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.

Join the Search for 7 competition to find a Nokia E7

Join the Search for 7 competition to find a Nokia E7I would love to have a Nokia E7, but right now all my available funds are being used to pay my taxes here in the U.S. There is a new contest from Nokia where they are hiding seven Nokia E7 devices (5 around the world and 2 virtually) for seven lucky winners. Today is Day 3 of seven with the first one a virtual giveaway that I tried to win (I am stupid not to have guessed Nokia House before the last clue, but couldn’t find a picture of the port of Espoo anywhere). Day 2 was found in Beirut and today’s Day 3 hunt has just started with no clues yet given out for the hidden location in London. If you are in London, then try to find the E7 today.

To win the in-person contest you must be the first person to arrive in the location where the E7 is hidden, after the 3rd clue has been announced on and identify yourself to the Nokia representative holding the Nokia E7. If the E7 has not been found by 8pm each day of the contest, during the Program Period, the contest for that day will be deemed to have closed and no winner will be announced for that day.

To win the online contest, there will be one more on the last day, you must be the first to share the location via Ovi Map services with @WOMWorldNokia on Twitter and mention the hashtag ‘#NokiaSearchfor7’. Once the E7 winner for the online location has been verified and announced, all other entries will be invalid.

Good luck everyone!

Slacker Radio now available for Symbian devices in the Ovi Store

Slacker Radio now available for Symbian devices in the Ovi StoreLast month at CES Slacker Radio announced it was coming soon to Symbian devices. I just read a Tweet from the NokiaUS account and saw that Slacker Radio is now available in the Ovi Store. I popped my SIM back into my Nokia N8 and downloaded it immediately. Keep in mind, the initial download to get the software is 1.3 MB so make sure you have a solid connection or are connected via WiFi before downloading.

Keep in mind, Slacker is a service with support for those in the US and Canada so this service is only available for these two countries. I understand many other countries have Spotify so it looks like we finally get a client/service in the US before others :)

I have been using Slacker Radio on my Android, iOS, and Windows Phone 7 devices for over a year as my primary streaming music client and find it works very well at providing just the right mix for me. I actually have a Slacker sticker on my MacBook Pro since I love the service. The great thing is that favorite stations are synced to your account so you can pick up a different smartphone and listen to your favorites on any device. I like how the client on other platforms lets you cache music for offline listening so you can load up tunes for your next flight and then stream again when you land. This offline caching feature is not yet in this new Symbian client, but we may see it in the future.

This news for Slacker Radio is timed particularly well since is going to start charging a monthly fee to stream music.

As stated on the Ovi Store description:

Listen to free personalized radio on your Nokia phone. The award-winning Slacker Radio application gives you access to the entire Slacker music library featuring millions of songs from thousands of artists. Listen to over 130 expert programmed radio stations or create your own custom stations. Learn more about the music you hear by reading the artist bios and album reviews. Slacker Personal Radio is the best way to discover new artists and hear your favorite songs.

Basic or Radio Plus?

The free account you setup with after downloading Slacker Radio gives you full access to Slacker Radio music, but you are limited to 6 song skips per hour, per station, there are some ads, and you get no lyrics. You can upgrade to Radio Plus and pay $3.99/month to have ad free listening, unlimited song skips, complete lyrics, and ABC News Radio. On my N8 this can actually be billed through T-Mobile.  I like the service so pay for the Radio Plus upgrade.

UPDATE: OK, I am using it up here in Alaska and when connected via EDGE the music streams flawlessly. However, if I switch to the task manager or another app the music pauses for 1/2 second and then starts back up again. This is going to be real annoying if I am trying to multi-task with Slacker Radio playing. Hopefully this is something they can fix easily enough and soon.

Also, don’t forget my tip that you can Zune Pass music on your N8 and get a taste of what kind of services a Nokia Windows Phone 7 device will provide.

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.

SugarSync cloud storage and sharing arrives on S60 3rd Edition

SugarSync cloud storage and sharing arrives on S60 3rd EditionLast year I wrote that the SugarSync cloud storage and sharing service arrived for S60 5th Edition. I was recently sent a note from the SugarSync folks that a version was just released for S60 3rd Edition devices. There are something like 390 million Symbian handsets around the world so there is still a rather large market for apps.

SugarSync gives you 5GB for free with options to upgrade to more storage as well. With SugarSync you can access, manage, and share documents, photos, music, and more stored in the cloud. SugarSync works with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and BlackBerry devices too so you get a truly cross platform experience.

You can find SugarSync at the Ovi Store for free. I will need to try it out on the Nokia E73 Mode.

Nokia and Microsoft announce strategic partnership, my dream phone is coming

Nokia and Microsoft announce strategic partnership, my dream phone is comingMy flight from Alaska back to Washington was delayed last night due to a problem with the wing and my first thought went to the Twilight Zone episode where the monster was tearing apart the wing as they flew. I then boarded another plane, fell asleep, and eventually made it home. When I landed I saw all of the Microsoft Nokia news and thought I might really be in a Twilight Zone show or I was still dreaming, but after jumping on Twitter I realized that my ultimate smartphone dream had come true.

I just posted my initial thoughts on the Nokia – Microsoft partnership on my ZDNet site and won’t repeat everything I wrote over there. As you know I am obviously a fan of Nokia smartphones and have been for years. You might also have picked up in my writing here that I am a Windows Phone 7 fan. I am probably one of the very few people in the world that have a love of both platforms and also quite a bit of usage of both under my belt. Needless to say, I am quite ecstatic about the news and think it will result in the best of both resulting in a product that easily competes and in many respects blows away the iOS and Android competition.

There is a great post on the Nokia Conversations site where Steve Ballmer and Stephen Elop provide so strong words to support this partnership, including the following:

Together, we have some of the world’s most admired brands, including Windows, Office, Bing, Xbox Live, NAVTEQ and Nokia. We also have a shared understanding of what it takes to build and sustain a mobile ecosystem, which includes the entire experience from the device to the software to the applications, services and the marketplace.

Today, the battle is moving from one of mobile devices to one of mobile ecosystems, and our strengths here are complementary. Ecosystems thrive when they reach scale, when they are fueled by energy and innovation and when they provide benefits and value to each person or company who participates. This is what we are creating; this is our vision; this is the work we are driving from this day forward.

There are other mobile ecosystems. We will disrupt them.

There will be challenges. We will overcome them.

Success requires speed. We will be swift.

Together, we see the opportunity, and we have the will, the resources and the drive to succeed.

I LOVE everything they are saying here and like the specifically stated they do indeed need to be swift and get something out this year.

I wrote the following points as I see them from a user perspective:

  • All cameras in Microsoft’s smartphones have sucked, but Nokia rules the world with Carl Zeiss optics and imaging technology that rivals high end dedicated cameras
  • Nokia has the ONLY penta-band smartphones so it doesn’t matter who your GSM carrier is you can get 3G data support (this includes T-Mobile’s special 1700 MHz band)
  • Nokia brings hardware with aluminum colored bodies, Gorilla Glass, HDMI out, USB on-the-go, amazing RF reception and call quality, long battery life, and more
  • Windows Phone 7 is amazingly fast and responsive while also being unique
  • Windows Phone 7 is rock solid stable and after using it since July 2010 I can confirm it is the MOST stable mobile operating system I have ever used
  • Windows Phone 7 gaming rocks, Zune is fantastic, multiple Exchange support is solid, Office integration is great, and developers are building apps
  • Email on Symbian blows, but on Windows Phone 7 it absolutely rocks and I prefer to use my WP7 smartphone for email handling over even my Outlook desktop client

I know that die hard Nokia fans will likely react negatively to such a deal with Microsoft, but is that due to some kind of unfounded hatred for the Microsoft name? If you try Windows Phone 7 then you may change your mind. I know that Microsoft has stumbled in the past, as has Nokia. However, there are brilliant people at both companies and the potential for amazing success is there and can be realized through this partnership.

Is anyone else excited about this partnership like I am? Stay tuned for MUCH more of my writing here as I will have a platform that I am very excited about along with hardware that I love. We’ll see how it works out with WPCentral, but since there will still be other Windows Phone 7 makers and Nokia will still make non-WP7 devices we might see both sites remain as they are too.

Nokia N8 Producers winners announced

Wow, I am almost embarrassed by my rocket launch entry video after seeing the eight winners of the Nokia N8 Producers contest. I thought mine had a fun story, but these winners all have fantastic video productions that blew mine out of the water. Thankfully, my orange Nokia N8 didn’t fly too far and end up broken since that would have been a real waste too.

These producers really showed the power of the Carl Zeiss optics and 12 megapixel camera. One great thing about viewing these winning videos is that you learn techniques and methods for how to create some fantastic videos yourself and I found them inspirational.

Which of these eight is your favorite?

Does Nokia with WP7 continue a broken world experience?

I just posted an article on ZDNet about my thoughts regarding adoption of Windows Phone 7 by Nokia in regards to Zune  Marketplace services and as you can read the Windows Phone 7 experience is very broken outside the US. In my opinion, the memo supposedly from Stephen Elop has a very US-based focus which is great for Nokia fans in the US like me, but just doesn’t feel quite right for Nokia.

I now have two Windows Phone 7 devices that I use on T-Mobile, the HTC HD7 and Dell Venue Pro, and I personally find them both to be quite fantastic with Xbox LIVE games, Zune music services and streaming, awesome applications in a Marketplace just getting past 8,000 apps, and a very fun and fresh UI. As I point out though, these services and experiences are NOT what people around the world will see on a Nokia Windows Phone 7 device. If Nokia’s intent with WP7 is to focus these devices on the US and UK, then maybe this strategy will add a few thousand more users. However, Nokia doesn’t have a high end brand association here in the US so they would have to tell the story of both their hardware and the slowly rolling out Windows Phone 7 platform. Going with WP7 is not an easy task and Nokia will have to work just as hard to sell them as they would by putting efforts into MeeGo or Symbian with full Qt support.

All About Symbian releases first part of their Nokia E7 review

All About Symbian releases first part of their Nokia E7 reviewI really enjoyed playing with the Nokia E7 at Nokia World last Fall and was thinking I might pick one up. My orange Nokia N8 is performing quite well at the moment and I cannot justify the $800+ likely unlocked price of the E7 so unless Nokia sends out an eval unit for a bit I won’t be writing a review here on Nokia Experts. However, my buddies over at All About Symbian will indeed be providing full coverage of the device and now that the E7 is shipping you can check out Rafe’s first part that covers an overview of the hardware and some first impressions.

In the past, the Eseries devices have all been priced quite low compared to Nseries smartphones, but with the E7 that looks to have flip-flopped. Rafe’s first part is very detailed and after reading it I started trying to figure out what I could sell to pick one up for myself :)

I have to try the keyboard though to see if that is enough for me to give up the better camera, smaller form factor, and expandable memory of the lovely N8. As great as the E7 looks, I am not sold that a physical QWERTY keyboard justifies getting rid of my N8.

How many readers are planning to pick up an E7 when they become available?

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