Nokia Astound take 2 (with photo and video samples)

At Nokia Unfenced I had a second chance to test a Nokia Astound. As I only had it for a day and much of that time I had no reception, this is not an attempt to replace my earlier review.  Also I didn’t try to customize it or install lots of apps. You can ream my more in-depth review with screenshots here.

General Experience and reliability

In general the Astound performed well. I never had it crash on me, and i was for the most part, smooth with everything I wanted it to do.  There was a bit of lag on a few occasions though, most notable within the first minute of operation. Games like Fruit Ninja played smoothly and so did transitions and animations, and the videos I recorded.

There was one curios issue though, and that is that I was totally unable to activate the portrait mode Swype keyboard.  It still had a QWERTY layout at least but others who had one were able to use Swype in portrait mode.  The portrait QWERTY has keys that are a bit small for me and I was verby slow to type using it though. I also experienced difficulty connecting my device to the hotel WiFi reliably, but then I know that almost everyone seemed to have that issue.

I was able to pair a stereo blue-tooth headset easily, and the sound was clear through the blue-tooth headset, the stereo speakers on the back and the normal phone speaker on the front. However, I was told that I didn’t sound clear when using it in speaker-phone and the sound was much better for callers when I talked into it normally or used the blue-tooth headset.

So overall, a good experience, though the Swype issue is puzzling.

Social Networking

When I did my previous reviews I didn’t have a Twitter or Facebook account so reviewing Nokia Social was not really possible for me.  Now I am on Twitter (@bluechrism) and tried the app out briefly.  It seemed decent enough, was easy enough to use and covered the basics. The corresponding widget is very useful and meant I didn’t need to keep the app open to use it. Still, I could see why people might look for something better to use instead, such as Gravity.

Camera

A large part of the day was spent focusing on the camera and I took many photos and videos whilst out at El Dorado Canyon and then some more at the hotel in the evening.  So EDoF lenses – are they any good.  Can you take shots in the dark, or close up and have them come out well – Yes you can.  Are things in the background sharp and clear – Yes they are. Is the camera good enough to distinguish subtle tone differences in things like the sky – Yes. Is the colo(u)r reproduction lifelike – erm, well, I suppose it could be worse.

Ok, so that’s the thing – I was able to take some good shots with this camera, but in many the colors are a bit toned down and duller than the real life image.  I tried to use Vivid mode to brighten things up a bit and it helped, but not much. Cell phone cameras are often criticized for over-saturation and this is not something that can be leveled at the Astound. The only other criticism is that it is so easy to use, I can do it without even trying. The number of times i adjusted my hand with the camera open only to hear the shutter sound as a part of my hand had brushed the screen or put just enough pressure on the single stage shutter button (which sits flush with the edge of the phone, while all other buttons are slightly raised).

Despite that, it is a good camera and you will get generally good, crisp and clear shots.  I even have some at night and some up close to prove it, though they are much harder to achieve, and I have plenty of bad ones in low light conditions as well.

Here are a few sample shots:
Landscapes

Something in the foreground – both foreground and backgrounds should be sharp on EDoF.

Closeup shots:

Using the Vivid color setting – first shot normal, second Vivid.

Night/Evening shots

Video

I took several videos while at Nokia unfenced and one reason for the delay in getting this out is that frankly, they needed a bit of editing before I posted any.  Ultimately, no video I took was particularly steady, but that wasn’t the fault of the Astound, but more my hand, or the fact I was riding a horse or doing whatever else at the time.  I think the quality and clarity of the image was excellent.

Other things I found out

So there are a few things I have found out. The dialer can be configured as a shortcut keypad. I was saying to another blogger that having one touch to turn on and off the FM transmitter or Bluetooth is something missing from Symbian that I like about my N900 (thanks to the FMTX and Bluezwitch widgets). He showed me how you can do this by assigning dialer keys to different apps or settings and long-pressing the.  It works, though my normal use for this is in the car and having a dialer up isn’t really what I want.

Also, you can hold the lock key when on the home screen and this will turn on the Dual-LED’s like a flash-light.  They are bright too.

Conclusion

Despite the Swype issues, I had a much better experience with the Astound this time, and had I had that reliability before I would have kept it. It wasn’t all perfect though and the fact I’ve now used two of these phones and both had some sort of software issue doesn’t strike me as a great thing. Still, it’s a good phone, a good communicator and good camera.  If you are a T-Mobile customer and want a phone that’s free on contract, I can recommend trying this out (just double check the return policy hope you don’t get a buggy one, like my first).

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About bluechrism

I am a software developer with most professional experience in the Windows .Net realm and I'm currently a WPF developer with Starkey Labs. However, I have wanted for some time to start the mobile developer journey properly and being an N900 owner, this was to be in the realm of QT. Job hunting, moving to Minnesota and changing jobs put my plans on hold 6-12 months but things are starting to settle now, just as I'm getting sorted to start some things, Microsoft and Nokia merge. This blog is about my novice mobile development experiences and hopefully will end up complete with links to download some apps on various platforms, but obviously by the name, Sybian, Maemo/Meego and Windows Mobile. In other stuff, I am English, I support Everton FC, I have visited Glastonbury music festival 5 times and recommend it to anyone. I am married and my wife and i have a dog called Friday.
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