3 months with the iPhone 6 Plus

In my previous blog post I described the “logics” behind choosing the iPhone 6 Plus. Now, after more than 3 months using the iPhone 6 Plus the big question is: Was it worth it?

To answer the question I will list some pros and cons with the iPhone 6 Plus and then conclude:

Pros

  • Premium build quality
  • Big, but not too big
  • Good camera
  • Good battery
  • Excellent screen (resolution, color, brightness)
  • Good speaker
  • Good call quality
  • Fluid OS
  • Extreme app availability
  • Frequent OS updates

Cons

  • Expensive compared to other high-end smartphones
  • Too delicate and slippery device – protection a must
  • Boring and static start screens
  • Boring and static icons
  • No glance screen
  • Too many apps available
  • No dedicated camera button

iPhone 6 Plus Gold (picture from http://www.apple.com)

Comments to the pros and cons

If you read my previous blog post you already know that I have a Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1. And that I for different reasons chose to “upgrade” to an iPhone. Thats why some of the pros and cons are directly related to my experience with the Windows Phone operating system.

Live Tiles?

In regard to boring and static start screens and boring and static icons (above):
What I miss most from the Windows Phone, without doubt, are the Live Tiles. They’re just genius: Almost every icon on your start screen can be resized and moved. Furthermore, and most important, most of them display live info (received emails, calendar info, missed calls, Twitter updates and much, much more). This is essential information that you get without interacting with your phone, and is extremely useful. For more about Live Tiles, see this info from Microsoft.

What I miss almost equally: The Glance Screen. With it, the lock screen on my Windows Phone always shows the time, day and date, missed calls, unread messages. This without much effect on the battery. And without picking up or touching the phone. You can change the Glance Screen settings so it only shows info in intervals, when you move your hand over the phone or when you double tap the screen. In addition to this you can have weather info for your location displayed when moving your hand over the phone (when the screen is locked). Also workout info if you are using the Microsoft Health app. All this is valuable information in a glance.

tiles

Live Tiles on a Windows Phone (picture from http://www.windowsphone.com)

 

Watch?

Come to think of it, the Live Tiles and Glance Screen on a Windows Phone are so useful that you do not need a (smart)watch. But if you have an iPhone, you might need the Apple Watch so you can get (amongst other things) useful information without picking up or touching the iPhone.

Too many apps?

No, I’m not crazy. But the overwhelming amount of apps in the Apple App Store makes you install apps you don’t need (your choice of course), but more important: I have a hard time finding apps I need in the flood of apps. And Apple doesn’t make it easier when they only lists some of the (most popular) apps. You have to dig deep and search hard to find other, interesting apps. Yes, this is a luxury problem, I know.

Camera

I miss a dedicated camera button. On my Lumia 1020 I just have to push and hold the camera button to wake the camera when the phone is locked. But it’s when taking photos the button is really useful and intuitive: Push it halfway down for focus, all the way down to take the picture. It makes me feel more in control when taking pictures, and it gives me more of a “take a picture”-moment than with the iPhone. And so far I must say the picture quality is slightly better on pictures taken with the Lumia 1020 than with the iPhone 6 Plus.

But, and this is important, the camera on the iPhone 6 Plus is blazingly fast! So you will get the action photos there and then, long before you have shot the first picture with the Lumia 1020 (which is, as you understand, extremely slow both in startup and in picture-to-picture). Then again, the Lumia 1020 shoots 41 megapixels against 8 megapixels on the 6 Plus, and the Lumia can save in the .DNG-format (for finetuning the pictures in eg. Adobe Lightroom).

Conclusion

OK, I’ll admit it: I miss using my Lumia 1020. Sometimes. But the iPhone 6 Plus, as “boring” as it is, will stay as my main device due to the big screen and the app availability.

The iPhone 6 Plus is of course a great smartphone, and who knows what changes iOS 9 will bring? But when the time comes to change smartphone, a Microsoft flagship will be considered.

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Long-time Windows Phone fan goes iPhone (what?!)

I did it. I dragged my body (and my wallet) to the closest Apple outlet and bought an iPhone 6 Plus. For those who knows me, and those who follow this blog, this is breaking and shocking news.

Oh!

Oh!

Why did I do it? Here we go:

  • My Lumia 1020 is more than 16 months “old”, and are pushing the limits.
  • To get the latest OS updates relatively fresh one must install the WP Developer Preview, and even then there is a lot of waiting.
  • Even though a lot of new apps have found their way to the Windows Phone Store, there is a lot of blank spots there:
    • All Google apps (BTW: Shame on you Google!)
    • Dropbox (coming, I know. But when?) (released 22. January 2015, see comment below)
    • Twitter (it exists, but not updated since July 2014) (updated 20. January 2015, see comment below)
    • Instagram (it exists in beta, but not updated since March 2014)
    • Vine (it exists, but not updated since December 2013)
    • LinkedIn (it exists, but not updated since December 2013)
    • Yammer (it exists, but not updated since July 2014 – shame on you Microsoft (!) )
    • The Office-apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) are better on iOS – shame on you Microsoft (!)
    • YouTube (still shame on you Google!)
    • Official Facebook app (I don’t really care – but the lack of it is not good)
    • And so on…
  • I wanted a relatively safe OS-environment, so Android (while Note 4 was extremely high on my most wanted list) was out of the picture.
  • I wanted to be sure to get the absolutely latest OS updates at once they’re released (Android out of the picture again – together with Windows Phone).
  • I wanted a big, well built and well designed smartphone with a high quality screen (no phone out of the picture – but you get the picture!).
  • “The camera – have you forgotten the camera?” I hear my Nokia friends scream. Well, nothing still beats the camera on my Lumia 1020 – but it is getting close. Very close. And while the 1020 picture quality is extremely good, it has happened pretty often that just “that picture” was taken 4 seconds to late. Yes, the 1020 camera is slow. Very slow. And yes, the camera on the iPhone 6 Plus is fast. Very fast! And the picture quality is good. Also in low light (but Lumia 1020 Xenon flash – I still love you!).
  • Startups. What? Well yes, I really want to be one of the first to try all the great new apps from startups all around the world (like Ensafer Messenger), and those apps are almost non-existent on Windows Phone, and they are almost allways released first on iOS.

You get the picture. A lot of waiting for apps and OS updates. And a lot of frustration. I’ve been realtively calm about all these apps, I’ve used web-versions of some of them with pretty good results. But not excellent results of course. And I have not mentioned all the niche apps (local banks, airlines, coffee-shops and so on).

So here I am, installing all the great apps on my brand new and shiny iPhone 6 Plus. I have to say: Impressive so far!

On the corner of my desk lies my lovely, good old Nokia Lumia 1020:

Well equipped Lumia 1020

Well equipped Lumia 1020

With the Glance Screen showing me the time, a little hand-over-gesture and it shows me the weather. And if I pick it up and lay it down on the wireless charger, it charges! And a little NFC-touch and it plays music load and clear on my Nokia MD-12 NFC speaker. So no, I will not stop using my Nokia Lumia 1020 – I’ll check for OS and app updates now and then – and I will shoot some great shots with it.

I really do believe Microsoft will get back in the business with Windows 10, and they will release great smartphones. But we’re probably talking about autumn 2015. The big question is: Will the apps be there too?

Maybe I’ll do a blog post comparing these two great smartphones. Maybe!

Updated 22. January 2015:

Yesterday was the big Windows 10 day with a lot of news from Microsoft. For a complete summary take a look here. The good news for existing Windows Phone 8.1 users is that their phone will get the update to Windows 10. Good!

Interestingly enough, Twitter finally updated their app for Windows Phone two days ago. As mentioned above, it’s been 6 months since the last update from them. And today, Dropbox finally released an official app for Windows Phone. This is good news, as both Twitter and Dropbox are important players in the app universe.

How to set up VPN on Windows Phone 8.1

Introduction

Hopefully most Internet surfers are aware of how insecure the Internet is. Almost every day we can read news about new security breaches. To keep yourself more secure online, you should use VPN when connecting to the Internet. Other important security options are to use encryption to encrypt your data before you upload and share it. More about encryption in another blog post.

First of all: What is VPN? Here is the definition from Wikipedia:

A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network, such as the Internet. It enables a computer or Wi-Fi-enabled device to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if it were directly connected to the private network, while benefiting from the functionality, security and management policies of the private network.

A VPN connection across the Internet is similar to a wide area network (WAN) link between websites. From a user perspective, the extended network resources are accessed in the same way as resources available within the private network.

Next question: why use VPN? Here is an interesting article from Lifehacker. It is a couple of years old, but still relevant. Here an excerpt:

The most important thing you need to know about a VPN: It secures your computer’s internet connection to guarantee that all of the data you’re sending and receiving is encrypted and secured from prying eyes.

Illustration borrowed from Private Internet Access

Illustration borrowed from Private Internet Access

 VPN on a smartphone

So why should you use VPN on a smartphone? Well, for the same reason you use (or should use) VPN on a computer: Security. If you connect your smartphone to the Internet on a public Wi-Fi like at a coffee shop, you should use VPN. Most public Wi-Fi’s are far from secure.

VPN on Windows Phone 8.1

Microsoft finally added the possibility to use VPN on a Windows Phone with the 8.1 update. But until recently, it hasn’t been easy (almost impossible?) to get VPN to work with other VPN-systems than workplace related solutions and some VPN apps (as described here over at Microsoft Lumia Conversations). So out of reach for most Windows Phone users. Until now!

Some weeks ago I tried to set up VPN access on my Nokia Lumia 1020 (WP 8.1 DP) via the popular VPN provider Private Internet Access (note: I’m not affiliated with them, and have no connection to them besides using their solution). Windows Phone is not listed there under the setup guides, and in the PIA forum there are questions (but no answers as far as I can see) on how to get it to work. And I was not able to get it to work. Then, some days ago, I tried again, and it worked! I don’t know why, probably either Microsoft or PIA has done some changes somewhere.

Well, here is how I did it:

Setup without any app

First of all, to use Private Internet Access (PIA) as your provider, you have to register and buy VPN access from them. The lowest price is $3.33/month. I have not tried other providers, there might be other solutions that works on Windows Phone (leave a note in the comments below if you know of any). I selected PIA.

When you have registered, you will get a username and a password. They are used to get access to your account on PIA’s homepage, bu you also need them to use VPN on your smartphone.

On your Windows Phone

Go to Settings (drop down menu, tap All Settings), tap on VPN:

Settings - VPN

Settings – VPN

Tap the + sign to add a VPN profile:

Settings VPN

Tap the + at the bottom

Fill in the different fields like this (see below):

Add profile – see field description below

Server name or IP address: xxxx.private.internetaccess.com (where xxxx is the country you want to use, like Germany or Sweden. See PIA’s homepage for which countries that are available; they have servers in 11 different countries).

Type: L2TP with IPSec

Connect using: username+password+preshared key

Username: Your username at PIA

Password: The password connected to your username at PIA

Preshared Key: This is a key generated at PIA. Visit their homepage, click Client Support. Log in with your PIA username and password. Then you will see something like this:

Key

The important thing is that your Preshared Key is the characters from the Password: field (see screenshot above, do not use your PIA password in the Preshared Key field).

Connect automatically: I have turned this off, so I can decide when I want to use VPN or not.

Send all traffic: I have turned it On.

Profile Name: Private Internet Access

Now, just tap save.

How to connect via VPN

Make sure you’re connected to Internet via a WiFi network on your Windows Phone. Then turn VPN on, and voila!

VPN on

VPN on!

So when the keylock is show in the corner of the WiFi-symbol, then your Windows Phone is connected to Internet via VPN. To check if this really is the case, you can visit WhatIsMyIPAddress from your smartphone browser. It will show an IP-address from the country you chosed in the setup (see above).

I hope this blog post will help you getting online via VPN on your Windows Phone. Feel free to leave a comment. Stay secure!

Kick your Symbian device alive!

It is a race between the three big smartphone OSes (iOS, Android and Windows Phone) to have the latest and best functionality. Some of us has chosen to hang on to that race by either updating current phones to the latest version of the OS, or purchasing the latest phone models (that seems to pop up every 3 months).

Others are nostalgic and tries to make their old device live for some longer.

Others again are nerds doing both. I for one still have my good old Nokia N8 and my precious Nokia 808 PureView in addition to my Nokia Lumia 1020.

But what do we do when old OSes die?

Nokia killed Symbian and the Nokia App Store for Symbian

There once was an operating system that was even bigger than Android and iOS; namely Symbian. It powered all smartphones from Nokia, lately the famous camera phone Nokia 808 PureView. Nokia and Stephen Elop said when launching the first Nokia/Microsoft partnership back in February 2011 that they would support Symbian devices until 2016.

But as you might know, Nokia officially ended their support for Symbian and Nokia Store for Symbian as of January 1st 2014. This means that there is no working, official Nokia App Store for devices like the 808, the Nokia C7, E7, N8 and so on.

Nokia 808 PureView

Nokia 808 PureView

New App Store for Symbian!

Fortunately there are some enthusiasts out there, still supporting old OSes like Symbian. One of the biggest enthusiast are Steve Litchfield; he has almost done more for Nokia and Symbian than anyone else by testing devices, blogging, making podcasts and so on over the years.

One of his latest projects are a new App Store for Symbian, where he has worked together with schumi1331 (amongst others) to produce the new App Store for Symbian, the App List:

AppList Menu

AppList Menu

AppList w/AAS news

AppList w/AAS news

 

How to get App List on your Symbian device

All you have to do is to visit this site from the browser on your device, then select download to install the app. The App List works very well, it is fast and it has lots of apps. You’ll even get updates to your existing apps!

For more information on App List and how to use it, you should visit AllAboutSymbian, managed by Steve.

Why should you install App List?

To keep on using your Symbian device installing App List is the only way to get updated apps for your Symbian device. And as you know, there are frequent changes in how apps work, especially third party apps for Twitter, Facebook, Foursqare and so on. So if you want such apps to still work on your device, install App List and update those apps.

Why is this blog post in English?

Previously I was blogging in Norwegian only. As my blog has had frequent visits over the years from other countries than Norway, I’ve decided to write some blog posts in English from now on.

Nokia Asha- og Lumia-serien er lansert!

Endelig var dagen her: onsdag 26. oktober og starten på Nokia World 2011 i London. I løpet av to dager skal Nokia overbevise verden at de fortsatt kan designe, produsere og levere kvalitetstelefoner.

Nokia World 2011

Fokus fra media er stort sett på smarttelefoner; når kommer iPhone-killer’en? Det kan jeg faktisk svare på: iPhone-killer’en er det kun Apple selv som kan levere, nemlig neste iPhone.

Det finnes imidlertid markeder i tillegg til rike Nord-Europa og Nord-Amerika, noe Nokia vet svært godt. De har derfor satset hardt på å komme med såkalte “low-end” telefoner: lave priser, funksjonelle, med gode batterier. Og Nokia leverer virkelig: nye modeller som ikke står så langt fra smarttelefoner men som koster en brøkdel (ja, faktisk, se lengre ned). Eller hva sies om telefoner med touch-skjerm og QWERTY-tastatur? 5 megapiksel kamera? Mulighet for to SIM-kort? Web-browser? Musikk-spiller? 32GB minne? Inntil 52 timer batterivarighet ved musikkavspilling?

Asha-serien

Her stiller Nokia med Asha 200, 201, 300 og 303. Altså fire forskjellige modeller, hvor forskjellen mellom 200 og 201 er at førstnevnte har plass til to SIM-kort som kan byttes uten å slå av telefonen.

Asha 200 og 201

  • Series 40 OS
  • 320×240 TFT LCD
  • Plass for 2 SIM-kort (ikke på 201, ellers er de like)
  • QWERTY-tastatur
  • FM-radio
  • Musikkspiller
  • Kraftig batteri (inntil 52 t musikkavspilling)
  • Nokia browser
  • Nokia Social
  • Nokia Store
  • Med mer
  • Pris ca €60 (460 kroner)

Video av Asha 201

Asha 300

Denne ligner mer på de gamle klassiske mobiltelefonene med vanlig talltastatur, men den har også touch-skjerm. Under panseret skjuler det seg en prosessor på 1 GHz! Så det er en kraftig liten plugg med blant annet:

  • Series 40 OS
  • 5 megapiksel kamera
  • 2.4″ skjerm
  • 3G
  • Nokia browser
  • E-post
  • FM-radio
  • Angry Birds(!) (ja, nå finnes det spillet også for S40)
  • Med mer
  • Pris ca €85 (650 kroner)

Video av Asha 300

Asha 303

Dette er den siste modellen i denne rekken av Asha lavpris-modeller. Men det er en den heftigste av dem med god funksjonalitet.

  • 2.6″ QVGA touch-skjerm
  • QWERTY-tastatur
  • Touch-skjerm
  • 3.2 megpiksel kamera
  • WLAN
  • Nokia Social
  • Facebook chat
  • Med mer
  • Pris ca €115 (880 kroner)

Video av Asha 303

Det burde være ingen tvil om at disse fire modellene kommer til å dominere markedet i deler av Afrika, Asia, Midt-Østen og Sør-Amerika.

Nye smarttelefoner

Her i Nord-Europa og også i Nord-Amerika, deler av Asia/Midt-Østen er det derimot smartelefoner som i all hovedsak gjelder. Det har lenge vært kjent at Nokia har inngått samarbeid med Microsoft og skal levere smarttelefoner med Windows Phone 7 operativsystem. Annonseringen av dette skjedde i februar 2011. Nå, 8 måneder etterpå, er to nye modeller klare, hvor av den ene sendes ut fra fabrikken i Finland mens jeg skriver dette! Det er ikke mindre enn svært imponerende!

Nokia Lumia 800

Dette er Nokia’s foreløpige toppmodell blant Windows Phone-modellene. Designen får i mitt syn iPhone 4 til å se ut som en gammel kalkulator iPhone (sorry, Apple og eplevenner!). Som en av presentatørene på Nokia World sa på scenen da han viste frem Lumia 800: “It is awesome! What you don’t see is a lame grid of icons sitting there doing nothing!” Nettopp, et av hovedfortrinnene med Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) er Live Tiles (levende filser). Disse er aktive og oppdateres live, med e-post, sosiale medier med mer.

Nokia Lumia 800

Men ta nå en titt på den og vær ærlig: den er vanvittig pen! Nokia har tatt utgangspunkt i N9-modellen og bygget en kvalitetstelefon i ett stykke gjennomfarget polykarbonat, noe som gjør at den er solid, og at eventuelle riper i karosseriet ikke vil vises så godt på grunn av gjennomfargingen. Den har en buet gorillaglass skjerm som er svært solid.

  • 3.7″ 480×800 Clear Black AMOLED touch-skjerm
  • 1.4 GHz Qualcomm en-kjernet prosessor
  • 512 MB SDRAM
  • 16 GB brukerminne (ikke utbyggbart)
  • 1450 mAh batteri
  • 8 megapiksels Carl Zeiss F2,2 kamera, HD video
  • GPS med full, gratis navigasjon
  • Internet Explorer 9 Mobile browser med HTML5
  • med meget mer
  • Pris ca. €420 (3.220 kroner)

Video av Lumia 800

Nokia Lumia 710

Dette er en rimeligere smarttelefon, men fullpakket med funksjonalitet. Den har også Windows Phone 7.5 med Live Tiles og det som hører med.

  • 3.7″ 480×800 TFT Clear Black touch-skjerm
  • 1.4 GHz Qualcomm enkelkjerne-prosessor
  • 5 megapiksel kamera
  • 8 GB brukerminne (ikke utbyggbart)
  • 512 MB SDRAM
  • 1300 mAh batteri
  • GPS med full, gratis navigasjon
  • med meget mer
  • Pris ca €270 (2.070 kroner)

Video av Lumia 710

Kommentar

Som jeg nevnte innledningsvis så tror jeg Nokia kommer til å “eie” markedet blant low-end telefonene, de fire nye modellene dekker de fleste behov og er svært prisgunstig.

Jeg er imponert over hva Nokia har klart i løpet av 8 måneder siden de valgte Windows Phone som hovedplattform for sine smarttelefoner. De to Lumia-modellene viser det ypperste av design og byggekvalitet, i tillegg har Nokia fått integrere enkelte av sine spesialiteter som gode kameraer og gode kartverk i Windows Phone 7.5. Lumia 800 er allerede på vei ut i butikkene i utvalgte land (England, Frankrike, Tyskland, Spania, Italia og Nederland), Norge er dessverre ikke blant de, men regn med at den kommer hit tidlig i 2012.

Det blir spennende å se hvordan tester farer med Lumia-telefonene og ikke minst hva forbrukerne synes!