experiences with smartphones and my Nokia N8. I think all of you here reading Nokia Experts will appreciate the ending too.

Once upon a time my wife saw all of excellent smartphones I had in my collection and switched to a T-Mobile Dash. She used three of these over the next couple of years, she drops her phones a lot, and was fairly pleased with the ability to smart filter her contacts and have access to a QWERTY keyboard. She also learned about text messaging from me and my girls and seemed to be quite a fan of QWERTY devices.

The last Dash died and she said she wanted something more durable with a QWERTY keyboard. I gave her my Nokia E71 and she was happy again. She used the E71 for over a year, but then kept finding the need to take pictures and video of our girls on the go without having to remember to always carry a camera. She tried the E71 camera, but is not happy with it. I let her use the E73 Mode for a bit, but for some reason calls kept dropping for her with this device and I am not sure it was the Bluetooth headset connection or what. It really didn’t matter though because she wasn’t happy and did not want to take the time to troubleshoot it.

›› Continue reading

I finally have my own orange Nokia N8!

As you know, I have lusted after the orange Nokia N8 since I first saw it, but the Nokia USA store tried there best to keep me from getting one. Both Dieter and I failed miserably at buying one from the Nokia USA store and I will likely never try to purchase from them again and caution you when using this pathetic online store [Sincerely, the worst online purchasing experience I have ever had – Dieter]. I recommend you look to Dell, Amazon, Newegg, or other online retailer for your Nokia purchase. Dieter had to actually resort to ebay to find an orange Nokia N8 for me, but I am extremely pleased to tell you that I now have my OWN ORANGE NOKIA N8!

The great news for you all here is that I will be giving away my dark gray Nokia N8 to one lucky Nokia Experts reader in time for you to have a Christmas full of Xenon flash goodness. Stay tuned for the upcoming contest post and in the meantime check out my lovely new orange Nokia N8.

Opera Mini 5.1 beta comes to us as a native Symbian app

Opera Mini 5.1 beta comes to us as a native Symbian appAs we wait for the Symbian^3 web browser to be released on the Nokia N8, you can try other web browsers like Opera Mobile and Opera Mini. I just received a press release that Opera Mini 5.1 was released and is written as a native Symbian app rather than a Java app so get on over to m.opera.com from you Symbian browser and download it now.

This new native Symbian version, Opera Mini 5.1, features all the same things you have seen with Opera Mini before, but with these key improvements:

  • Significantly faster start-up time
  • Improved page-load and scrolling performance, especially on older devices
  • Full support for device text input methods
  • Improved fonts
  • Device integration for copy & paste, email client and more
  • Option to choose default access point — no more annoying dialogs

I love the idea of device integration and default access point settings so I went to download it myself and now have it running on my Nokia N8.

Tip for T-Mobile USA customers: T-Mobile thought it would be cool to block access to apps they didn’t want you to use so if you go to m.opera.com with your T-Mobile SIM in the N8 you will find they won’t let you download it. Simply go into offline mode, connect via WiFi, then download Opera Mini 5.1 beta to your Nokia N8. You can then go back into online mode and use the application with no problems.

Oh yeah, here are some fast facts about Opera Mini from the press relase

  • The most popular mobile browser on the market
  • More than 71 million monthly users worldwide
  • More than 36.9 billion pages processed each month
  • The Opera Mini servers compress the webpages up to 90%

Anyone else happy with this new version of Opera Mini?


Nokia N8 Guide



Nokia E73 Mode Guide
Nokia N900 Guide