Nokia X2 review

Introduction

When you’re shopping on a budget, getting the most bang for your buck is what counts. And the Nokia X2 is keen to give you an exchange rate that’s hard to beat. This no-nonsense bar delivers a 5MP camera with flash, great audio with stereo speakers, dedicated music keys and a built-in antenna for the FM receiver.

Nokia X2 Nokia X2 Nokia X2 Nokia X2
Nokia X2 official photos

Features like that can run up quite a bill at checkout – but not with the Nokia X2. Its price hovers around the 100 euro mark – a bargain for that feature set.

Not that there weren’t compromises made – here’s the rundown of what made the cut and what was scrapped.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support
  • 2.2" 262K-color QVGA display
  • 5 megapixel enhanced fixed-focus camera with LED flash
  • QVGA video recording at 15fps
  • Series 40 UI, 6th edition
  • Dedicated Facebook app
  • Bluetooth (with A2DP)
  • Standard microUSB port (charging); USB On-The-Go
  • Hot-swappable microSD card slot (16 GB supported)
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS; built-in antenna
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • Dedicated music keys
  • Stereo speakers
  • Excellent loudspeaker performance
  • Great audio quality
  • Aluminum back cover

Main disadvantages

  • No 3G
  • No GPS receiver
  • No WLAN
  • S40 is outdated and lacks multitasking
  • No document viewer
  • No smart dialing
  • Below par still and video camera
  • Wobbly microUSB port

The Nokia X2 is a lower midrange S40 phone and it shows when you look at the disadvantages. But most of those are under the hood and you likely won’t notice them right away. The back cover is made of aluminum and has a brushed metal finish that looks great.

The stereo speakers are loud and you don’t need the headphones to blast out that new song on the radio. And if that feels too retro, the microSD card slot is easily accessible. The Nokia X2 is true Xseries stuff and makes no excuses when it comes to music.

Nokia X2 Nokia X2 Nokia X2 Nokia X2
The Nokia X2 paying us a visit

The Nokia X2 doesn’t overlook the biggest thing on the Internet since Google either. The dedicated Facebook app is pretty good (by non-touch phones’ standards).

And the 5MP camera with LED flash came as a bit of a surprise – that kind of camera usually goes on a mid-to-high end phones. Not all 5MP cameras are born equal though as we’ll see later on.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves – we need to open the box first. Jump to the next page to see what’s in and how the Nokia X2 feels on the outside.


Reference:

http://www.gsmarena.com

Samsung Galaxy Tablet

Samsung Electronics’ first tablet computer, the Galaxy Tab, will go on sale in two weeks, it said, turning up the heat on Apple Inc’s iPad.

Global handset vendors and PC makers including Nokia, LG Electronics and Hewlett- Packard Co are moving into the new category of devices, between traditional PCs and smartphones, taking a cue from Apple.

Dell Inc said last month it was launching its new tablet device, the Dell Streak, to U. S. customers. « We see huge potential for this kind of product, » YH Lee, head of marketing at Samsung Mobile, told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the IFA consumer electronics fair. The Galaxy Tab, with a 7- inch screen, will go on sale in European markets in mid- September. The device, which uses Google’s Android software, offers access to books, films and music.

The first wave of tablets following in the iPad's footsteps are (almost) here. Powered by the Android 2.2 (Froyo) OS, the Samsung Galaxy Tab ($TBA) sports a 7-inch TFT-LCD display (1024 x 600), front (1.3 MP) and rear (3 MP) cameras, full HD video playback (DivX, XviD, MPEG4, H.263, H.264), and comes in 16GB and 32GB models. It's also got built-in 3G HSPA connectivity, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 3.0. It will be launching in Europe later this month and in the U.S. in the "coming months."


Toshiba TG02 and K01 Preview

Last year's Toshiba TG01 caused a stir when it was announced, featuring possibly the first 1GHz processor in any mobile phone and sporting a very large 4.1" display. Unfortunately, this didn't translate into any significant sales for Toshiba - the TG01 remained a niche product that was perhaps just a little bit too far ahead of its time.
 Toshiba TG02 Preview

Given that there really wasn't much wrong with the TG01, it's no surprise to see that the Toshiba TG02 doesn't mess around with the formula too much. The large 480 x 800 pixel panel remains, but this time it has been upgraded to a capacitive touchscreen. The TG02's operating system is now Windows Mobile 6.5 with Toshiba's own 3D interface on top. There's no indication as to whether or not the TG02 can run Windows Phone 7, but it does have the right sort of specification for Microsoft's new operating system.


 Toshiba K01 Also announced is the Toshiba K01, which is really the TG02 with a slide out QWERTY keyboard. In this case, the K01 comes with a 4.1" OLED touchscreen display (Toshiba's first), and at only 12.9mm thick it will one of the slimmest devices of its type on the market.

The K01 and TG02 show that Toshiba are very committed to the Windows platform, although we can't help but feeling that they might have more market success with these type of handsets if they were running Android.

There's no word on pricing or availability for either of these two devices, although we would guess that they will sell for between €550 to €600 including taxes when they arrive at retailers sometime later this year.

Apple iPad

The Apple iPad is one of the most anticipated product launches for a while. Sitting in the small gap between high-end smartphones and netbooks, it competes with devices like the Nokia Booklet 3G in trying to bring truly seamless and ultraportable data connectivity wherever users go.


It's not just a compact computer, the interface is derived in part from the iPhone and uses a completely different set of design concepts from a standard PC (or Mac) interface. The overall effect is that the iPad feels like something that has dropped out of a time-warp from the future, and it makes offerings like Nokia's look old-fashioned.. even if they are just as functional.

 Apple iPad (back) Apple are pricing the iPad in the US at just $499 for the basic 16GB WiFi model, up to $829 for a 64GB iPad with WiFi plus 3G support, with lots of price points in between including a 32GB variant. Apple say that the iPad should be available in 60 days for the WiFi only version (so the very end of March) and 90 days for the 3G + WiFi variant (end of April).

It looks like a stretched iPhone, with a large 1024 x 768 pixel 9.7" touchscreen display dominating the design plus an iPhone style button at the bottom. Inside is a 1GHz "Apple A4" processor (we guess this is ARM-derived), the iPad supports 802.11a, b, g and n WiFi, it comes with Bluetooth 2.1 support, GPS and a compass, plus a microphone and speaker.. we don't know if it's possible to make voice calls on it though, or even if you would want to try! The iPad is around 13mm thick and weighs very roughly 700 grams, which is impressively thin and lightweight for a fully-featured device such as this. The iPad also includes USB connectivity for local synchronisation.

Despite all the hype, the iPad is just a tablet computer, and these have been around for years.. but that's a little like saying that the iPhone is just a mobile phone. Apple will no doubt add their own magic to the concept, and will somehow persuade consumers that they actually want to go and buy a type of device that they have previously always avoided.

 Apple iPad Apple's raison d'ĂȘtre for the iPad is that phones are often just too fiddly for web browsing, watching videos and carrying out everyday tasks like email, but a traditional laptop computer is often overkill. To this end, the iPad is designed to be simpler to use and comes with an interface similar to the iPhone's, including the famous "slide to unlock" gesture that users start with.

It's not just the interface that looks like the iPhone, the iPad can run iPhone applications unmodified either in a small window on a black background or by doing an on-the-fly pixel resize to run full screen. Presumably this also means that applications for the iPad will be tightly controlled, although we have yet to see. Applications will need to be rewritten to take full advantage of the iPad's hardware though.

 Apple iPad From initial indications, it looks like there's a heavy emphasis on games and content from the likes of the New York Times and similar publications, and the iPad can also be used as an e-book reader.. although you probably would be very upset if you left your iPad on the bus or dropped it in the bath. Everything is available for purchase directly through the iPad itself.

Apple will also make available a version of their iWork productivity suite, although it has been re-engineered to fit in with the iPad's user interface and takes into account that the underlying hardware is somewhat more modest than on a Mac. The form factor of a tablet PC means that it is far from ideal when doing serious work though, although there is an optional keyboard dock available. Each component of the iWork suite is slated to cost just $9.99 to download in the US. As a comparison, the full version of Microsoft Office retails for around $400.


Annoyingly, there appears to be no multi-tasking support on the iPad, meaning that it is designed for running just one application at a time and this may well be a key weakness. This is bizarre, because the underlying operating system is a descendant of Unix which has had full multitasking since 1969.. although you can't fit a PDP-7 in your pocket.

 Apple iPad There's no built-in keyboard on the iPad, but the large touchscreen leaves plenty of space to have a virtual one on-screen which should satisfy most casual users. Of course, the Apple iPad has WiFi built in, but it also has optional cellular connectivity which should be a lot easier than the traditional messing around with dongles, cards and Bluetooth connections.

Apple say that the data plans available with the iPad in the US will be $29.99 per month for "unlimited data" and $14.99 for a much more modest 250MB limit, available through AT&T. Contracts can be cancelled at any time without notice, which is not a bad idea considering that many iPads will never roam beyond a WiFi connection. International deals should be in place in June. On a side note, one unusual feature is that the iPad uses something called "GSM micro SIMs" which we have not come across before.

The Apple iPad won't appeal to everyone, and the price tag makes it more expensive than some low-end netbooks. The huge size means that it won't be replacing many people's mobile phones, and for serious computing power the iPad is never going to challenge desktops and laptops. But Apple are betting that there are enough people who are looking for a device just like this, and we have to say that it certainly looks compelling and slick enough to be a success.. and a potential game-changer in the industry.

Apple have more details of this device at at www.apple.com/ipad.

Apple iPad at a glance


Available:
March - April 2010

Network:
Cellular support optional:
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 +
UMTS 850 / 1900 / 2100

Data:
802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi

Cellular support optional:
GPRS + EDGE + UMTS (3G) + HSDPA

Screen:
9.7" 1024 x 768 pixels

Camera:
None

Size:
Tablet PC
243 x 190 x 13mm / 680g (WiFi only) or 730g (WiFi + 3G)

Bluetooth:
Yes

Memory card:
No

Infra-red:
No

Polyphonic:
Yes

Java:
No

GPS:
Yes

OS:
iPhone OS

Battery life:
10 hours continuous use

Samsung Shark Range (S3550, S5350, S5550)

The Samsung Shark Range is this Korean manufacturer's attempt to make a big splash at the beginning of 2010 - unfortunately, it looks like these three phones might be more of a wet thud instead. We understand that all three handsets should be available this month.

Samsung Shark (Samsung S5350)

The Samsung Shark S5350 can best be described as a standard candy bar phone with social networking capabilities thrown in, with everything wrapped up in a pretty user interface. Other than that, we have to say that the Shark is a pretty dull mobile phone, sporting a basic 3.2 megapixel camera, a 2.2" 240 x 320 pixel display, Bluetooth, microSD expandable memory and an FM radio. This is a 3G device with unconfirmed reports that it supports HSDPA. The Samsung Shark S5350 does not support WiFi or GPS. Despite the impressive-sounding name, the Samsung Shark is only a run-of-the-mill midrange handset when you look at it closely.

 Samsung Shark S5350


Samsung Shark 2 (Samsung S5550)

Marginally more exciting than the S5350, the Samsung Shark 2 S5550 packs a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus, 3.5G support plus the social networking features of its sibling.

Despite Samsung's boast that the "Shark 2's well-crafted mix of extrusion, Kevlar, and metallic surface creates a strong, chiseled look that dictates the form factor" it actually looks rather retro and not a million miles away from the D500 and many other Samsung phones.

Samsung say that the S5550 can record video at up to 320 x 240 pixels at 30 frames per second, which is hardly great but should be just about passable for YouTube.. and it's certainly better than the awful video recording on some other Samsungs.

 Samsung Shark S5550


Samsung Shark 3 (Samsung S3550)

Confusingly, the Samsung Shrek 3.. sorry, the Samsung Shark 3 (or the S3550) is the bottom of the range. A GSM-only device with a 2" 240 x 320 pixel display and a 2 megapixel camera, the Shark 3 apparently also supports "some" social networking sites. Unfortunately this is a handset of few interesting features, other than we assume it will be very cheap and at just 79 grams it is reasonably lightweight.

 Samsung S3550


Sony Ericsson Vivaz

The Sony Ericsson Vivaz is Sony Ericsson's first product announcement of 2010, and something that Sony Ericsson must hope will put a miserable 2009 behind them.
 Sony Ericsson Vivaz

This is a touchscreen phone that manages to avoid the dreaded black slabby look by going with a curved design that Sony Ericsson says includes their "human curvature" design philosophy.. whatever that is. It looks attractive anyway, and overall the Vivaz is certainly very distinctive.

The Vivaz runs the Symbian operating system, a bit of a surprise as Sony Ericsson's recent commitment to Symbian has been patchy, but the latest versions of Symbian are well suited to this type of device.

There's a 3.2" 360 x 640 pixel touchscreen display dominating the front of the Vivaz, on the back is prominent 8.1 megapixel camera with autofocus, geotagging and a photo light. One interesting feature with the camera on the Vivaz is the video capture capabilities, Sony Ericsson say that it is capable of 720p HD recording, that is at least 1280 x 720 pixels at 25 frames per second. This is very impressive, although we have not yet seen any sample video captures from the Vivaz.

GPS is built in, and the Vivaz comes with a trial version of the Wisepilot navigation system. The large 3.2" touchscreen display should lend itself well to this type of application, but you will probably want a vehicle mount if using it in-car.

 Sony Ericsson Vivaz The Sony Ericsson Vivaz also has WiFi and 3.5G HSPA high-speed data support. Inside is some sort of processor clocked at 720 MHz coupled with 75MB of available RAM, which should mean that Symbian applications run quickly. Talktime on 3G is quoted as being over 5 hours with up to 18 days standby time.

The Vivaz supports microSD memory cards, and a useful 8GB card is included in the standard sales package. Of course the Vivaz also has Bluetooth, and there's a 3.5mm audio socket too and the Vivaz has a TV out capability to play back those HD videos you captured. At just 97 grams, the Vivaz is surprisingly lightweight for a device like this.


The OS is Symbian S60 5th Edition, and it comes with applications to integrate with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube plus a document viewer and a couple of games. Symbian isn't really that sexy as an OS, but it should work well on this type of smartphone.

 Sony Ericsson Vivaz Sony Ericsson say that the Vivaz should be available during Q1 2010 in "Moon Silver", "Cosmic Black", "Galaxy Blue" and "Venus Ruby" colour combinations. There's no guidance on pricing, but we think that this should be a bit cheaper than the XPERIA X2.

The Vivaz is certainly a fresh design with a compelling feature set, and if Sony Ericsson can convince customers that they have beaten the reliability issues that have dogged them recently, then this phone could go on to be a success.


Sony Ericsson Vivaz at a glance

Available:
Q1 2010

Network:
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 +
UMTS 900 / 2100 or 850 / 1900 / 2100

Data:
GPRS + EDGE + UMTS (3G) + HSPA + WiFi

Screen:
3.2" 360 x 640 pixels, 16m colours

Camera:
8 megapixels

Size:
PDA-style device
107 x 52 x 13mm / 97 grams

Bluetooth:
Yes

Memory card:
MicroSD

Infra-red:
No

Polyphonic:
Yes

Java:
Yes

GPS:
Yes

OS:
Symbian S60 5th Edition

Battery life:
5 hours talk / 18 days standby (3G)
13 hours talk / 18 days standby (GSM)

BlackBerry Bold (9000) on a roll !!!



















The Research In Motion (RIM) BlackBerry 9000 (Bold) is the most feature packed and highly specified BlackBerry smartphone to date. The name BlackBerry Bold refers to the half-VGA 480x320 pixel resolution screen that boasts a highly respectable 65,000 colour display. This makes for one of the best looking displays of any smartphone and those who use this BlackBerry handset have reported that the colours 'pop off the screen'.

The BlackBerry 9000 / Bold platform features a double the usual BlackBerry speed - 624-Mhz Marvell Tavor PXA930 processor, along with HSDPA or EVDO networking, Wi-Fi, GPS, and support for up to 16GB MicroSD cards. There are significant improvements with both call quality and Bluetooth music quality.

Great news is the new OS 4.6 which includes DataViz' DocumentsToGo, allowing BlackBerry Bold users to read and edit Microsoft Word and PowerPoint documents.

The BlackBerry 9000 Bold is a top quality BlackBerry smartphone with premium design features and outstanding performance. The BlackBerry Bold is targeted at business professionals and power users.


BlackBerry 9000 specifications

» Quad-band mobile phone - (GSM 850/900/1800/1900)
» Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g)
» HSDPA/UMTS - 3.5G technology - (850/1900/2100) support
» Bluetooth 2.0 - with full A2DP support
» 624MHz Intel PXA270 processor - blistering fast
» 128MB of flash memory + 1GB of onboard memory
» MicroSD/SDHC expansion slot - supports up to 16GB cards
» 2-megapixel camera + video-recording & 5x zoom
» Dataviz's Documents to Go suite - view / edit office documents

Plus...

» Email (support up to 10 email accounts)
» Instant Messaging - Communicate on the move via Yahoo & Google Talk
» Improved web browser - navigate the Internet from virtually anywhere
» Organiser / Diary - Address book,Calender, Memo pad & tasks
» Advanaced phone features - Polyphonic / MP3 ringtones, background noise reduction
» Voice activated - initiate calls by voice
» Multi-media - play / store music & video files
» Built in GPS (Global Positioning System) - Mapping, navigation & more
» BlackkBerry Maps - Turn by turn directions
» High capacity battery - uncompromising battery life
» Trackball navigation - easy use via thumb scroll & click

BlackBerry Storm2 9520 review: Back in Black... Berry

RIM are a company with style and simply hopping on the touchscreen bandwagon with another iPhone wannabe just wouldn't suit them. They certainly realized the importance of having a full-touch device in their portfolio but wanted a clear and legible BlackBerry imprint on it.

http://www.mobilegazette.com/handsets/blackberry/blackberry-9520/blackberry-storm2-9520-1.jpg

The BlackBerry Storm 9500 was a truly intriguing device but never really managed to find its place in the new market it was built for. Too bold and unusual for the BlackBerry-loyals and yet too conservative for the rest of the world, it didn't quite get the results it was hoping for. But the successor might use the publicity the first Storm generated for its own good.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and 2100 MHz 3G with HSPA support
  • 3.25" 65K-color capacitive touchscreen of 360 x 480 pixel resolution
  • Improved touchscreen experience with piezo-electric touch feedback system
  • 3.15 MP autofocus camera, LED flash
  • BlackBerry OS 5
  • Wi-Fi and built-in GPS with BlackBerry maps preloaded
  • 2 GB internal storage and a hot-swappable microSD card slot
  • Landscape on-screen keyboard is as close to hardware keys as we have seen on a touch phone
  • Nice looks and great build quality
  • 3.5mm standard audio jack
  • Accelerometer sensor for screen auto-rotate
  • Bluetooth v2.1 and USB v2.0
  • Document editor
  • Good audio quality

Main disadvantages:

  • No email support without BlackBerry Internet Service account
  • Interface not as quick as competitors'
  • Chubbier than most touchscreen phones with similarly-sized displays
  • Mediocre camera
  • No FM radio
  • No web browser Flash support
  • No dedicated video-call camera

The good news is RIM decided to honor the Storm2 with a few upgrades over the original. However, none of them seems to be absolutely crucial so the greatest responsibility falls on the brand new piezo-electric touchscreen. The missing link between touchscreen and a hardware keypad is what many keen texters must have been waiting for. Or at least that's what RIM believe.

BlackBerry Storm2 9520 BlackBerry Storm2 9520 BlackBerry Storm2 9520
The BlackBerry Storm2 9520 views

Now, the SurePress screen didn't work out particularly well on the first Storm and a second failure might herald the demise of the entire series. So the BlackBerry Storm2 knows it needs to impress the audience or it might take a spot in history for all the wrong reasons.

Exclusive: first Google Phone "Nexus One"


Of course, long before the name Nexus One or the recent bounty of pictures and details existed, the very concept of a "Google Phone" had been ingrained in the public conscience, predating even the Open Handset Alliance and Android itself; the company dabbled in the concept of direct sales through its offering of the Android Dev Phones 1 and 2 (alias Ion), but this time, it's a public retail ordeal, not a couple of one-off developer specials. The genuine-article Google Phone is finally here -- for better or worse.

The device, a Snapdragon-powered, HTC-built phone looks -- on paper, at least -- like the ultimate Android handset, combining a newly tweaked and tightened user interface with killer industrial design. A sleek, streamlined phone that can easily go toe-to-toe with the iPhone 3GSs, Pres, and Droids of the world, powered by the latest version of Android (2.1 "Flan," if you're counting), and hand-retooled by Google. But is it all it's cracked up to be? Can the Nexus One possibly live up to the hype ascribed to it? And more importantly, is the appearance of the phone the death knell for the OHA and a sign of the coming Android autocracy? In our exclusive review of the Nexus One, we'll answer all those pressing questions and more... so read on for the full scoop!

Note: The unit we have in hand is -- by all appearances -- a production model, save for the QR code imprint on the back, which is likely an employee-only Easter egg. However, Google is making its official announcement tomorrow, and there could always be differences. If anything changes with the device, or there are revelations about the marketing or sale of the phone, we'll be sure to update the review with new info.

Hardware


As we said in the intro -- and our previous hands-on write up -- the Nexus One is nothing if not handsome. From its ultra-thin body to sleek, curved edges, the phone is absolutely lustworthy. While it's unmistakably HTC, there are plenty of design cues that feel authentically Google as well -- and it's that balance which makes the phone such an intriguing piece of hardware.

Industrial design


When you first lay eyes on the Nexus One, you can almost hear someone at Google say something like, "Make us something as sexy as the iPhone, but let's not forget what got us here" -- "what got us here" being the G1, which Google worked tightly with HTC to create. Whether you love or hate the iPhone, it's hard to deny its obvious physical attractiveness, and it's clear that Google and HTC made strides to bring an Android handset into the same realm of base desirability that Apple's halo device occupies. For the most part, they've succeeded. The phone shape finds itself somewhere between the iPhone and Palm Pre -- taking the Pre's curved, stone-like shape and stretching it into something resembling a more standard touchscreen device (a la the Hero or Instinct). The body of the handset is comprised of what appears to the eye as two interlocking pieces, a main, dark gray housing (coated in a soft-touch treatment) which is intersected and wrapped by a lighter gray, smooth, almost metallic band. The overall effect is fluid, though we're not crazy about the choice of coloring -- we would have liked to see something a little more consistent as opposed to the two-tone, particularly when the choice of hues is this drab and familiar. Still, the shape and size of the phone is absolutely fantastic; even though the surface of the device houses a 3.7-inch display, the handset generally feels trimmer and more svelte than an iPhone, Hero, and certainly the Droid.

HTC has managed to get the thickness of the phone down to just 11.5mm, and it measures just 59.8mm and 119mm across and up and down -- kind of a feat when you consider the guts of this thing. In the hand it's a bit lighter than you expect -- though it's not straight-up light -- and the curved edges and slightly tapered top and bottom make for a truly comfortable phone to hold. On the glass-covered front of the device there are four "hardware" buttons (just touch-sensitive spots on the display) laid out exactly as the Droid's four hard keys: back, menu, home, and search. Clearly this is going to be something of a trend with Google-approved devices.


Unlike the Droid, the Nexus One has a trackball just below those buttons that should feel very familiar to Hero users -- the placement feels a bit awkward here, and there's literally nothing in the OS that requires it. Along the left side you've got a volume rocker, up top there's a sleep / wake / power button on one end, and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the other, and along the bottom there's a micro-USB port, a mic hole, and three gold dots that look destined for some kind of dock (which would jibe with what we've seen and heard). Around back you'll find the strangely pronounced 5 megapixel camera and accompanying LED flash, along with Google's Android mascot holding up a QR code -- a decidedly geeky Google touch that we expect won't make it to the final retail version. The layout of the phone is solid, though we would have liked a physical camera key (no biggie), and we actually had some real trouble with those four dedicated buttons. Hopefully it was just our review unit, but the target areas seemed to be too high on the row, and we found ourselves consistently accidentally tapping them while composing an email or text message, or missing them when we tapped a little too low. It wasn't a deal breaker, but it was definitely maddening -- especially considering that we don't have similar issues on the Droid.

Despite the minor niggles, HTC and Google have put together pretty damn good looking and feeling phone; it's not without faults, but they're pretty few and far between.

Internals


As you've heard, the Nexus One runs atop the much-hyped, rarely seen 1GHz Snapdragon CPU from Qualcomm (the same processor powering the HD2) -- really the highlight of this show. The phone also has 512MB of both RAM and ROM, but those hoping for new application storage options will find themselves out of luck yet again -- you're still limited to that small partition for app use. The display is an AMOLED, 480 x 800 capacitive touchscreen, and the handset also contains a light sensor, proximity sensor, and accelerometer, along with an HSPA-capable GSM radio (AWS and euro 2100MHz bands only for 3G -- sorry AT&T users), WiFi, the prerequisite AGPS chip, and a microSD slot (which comes loaded with a 4GB card, but is expandable to 32GB). By late-2009 / early-2010 standards, there's really nothing notable about the guts of this phone beyond the presence of a Snapdragon processor, and even that left something to be desired. The phone is fast, assuredly, but not so much of a leap up from the Droid that we felt it kept pace with the boost we were expecting. Scrolling lists and opening apps seemed speedy, but put simply, it's not a whole new Android experience (we'll talk more about this in the software section).

Display


The 3.7-inch display should be stunning -- and is for the most part -- but we did have some issues with it (at least on the unit we have). In terms of touch sensitivity, the display is as good or better than any Android phone we've used. While the resolution is high (480 x 800), it's missing 48 pixels that we expected given the size of the Droid's screen. It didn't bother us that much, but it's noticeable in certain apps -- Gmail for instance, where you have to scroll further in some menus than you do on the Droid. The big issue with the screen, though, is actually the color balance. We found colors on the Nexus One, particularly in the reds and oranges, to be severely blown-out and oversaturated -- a common effect with AMOLED displays like the Nexus One's. At first we thought Google had tweaked some of the Market settings because the highlight orange was so bright, but comparing images on the web across different displays, the Nexus One consistently looked brighter then it should have. Oh, and using this thing in daylight? Forget about it. Like most screens of this type, the Nexus One is a nightmare to see with any kind of bright light around, and snapping photos with it on a sunny day was like taking shots with your eyes closed.

Camera


One place where the Nexus One seems to be improving things is in the camera department. Not only has Google bumped up the speed of the camera app (which we're still not that stoked about in general), but the 5 megapixel lens and flash took sharp, detailed images with none of the HTC-related issues we've seen on other models. The focus of the lens was super speedy, and images came out looking more or less as we'd hoped. The flash felt a bit stark at times, but given its size, we didn't lose too much sleep over it. One place where Google has really made some smart decisions is within the Gallery application. Instead of the drab, flat iterations of Android past, the new version is extremely attractive and user friendly, giving you far more options than before (like a nice pan and scan slideshow) and making browsing photos a much more enjoyable experience.


Telephony / data / earpiece and speaker


As a phone, the Nexus One isn't dramatically different than most GSM devices you've probably used. In terms of earpiece quality and volume, it's certainly on par with its contemporaries, providing a loud, reasonably clean talking experience, though it doesn't touch the Droid in terms of call clarity and evenness. The loudspeaker, on the other hand, seemed extremely tinny to our ears, making for a pretty unpleasant companion for conference calls, with the midrange cutting through in a way that could be painful at times. We'd be inclined to blame that issue on the extremely thin housing here, but it's hard to say what the real culprit is. As far as connections and 3G pickup, the Nexus fared as well as our iPhone did when traveling, but -- surprise, surprise -- neither of these could touch Verizon. For instance, at JFK airport, we had no trouble placing calls on the Droid, but both the Nexus One and iPhone were completely incommunicado. When we hit the ground in Las Vegas however (you know, for a little event called CES 2010), 3G seemed to function as we might have hoped. In a few cases, T-Mobile did seem to be hanging onto a signal a bit better than AT&T was, and in a browser test between the two, even though the iPhone ended up with a slightly faster load time, the Nexus One pulled down initial content considerably quicker. In all, we averaged download speeds of around 559Kbps on the phone -- about where we expected things to be.

Software



Now, the big story with the Nexus One (besides how it's being sold -- we'll get to that in a minute) has been the rumored alterations or updates Google has made with Android 2.1. There's been talk that this is somehow the "real Android," a suggestion that other, earlier versions weren't true to Google's mold. There's been talk that the Nexus One is worth the hype, and will blow people away when they see what this version of Android can do. Mostly, there's been a lot of talk. So, what's really the story here?

Well the real story is that Android 2.1 is in no way dramatically different than the iteration of the OS which is currently running on the Motorola Droid (2.0.1). In fact, there is so little that's different in the software here, we were actually surprised. Of the notable changes, many are cosmetic -- if there are major underlying differences between this OS and the one on the Droid, we can't see what they are. Still, there ARE changes, so here's a peek at just what Google has cooked up for the new phone.

Firstly, the place where Google really seems to have put a lot of its energies has been in the look and feel of homescreen navigation. Obviously the feedback the company has gotten is shaping the next steps on Android's path, and as anyone who has used Android will tell you, the homescreen situation was kind of a mess. In 2.1, Google has jettisoned key chunks of the established Android paradigm for how to get around its device. Most noticeably, the company has killed the sliding drawer which used to house all of your application icons -- the tab is replaced with a handy "home" icon which zooms in your icons over top of whatever homescreen you're on. You can scroll up and down through those icons, which is now accompanied by a cute 3D animation where the items slide over the top and bottom edge, like wrapping a piece of paper around the side of a table. It's nice, but not necessarily functional in any way. Google has also added a little bounce to the menu, in keeping with its contemporaries' love of physics.


Additionally Google has expanded the number of homescreens accessible from three to five (following a precedent set by skins like Sense and BLUR), adding a combo of webOS and iPhone style dots to help you keep track of where you're situated. If you long press on those dots, you get a kind of "card" view of all your homescreens which you can use for quick jumps. All of the homescreen improvements are just that -- improvements -- and it's nice to see Google thinking about a user's first impression of this device. Not only do these additions bolster the look and feel of the UI, but they're actually sensible and helpful solutions to problems which Google had heretofore approached in an obtuse way.

Elsewhere, there are nips and tucks that are welcome, such as the improved Gallery application we mentioned previously, which seems to be one of the few areas actually tapping into the Snapdragon's horsepower. But Google stumbles as well; the dated and always-underwhelming music player has undergone almost zero change, and the soft keyboard -- while better than previous models -- can still be inaccurate. Of course, Google wants to provide another option for text input that we haven't seen before the Nexus One. Now included when the keyboard pops up is an option to use the company's speech-to-text engine, which will (attempt) to translate your words into onscreen text. Our experiments with the technology were marginally successful, but we don't see this being a big part of our communications game until the audio recognition gets a little more robust. It might work for an occasional SMS where use of the Queen's English isn't a priority.


One other thing. As we mentioned in our impressions post, there's no multitouch on the Nexus One. Now, we can live with a browser or Google Maps with no pinch-to-zoom, but not having a hardware keyboard hamstrings this device in other ways. For instance, gaming on the phone is pretty much abysmal save for a few accelerometer-based titles. And some of our favorite software, such as Nesoid (an NES emulator) is a total dead. For a phone which uses touch input as its main vehicle for navigation, relegating that experience to a single digit is really kind of bogus. There were plenty of times when using the Nexus One (and this does happen with other Android devices as well, but it's pronounced here) where we felt not just bummed that you could only use one point of contact, but actually a little angry. Why won't Google open this up? Why have they kept what has become a normal and quite useful manner of interaction away from their devices? Only Eric Schmidt knows for sure. What it made us realize, however, is that an Android phone is really better off with a keyboard, and we were longing to get back to the Droid a number of times while using this device.

Battery life

We haven't had a lot of time to spend with the phone just yet (you may have heard, it's been a bit hard to get ahold of), but from what we've seen, the battery performs admirably. Thus far we haven't had any major shockers when it came to power drain, and that AMOLED screen seems to go easy on things even when cranked up to a pretty stark setting. That said, we did see a dip when taking long calls, which indicates that this might not be a charge-free device day to day if you've got some serious gossip to dish. We're going to be running some more tests this week to see how the phone performs over a lengthier stretch of time, and we'll let you guys know how it fares.

Pricing and availability


As of this writing, all we have on the Nexus One in terms of pricing and sales plans comes to us in the form of leaked documents and tipster screenshots. That said, if everything falls into line the way we think it should, the sale of the phone won't be the kind of barnstorming industry shakeup that many predicted -- rather, it's business as usual, with one small difference. While the phone is manufactured by HTC and destined for use on T-Mobile's network, Google will be the one doing the selling of the device. By all appearances, the company will have a new phone portal where buyers can pick between an unsubsidized, unlocked Nexus One for $529.99, or sign up for a two-year agreement with T-Mobile and purchase the phone for $179.99. This shouldn't seem strange or exciting to anyone who's recently bought a smartphone -- it's pretty much the lay of the land right now. Previous to the documents we'd seen, the hope was that Google had found some ingenious ad-supported way to get this phone into consumer's hands for a low, seemingly subsidized price but without the shackles of a contract or specific carrier -- but those plans seem have been either invented, or somehow dashed.

Wrap-up


Never mind the Nexus One itself for a moment -- there's a bigger picture here, and it might spell a fundamental change for the direction of Android as a platform. Whereas Google had originally positioned itself as a sort of patron saint for Android -- sending it off into the cold world to be nourished and advanced in a totally transparent way by the widely-supported Open Handset Alliance -- it has instead taken a deeply active role and has elected to maintain some semblance of secrecy as it moves from pastry-themed version to version. In general, that approach isn't necessarily a bad thing for device variety, functionality, and availability, but the way Android's evolution in particular has gone down certainly seems like a bait-and-switch from an outsider's view. Take Motorola and Verizon, for example: what had seemed like a deep, tight partnership literally just weeks ago with the announcement of Eclair and the selection of the Droid / Milestone as 2.0's launch platform has taken a distant back seat just as quickly as it rose to the top. In a word, Google is plunging head-first into the dangerous game Microsoft has adamantly sought to avoid all these years on WinMo: competing head-to-head with its valued (well, supposedly valued) partners. Whether Android risks losing support over manufacturers and carriers being treated like pieces of meat remains to be seen, but realistically, Motorola (which has very publicly gone all-in with Mountain View over the past year) and others are likely to grin and bear it as long as the platform pays the bills -- no matter how awkward competing with the company that writes your kernel and huge swaths of your shell might be.

Industry politics aside, though, the Nexus One is at its core just another Android smartphone. It's a particularly good one, don't get us wrong -- certainly up there with the best of its breed -- but it's not in any way the Earth-shattering, paradigm-skewing device the media and community cheerleaders have built it up to be. It's a good Android phone, but not the last word -- in fact, if we had to choose between this phone or the Droid right now, we would lean towards the latter. Of course, if Google's goal is to spread Android more wide than deep, maybe this is precisely the right phone at the right time: class-leading processor, vibrant display, sexy shell, and just a sprinkling of geekiness that only Google could pull off this effortlessly.

Then again, we suspect Motorola, Samsung, Verizon, and countless other partners might disagree.

Reference:
http://www.engadget.com/2010/01/04/nexus-one-review/

Samsung Lindy (Samsung M5650)

The Samsung Corby (sold in the UK as the "Genio") has been quite a sales success this year, even spawning a couple of spin-offs in the Corby Pro and Corby TXT devices.
 Samsung M5650

Taking things a little but more up-market than the Corby is the Samsung Lindy or Samsung M5650, which takes the same basic approach of being a fun and stylish touchscreen phone, but it adds a lot more features.

 Samsung Lindy M5650 The Lindy M5650 is very lightweight for a touchscreen device, coming in at just 98 grams and measuring 106 x 57 x 12mm. Central to the phone is the 2.8" QVGA display, plus a navigation key, call and end key and multimedia controls. Flip the Lindy M5650 over and there's a 3 megapixel camera with video capture capabilities. There's an FM radio in addition to the built-in media player, and all the usual features are here such as Bluetooth, USB connectivity and microSD expandable memory.


The Corby was a GSM-only device, but the Samsung Lindy M5650 is a fully-connected 3.5G handset that supports downloads of up to 7.2 Mbps, and on top of that it is also WiFi capable, which is ideal for households with wireless networking.

There's a pretty comprehensive range of software including a web browser, email client and support for social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace and more. The user interface has a "cartoony" look and feel about it, and when combined with the blue or black external styling, then it is very clearly a mobile phone aimed at younger customers.

Samsung have decided to go for a very soft launch with this phone, and it turns out that they have already been selling it in Portugal for a little while at for €159 through a few retailers. Samsung say that it should be available in most markets outside the Americas very soon.

Samsung Lindy M5650 at a glance

Available:
Now / Q1 2010

Network:
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 +
UMTS/WCDMA (bands not specified)

Data:
GPRS + EDGE + UMTS (3G) + HSDPA + WiFi

Screen:
2.8" 320 x 240 pixels, 262k colours

Camera:
3 megapixels

Size:
Compact touchscreen
98 grams / 106 x 57 x 12mm

Bluetooth:
Yes

Memory card:
MicroSD

Infra-red:
No

Polyphonic:
Yes

Java:
Yes

GPS:
No

OS:
Proprietary

Battery life:
3 hours talk / 12 days standby

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