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Friday, January 31, 2014

Smartphones are taking over the world

Mobile Phones, in the last ten years they have become synonymous with our life. I mean most of us can’t imagine a life without them. The keep us so connected to everyone. First came the Phone calls and SMS’s , then came the messaging services , then came social networking sites on phones. In the past few years there has been a revolution in the mobile phone industry , all thanks to Apple and its iPhone. From being devices to talk and message , the humble mobile phone changed completely and became capable of doing a variety of things, like money transfer , painting , gaming, video editing, photography, eBook reader, and a lot more. The iPhone started the revolution which made the mobile phone a Smart Phone.

Everything on my Phone
Now, this is not about which phone you have, it might be Android or IOS or Windows, but if you own a smart phone there are a variety of things you can do with them, which undoubtedly makes life a lot easier to live. These smart phones give us a lot of conveniences, like what I mentioned earlier; let’s say you suddenly remember that it’s the last day to pay your power bill and you are out enjoying a holiday, guess what you have your phone in your pocket , you can take it out and use it to pay your bills. Putting a reminder on your Smartphone would have ensured that you don’t miss paying your bill or for that matter it can even ensure that you don’t miss your anniversary or your wife’s birthday. For, these things you won’t even need a reminder, if these things are mentioned on facebook or any other online forum which is synced with your phone then the phone will remind you automatically.  That apart you can do all sorts of other things like

·         Check the latest stock prices or Gold prices.
·         Listen to the latest Music or the Golden Oldies.
·         Play some Amazing Games.
·         Connect with almost everyone on the planet via social networking platforms.
·         Educational apps help you study.
·         Stay updated of the latest News and happenings.
·         Learn a new recipe.
·         Search for the nearest restaurant or places of interest, this can be done sometimes by just pointing the camera of the phone in a particular direction. 

Well, this list could be endless, that’s why the phone is called a Smartphone.
                So, how smart is the Smartphone, well if you ask me, really Smart, from what I am seeing its able to control not just everything happening in our lives, but our lives as well. What in the world am I talking about, well read on 

Everyone on their Phones
Whenever, you travel, by travel I mean just stepping out of the house, just try to observe the people around you, you’ll find that most of them are glued to their phones, Board a bus or a train, people are sitting there inside the bus or train with you but are someplace else. Some are listening to music, but most of them you’ll find are just looking into their phones. I mean we all travel to work or for personal purposes daily and we let the world pass by. We, never pay any attention to what’s happening around us anymore, we just look into our phones and are happy in our own world.  Some time ago I was standing at a railway platform with a friend or mine, when he told me, “Hey look I just read on twitter someone was hit by a train right here on this station, and guess what we realized that we were standing about 10 meters away from the point where the incident had happened. There was a crowd of people surrounding the injured man. Thankfully, he was just slightly hit by the train and looked woozy, no major damage dome. The point is we were standing right there but we never realized that something had happened and we actually needed a Smartphone to tell us that.  But, that’s the reality now a day’s more than news papers Twitter has become the fastest news channel in the world. Even when the American special forces went to capture Osama Bin Laden it was a Tweet that diverted the world’s attention towards it. The point which I am trying to stress here is that we are a lot into our phones, people are always doing something or the other , even when travelling , we are just looking into the screen, playing games , scrolling twitter feeds, making  a comment on facebook, sending a message on whatsapp and lots of other things. 

Social Disconnect
When was the last time you sat with your family or friends and had a healthy discussion or friendly banter for 15 minutes without looking into or looking for your phone? Yesterday or ever other day, congratulations you are in control of your life, if not your phone is controlling you. What the growth of Social media has done is made us forget about the people who are close to us, who live with us. Yes but that’s the harsh truth when it comes to the smart phones. Even when we are home , we tend to have the phone in our hand. We are either playing games, or on social networking platforms, chatting with someone far far away while ignoring those who are sitting with us.
                Things are simple as watching T.V. together have become a rarity, even when the whole family is sitting together watching television we might end up staring into the screen of our Smartphone. That’s how we are getting disconnected with those who are close to us. Social networking platforms, help us connect with a lot of people, they have their advantages, but they are leading to a social disconnect in the real worlds. Nowadays, the son doesn’t know his mom or for that matter the mom doesn’t know her son is, she might have to look at his facebook account to see where he has checked in. The simple pleasures of a simple phone call have become a rarity. We use our phone to call people mostly when we have some work or when we need something. The concept of a call to ask how are you is gone, we just Whatsapp that. 

The world is passing by
                The world is passing by while you are glued to your phone and zoned out. When was the last time you looked out of the window of the bus or train you are travelling in? Have you observed the vibrant colors or shades surrounding you. Have you seen the beauty that surrounds you or for that matter the person sitting next to you on the bus or train. As, we spend more and more time just playing around with our phones and living in the virtual world disconnected from the real world we fail to realize that we are missing out on lots of things around us. If you really try to analyze and you find that you do spend more time in a day on your phone than talking to real people then you really need to start drawing the line. The line where you will self consciously tell yourself to drop that phone and get talking to real people on a face to face basis and get connected to the real world.  
There is beauty all around you

The fact of the matter is that Smartphone are good, any technology or advancement in technology is good for us as it gives us a lot of conveniences and makes our lives a lot easier to live. But, there is point till where that is true, when you start to realize that your fascination with the technology is becoming an addiction that is when you need to step back a little. Next time you travel try keeping your phone inside your bag and try to see what is going on around you, I am sure you’ll find a lot of people looking into their phones, ignore that, look at other things, observe people, surroundings. Try to find beauty in this world. Try interacting with real people, spend some time with your family, and understand that being there with people should mean really being there and not just being present and being mentally someplace else. Try it and you’ll know what you have been missing.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mobile Phone Review Nokia Asha 502 503

So, what is the Nokia Asha 502. Let me introduce the phone first , it’s a phone which is an upgraded version of the Asha 501. Let’s look at the basic comparison between the two phones, as always I will make use of a table to illustrate it for clarity

This is where the Asha 502 is different, it looks completely different from the 501 . The 501 is curve, and Nokia has taken off the curves from the 502 and added a layer of transparent plastic to it . Of course the advertisement says that the difference is crystal clear , but its plastic , sad jokes apart . The plastic does give the phone a very elegant and classy finish. The finishing and the build quality feels good as well. And, in spite of the additional layer of plastic the 502 is slimmer than the 501. The 501 is 12.1 mm thick while the 502 is 11.1 mm. Well, its slimmer but it definitely heavier than the 501 and feels better when you hold it. Sometimes, weight does add an air of solidity to phones , is it , or is it me who feels so.
The navigation button of the 501 which is a physical button under the screen is replaced by a touch sensitive button. The phone has a 305m audio port and a micro USB port at the top. The power and Volume buttons are placed at the right.
The screen is 3 inches , which is the same as the 501 and the operating system is Asha 1.1 while the 501 had Asha 1.0 The micro SD card is already inserted into the slot , but it’s just 4 GB , what did I expect 32 GB , that would have been like a dream come true. The 3 inch screen has a 320x240 resolution and the touch is pretty responsive, yes but with the screen size , if you have bigger or fatter fingers it could become a little difficult.  Accelerometer and proximity sensors are in built in the phone and like the 501 the 502 also supports 2 point multi touch. 

The 64MB memory in the phone is enough to support it , and the extendable memory up to 32GB is enough storage. The Asha is a dual SIM phone and you need micro SIM’s , the same as the 501. Anyway, everyone is shifting to Micro SIMS, the iPhone started it all.  This is a 2G ( GPRS/EDGE) handset, no 3G supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It runs pretty smooth and comes pre installed with Facebook and Twitter, and yes Whatsapp. After, Whatsapp came for the 501 the phone suddenly felt like it already got an upgrade.
Yes performance wise do remember, this is a budget phone, and comes with some basic games, if you want more performance , spend more money.  Don’t expect the Asha to be an iPhone competitor. 

This is an upgrade over the 501, the 501 had a 3.2MP camera and the 502 sports a 5MP camera and yes it has a flash , I mean the Lumia 525 doesn’t have one, so the Asha can keep clicking pictures even after sunset. The pictures come out pretty nice, again not a Lumia 1020 remember. The video quality , well how do I put it sucks, reminded me of the age old phones when camera phones just began. That’s it just one camera and no front camera, so all you selfie addicts , turn your phone and click. 

The 1010 mAh battery is a downgrade over the 1200 mAh battery of the 501 , now you know why the phone is slimmer, with the 501 you can talk for 17 hours and with the 502 the limit is set at 13 hours , so talk a little less. Anyway, with Whatsapp running constantly I don’t know how long your battery will last anyway. Yes you can play music up to around 40 hours. 

If you ask me the 502 definitely looks better than the 501 with the transparent plastic , and the camera is better . If you want a budget handset then the 502 is a great option. You get 6 bright and brilliant colours too and with the price difference being about  Rs 1000 it is definitely better than the 501. 

A Note about Asha 503
The Nokia Asha 503 is a smart phone similar to the 502 in look and design , but it supports 3G , so if you want a Asha with 3G capabilities then the 503 is the phone for you, further the 503 has a battery which is 1200mah, slightly more than the 502, but with 3G the batterey won’t make such a big difference. The price difference between 502 and 503 is almost Rs 1500 and I don’t think that it’s that big an upgrade to pay 1500 for a 3G capable Asha. The rest is left to you.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Phone Review Nokia Lumia 525

The Nokia Lumia 525 is here , so what’s new in it. The Lumia 520 is without doubt one of the best selling Smartphone’s of the Lumia range. Other than being the best selling smartphone, the 520 has also been working as a gateway to the windows phone platform because of its affordability. Let’s, try and compare the Lumia 520 and the Lumia 525 

 I mentioned in my earlier talk about the windows operating system that as far as the OS is concerned it tends to run very smoothly even with the some decent processors and does not require too much RAM. About, 512MB RAM is enough to make it run pretty well. Well with 512, the windows operating system runs pretty well, but it’s the graphic intensive games that become a problem as they simply refuse to run on the 512MB RAM, so that’s where Nokia decided to upgrade the hardware , so that graphic intensive games will be able to run smoothly on the 525. 
Build and Design

The Lumia 525 doesn’t differ much when it comes to design from the 520. The only difference is maybe the back panel which is of matte finish in the 520 and of glossy finish in the 525 . The panels are however interchangeable, and  you can attach a glossy panel to your 520 if you wish to. Apart from this, the screen size is same 4 inches, with a 800x480p resolution, which does make the pictures and text appear a little bit pixelated, but if you go and look at the other phones in the similar price range you will find the 525 to be a better choice. The phone weighs the same as the 520 and does feel pretty strong and durable if you hold it. On the right edge of the phone you will find the lock/power, camera and the volume control keys. And like all windows phones you will find the capacitive keys for home, back and search right below the screen.  

The Lumia 525 is powered by the same 1GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 which powers the Lumia 520 , but the difference is the RAM which is 1GB , which is almost double that of the 520 which sports 512MB RAM. The internal storage is 8GB and you can extend the storeage upto 64GB using a SD card. Like all windows devices you get Skydrive storage. The connective is same as the Lumia 520 that is 2G, 3G and Wi-Fi and the battery is same as well.  

Software is Windows Phone 8 with the usual custom made look from Nokia with Nokia specific apps like Here Maps, Nokia Misic, Smart Shoot and Cinemagraph. The Windows Phone 8 OS is the updated version with the Black Update already installed. It does come with some of the features of the black update like better multitasking ability and double tap to wake up , but there is no glance screen . Wondering what the Black Update is , here follow this link and let Nokia tell you.
Apps like Flipkart and BigFlix come preloaded and Gameloft games are available for free download with your 525 and better still the 525 because of the 1GB RAM is able to run the graphic intensive games. So, now you can play Assassin’s Creed and Asphalt 8 effortlessly. A lot of India specific apps like M-Indicator and various bank apps are now available on the windows phone platform so the selection of apps are pretty decent. The App market of the Windows Phone universe is still growing and will take some more time to be as comprehensive like the Google Store and IOS app market.  

Windows Phone as an Operating system is something which does not require too many resources to run smoothly and while navigating the menus you find it to be pretty fluid and smooth. As far as games like Temple Run 2  go they run pretty smoothly because of the upgraded RAM and Nokia’s Gamble of keeping the same processor seemed to have paid off.  At the price point at which you will be able to buy this phone, no Android phone will come close when it come to performance.
 The camera is the same as the 520 and is able to take good or should I say decent images in outdoor and sunlight filled places. It’s in low light conditions that you will get grainy pictures. I seriously feel that an LED flash would have been a pretty good enhancement to the camera. What the 520 lacked in terms of camera was a Flash , which sadly is same for the 525. A Flash would have made it possible to click pictures in low light and in the night. So here once the sun sets the picture quality goes for a toss. No front camera is again a drawback and reduces the usability of Skype. The Nokia Camera app app is part of the standard features of this phone, I just wish the camera would have complimented it.

I would say that the entry level Windows phone got better with the 1GB RAM upgrade, which allows you to play more games than before. The latest build of the Windows OS also improves the user experience a bit. The pricing is a little above Rs 10000 which is tad bit more expensive than the 520 which is priced somewhere between Rs 7000 to Rs 8000, but if you miss the gaming experience in the 520 then it’s time to upgrade to the 525. Well if gaming is not your thing then the 520 is also a pretty decent phone with almost all the other apps and functions remaining the same.

The Windows Phone Experience

Windows open
I got my windows phone some time ago, that was the time when windows phone 7.5 (Mango) had just entered the market.  I desperately needed a new phone to replace my Nokia N97, which was going out of fashion at very fast pace. So, I decided I will buy another Nokia to replace my Nokia. I didn’t want to go for another Symbian phone, so I decided to look at the Lumia models. But, at that time Lumia was just beginning and the models in the market didn’t impress me much. The only Lumia model that I liked was the Lumia 900 and it was not available in India yet, and furthermore I thought it was overpriced. So I decided to hunt for other Windows Phone models.
Samsung it is
After a lot of research on the available windows phone models in India, I decided to buy the Samsung Omnia GT- I8350.  The phone had
  • Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) OS
  • 5 MP Primary Camera
  • 0.3 MP Secondary Camera
  • 3.7-inch Super AMOLED Capacitive Touchscreen
  • 1.4 GHz Scorpion Processor
  • Wi-Fi 
    Samsung Omnia GT- I8350
As far as the windows phone models available then this seemed like a great buy, and looking at the Samsung phones available in the market now, the build quality of the Samsung Omnia GT- I8350 is amazing, and completely non plastic and has a premium feel to it. Well I am not writing this piece to praise the Samsung phone, but to tell you about my experience with the windows phone operating system.
Windows Phone Begins
After I got the phone I was impressed with quite a few things, of course I need to tell that I had neither used IOS or Android till then and I had neither tried to use all the features of the Symbian phone I had. The first thing that impressed me was, contact sync. I mean all the contacts I stored on the phone went directly to my live id. Wow that was amazing, no more worries when I have to change the phone. All, I will need to do is log into the new phone and all my contacts will be there. Of course android and IOS offer the same facility, but I didn’t know that then . Anyway, a good start to the whole windows experience. And yes you can also sync your google contacts to your windows phone.
Facebook and Twitter Integration
If you are a user of facebook then you will certainly fall in love with the kind of integration a windows phone offers. The facebook sync is built directly into the operating system. You have the option of displaying your facebook and twitter contacts with your regular contacts. So it’s like direct connect , you want to send a normal SMS or write on someone’s facebook wall or tweet someone, its direct connect. Apart from this the regular Facebook and Twitter apps are available in the Windows marketplace.
Apps and Games
The windows marketplace or store as it is now called wasn’t such a happening place when I bought the windows Phone, but it has improved a lot now. Of course all Google apps are not available yet, only Google search and Gmail integration is available. But then I don’t miss it much. The store has quite a few apps which I think I require. For example,
Instagram ( Windows 8)
Temple Run ( Windows 8)
Kalpana ( Something similar to Temple run maybe better)
Skydrive ( Cloud Storage)
You can find the whole list of apps available on

About the performance of my windows phone, I can tell  you that it has impressed me a lot. Though my device came with windows 7.5 it has now been upgraded to windows 7.8. What windows 7.8 has done is it has give the interface a fresh new look and it looks like windows 8. But,  That’s where all the comparison ends.  The apps for Windows 8 are different from the apps for 7.8 , so a lot of apps are available only for 8 and not 7.8. Windows 8 supports Bluetooth data transfer and has given the manufacturers the option of adding external storage i.e. micro sim card. From my experience I will tell you that my windows phone has never hung. Its fluid , its smooth and fast . Though, the only drawback I find in my phone is the limited 8 GB memory, which also has to accommodate the operating system.
Why Windows ?
I know that there are some die hard android and IOS fans in this world, okay make it a lot of die- hard fans. So, I won’t try to convert you people, you will always have nice things to say about your phones.  So here are some facts.
Android needs a lot of resources to run smoothly and hence buying a cheap Android phone is not that great an Idea , because even if it runs smoothly in the beginning, it is bound to slow down ans you go on installing apps into it. I have a cheap android phone, My Sony Xperia J  was a great phone when I brought it, but now it feels like a rotten cheap plastic piece of junk and guess what it’s not that cheap either , just about Rs 2000 cheaper than my windows phone.  So, my suggestion is if you are going for an economical device then windows is preferable, because it requires less resources and doesn’t slow down or hang.
IOS is a good operating system with some awesome drawbacks, no Bluetooth file transfer and syncing songs using ITunes is painful, of course windows 7.8 makes me use Zune which is equally painful, but Windows 8 is Zune free, so its direct drag and drop. From dropping I just remembered, if you have an Iphone, don’t you dare drop it, it just gets shattered. Furthermore, the apple phones are too expensive. Even the Iphone C is priced quite high.
The windows phone has truly come of age, and with Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia you can expect better integration of hardware and software. Further I would like to tell you about a few features which are by default available on Lumia Phones.
Here Maps ( Formerly Nokia Maps) : This is one of the best maps available in the market, I loved Nokia maps from the time I had my Symbian Phone. Imagine completely downloadable maps. You can download maps of complete countries. I took my N 97 to Singapore and I didn’t use any sim card, the gaps helped me navigate the streets of Singapore. This same superior map and navigation system is available in your Lumia windows Phone. So, you will never get lost anywhere. There is one more cool feature in the here maps. The maps of the interior of Malls. This is available in India I don’t know about the world. But you can navigate inside malls and go to your favourite store in a new mall by using your phone’s navigation software.
Camera : The camera on every Nokia Phone is simply superb. If you didn’t know, Nokia sells more camera phones than any other normal convectional camera maker. If you can just check out the camera of the Lumia 1020 its pure delight.  Furthermore, the software for the camera is also amazing, it gives you aperture and shutter speed settings like a DSLR. 
Nokia Music : Free music downloads for the first two months , unlimited music.
These are some of the awesome features of a Lumia. Having said that , I would like to state, like any other windows phone user that I love it and I will be a windows phone addict for some time to come, unless Microsoft decides to do something horribly wrong with it. My Android phone is just a few months old and its performing like an accident victim. But, my more than two year old Windows phone is still performing as good as new. In the end just take an informed decision after making your own comparisons and buy a phone based on your requirements. But, one thing I would like to state from my experience is that , if you are on a budget then go for a windows phone, it will give you good value for your money and wont hang and desert you at every given opportunity. 

Old Nokia Adverts

Go to Amazon or Flipkart and check all the specifications , as far as quality and user delight goes I strongly recommend the  Windows Phone.

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