With Nokia’s range of Android-powered smartphones all but dead, Microsoft is pushing its newly-acquired Lumia line harder than ever. Today, it’s introduced the lowest-priced Windows Phone to date, the Lumia 530, delivering middle-of-the-road specs for €85 ($114). For that, you’ll get a 4-inch FWVGA (854 x 480) display, quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal memory (with support for 128GB microSD storage). There’s also a 5-megapixel camera on the rear (no selfie camera here folks), which is controlled by Microsoft’s latest Windows Phone 8.1 software. That, of course, offers access to Cortana (if you’re in the US), the new WordFlow swipe keyboard and a multitude of other custom Microsoft- and Nokia-crafted apps. Like its older siblings, the Lumia 530 will also come in both single and dual SIM (3G) variants and offer interchangeable back covers, which will be available in the traditional orange, green, white and dark grey colors. Microsoft’s latest Lumia will go on a global tour in the near future, starting with an initial rollout in “select markets” from next month.
Via: Conversations Blog
Deep-pocketed power users may buy new smartphones once a year or even every few months to take advantage of improved displays, better cameras and faster processors, but the majority of owners are more likely to tire of their device’s appearance long before its outdated specs. A few manufacturers have taken a new approach when designing their handsets, opting to include not only replaceable batteries, but also swappable backs, that let you change the look of your phone for only a few bucks. Samsung’s Galaxy S5 and LG’s G3 are two recent flagships that you can change up after purchase, but there are a few other options to consider, too. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, you could even replace the backplate on, say, an iPhone 5s, but such an undertaking requires precise work, pricier parts and a voided warranty. Click through for our customizable picks that keep things simple (and cheap).
The restructuring plans from Microsoft caused a ripple effect throughout the company, with its recently acquired Nokia Devices and Services business being the most affected one. Now, as part of this, The Guardian reports that Nokia’s MixRadio music-streaming app is expected to spin out and live as a standalone service. Essentially, this means MixRadio will no longer be limited to Microsoft’s platform, though it’s still going to come pre-loaded on Windows Phone handsets made by Nokia. Not that the world needs another streaming service for tunes, but the eventual spin-off would give the MixRadio app the chance its curation features to other platforms such as iOS and Android. At the moment, however, there are still things to work out: “I’ve been meeting with potential investors around the world in the last few weeks. We have very strong interest from investors in the US, Europe and Asia, and we remain open for further discussions,” Nokia’s Jyrki Rosenberg, VP of Entertainment, told the British publication.
Source: The Guardian
OK, so it usually doesn’t cost as much as a car, but a smartphone is still an important lifestyle purchase. And it will probably be at your side 24/7 (if you’re anything like us). There’s always a bit of hemming and hawing, for sure, but we’ve distilled the options down to a short list of the top handsets, with top picks for each OS. Head down to the gallery below for a quick stroll through our selections or check out our full buyer’s guide for the lowdown on the best smartphones, tablets, laptops and wearables that your hard-earned money can buy.
Microsoft today announced that it’s cutting 18,000 jobs, the biggest round of layoffs in its history, as part of ongoing restructuring efforts. In a release, the company says that Nokia’s Devices and Services business, which it acquired for $5 billion last year, will be most affected, with 12,500 “professional and factory positions” expected to go by the end of the year. In an email to employees, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella explains that the company’s new strategy is designed to make it “more agile” moving forward, allowing teams to work more freely.
Nadella also hinted that Microsoft could end development of Nokia’s Android-powered X smartphones by shifting “select Nokia X product designs to become Lumia products running Windows.” As for the Xbox and Surface divisions, they’ll see “limited change,” as the company intends to continue building on plans it implemented earlier in the year. Nadella believes today’s cuts will go some way towards helping Microsoft realign itself, allowing it to pursue its goal of innovating both in mobile and the cloud.
It’s a day of upheaval over at Microsoft as the company has announced that it’ll cut 18,000 jobs in the near future. At the same time, however, Satya Nadella has cast doubt on the long-term future of Nokia’s X series of Android-powered smartphones. In an email, the Microsoft CEO says that the company will refashion “select” Nokia X designs as Lumia smartphones that run Windows Phone. There’s no word on if the other handsets in the range will continue, but it seems unlikely given that the phones run Android, Microsoft’s biggest rival in the mobile space. If you’re still on the hunt for one of these devices, don’t worry, as Stephen Elop has added that the company will continue to support and sell the existing range of X series devices.
If you’re picking up a shiny new Lumia 630 or 930 in the near future, you may be in for an unwelcome surprise. The Verge has discovered that at least some unlocked versions of either Windows Phone won’t let you switch Internet Explorer’s default search provider to Google; it’s either Bing or nothing. Some European models of the same phones do let you change the provider, though, so this clearly isn’t a platform-wide policy. We’ve asked Microsoft if it can share more about what’s going on, and we’ll let you know if it has more to add. The move likely won’t cause that much consternation given that many Windows Phone users are inclined to use Bing, but it’s bad news if you like to use Google services on Microsoft platforms.
Source: The Verge
After months of waiting, Nokia (the part now owned by Microsoft) has begun rolling out its Windows Phone 8.1 update to Lumia handsets. Dubbed “Cyan,” this software refresh delivers a plethora of new features to existing Nokia devices, including Microsoft’s gesture-capable World Flow keyboard, greater customization options (both for Live Tiles and the new-look People Hub), new Nokia photo apps, Office app improvements and, if you live in the US, access to Microsoft’s new digital assistant, Cortana.
While the company doesn’t state which of its handsets will get the update initially, it does note that the Lumia 1520, Lumia 930 and Lumia Icon will receive support for Nokia Rich Recording and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. All Lumia handsets will receive a number of camera updates too, which deliver improved color reproduction, better low-light performance, continuous autofocus and improvements to RAW photo capture.
Lumia handsets will get improved Bluetooth 4.0 low-energy support, allowing them to work with fitness wearables and other Bluetooth accessories like Nokia’s Treasure Tag. The update also includes a new fitness platform that collects locations, real-time fitness data and other “advanced features” and feeds that information to other Windows Phone apps. Although the update begins rolling out today, Nokia expects its Cyan update to reach all Lumia devices “in the coming weeks.” In the meantime, check out the Cyan update page to find out when the update will come to your handset.
Just like the Star Trek movies, we’ve mostly preferred the even-numbered ranges of
Nokia Lumia handsets to the odds. We heaped praise on the 620, for example, with equal vitriol being poured onto the 520 that nestled beneath it. The Lumia 720 suffered the same fate when we reviewed it, finding that no matter how gussied-up the outside was, the low-power internals were an instant turn off. But what about you? It’s likely that plenty of you only had room in your budget for this device, so was the experience as bad as you’d expected? Why not hop into our forum and talk yourself some Lumia.
Source: Engadget Product Forums
Heart-rate monitoring chest straps won’t be with us for much longer, as wrist-worn devices are offering optical sensors that do exactly the same job. PulseOn is the latest, and having spun out of Nokia back in 2012, is now offering its first entry into the market, the, uh, PulseOn. Confusing nomenclature aside, the company is now accepting pre-orders through Indiegogo, which was used to help raise awareness as well as cash for the small outfit. We’ve spent some time with the first model to roll off the production line, so if you’re curious if it’s worth splashing $170 out on one, read on.
Open the box and the first thing you’ll notice is how small the actual hardware is, the chunky bezel actually makes it appear a lot bigger than it is around your wrist. The PulseOn has a knitted elastic strap which is either cheap or elegant, and looks like the sort of thing a diver would wear on their off-days. Despite this, the watch isn’t waterproof beyond being able to resist a meter’s worth of the stuff.
The other striking hardware feature is how the PulseOn charges. You need to connect the PulseOn to a microUSB-connected bulldog clip, ensuring that the two exposed electrodes on the clip match up perfectly with the corresponding points on the watch. It’s pleasingly different, which I have to commend, but that doesn’t make it an easy thing to use on a day-to-day basis, and if you found the original Pebble’s magnetic charger to be a tad frustrating, you may feel similarly here.
There are two buttons, one on each side, and unfortunately the control system is a tad on the opaque side. More than a few days in and we were still referencing the manual to work out which set of timed button presses got the hardware to do what we wanted. For instance, it’s a five-second press on the right key to activate and a seven-second press to turn it off again. Entering sport mode requires you to double-hit the left button, something we’ve not yet managed to get the knack of properly.
Once you’ve overcome this, however, life becomes reasonably easy. It’ll monitor your vital signs accurately when you take it out for a run. The only downside is that it’s almost useless without your phone riding shotgun. As much as it’s possible to use this hardware as a watch — albeit not that enjoyable — it’s really more specifically something designed as something you’d pull out of a drawer when you’re off on a run.
So, is it worth it? The problem is that the PulseOn sits in an awkward zone — well below fully featured alternatives, but also so far above casual wearables that it’s tough to recommend. The hardware’s really only designed for run tracking, but since it leverages your phone, what you’re really paying for is the sensor. If you’re a hardcore runner who is trying to up your fitness level and track your recovery time, then perhaps there’s some interest, but if you are that dedicated, why not just spend that little bit extra on dedicated hardware?