The Lumia 920: A Luminescence

Currently, Nokia’s flagship smart phone is the Lumia 920, a fourth generation phone which runs the Windows 8 operating system and is the best-selling smart phone that runs the OS. It was released last November 2012 and since then, the Finnish mobile phone company has produced several variants; the Lumia 925 which is a thinner version with an aluminum body and a better camera and the Lumia 928, which can be acquired exclusively from Verizon in the United States. The phone has sold over 4.4 million in the last quarter of 2012 exceeding expectations. It has been a hit in Finland, Germany, UAE, China and Great Britain. The phone has received mostly positive views from critics and has garnered accolades from top technological media institutions.

Just how good is this smart phone? Well, let’s list down the specs and analyze it.

CPU : 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Krait
GPU : Qualcomm Adreno 225
Memory : 1GB RAM
Storage : 32GB

The processor is no joke. It’s not quad-core but it’s pretty fast when using programs, surfing the net and playing games. Dual-core may not sound very appealing to those looking for pretty fast smart phones, but trust us, the Lumia 920 is up to the task. The storage capacity is at 32GB, however, its major drawback is the fact that the phone doesn’t have a microSD slot, limiting your file storage. As for its mass and design:

Dimensions : 130.3 x 70.8 x 10.7 mm, 99 cc (5.13 x 2.79 x 0.42 in) (11mm thick)
Weight : 185 grams
Display : 768 x 1280 pixels, 4.5 inches (~332 ppi)

One of the phone’s major setbacks and source of criticism is that it is pretty heavy and thick, in direct contrast with all smart phone manufacturers who are doing valiant efforts to make their smart phones  light and thin. However, despite the bulk, the phone still carries an impressive punch and would easily fit on your pocket.

The phone’s polycarbonate shell epitomizes protection. It is very scratch resistant. The same is true with the Corning Gorilla Glass 2 screen. The display is a top-quality, high 768×1280 resolution LCD touch screen with 332 ppi (pixels per inch). The bottom of the phone holds the microUSB slot along with the loudspeakers and microphones while the standard 3.5 mm audio jack and microSIM slot is located at the top. The right side of the phone has three buttons, the volume button, the lock/unlock key and the camera button which is a pretty nifty feature to activate the camera even if the phone is in its sleep mode. Above the display sits the 1.3 MP secondary camera and some of its sensors while the primary 8 MP camera is at the back along with the dual LED flash. Speaking of the devil, let’s talk about the camera.

Features : 8 megapixels, can take photos at 16:9 (3264×2448 pixels) and 4:3 (3552×2000) ratios., Carl Zeiss Optics, Optical Image Stabilization, PureView, autofocus
Videos : 1080p videos at 30fps, video stabilization
Hands-down, the Lumia 920 possesses one of the best cameras in the market. The phone takes great night pictures and is like a handy point-and-shoot camera. It can take great, scenic photos and it comes with Lenses, an application that allows users to choose the visual effects they want. Speaking of applications.

The phone hosts a LOT of features and acquirable applications. It has all the basic utilities like an Alarm clock, Calendar and Calculator. It also allows you to check and edit your documents via a free Windows Office viewer which can be synched with a computer. There are also tons of apps and games available in the Windows Phone Store (but not as many as Apple and Google Play, but is growing by the minute). As for the battery, it may last 400 hours of standby time, 10 hours of talk time and 67 hours of music playback.

Overall, the Nokia Lumia 920 may not be as mainstream as the iPhone and Galaxy Series. However, it still packs a tremendous array of features beneath its polycarbonate casing. It might be the shining luminescent smart phone you’re looking for.…

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3: An Overview

FINALLY. Less than a week before the advent of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 which will invade A  merican shores this July 7 and is currently available for pre-order. The device is interestingly available in three sizes, each with different processors. Currently the 3rd generation of Samsung’s line of tablets, the Galaxy Tab 3 is projected to fly off the shelves this month and eventually knock the iPad 4 and iPad mini from the pedestals they are on. The tablets will come with Wi-Fi connectivity at first, the other connections and cellular partnerships (3G and 4G) will arrive on a later date.

The 10.1 inch variety sports the first Intel processor with a 1.6 GHz dual-core Atom chip armed with 1GB of RAM in an Android OS device available in the United States. This has caught most of the Samsung fans’ and tablet enthusiasts’ curiosity. How will it fare? Well, according the Intel’s press releases, its processor has a distinct characteristic that makes the tablet perform pretty fast and allows wide array of applications to be compatible. It also offers a better battery life with its 6800 mAh battery than other competing products. Running the show is the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, which sounds deceivingly cute but is a pretty widely-used and highly commended operating system. The display screen however, is at a disappointing 1280 x 800 pixels with 189 ppi, quite a letdown, given that the screen is pretty large. Its memory capacity is only at 16GB, but is easily expandable thanks to a microSD slot. Like all newly released tabs, the Galaxy Tab 3 is equipped with two cameras; the rear possesses a decent 3 MP resolution while the front one boasts an acceptable 1.3 MP resolution.

Meanwhile, the 8-inch variety is pretty thin at 0.29 inches and looks more like a bigger Galaxy S4 smart phone and is clearly competing with the iPad Mini. Like the 10 inch tab, it also sports a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution but is armed with Samsung’s dual-core Exynos 1.5 GHz processor with 1.5 GB of RAM. It runs the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and is equipped with the same cameras as the 10 inch one. It boasts a respectable 16 GB memory which can be augmented through the use of the microSD slot. It is notable that the Galaxy Tab 8.0 is cheaper than the iPad Mini, the slimmest of the three and has the largest ppi (remember, the 8 and 10 have the same screen resolution, but the 8 is simply a couple of inches smaller).

The baby of the triplets, the seven, is armed with a 7-inch screen with a respectable 1024 x 600 resolution. Running it is a 1.2 GHz dual-core Marvell processor with 1GB of RAM. It is easily the lightest of the three but notably the thickest of them all. It is only capable of storing just 8 GB of content, but like the others, it can be expanded via a microSD card. Running it is Android’s v4.1 Ice Cream Sandwich.

All three tablets come in white or golden-brown and is only capable of WiFi. The 10.1 inch tab costs at $399, 8-inch at $299 and the 7-inch one at a bargain, $199.

Here’s a brief hands-on video showing off the Android Jelly Bean user interface of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3.

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Polamatic: Android’s Polaroid Camera

Since the digitalization of cameras, taking pictures with the use of traditional film cameras has become obsolete and unpractical. While films don’t really cost a penny and you cannot afford to make a lot of mistakes while taking pictures, most film companies have adopted to the digital age and while those who couldn’t went bankrupt.

One major company that still exists today is Polaroid, known in the past for their instant cameras (ones that immediately developed the image via a self developing film). There is an air of uniqueness and retro look qualities that Polaroid cameras possess, which is why people mostly prefer these cameras. Recently, they have launched an application for the Android operating system known as Polamatic, currently available on Google Play.

Basically, the application allows you to capture or import and edit a photo by selecting 36 Polaroid frames including the classic Polaroid white border, 20 photo filters and other features. The frames are high quality scans of the company’s new and vintage Polaroid picture frames. The photo filters allow you to customize your photos in order for you to reach your desired look, which includes Polaroid’s retro look, which I’m pretty sure a lot of people desire. In adding captions, the app doesn’t lag behind from its competitors. You may choose from 24 fonts and a variety of text customization options.

The thing about the app is that it’s pretty useful for people who own Android devices that have advanced and high quality cameras, like the Samsung Galaxy S4 for instance (soon, the Galaxy S4 will have a version that has a 21 megapixel camera known as the Zoom, imagine using Polamatic with it). The app also gives you the option to take pictures directly with the front or rear camera. You can then control the settings like flash and grid. It also allows you to share the pictures you have taken and edited online in social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Flickr.

In terms of storage, Polamatic saves your photos in your gallery, with the option of preserving the unedited one. You are also able to crop the pics within the Polaroid Classic Border. The app is able to get information about your approximate or precise location and may use additional battery power. Remember, this application doesn’t allow the device to go to “Sleep Mode” when it’s being used. Be sure to return to the main menu of your device before s toring it.

Currently, the application has gained favorable reviews among its users and it costs just a penny below a dollar.

The intangibles the Polamatic camera dishes out is it makes old Polaroid camera users feel like they have been warped to the past by using the application. It brings back old memories of the time when pictures came out of thin slots just below the lenses immediately after taking them. It makes new photos look old and brings out that retro feeling experienced by looking at old Polaroid pictures. Aside from its practical functions, it simply is a great tool to experience nostalgia.…

What to know about Android when buying a mobile phone in Kenya

There is a craze in Kenya with getting the latest mobile phone, the revolution of mobile phones in Kenya has been too fast and managed to get everybody on board. So what do you do if you get to a shop, and there are so many phones to choose from? Let’s say they all look exceptionally good from the outside and are good to behold. Why should you chose one and leave the rest on the shelf? Various factors will distinguish between what you will pick and what you will leave. One of them is the operating system. Most cell phones in Kenya use the Android operating system. Let us go through the revolution of the Android operating system on our phones.

P.S. To begin with, Android is an open source operating system. In a layman’s explanation, it means that it can be modified and shared because it is made in such a way that its design is publicly accessible. Apart from other soft wares that are used by most mobile phones in Kenya, over 74% of smartphone users in Kenya are on Android. This makes it important for users to know and learn about the operating system that they are on.

ANDROID VERSIONS AND THEIR HISTORY

Android 1.0

It was the first Android version and was used by HTC. By this time mobile phones in Kenya were simple and provided the basic functions of a phone. Smartphones and Android was a vocabulary not used by most people, and if used by any chance, it was precious knowledge restricted to very few people.

Android 1.1

It was followed by Android 1.1 version which also did not have a code name and still at this time cell phones in Kenya were laid back, and we did not have much to talk about on Android. The benefits of the two version are that they allowed for some functionalities such as blue tooth, Gmail calendar, Google maps, etc. so far most of the functions have been built on to provide more sophisticated versions to be used on cell phones.

Android 1.5

Android 1.5 also called cupcake, and it was the first of its kind to have a codename, and it could allow users to explore third-party keyboards with auto predictions, and this was interesting. Moving from the basic functions of the phone to getting something that could only be accessed by a computer was a whole new thing. At this time very few people had Android phones and there was not a lot to choose from.

Android 1.6

Android 1.6 also had a dessert name i.e. Donut. Quite a common name in the Kenyan household, but not in mobile phones. Therefore, it was something to be excited about. It came with more advanced functions than the preceding version and could allow users to monitor their battery usage, so every time you see the indicator on how much charge your phone has or does not have, this is where the journey was begun. It is also where the grouping of gallery apps begun and it was easier for one to get what they are looking for in their gallery. Previous cell phones in Kenya had everything in the same pot; this brought a variation in the sense that everything was clean and sorted.

Android 2.0

Android 2.0 the predeceasing Android versions had begun the trend of having a desert code name. This version did not disappoint as got the name éclair…. Pretty impressive. With cell phones easing the ability to access email addresses, this version could allow a user access more than one email account on the same device. It also dealt with the agony that most Kenyans have to go through every time they lose their contacts due to losing of their phones. This is because it was now possible to synchronize contacts on their cell phones with their Gmail accounts.

Android 2.2

Android 2.2 also known as Froyo, by now over 80% of Kenyans had mobile phones with 30% of this population owning smartphones. It was an improved version of the previous achievements. It could allow for the creation of hotspots, and people were able to share Wi-Fi. This took Kenyan mobile phones and the technology to a higher level.  Access to the internet was not limited to the cyber cafes; Kenyans could get it anywhere and share it with friends. The knowledge of Android software was now not reserved to few individuals but most people more so the young population had knowledge on the same.

Android 2.3

Gingerbread, by now a lot had been done on Android, and this came with a major improvement on mobile phones such as a new keyboard with faster input than previous ones. Internet calls were also possible with this Android version. This one could enable one select text, and one could copy and paste and do basic stuff that was only possible with computers. It was incredible, and Kenyans with smart phones with this version thought that this was it but they in for a big surprise.

Android 3.0

Honey comb. This one was optimized for larger screens such as tablets. By this time mobile phones in Kenya was a whole new thing, it was not just about having a gadget that could communicate. It was about what is trending, the new features, and new developments. This version could allow multi-tasking and one could carry out more than one function on the phone. One could customize their home screens, and it gave the owner a personal feel of the phone. Tethering was made possible via Bluetooth. Transfer of media files from the phone to the PC was also easier.

Android 4.0

Ice cream sandwich. Most mobile phones in Kenya that are advanced have a way of detecting the smile and triggering a photo as a result of the smile detection. This is the Android version which introduced this function. Previous versions could not allow cell phones to hide notifications, but this version gave room for such privacy. This is where the idea of screen shots begun, and so far the journey has been fun and adventurous.

Android 4.1

Jelly bean. The introduction of the jelly bean made the response to cell phones input faster. Updating apps was more improved and easier. Widgets were resizable and the use of mobile phones was easier than before. There was an improvement in the Android beam and sharing of data to nearby Android devices was faster and efficient.

Android 4.4

Kit Kat, Kenyans are known for multi-tasking and this version enables a mobile phone to be faster when it comes to multi-tasking. If you are tired of handling your phone but can still access your text message or your call using another gadget apart from the phone, this is the Android version that made that a reality. This version is cool as it provides for wireless printing. What else could a Kenyan mobile phone user ask for?

Android 5.0

Lollipop. As its name suggests, this is a sweet approach to Android. It offers a more objective approach to interaction between the user and the phone. The content response to touch is very fast. The most exciting part about this version is that you chose the people to interact with using your device. It gives you options for people you may want to receive calls from etc. it gives you an edge in decision making concerning your device. It comes with a power saver which we need most of the times in our Kenyan cell phones considering the power challenges that we are at times faced with. It comes with a Google smart lock which keeps the phone unlocked when it is with the owner. That said and done, Android is always full of surprises, and this was not the end of it.

Android 6.0

Marshmallow. This is a refinement of the previous Android versions, and as usual, the more refined some things are, the better they become. It simplifies your security with a simple finger print. Kenyan mobile phones are prone to cases of theft and with this Android, there is the option of unlocking the phone with your fingerprint making it safer for you. With the issue of electricity in Kenya, mobile phones ought to be in such a way that they save more and use less. This version limits the use of Apps when at stand by therefore no need to worry about charge drain. It gave exactly what every kenyan needed in a phone.

What’s in the future

All said and done all the above Android versions are on various cell phones in our Kenyan market. Every day someone walks up to a phone stall to buy a new phone. In this case, what matters is not a new phone but the operating system the phone is using. The next time you walk into a shop to get a new phone, it is important that you not only stay updated with a smartphone, but you also get the latest Android version to be up to date with the evolution of the Android operating system. Depending on what you need in a phone, android is the way to go, the latest the better.

If you are keen you have now noticed that every Android version comes with a dessert name that is in the alphabetical order. An Android lover can now be on the guessing side and probably give gueses on what is to come in the future of Android.…