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The iPhone 5C Just Made The Dying iPhone 5 A Whole Lot More Attractive

If there is one thing Apple is good at, it is sticking to its prices. Each year a new iPhone is released and till the time a successor is announced, it continues to command its premium price. Post that one year, it is relegated to the second tier and is sold at a slightly lower price point. Infact, for a lot of time the common industry wisdom was this – Apple has a cheaper iPhone, its the last year’s model. Then the clamour for a new cheaper iPhone grew, and when details about a new plastic iPhone leaked, the world was convinced that a cheaper iPhone was indeed coming. As it turns out, Apple can still surprise.

The iPhone 5C is going to replace the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5 will no longer be sold, and instead you’ll be presented with the colourful new iPhone 5C. The 5C is essentially the iPhone 5 in a plastic case, with a slightly better battery and a slightly better front facing camera. These are minor improvements, and ones you’ll probably not even notice in day to day use. There is one aspect in which the 5C presents an advantage – it along with the 5S supports Indian LTE bands, making it one of the first smartphones to do so. That being said, both Reliance Jio and Airtel’s LTE rollout isn’t quite lighting up the country and it will be more than a few months before you can think of LTE as a viable option.

iPhone 5C India

The iPhone 5C is $549 unlocked for the 16 GB model. Further, because Apple doesn’t increase prices post launch, it pegs the Dollar rate at a much higher value that the current rate to protect its margins should the Rupee fall further. With this in mind, the cheapest price that one can expect for the iPhone 5C is around 40-42,000 INR. You can currently buy an iPhone 5 for about 42-43,000 INR.

While Jonny Ive might claim that the iPhone 5C is unapologetically plastic, it will never feel as premium as the iPhone 5 or the iPhone 5S. Infact, in my book the iPhone 5 is a better buy than the 5C, LTE support notwithstanding – and this purely down to looks. Since the 5 and the 5S are almost identical, Apple is using the 5C as another way to differentiate the 5S from yesteryear’s model.

The iPhone 5C was never destined to be a cheaper iPhone, it is perhaps a manifestation Ive’s desire for colour. A lot is being said about how colour matched wallpapers and iOS 7 transparencies on the 5C add to the experience of one colour permeating through, but I do not buy into that. Most people will change wallpapers the moment they get a new phone, and iOS 7 will then start reflecting that colour, not the colour of the phone. This isn’t a big deal – but the point I’m making is that why get a plastic iPhone when you can get a the same thing in beautiful aluminum.

Once the iPhone 5C and the 5S start selling in India, you won’t be able to buy the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5S will touch 50,000 INR easy, so if you want an iPhone closer to 40 than 50, get the iPhone 5 while you still can.

Nokia Releases Free Battery Pro+ App For Your Lumia

While there are a bunch of battery monitoring apps for Windows Phone in the Store, most of them are paid or come with ads. To put an end to your search for a well designed app, the Battery Pro+ powered by Nokia has been released. The app has actually been published by Wunderman Polska, the agency Nokia Poland seems to have used.

The app is free, and comes with live tiles in two sizes, giving you a quick way to monitor your Lumia’s battery. Once inside the app, you get information such as remaining time based on current usage, the hourly consumption, and the total battery capacity of your device. The network activity section shows you which network radios are in operation and also lets you tap on any of them to jump into settings, thereby also acting like a handy shortcut app.

Nokia Releases Free Battery Pro+ App That's Lets You Keep An Eye On Your Lumia Battery Nokia Releases Free Battery Pro+ App That's Lets You Keep An Eye On Your Lumia Battery

The live tiles can be pinned to the homescreen. Like every other Windows Phone live tile they aren’t ‘live’ as such and are only updated every 30 minutes in order to conserve battery. The tile is also refreshed everytime you open the app.

Nokia Releases Free Battery Pro+ App That's Lets You Keep An Eye On Your Lumia BatteryNokia Releases Free Battery Pro+ App That's Lets You Keep An Eye On Your Lumia Battery

The app is well designed and the shortcuts to WIFI, Bluetooth, and Network are a nice touch. However I’d like to see two more features added in a subsequent release. First is the ability to jump into battery settings by tapping on the battery indicator within the app – this is useful for toggling the battery saver mode. Second, the ability to put the battery percentage on the lockscreen.

Nokia Releases Free Battery Pro+ App That's Lets You Keep An Eye On Your Lumia Battery

In addition to Battery Pro+, Nokia Poland has also published a bunch of other free utilities that I’ll feature in a later post. Get Battery Pro+ here.

Lumia 920 Amber (GDR2) Update Now Available

Nokia’s started rolling out the much awaited Amber update for its Lumia 920 smartphone. From Microsoft’s perspective, GDR2 is more of an enabler than one that brings new features, however there are still many compelling reasons to upgrade. You get the revamped Xbox Music app, support for FM radio, IE10 HTML5 improvements, an improved Skype experience among other things. Further, there are Nokia specific improvements such as support for glance screen, tap to wake up, flip to silence and the ability use apps like Smart Camera, YouTube uploader and Video Trimmer that you couldn’t previously use on the Lumia 920, despite the apps being available on the Windows Phone Store.

Lumia 920 Firmware Update

The firmware number is 3047.0000.1326.2002, and Microsoft calls the GDR2 update by the 8.0.10327.77 or 8.0.10328.78 name. Microsoft’s official changelog lists the following improvements:

  • Google accounts. Windows Phone 8 now supports the CardDAV and CalDAV protocols that allow people to sync Google contacts and calendar information when they get new phones. (Existing phones that are synced to a Google account prior to December 31, 2013 will continue to sync as before.)
  • Xbox Music. It’s now easier to select, download, and pin music. Plus, music fans will see more accurate metadata (such as song and album information) and many other performance improvements.
  • FM radio. Listen to FM radio right from the Music+Videos hub. (Not available for all phones.)
  • Data Sense. Stay on top of your phone’s data usage with Data Sense. You can set a limit based on your data plan, or just keep track of which apps use the most data. (Not all mobile operators offer Data Sense.)
  • Skype. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) apps like Lync and Skype now feature improved stability and performance.
  • Internet Explorer. Several fixes, including improvements to media playback reliability, will make your web browsing experience better than ever.
  • Camera. Set your favorite Lens so it opens automatically when you press the camera button. (Not available for all phones.)
  • Other improvements. Includes many other improvements to Windows Phone.

The update is rolling out across various regions, so it is possible that it might not be immediately available on your device. As always, make sure you backup the phone before you update.

[via: My Nokia Blog]

Stop Buying The iPhone 4. Save Yourself Money & Get A Lumia 520 Instead

Apple has all sorts of schemes running in India to promote the iPhone 4. You can trade old devices, get it on EMI, make zero down payments and so on. But there are two facts that you cannot get away from, it costs close to 25,000 INR and it will soon be 3 years old. Three years is an eternity in the world of technology, you certainly do not want to be paying that kind of money for a device that will soon be a relic. Yes, it will get iOS 7 but that’s where Apple is so smart. A bland iPhone 4 to get iOS 7 statement doesn’t tell you that a bunch of iOS 7 features will not make it to the iPhone 4. Just as a bunch of iOS 6 features previously hadn’t. E.g. Like it was with iOS 6, you still won’t be able to take panoramas, you’ll get no filters in the camera app, and the real biggie – no AirDrop support. Plus most of the fancy animations and visuals that iOS 7 brings is a no-go too.

Further having recently used an iPhone 4 running iOS 6, I can tell you that you can immediately notice that you’re playing with old hardware. There are lags, the scrolling in apps isn’t smooth, the app launch times are slow and there are random stutters – all in all, its doesn’t feel very Apple anymore. On the other hand it still has its positivities, the 3.5″ retina display, the premium construction and for a lot of people the Apple brand name. But does it make sense to pay something like 25,000 INR for the pleasure of owning an ‘iPhone’? No.

Stop Buying The iPhone 4. Save Yourself Money & Get A Lumia 520 Instead

Here’s what you should do. Save yourself 15,000 INR and get a Lumia 520 instead. It costs about 9400 INR, comes in a bunch of colours – red and yellow being my favourites, but there are the more traditional black, white and cyan options too. The colour is an obvious talking point, and not for one second does the device look cheap, if that’s what you’re worried about. Put a 3 year old iPhone 4 on the table and a red Lumia 520 along side it, and guess which is the device that will draw more attention.

Despite having 512 MB of RAM, it is actually smoother than the iPhone. The dual-core processor helps and Windows Phone is very smooth in itself. There may be the odd app that takes a second more to resume, but overall the experience will be much better. Don’t worry too much about the apps. The basics are all there now. Facebook has a good app, so does Twitter, Foursquare, PVR, HDFC, Book My Show and Zomato – all apps I use on an everyday basis. Whats App was recently overhauled too.

Nokia’s Services = More value for money

Then, you get the Nokia goodies. Mix Radio for streaming curated playlists that are usually excellent, unlimited song downloads from a huge catalogue of songs (DRM free so you can send them via bluetooth, email them or listen to them on a PC), and finally you can even create your own stream based on artists you like. This is a big deal once you start using it, I have virtually stopped downloading music because of this.

Next there is Nokia’s mapping suit – HERE Drive, Maps, Public Transport, and City Lens. Owing to things like offline maps and great coverage, this is the best navigation solution on the phone – for most tasks it beats Google Maps as they are reliant on a data connection for everything. The Lumia 520 also has a decent camera, and comes with things like Smart Shoot and Cinemagram out of the box. With the Lumia 520 you also get a 4″ 800 x 480 screen, its no retina display (3.5″ 960×640 on the iPhone 4) but a lot of people seem to be willing to live with slightly lower pixel density in return for a bigger screen.

Thus, in the process you not only save a considerable amount of money, but you also get a device that’s pretty solid and packs a lot for its price. A friend of mine recently sold an old iPhone 4 and picked up the Lumia 520 instead; and this post is also partly a result of his experience.

My advice is this, if you don’t want to save money and get the Lumia 520, don’t. But under no circumstances should you buy the iPhone 4.

Fotor Is A Must Have Photo Editor For Windows Phone

Nokia’s Creative Studio is an excellent photo editing app for its Lumia devices, but there are things that it isn’t that good at. Collages is one, adding borders another. Fortunately there is a excellent free app that can plug all these holes, and give the Creative Studio quite a run for its money. Fotor is free, and has been updated to take advantage of Windows Phone 8.  It performs fluidly even on slightly lower spec’d devices like the Lumia 620 and 720, and makes for a very pleasant editing experience.

Fotor Is A Must Have Photo Editor For Windows Phone Fotor Is A Must Have Photo Editor For Windows Phone

Inside settings you can choose to edit/save in the high resolution mode or go slightly lower res. for faster performance. The Collage option is fully featured, you can choose aspect ratios, designs, and even move the bars to increase or decrease space there is for each photo. Then, you can even add a pattern.

Fotor Is A Must Have Photo Editor For Windows Phone Fotor Is A Must Have Photo Editor For Windows Phone

The borders can be curved or straight and you can choose the width as well. The app also comes with a one tap enhance mode, which has three levels.

Fotor Is A Must Have Photo Editor For Windows Phone Fotor Is A Must Have Photo Editor For Windows Phone

You can use the Tilt Shift option to change focus, and also play with the contrast, saturation and blur/sharpen settings.

Fotor Is A Must Have Photo Editor For Windows Phone Fotor Is A Must Have Photo Editor For Windows Phone

And finally, there are filters.

All in all, installing Fotor is a no brainer. Its free and fun.

Lumia 1020 Camera Samples

The 41 MP Lumia with a back side illuminated sensor, a 6 part Zeiss lens, OIS and more has just been announced. One of the really nice things about the Lumia 1020 is that it captures two photos everytime you press the shutter, a full resolution image (34 MP or 38 MP depending on whether you’re shooting in the 16:9 or 4:3 resolution) and a oversampled 5 MP photo that’s extremely crisp owing to each pixel in it being created from 7 pixels.

Another really nice addition is to shoot first and zoom later. So even after you have taken the shot, you can reframe the photo. That means you can zoom in (or out), focus on an entirely different part of the image, change the angle and so on.

So what kind of photos can you expect from the device? Here are some samples, click through for the full resolution photos.

34 MP shots (16:9): Some of them are over 10 MB in size.

Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

Regular 5 MP photo samples: These are photos you’ll email, post to facebook and generally share. Like earlier, click through for the full 5MP photo.

Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

Low Light:

Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

If you’ve forgotten what’s the advantage of shooting with a 41 MP sensor, here’s a reminder.

Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

That is the power of having just an incredible sensor in your phone. You can go from barely seeing the girl, to a full blown portrait.

While these photos are from Nokia’s press site, over the years I have grown to trust Nokia’s samples to be a fairly accurate example of what the phone is capable of. While our day to day results will not be as impressive as these (Nokia does multiple photo sessions, has 100s of discards, perfect lighting, professionals taking photos etc), most people will be happy if they manage to even get photos that are 70% like these.

If you’d to see even more photos, this is the link to Nokia’s press site. If you are interested in the details behind this engineering feat, here is Nokia’s official whitepaper explaining everything – both hardware and software.