Handsets
Saturday
Jun012013

Windows Phone 8 bargains

This weekend has seen a number of discounts offered across many of the Windows Phone 8 handsets offered for sale in the New Zealand market.

Examples include:

  • Nokia Lumia 520 - $239.20
  • Nokia Lumia 620 - $399.20
  • Nokia Lumia 820 - $559.20
  • Nokia Lumia 920 - $719.20
  • HTC Windows Phone 8S - $319.20
  • Samsung Ativ S - $639.20

Above prices are from Noel Leeming, but other retailers may offer discounted prices too or provide price matching.

Also available at a discount is Nokia's wireless charging base for Lumia 920 ($99). This device uses the Qi wireless charging standard that so is also compatible with phones from other manufacturers.

Wednesday
Mar062013

Review: HTC Windows Phone 8X

HTC Windows Phone 8X

The HTC Windows Phone 8X is Vodafone NZ’s new flagship Windows Phone handset. It compares favourably with the more expensive Nokia Lumia 920 and shares many similar capabilities in terms of performance, screen resolution (the 920 has a slightly higher resolution screen) and basic camera specifications. It is also one of the first handsets that supports Vodafone’s new 4G LTE network.

The 8X has a stylish look and is very comfortable to hold and use. It’s large 4.3” Gorilla Glass 2 screen is fantastic and the extra definition compared to lower end handsets is noticeable. The size and weight of the phone is probably just right for most users.

There are very few compromises on this handset phone (as you’d expect with a NZ$949 incl GST launch price). Included storage of 16GB is augmented with free SkyDrive cloud storage (and free cloud backup) that’s likely to be sufficient for most users. Being an enclosed design as we’ve become used to with the iPhone and high end Lumia handsets means there is no option to add further storage.

One area I expected to be an issue was the battery which is not as big as that in many other new high end handsets. Fortunately though I found most days it’s sufficient for typical needs.

The camera on the 8X doesn’t seem to produce images a good as the iPhone 5 or the Nokia Lumia 920 in all cases – but it many situations it does. The 1080p front and rear cameras were appreciated – as often the front facing camera is not able to record useful video. Overall the HTC Windows Phone 8X is fantastic smartphone which would suit most demanding users in terms of both performance and capabilities.

Specification and features

  • Display: 4.3"  (1280 x 720 pixels) Super LCD
  • Rear Camera: 8mp Camera (F2.0 aperture, BSI low-light sensor) / 1080p HD Video Camera
  • Front Camera: 2.1mp Camera, 1080p HD Video Camera
  • 16GB Storage, 1024MB RAM
  • CPU: 1.5ghz Dualcore Snapdragon S4
  • Bluetooth 3.1
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n) – incl Wifi hotspot
  • 3.5mm stereo audio jack
  • NFC: included
  • Wireless charging: none
  • MicroUSB connector
  • SIM size: MicroSIM
  • Battery: 1800mAh
  • Weight: 130 grams
  • Size: 132.35 x 66.2 x 10.12 mm
  • Windows Phone 8 hardware features: A-GPS/Glonass, G-Sensor, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor
  • Other: Beats Audio
  • Windows Phone 8 software features: Synchronisation of email/contacts/calendar (Exchange, Office 365, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc), Xbox Music/Video/Podcast Hub, Xbox Live, Internet Explorer 10, Maps app, Facebook Integration, Twitter Integration, Pictures Hub, People Hub, fully upgradable OS.
  • HTC Specific Apps: various
  • Keyboard: Onscreen touch keyboard
  • Physical Keys:  Camera, Power, Volume
  • Capacitive Keys: Search, Back, Windows Start key
  • Data bands:
    GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA Band VIII (900), WCDMA Band I (2100)
    LTE 1800MHz, 2600MHz

Official Network: Vodafone NZ

Compatible Networks: All NZ mobile networks

NZ List Price: $899 incl GST ($782+gst)

Overall Product/Value Rating (as at February 2013): 4/5

Wednesday
Feb202013

Review: Huawei Ascend W1

Huawei Ascenda W1

The Huawei Ascend W1 has arrived in NZ courtesy of 2degrees Mobile – and it’s see a new price point for Windows Phone 8 handsets at just $299. As the best value Windows Phone available in NZ it compares extremely well against smartphones other handsets in the $200 – $500 range. In fact it could be argued that this is the best handset overall in that segment.

Whilst launched by 2degrees Mobile, Vodafone users can the Ascend W1 too. Telecom users however are left out in the cold as it isn’t useful on the Telecom NZ network.

Overall the W1 has a good feel about it and doesn’t come across as cheap at all – but it’s design isn’t quite up with what we’re seeing from the bigger names in the mobile industry. That said, there are no competitive Windows Phones in the market at this price point and Android smartphones in the <$300 range are often disappointing.

The W1 seems to run more smoothly than HTC’s $450 Windows Phone 8S – impressive considering that phone costs 50% more than the Huawei. Also, it has a larger battery than other similarly priced phones. With less RAM though than higher end handsets there will be some apps which may not run – though we’ve not come across any in our testing yet despite installing and running many of the most popular apps.

An area of compromise for the W1 is the included storage which totals just 4GB – and most of this is taken up with the operating system and bundled apps. Conveniently it does include a MicroSDHC slot and for less than $100 a basic 32GB storage card can be added.

It’s fair to say that the Huawei Ascend W1 is probably the best value smartphone in the NZ market at launch time and stacks up extremely well against Android and iOS phones that cost a lot more.

Specification and features

  • Display: 4.0"  (800 x 480 pixels) IPS LCD
  • Rear Camera: 5mp camera with flash / 720p HD Video Camera
  • Front Camera: 0.3MP camera
  • 4GB Storage, 512MB RAM
  • CPU: 1.2ghz Dualcore Snapdragon S4
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n)
  • 3.5mm stereo audio jack
  • NFC: none
  • Wireless charging: none
  • Charging/Sync: MicroUSB connector
  • SIM size: MicroSIM
  • Battery: 1950mAh
  • Weight: 130 grams
  • Size: 63.5mm x 10.15mm x 124.5mm
  • Windows Phone 8 hardware features: GPS/Glonass, Accelerometer
  • Windows Phone 8 software features: Synchronisation of email/contacts/calendar (Exchange, Office 365, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc), Xbox Music/Video/Podcast Hub, Xbox Live, Internet Explorer 10, Maps app, Facebook Integration, Twitter Integration, Pictures Hub, People Hub, fully upgradable OS.
  • Keyboard: Onscreen touch keyboard
  • Physical Keys:  Camera, Power, Volume
  • Capacitive Keys: Search, Back, Windows Start key
  • Data bands: GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA Band VIII (900), WCDMA Band I (2100)
  • Colours (NZ market): Blue

Official Network: 2degrees Mobile

Compatible Networks: 2degrees Mobile, Vodafone NZ

NZ List Price: $299 incl GST ($250+gst)

Overall Product/Value Rating (as at February 2013): 5/5

Wednesday
Feb132013

Huawei and 2degrees to launch NZ$299 Windows Phone 8

image

Following the failed 2012 launch of the Samsung Ativ S (it never made it NZ, but is due soon) 2degrees are preparing to launch the Huawei Ascend W1 in to the NZ market.

We hear initial pricing is pegged at $299 – dramatically lower than the next Windows Phone 8 handset on the ladder – the $449 HTC Windows Phone 8S. Launch is expected before the end of February – though experience shows that dates can change.

Huawei’s W1 has a 4” screen and many similar specifications to HTC’s 8S but seems to better it with a faster processor (1.2GHz rather than 1GHz), NFC and a higher capacity battery. I spent a few minutes with the w1 during CES in January and wasn’t left with an excitement for the styling however – it seems part of the premium you pay for an HTC, Nokia or Samsung Windows Phone is for the design. The larger battery in the W1 also plays into making it heavier than 8S.

Due this week: Review of the Huawei Ascend W1 and HTC’s new Windows Phone 8X.

Wednesday
Jan022013

Review: Nokia Lumia 820

Nokia-Lumia-820-b

The second of Nokia’s new Windows Phone 8 handsets has arrived rather quietly – and is one with mid-high end feature set and price tag. Compared with the more expensive Nokia Lumia 920 it’s specifications stand up quiet well in many regards.

This new Windows Phone 8 handset is available exclusively from Vodafone NZ. It provides dual carrier 3G capabilities means a maximum theoretical download speed in NZ of 42Mb/s.

The Lumia 820 has a stylish look and like the Lumia 920 has a larger stature than most smart phones. The key area where this handset is lower in specifications is the display. Running a 4.3” QWVGA display (800x480 pixels) rather than the 4.5” HD display of it’s bigger brother.

This handset is extremely responsive and the flexibility of increased storage is a great option which it’s pleasing to see is arriving in many of the newest Windows Phones (as it does with many Android handsets). The Lumia 820 built in a manner which leaves me feeling it will live up to the Nokia name in terms of strength and robustness. Also in the 820 is Qi wireless charging capabilities – an option expected to be available in a broad range of handsets going forward. To enable a separate wireless is needed and currently these are prices around NZ$130.

This is a very nice phone overall and the only reasons it doesn’t get a higher rating is the lower resolution screen and the relatively high price point. For the same price Samsung’s Ativ S will deliver much more storage (32GB) and a massive 4.8” HD display. The Ativ S however has been delayed to market and it’s final deliver date is not yet known.

Specification and features

  • Display: 4.3"  (800 x 480 pixels)
  • Rear Camera: 8mp Camera / 720p HD Video Camera
  • Front Camera: yes
  • 8GB Storage, 1024MB RAM
  • CPU: 1.5GHz Dualcore Snapdragon S4
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n) – incl Wifi hotspot
  • 3.5mm stereo audio jack
  • NFC: included
  • Wireless charging: Qi Wireless charging back cover included (charger available seperately)
  • MicroUSB connector
  • SIM size: MicroSIM
  • Battery: 1650mAh
  • Weight: 160 grams
  • Size: 68.5mm x 9.9mm x 123.8mm
  • Windows Phone 8 hardware features: A-GPS/Glonass, G-Sensor, Digital Compass, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor
  • Windows Phone 8 software features: Synchronisation of email/contacts/calendar (Exchange, Office 365, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc), Xbox Music/Video/Podcast Hub, Xbox Live, Internet Explorer 10, Maps app, Facebook Integration, Twitter Integration, Pictures Hub, People Hub, fully upgradable OS.
  • Nokia Specific Apps: various
  • Keyboard: Onscreen touch keyboard
  • Physical Keys:  Camera, Power, Volume
  • Capacitive Keys: Search, Back, Windows Start key
  • Maximum theoretical data download speed: LTE Cat 3 - 100 Mbit/s, HSDPA Cat 24 - 42.2 Mbit/s, EGPRS MSC 12 - 236.8 kbit/s
  • Maximum theoretical data upload speed: LTE Cat 3 - 50 Mbit/s, HSUPA Cat 6 - 5.76 Mbit/s
  • Data types: HSPA+ (3G), EDGE/EGPRS (2G), FDD-LTE (4G), HSUPA (3G), GSM (2G), HSDPA (3G), WCDMA (3G), DC-HSDPA (3G)
  • Data bands: GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA Band V (850), WCDMA Band VIII (900), WCDMA Band IV (1700), WCDMA Band II (1900), WCDMA Band I (2100), LTE 800, LTE 900, LTE 1800, LTE 2100, LTE 2600

 

Official Networks: Vodafone NZ

Compatible Networks: All NZ mobile networks

NZ List Price: $799 incl GST ($695+gst)

Overall Product/Value Rating (as at January 2012): 4/5

Sunday
Dec232012

Review: HTC Windows Phone 8S

HTC-WP-8S-L45

The first of the lower priced Windows Phone 8 handsets has reached the market – and despite one of the lowest launch prices of any Windows Phone handset it fairs well. Compared with the more expensive Nokia Lumia 920 (and the HTC Windows Phone 8X which has yet to launch in NZ) it’s specifications in terms of performance, screen resolution and camera capabilities are somewhat lower – though probably fine for most requirements.

This is the first Windows Phone 8 handset available from Vodafone NZ (though also launched by Telecom NZ).

The 8S has a stylish look and a form factor similar to the iPhone 5 – sharing a 4” screen with the aforementioned handset though a much lower screen resolution amongst many other differences.

In general this handset is really responsive however there were a couple of functions where we found it lags – such as when exiting a call and returning to the Windows Phone’s ‘home screen’. Also, as it has less RAM than higher end models there will be some apps which may not run – that said we’ve not come across any in our testing just despite installing and running most of the ‘big name’ apps.

One other area of expected compromise for a lower cost phone (it’s launch price was NZ$449 incl GST) is the included storage which totals just 4GB – and most of this is taken up with the operating system and bundled apps. Fortunately however it includes an easily accessible MicroSDHC slot and for well under $100 a basic 32GB storage card can be added.

Despite a few shortcomings it’s worth pointing out that this is one of the best value smartphones in the market and stacks up extremely well against lower cost Android and iOS phones in a similar price range.

Specification and features

  • Display: 4.0"  (800 x 480 pixels) Super LCD
  • Rear Camera: 5mp Camera / 720p HD Video Camera
  • Front Camera: none
  • 4GB Storage, 512MB RAM
  • CPU: 1ghz Dualcore Snapdragon S4
  • Bluetooth 3.1
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n) – incl Wifi hotspot
  • 3.5mm stereo audio jack
  • NFC: none
  • Wireless charging: none
  • MicroUSB connector
  • SIM size: MicroSIM
  • Battery: 1700mAh
  • Weight: 113 grams
  • Size: 63mm x 10.3mm x 120.5mm
  • Windows Phone 8 hardware features: A-GPS/Glonass, G-Sensor, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor
  • Windows Phone 8 software features: Synchronisation of email/contacts/calendar (Exchange, Office 365, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc), Xbox Music/Video/Podcast Hub, Xbox Live, Internet Explorer 10, Maps app, Facebook Integration, Twitter Integration, Pictures Hub, People Hub, fully upgradable OS.
  • HTC Specific Apps: various
  • Keyboard: Onscreen touch keyboard
  • Physical Keys:  Camera, Power, Volume
  • Capacitive Keys: Search, Back, Windows Start key
  • Data bands:
    Telecom NZ model: GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA Band V (850), WCDMA Band VIII (900), WCDMA Band I (2100)
    Vodafone NZ model: GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA Band VIII (900), WCDMA Band I (2100)

Official Networks: Telecom NZ, Vodafone NZ

Compatible Networks: All NZ mobile networks

NZ List Price: $449 incl GST ($391+gst)

Overall Product/Value Rating (as at December 2012): 4.5/5

Tuesday
Nov272012

Nokia Lumia 920 sells out in New Zealand

After selling out in a number of other markets internationally, the Nokia Lumia 920 appears to have also sold out in New Zealand. While retail stores sold out of the Lumia 920 shortly after launch last week, there appeared to be plenty of stock available online.

Today when we visited Telecom NZ’s online store we found all stock exhausted - Telecom have an exclusive arrangement as mobile carrier providing the Lumia 920 in NZ currently. We also found the website of Telecom partner Warehouse Stationery (the only other seller of the Lumia 920) to show that all stocks are depleted.

It’s unclear at this point how many Lumia 920 handsets have been sold in the New Zealand market but it must be pleasing for Nokia to sell their entire local stock. It’s a frustrating situation however for would be buyers of the new Windows Phone 8 based Nokia handset.

It’s also understood that the Nokia Lumia 920 has sold at in various other markets such as Australia and Germany. In addition some colours of the handset were understood to be sold out in the United States according to WPCentral.

Wednesday
Nov212012

Preview: Nokia Lumia 920

920-Hero-1-jpg

It’s been a long time coming, but the Windows Phone platform finally has a top device that can strongly challenge the best Android and iPhone handsets in terms of performance, screen resolution, camera capabilities and industrial design.

We took a quick look to see just how it stands up. The Lumia 920 feels good in the hand and looks great in my opinion – though style comes down to personal opinion. The handset is incredibly responsive and responds well to user interaction.

Compared to other high end smartphones on the market – the Lumia 920 stands up extremely well both in performance and features. The handset has Qi wireless charging built-in, a 4.5” super high definition display (at 332 ppi it’s higher than other smartphone available in the local market), a unique video camera with optical image stablisation, and a very reasonable 32GB of storage.

Oh, and the Lumia 920 supports a number of 4G LTE network bands – which could be handy when you’re travelling overseas or when such fast mobile services are available in NZ (think 2014 or so). 4G LTE can provide mobile data speeds that are faster than a home or business ADSL connection!

Reflecting it’s features the Lumia 920 is priced at $999 incl GST and available from Telecom NZ and it’s dealers.

So what’s not to like? Not much really in my opinion, though if you like small and light handset then this isn’t for you. In that case there are other options such as HTC’s upcoming Windows Phone 8S (at a mid-range price point) or the iPhone 5 ($1199 for the 32GB model). One thing that smaller markets miss is colour choice – so in New Zealand initially at least the Lumia 920 is available only in black.

Specification and features

  • Display: 4.5"  (1280 x 768 pixels), Pixel density 332 ppi
  • Rear Camera: 8.7mp Nokia Pureview autofocus Camera / 1080p HD Video Camera
  • Front Camera: 1.2mp still camera / 720p HD Video Camera
  • Audio, Photo, Video Streaming to TV, Xbox, etc (DLNA)
  • 32gb Storage, 1024mb ROM, 1024mb RAM
  • CPU: 1.5ghz Dualcore Snapdragon S4
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n) – incl Wifi hotspot
  • 3.5mm stereo audio jack
  • NFC enabled
  • Qi Wireless charging (wireless charger required to utilise)
  • MicroUSB connector
  • SIM size: MicroSIM
  • Battery: 2000mAh
  • Weight: 185 grams
  • Size: 70.8mm x 10.7mm x 130.3mm
  • Windows Phone 8 hardware features: A-GPS/Glonass, G-Sensor, Digital compass, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor
  • Windows Phone 8 software features: Synchronisation of email/contacts/calendar (Exchange, Office 365, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc), Xbox Music/Video/Podcast Hub, Xbox Live, Internet Explorer 10, Maps app, Facebook Integration, Twitter Integration, Pictures Hub, People Hub, fully upgradable OS.
  • Nokia Specific Apps: Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive, Nokia City Lens, Nokia Transport, Nokia Music
  • Keyboard: Onscreen touch keyboard
  • Physical Keys:  Camera, Power, Volume
  • Capacitive Keys: Search, Back, Windows Start key
  • Maximum theoretical data download speed: LTE Cat 3 - 100 Mbit/s, HSDPA Cat 24 - 42.2 Mbit/s, EGPRS MSC 12 - 236.8 kbit/s
  • Maximum theoretical data upload speed: LTE Cat 3 - 50 Mbit/s, HSUPA Cat 6 - 5.76 Mbit/s
  • Data types: HSPA+ (3G), EDGE/EGPRS (2G), FDD-LTE (4G), HSUPA (3G), GSM (2G), HSDPA (3G), WCDMA (3G), DC-HSDPA (3G)
  • Data bands: GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA Band V (850), WCDMA Band VIII (900), WCDMA Band IV (1700), WCDMA Band II (1900), WCDMA Band I (2100), LTE 800, LTE 900, LTE 1800, LTE 2100, LTE 2600

Tuesday
Nov202012

Preview: Windows Phone 8

With Windows Phone 8 handsets about to become generally available it seems appropriate to look over some of what this new release delivers.

Positive:

  • Cloud synchronisation and backup SMS messages, photos and key settings
  • Internet Explorer 10 included
  • Option to change IE 10 search provider to Google
  • Kids Corner – allows a parents phone to be used by others without providing full access to email, SMS and calling functions
  • Support for more screen resolutions compared to Windows Phone 7 (but a less diverse that Android, therefore ensuring it is easy for software developers to make applications compatible with all Windows Phone handsets)
  • Improved security
  • Management functions extended to facilitate use in business environments
  • Nokia Maps including offline downloadable maps
  • Support for MicroSD storage expansion (in some handsets)
  • 4G/LTE support
  • Pentaband 3G hardware support (enables handsets to be used for multiple carriers in-country and internationally)
  • Data Sense – a feature to track mobile data usage (and carriers can also enable network based data compression options)
  • Numerous other new features

Not so positive:

  • Podcast marketplace is only functional when utilising a U.S. Microsoft Account
  • Built in search button always go to Bing (no option to change to Google which often provides better results in markets outside the US)
Monday
Nov192012

Windows Phone 8 arrives downunder

It’s been just over two years since Windows Phone 7 launched. The first country to get it was New Zealand (just a step ahead of Australia and the rest of the world) thanks to Vodafone NZ making the HTC Trophy available on launch day. This time around a lot has changed and this time Windows Phone 8 has already arrived in other regions such as the United Kingdom and United States.

Online polls suggest the Nokia Lumia 920 is the most anticipated Windows Phone 8 product. Presales of the Lumia 920 were quickly exhausted when Telstra offered it online there ahead of it’s November 27 launch. Word is there has been similar levels of interest in other markets with the Lumia 920 apparently also sold out in Germany.

Windows Phone 8 is being released in a range of models internationally – and downunder it’s Telecom New Zealand who are taking the charge by today announcing three handsets at an event in Auckland. Each handset comes from a different vendor with the first available from 23 November (just 4 days ahead of Telstra’s launch in Australia):

  • Nokia Lumia 920
    • Arguably the top Windows Phone thanks to unique features such as wireless charging, camera featuring video stabalisation, an extremely solid/robust case, and unique applications such as Nokia City Lens and Nokia Maps
    • Available in NZ from 23 November
    • NZ$999 retail price (incl GST)
    • Being sold in Australia for AU$829
  • HTC Windows Phone 8S
    • A stylish mid-range handset at an impressively reasonable price point
    • Available in NZ from 6 December
    • NZ$499 retail price (incl GST)
    • Anticipated also on a similar date from Vodafone NZ
  • Samsung Ativ S
    • An impressive high-end handset that draws on the design and capabilities of the top selling Samsung Galaxy SIII – but adds a few refinements and Windows Phone 8
    • Availability in NZ will be well behind the other launch handsets – now expected February 2013
    • NZ$799 retail price (incl GST)
    • Being sold in Australia for AU$799 (making the NZ pricing particularly sharp)
    • Due also to be released by 2degrees Mobile in NZ

At Windows Phone NZ we’ve been fortunate to have our hands on all of the above handsets in recent days and weeks (we finally got to try the HTC 8S just today). We recently published screenshots from a prototype Samsung Ativ S, and are currently preparing a preview of the Nokia Lumia 920 and will follow that with a preview of the HTC Windows Phone 8S. All devices will also be discussed on the NZ Tech Podcast including a detailed roundup on Episode 99.

To stay current on Windows Phone 8 news be sure to follow our Twitter accounts – @WindowsPhoneNZ and @WindowsPhoneAU. Other relevant twitter accounts to follow include @WindowsPhone, @WindowsPhone8, @WP_Downunder