I had my Lumia 610 for a while now (in smartphones years) and it’s time for an upgrade.

Nokia E72 was pre-Lumia phone. It had a physical qwerty keyboard which surprisingly was comfortable to use. After getting the hang of it, typing was a breeze and I got hooked to it. No more pressing 2 or 3 times to get to a character.

Though most smartphone users have moved on to the virtual keyboard, I missed the physical qwerty. For all the texting, emailing and Whatsapp’ing I do, the virtual keyboard was no match for the physical qwerty.

I decided to go back to a qwerty phone. Maybe I’m just old school.

It was hard looking for one – Nokia had no plans to release one anytime soon; Android had 1 or 2, but I wasn’t really an Android fan; the only latest phone out there was the newly launched Q10. But Blackberry was struggling to stay alive; Windows Phone took over Blackberry for the number 3 spot.

It was a hard decision but after thinking it through and going against everybody’s advise – I mean everyone – I got the Q10.

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Shot of my Q10 taken from my Lumia 610

Why I did I go ahead, you may ask?

Simply said, I bought this phone because of the physical qwerty keyboard. If Lumia had a qwerty phone, I would have gotten that instead. But due to the choice limitation, I went with the Q10.

Likes

1. Keyboard – BlackBerry’s keyboard is superb; the design is excellent – the curves and dips are placed perfectly making it easy to type accurately.

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Q10 Qwerty Keyboard

2. Hub – This is a cool feature where you are able to see all your emails, messages, Whatsapp, BBM messages, etc. all in one location. You can also exclude accounts from the main view of the Hub.

3. LTE – this phone is fitted with 4G capabilities – browsing is super-fast. I enjoy browsing the net and watching YouTube videos, albeit the small screen,

4. TimeShift – When you take a picture on a Q10, it takes a few seconds before and after. This allows you to go back/forward to choose the best moment.

5. Android ports – The BB10 is a new OS and not all the main stream apps are available. But with the built in Android player, you can port of some of the Android apps to run on BB10. Though it’s not as smooth as the native apps, it does the job.

Tips: Installing an Android app is relatively simple – you download the required apps (it comes as *.bar files; bb10bars.net is a good source), allow the ‘Development Mode’ on your phone (Settings > Security and Privacy > Development Mode) and use the DDPB Installer (see http://crackberry.com/ddpb-installer-utility-blackberry-playbook-updated-v109) to install the app.

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Typing this blog entry on my Q10

Tips: By pressing the volume up and down button simultaneously, you can capture the current screen on your phone – i.e. print screen.

“Not So Much”

1. Apps – Native apps are still lacking. Despite the Android port capability, some apps still don’t work e.g. Microsoft Onenote (the workaround for this is to use Evernote).

2. Battery life – I think this is a universal problem for all smartphones; my Q10 roughly last about 10 to 12 hours. So you would need to get extra chargers – for the car, office, etc. or get a power bank.

3. Future of Blackberry – Blackberry announced that it is keeping its options open on the future of the company. We could possibly see it being bought by another company or broken up into smaller pieces for sale. Catch 22 situation – due to the uncertain future, consumers are holding back on buying BB10 series phones. Sales are poor turning away app developers from creating BB10 apps. With the lack of apps, the consumer is further dissuaded. It’s a downward spiral. Blackberry promised to finalized the plan by November – I hope they are on track as this uncertainty is certainly not helping.

4. BB10 QS – BB10 is somewhat like Windows Phone 7 – considered a version 1 of the QS. Being new, not everything works as expected. E.g. in the Hub, although there was an option to set Microsoft Exchange emails to be pushed manually, it did not work at the beginning. It was really frustrating for me as I did not want to receive work emails after office hours. The issue was fixed, though, in the next update (10.1.0.4181). So be mindful of this – if you are looking for specific functions that you must have, check out the forums (CrackBerry.com is my favourite) to see if it’s working. Though, I believe all issues will be sorted in the updates being rolled – it’s just a matter of time.

5. No Casing – When my friend bought her Bold 9780, it came with a nice phone casing with the Blackberry logo. For Q10, there was no such casing; a bit disappointing because the phone isn’t cheap.

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Had to buy my own casing

All being said, I’m really enjoying my Q10. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a phone for doing activities which require a lot of typing. I’m waiting for the 10.2 update; from what I read, it contains some nice features (I tried to upload the leaked 10.2 OS but it had some issues; so I reverted stock to the stock version). If you want a full screen Blackberry, checkout the Z10 or the newly launched Z30.

I would say that I’m a fan of Nokia – despite its recent turmoils, there’s something about it that keeps me going back to it.

I remember my Nokia 8250 – a.k.a. the butterfly – small and elegant, the menus were simple and user-friendly, and it had a nice blue screen with glowing keypads. At that time, if you had one of those, you were in the pack with the trend-setters.

Despite getting a few other phones after 8250, the fling with Nokia never ended. And soon enough, I returned to Nokia with the E72 – for its price, it was the best investment I’ve ever made for a phone. It could stand up to Blackberry’s, had tonnes of features and a solid built.

But somewhere along the line, the mobile world was changing – a phone wasn’t merely a phone – it became part of an ecosystem – without the ecosystem, the chances of survival was slim. Nokia realised this a bit too late but made amends when Stephan Elop took helm and brought in the Window Phone 7 OS. I waited for the new WP 7 phone and was ecstatic when I finally got my hands on a Lumia 610.

Lumia 610 Likes

1. For an entry level phone with an ecosystem, it was a true bargain. I got the apps that like (I’m not much of a gamer – so didn’t miss much).

2. The OS was surprisingly smooth but some apps were laggy. I believe this is due the RAM limitation of the phone – being an entry level, Lumia 610 only came with 256MB.

3. The animation on the phone is addictive – the way the live tiles disappear and reappear makes you want to keep on tapping.

4. The email fonts are pleasant to the eyes – easy to read.

5. Contacts, Skydrive and Office Notes sync seemingly to the cloud.

A few things on my E72 are missing in the Lumia – it wouldn’t’ be an unfair to expect that the new and improved OS would be better than the old, wouldn’t it?

Here’s some features I missed:-

Lumia 610’s ‘Not So Much’

1. On my Symbian S40, the Nokia PC Suite allowed me to send sms, updated my calendar and contacts from my PC; Zune does not have that features.

2. The quick ‘heartbeat’ (blinking lights around the sensor) on my E72, tells me that I have a message or missed call. Sometimes the phone is not with me all the time and by just looking at the phone, I knew if I had something to attend too. But with Lumia, I have to click the side button to find out.

3. The Bluetooth icon on my E72 was visible when it’s on. On the Lumia, it’s only visible when its connected and therefore many times I forget to switch it off, reducing battery life.

4. The Lumia is not upgradable to WP 8 – the reason given was that the hardware is not compatible with the new OS. However, to appease the 1st generation users, there will be an update from 7.5 to 7.8 to give the feel of WP 8.

Some may argue that Android has so many version and the change to some versions may not be considered as a major. But to a general user, WP 7 is not upgradeable to WP 8 – full stop. Even the iOS 6 will be available to iPhone 3GS with some limitations – that’s 3 generations back from the current iPhone 5.

Lumia is the 1st generation WP phone and its only upgradeable to WP 7.8 – which seems more of a minor upgrade. Despite the reasoning behind the lack of upgrade-ability to people like me, I don’t really care – the fact is my Lumia will be considered ‘old’ when WP 8 is out. Maybe the problem here is merely the perception.  The perception that I won’t be getting at least one major upgrade makes me feel unsatisfied, when other OS’ gets at least 3 version upgrade.

So here we are today with Nokia announcing the new WP 8 phones – the Lumia 820 and 920. I’m left with the Lumia 610 which won’t get a major release. I guess at this point there’s nothing much Nokia can do with the 1st generation Lumia’s – maybe just to make sure that some concerns (as listed above) are considered in the WP 7.8 release.

But for the future, I hope Nokia and Microsoft think ahead on their product line and its upgrade-ability because next time, despite hoping that my next phone would still be a Nokia, fans like me might not be as forgiving.

So, finally getting down to write my review on the Kindle Fire (KF) – better late than never.

I got the KF for Christmas 2011 – was really excited about it. But since I’m using it outside the US, it came with some restrictions.

Things I Like About My Kindle Fire

1. The device has a nice feel – especially the rubber back. It fits nicely in my hands and portable enough to carry it around.

2. I like the home screen – bookshelf theme – easy to navigate and search for apps and books. Despite running on Gingerbread, it feels smooth and the applications run well with almost no lag.

3. One of the best attractions is the price – at USD199, it’s really a bargain.

4. I like that my favorite Amazon books are readily available on my KF. With Whispersync, my books gets synchronized readily on the device.

Things I Wish Was Different On My Kindle Fire

1. The KF was meant for the US – hence for people like me who got it as a gift, there are some restrictions when used outside US.

2. Mainly, the daily free apps given by the App Store is not available to those who don’t have a credit/debit card with a US billing address. I tried getting a gift card with Amazon but that didn’t work as well. So basically you can’t install any app from the App Store, even those free ones.

3. Video streaming is also not available outside US. It’s a shame but I guess its quite understandable (licensing issues).

Things I Did To Enjoy My Kindle Fire

1. So with all these restrictions, I had to root my device to gain super user access which then allows me to install apps. Watched 2 videos on youtube – followed the instructions closely and it worked like a charm.

– The videos I used are now obsolete as the software has been upgraded to v6.3.1.

– Found another website to root v6.3.1. – http://liliputing.com/2012/05/how-to-root-a-kindle-fire-with-software-version-6-3-1.html. Haven’t tested this yet.

2. The problem with rooting is that every time Amazon pushes an update for the KF, the root is reversed and you have to do it all over again (but it’ll be  slightly simpler the next time around cause you’d have the necessary drivers to connect your KF to the computer).

3. After a few times I got tired of rooting and decided to ‘side load’ (installing apps through other means beside the App store) apps to my KF.

4. Two of my favourites sites to do the side loading is www.apktop.com and apps.opera.com.  But first you need to ‘Allow Installation of Applications From Unknown Sources’ (go to Settings > Device). Once its ‘On’, you can go to the 2 websites on the browser of your KF, download and install the apps that you like. However, you loose out on the daily free apps given at the App Store.

5. Video streaming was still a no go after rooting. It doesn’t work on a rooted device. But even if it wasn’t rooted, outside the US, I could only watch the trailers. I read that you can use a proxy web to bypass this but haven’t tried it yet.

For the moment, I’m pleased with my un-rooted device since I mainly use my KF to surf the web, read news on Pulse (news reading application) and read Amazon ebooks. And if I need any apps, I’ll just sideload it. If in the future my requirements change, I may root it again.

So yea – that’s a brief write up about my Kindle Fire – I truly enjoy using it and is probably one of the best Christmas gifts I’ve ever received (despite it’s limitations :)).