Nokia Lumia 520 Review

It’s been a while since I last uploaded a video, finally got the time so here it is! My review of the Nokia Lumia 520 and Windows Phone 8!

The look is a little muddy and flat, I’m not sure about it, what do you guys think, is it a look I should stick with or go back to colour grading it?

by Soham Adwani
Google


					
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Paranoid Android 3.60 (Hello HALO) Review

Some of you may have read my recent post about the time I’ve spent with my Galaxy Nexus. Ironically the day after I wrote that post (which was a couple of weeks before I had posted it) My phone stopped working. I mean completely, it refused to open the app drawer then when I tried rebooting it went into bootloop and ultimately crashed. That was the tipping point for me, I took it as a sign. My phone was screaming at me to go back to the old ways of root apps, sick customizations and custom rom’s. So what other choice did I have?

The first decision was, which ROM do I use? This was a relative no-brainer, Although I wanted to go with AOKP as I had used it briefly and loved it, all the hype right now seemed to be surrounding paranoid android and it’s “Hello HALO” feature. For those of you who are unaware of what HALO is, and no it’s not the game, it’s a sort of unified chathead, where all your notifiaction appears in a chathead like format. Before I give you my review, I would like to point out that I’ve been using Paranoid android for 26 days right now and my opinion stems from that time spent with it.

To be honest I was underwhelmed. I was expecting something that would blow my mind away, like AOKP and CM10.1 did. Cause they felt like stock android on steroids. Paranoid Android however felt like that one schizophrenic part of the android 4.2 system that was out of place from the rest. The whole time I used it the concept of the ugly duckling came to my mind. It’s pretty much the same as stock android on the inside, it has the same features, but it’s not pretty. I also ended up comparing Paranoid Android to your typical highschool douchebag. It’s trying to be something that it’s not. You get the feeling like you know he’s a good guy but he’s trying too hard to be something he’s not.

Screenshot_2013-07-05-07-00-59

In all actuality, my experience with PA wasn’t all that bad. I was just expecting something over the top and my expectations were set too high for it. That’s not to say there weren’t some parts of it that didn’t completely blow me away. For instance, the standby battery life was brilliant, simply outstanding. I have those days where I just don’t use my phone all that much, like when I’m really busy at work and have tons of meetings and deadlines. Usually by the time I reach my office (at 8:00am)  it’s at 84% and by 5:00pm it’s below 15%. Imagine my surprise when I pulled my phone out of my pocket at 5:30pm one day and see my battery at 78%? Even on the days that I use it moderately I end up leaving the office with 30-40% which isn’t really that great compared to other phones but compared to stock android it’s brilliant. As you can see from the screenshot of my battery information on the right (that small bump on the graph was when I was transferring music onto my phone) The kernel does a great job of managing power.

There are a few other things I liked about paranoid android. For example, I liked the fact that I can change the status bar colour and icon colour to match the app that I’m in, this actually helps in space perspective. For example, I made the colour of the status bar green in whatsapp and faded blue in instagram so that it made it seem like my screen was actually bigger, it’s a nifty trick. But you must also keep in mind that it took me ages to get the right colour combination. I also liked that the lag was noticeably less compared to stock android and that my battery didn’t heat up as much, but then again that’s the case on every other ROM.

Screenshot_2013-06-29-15-49-26  The main reason I wanted to try out PA was HALO, I love chatheads and I dreamed of the day where I would get whatsapp functionality for Whatsapp. It’s safe to say I was hugely disappointed. I understand that it’s in beta, that’s why I’m not going to say anything about the errors and the bugs. What annoyed me was the way it worked in general. When you click on the bubble your app opens, that’s obvious, what annoyed me was that when I clicked on it again, instead of closing the app back into the bubble, it just opens another window. That irked me more than you’d think. I hated having to open an app and hit the back button to close it, if I wanted to do that I would stick to android’s built in multitasking as it offers the same functionality. After a while what I realised was that HALO is basically offering me what I already have, but giving me less than 50% the screen real estate. This for me made the whole concept of HALO utterly redundant.

PIE control is another feature that PA touts around. In my experience with it it definitely looks cool but is really just a gimmick. It takes to long for it to pop out, just so we can go back or home. It looks really nice and makes you feel like you’re using a gadget out of minority report but at the end of the day for a power user like me it’s really more of a hassle then it is a feature to talk about. The extended desktop functionality is useful when I need extra real estate and know that I’ll be within that one app for a long Screenshot_2013-07-12-09-41-54time but otherwise is just problematic. One would think after reading what I just wrote that the simple solution would be to use PIE in conjunction with HALO but trust me, once you try it you’d see for yourself why it really does not work.

There are a couple of other gripes that I have with this ROM, such as the over exaggeration of colours, which makes you feel like you’ve dived into the deepest realm of the matrix and the fact that my cell reception has dropped intensely ever since I flashed PA but these are small things that I can live with. All in all Paranoid Android is fine if you’re on a device where you want the stock android experience but in my opinion the entire ROM itself is a gimmick and just doesn’t have what it takes to keep up with the better ROM’s available out there.

Disagree with my opinions or have something you need to add? Sound off in the comments below or shoot me an email at sohamthenerd@gmail.com

Until next time folks.

The Galaxy Nexus Experience, 8 Months Later

Samsung and Google’s second child in the mobile department, the Galaxy Nexus has been around for almost two years now and although the Nexus 4 improves on many of the gripes I have with the Galaxy Nexus, I never made the switch. That’s partly due to the fact that I picked up the Galaxy Nexus a week before they announced the Nexus 4. Even though the GNex has been around for quite a while we can’t necessarily call it “old-gen”. With a dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and a 720p display, the GNex is probably the best mid range android handset around today. Having said that there definitely were a few instances where I’ve wanted to bang my phone against the wall.

Let’s start with software. The biggest advantage to buying a nexus device is that you get the assurance that your software is probably going to work better on your phone as compared to anything else you might pick up as it is maintained by google itself. It runs the latest version of android (4.2.2) and its smooth, most of the time. My biggest problem with the phone is probably the battery. Not the battery life (which is abysmal) but the battery itself. My battery is constantly at 38 degrees but more that often above 47. That not only makes the phone really hot but also causes an immense performance drop. Swiping through home screens takes long and it takes the phone about 3 seconds to register touches. Apps like the gallery and browser are unusable and often force close. Apps that are more power hungry refuse to even open and often cause the phone to just crash.

The thing I love the most about my phone is how customisable it is. Rooting and tinkering with a nexus device is a breeze, especially with Wugs toolkit. There’s nothing about the phone you can’t change. When I got the phone I went crazy with all the things you could customise. I was running CM10.1 with Franco’s Kernel, used ROM toolbox pro to root and configure the little things, changed my font, my boot animation, my softkeys and made many other customisations. This however brings me to my next point.

At the beginning when I had the phone it was flawless. No lag, never force closed, no issues. However, after a while, one by one issues started to arise. It got so bad that I had to do a complete wipe of the phone and go fully back to stock. I’m now on the stock ROM with the stock kernel and action launcher + flatro icons on the front end. Things were never the same however. It could be due to the battery over heating or maybe some other issues. I tried loading Paranoid Android over the weekend to try out the ‘HALO’ feature, much to my dismay my phone was beyond unusable. I went through all the checkpoints (wipe system, cache, dalvik, etc.) but nothing worked. The phone booted up fine but navigating through the home screens and menus were a nightmare. Everything lagged like it never lagged before. I couldn’t open any apps and when some would open I wouldn’t be able to use them (like the settings app).  So alas, I restored my nandroid backup and even though its running well now on stock android, I steel feel like I’m a burger without fries or like SpongeBob without Patrick, I feel like I’m missing a part of me.

Windows Phone 8: View from the eyes of an Android Freak (Day 1)

The battle for the “Best Mobile OS” has been going on for quite a while now, with iOS and Android hogging the lead and leaving the others so far behind that they cant even begin to see the dust yet. There are many who have tried to challenge they’re dominance, others who are content with staying behind. One company that’s been battling endlessly with Apple and Google is Microsoft. Apple and Google started entering the smartphone market around the 2007-2008 time period and by 2009 they had revamped the entire concept of smartphones and touch screens. Microsoft on the other hand was still lacking in the mobile department, they were probably too preoccupied with the “Vista” problem. Microsoft’s mobile OS was  basically a smaller version of windows xp. It was hard to use, you couldn’t really figure out how to work it that well even if you were a huge geek and the worst thing was the resisitive touch screen, that was just terrible. Fast forward to October 2010, Microsoft announced a completely revamped ‘Windows Phone OS’ with a completely revamped “metro” interface and it was beautiful. I was lovestruck. Sadly though as with all new software, it had it’s issues. Jump forward to 2013. Microsoft’s been in the market for 3 years and they’ve had time to fix their issues. So is Windows Phone 8 a worthy competitor for the No. 1 spot?

 

My first day with windows phone 8 has been a blast. As with every new phone, I spent endless hours downloading new apps, customizing it (as much as windows phone would allow me to) and tinkering with it in every which way. I picked up the Lumia 520, which is the lowest end and ‘cheapest’ Windows Phone device in the market so obviously my expectations were low, surprisingly it blew me away. From the minute I turned it on the phone was fast, fluid and mellifluous. I really was not expecting such performance from such a low end device. Multitasking and opening apps were smooth, there was no input lag whatsoever.

The biggest Complaint people have about windows phone now days is that it’s app collection is terrible. On the contrary, I was able to find a replacement for my 5 most used apps quite quickly. Keep in mind I don’t use as many apps as I used to since I’ve been really tied down at work. My most used apps on my nexus are Falcon Pro, Instagram, Feedly, PocketCasts and Whatsapp. What I use on windows phone; Twitter, Instance (not that great but instagram should be coming soon), Nextgen reader, Podcast and Whatsapp. See, no trouble. One thing however is that some alternatives for free android apps were paid on windows phone. Just a small annoyance. My favourite thing about windows phone is the brilliant sync integration. I literally just had to sign in to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and immediately it started populating my entire device with my data. The photos app had my facebook photo’s, the people tile was an integrated feed of my facebook, twitter and linkedIn and the me tile had all my information already. Other than that you can even use facebook chat through the default messaging app, that’s brilliant!

One of the biggest gripes I’ve had however is that there’s no unified notification center, so I tend to miss a lot of notifications and only become aware of them when I scroll through and see the tile. That and the fact there are no quick toggles for settings like WiFi and bluetooth, altough I’m certain you can pin those settings to your start screen, you still have to open the app and switch the toggle.

Apart from that, I’m quite astonished. I’ve never been this satisfied with a phone of this pricepoint before. Devices at this price point have always irked me more than they have impressed me. Keep in mind I haven’t even had the phone for a full 24 hours yet and I plan on using the phone for at least two weeks or more before I give you my full and final opinion, which will most probably be in the form of a YouTube review so stay tuned folks and make sure to subscribe or keep coming back so that you don’t miss anything.

Thanks for reading!

 

A Boy and His Remote

The actual video on YouTube My Submission for the Monday Challenge: The Emotion.

Yes it does show that it was uploaded late but that was because I had uploaded it on dropbox first and sent in that link. This video was uploaded onto youtube after the deadline for submission.

The story of a sad remote that feels unappreciated an decides to run away from home.

Music By Kevin MacLeod bySoham Adwani

Why Facebook could prove to be the most important company on the internet

Facebook has been undergoing major changes and has been announcing numerous new features over the past year or so. Starting with Graph Search down to a redesigned News Feed and Facebook Home, it’s easy to see facebook is trying to increase its presence on the web as well as on your mobile phone. Why though? Many reasons. The main reason of course is because facebook wants to be your go to tool for everything related to interaction. From finding people to communicating with people, facebook wants to be omnipresent in your life. There are many people who argue that with this strategy facebook is becoming a “SkyNet” like company. What they don’t seem to understand is that they’re not paying for the service, therefore they probably are the service. Some claim that there are privacy issues, while no doubt you do have less privacy but that’s the way the internet works now days. If you want total privacy get off the internet. Facebook has been trying its best to keep the privacy concerns at bay.

Another great thing about having everything facebook related is that it just becomes easier. You don’t have to keep switching from different platforms and different servers, everything you need will be pulling data from a single place. Besides the ease of use, facebook products have been getting better and better. I’m a huge fan of chat heads on android. Chat heads alone are the reason I use whatsapp less and facebook messenger more, I just wish that the android app gets stickers like the iOS counterpart did. I may not have tried facebook home but I know a few people who have it and love it! (p.s. facebook, I’m still waiting for home on my nexus. thanks.) Couple that with their new minimalistic approach and you have a strategy for success.

Don’t get me wrong though, I still sometimes wonder how people can spend their whole lives on facebook. They’re constantly logged in and posting status updates. And what annoys me the most is the constant clatter from the pages I liked as a stupid little kid in 2009 and the annoying game requests. Hopefully that gets fixed with the new newsfeed but I’ll never know until I try it. The new timeline on the other hand, is fantastic! Continuing from my previous statement, I use facebook roughly 1o minutes a week, a little more now that I’m on holiday and it’s not just me, facebook has been seeing a decline in users especially teenagers. In my opinion, this is why facebook has been hard at work to try and play a more important background role, not necessarily a direct role. Such as with messenger and instagram, where you’re not technically on facebook but you are still ON facebook.

I guess what I’m just trying to say is that if facebook continues in this direction and they succeed, they might prove to be the most important company on the internet.