So, I wrote a native Android app. It’s my first Android app and it’s now published in the Android market. This app helps you find the latest health inspection scores and health violation details of the restaurants in the following counties in Northeast District of Georgia, US: Barrow, Clarke, Elbert, Greene, Jackson, Madison, Morgan, Oconee, Oglethorpe and Walton. If you have an Android device with Gingerbread and up, go ahead and give the Athens GA Northeast District Health Inspection Records app a whirl. Bug reports are greatly treasured. 🙂
Category: Mobile Phones
First Look: The Nokia C7-00 and a review.
I reached out to WOMWorld/Nokia after the PR 1.1 update fiasco on my Nokia N8. They were gracious enough to lend me a Nokia C7 and a Nokia BH 905i headset for duration of 2 weeks. I was curious about the Nokia C7-00 because it reminds me of the Nokia N8 in that both run on Symbian ^3. The C7 and the N8 belong to a different class of devices (and by extension, a different type of user); The Nokia C7 belongs to the C-series line and the N8 belongs to the N-series. According to Wikipedia, here are the list of C-series devices, the Wikipedia page for the C7-00 device and an insight into Nokia’s line of devices by Nokia Conversations. You can test this phone virtually by utilizing the Forum Nokia Remote Device Access page or this list of methods of access a virtual Nokia device.
In assessing the Nokia C7, I was primarily interested in how it ‘felt’ i.e. the hardware & construction and how well it took photographs because I have come to terms with the camera as a very important aspect of my mobile device. I have been a Nokia N8 user for over 3 months so I’ve been biased towards quality mobile phone images. 🙂 As I found out, I found the Nokia C7 was easier to physically handle, but fell flat when it came to the camera functions which are very important to me and of course, runs on Symbian which could be a problem if you need eye-candy or user-friendliness.
Nokia C7 beside box.
- Setting up the phone on first use is relatively hassle-free so new Nokia phone users won’t be out of their depth (for older Nokia phone owners, the setup should be familiar). Make sure you have an Ovi.com account because you won’t be able to use the Ovi Store without one. When I first turned the phone one, I was walked through a set of simple prompts (to attach my Ovi.com account, select my country/timezone as my phone doesn’t have the SIM card in it, etc). Once I was at the homescreen, Ovi Maps and Ovi Store were preinstalled. The preinstallation of Ovi Store will happen on Nokia C7 devices with the PR 1.1 update (which this phone had). The phone ships with a standard set of accessories:
- Nokia Battery BL-5K
- Nokia Connectivity Cable CA-101D
- Nokia Stereo Headset WH-102
- Nokia Charger AC-15
Here’s a short video I created showing the outlets & hardware features of the Nokia C7-00:
- The C7 is thinner than the Nokia N8 and loses the protrusion on the back of the Nokia N8. The slim Nokia C7 has a better feel to it and I really like that the battery was replaceable with an even easier way of inserting my SIM card & memory card. See my gallery of Nokia C7 photos on Min.us, which is an awesome way for painlessly sharing photos. Again, living with the Nokia N8 made me appreciate the C7 for being easy to slip into little slits in my book bag. The C7 gets high marks for being slim and feels just right.
- Physical buttons (“soft keys) for making or ending calls and a dedicated “Menu” button. I didn’t realize how much I missed having the green phone sign to make calls so the C7 gets points for the hardware “Call” buttons. With the Nokia N8, there was no easy way to dial the last-dialled number; But on the C7, merely pressing the “green call button” twice will dial the last number you called from your phone.
- The C7 has a front-facing camera for video calls and can record HD video with video stabilization. I am not big on recording videos with my cellphone, but it is quite comforting to know that in a pinch, recording HD video on my phone is available. If you have a data plan that supports video calls, you’d be wise to get an app that supports video calls. I don’t have a data plan but check out these VOIP apps (Fring & Nimbuzz) which may support video calling. Small nitpick: As with the software on the Nokia N8, switching from the 8mp camera to this front-facing camera is a two-step process and is a victim of Nokia’s menu-centric design style.
- The Nokia C7 has an Extended Depth of Focusing camera which means there’s no “focus” step in taking the picture and lessens the chances of getting the wrong item in focus. This feature lends itself well to taking photographs of things like landscapes or group photos because the EDoF feature tries to get everything in focus. The included photo editor on the Nokia C7 (which the Nokia N8 has) bears highlighting. If you don’t take a good photo, you can sharpen, crop, convert and perform a host of editing/enhancment functions to your photo! I really like this bundled photo editor which, while not packaged in the most intuitive of interfaces, does the job of editing your mobile photos well.Under optimal conditions like bright sunlight, the EDoF camera shines and so far, my pictures can’t hold a candle to these really nice photos taken by All About Symbian. Here are some photos taken with the Nokia C7:
- Battery life on the Nokia C7 is just excellent!. I’ve gone over 8 hours with bluetooth enabled (a working day) on this phone without needing to recharge! This is the same battery life I’ve come to expect with the Nokia N8 so that I’m glad Nokia was able to have that kind of battery life with the Nokia C7. One important differentiating feature between the C7 and the N8 is the user-replaceable battery with the Nokia C7 and in my opinion, the easier-to-access SIM card and Memory card slots.
- The Nokia C7 comes with the ability to play a wide variety of video formats (which is important to me as I hate having to transcode video files) as well as being able to play a good number of audio formats as well (the ones I care about are: mp3, wma, and aac but the C7 can also play eaac, eaac+, amr-nb, and amr-wb). A neat feature of the video player in the Nokia C7 is the support for subtitles! Read more about this video subtitles feature on GSM Arena and Nitish Kumar’s blog. Video Recording on the Nokia C7 is pretty handy in a pinch. Nokia has also included basic video editor on the phone might just entice you into showing your creations to the world! 🙂 The same options on the N8 for video recording are present on the C7; You can split your video, add title clips before or after and style your title clips. Check out this video review of the Nokia C7 by PhoneArena which is quite good.
- Compared to most Android phones in ATT’s collection, the Nokia C7 has a relatively generous 8GB of internal memory with support for microSD cards up to 32GB in size (*whisper*the N8 comes with 16GBs of memory*whisper*). Nokia has a good track record of giving their phones a lot of internal memory although they have yet to get the memo about bumping up CPU specs to 2011 levels. 😛 You will probably need to get an external microSD card if you download a lot of Maps from the free Ovi Maps application which brings me to my next point:
- Ovi Maps is a highlight and treat for new users to Symbian. The maps are free to download and you’ll get updates for life. On other mobile systems like Android or iOS, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a free mapping application that offers downloadable maps.
- As with the Nokia N8, the Nokia C7 comes with customizable home screens (up to 3) which can be filled with apps you install. You can also add several preinstalled widgets to a homescreen by ‘longpressing” the homescreen and editing the settings. With Symbian^3, the Ovi Social application is particularly useful as it links your Twitter/Facebook account and displays updates in a widget. Another of my favorite widgets is the “Favorite Contacts” widget which lets you add up to 4 contacts, the handy Wi-Fi widget which lets you connect quickly to wireless network, and a host of other preinstalled widgets like that from Paramount Pictures showing a handful of their movies, and more.
- My biggest gripe about the Nokia C7 revolves around the C7’s camera. I’ve taken a fair amount of high quality cell phone photographs with my Nokia N8 so I was expecting to be able to do the same with the Nokia C7. Sadly, the camera on the Nokia C7 disappoints. You’ll need to spend a lot of time figuring to the best way to take the picture versus just pointing & clicking. The C7-00 boasts of an 8 megapixel camera, but as with the Nokia N8, you don’t actually have all the megapixels present. The phone compresses the images to make sharing over your 3G data connection cheaper. However, I was disappointed because there was no ‘focus’ button in the camera application. I essentially had to move back and forth to make sure whatever I wanted to photograph was in focus. In reading up about the reasons for this, it turns out that fancy Extended Depth of Focusing feature and the C7’s fixed length lens are to blame hence the need to move back and forth to ensure my photos are in focus. Most of the time, I just gave up and snapped the scenes as they were & sure enough, the pictures turned out blurry. Add to that the fact that there’s no macro mode on the C7 and you’ll have yourself a recipe for mild annoyance.
- For a thorough review of the limitations of the Nokia C7’s camera, visit All About Symbian for their take on the Nokia C7. Nokia is shipping some phones with something called EDoF or Extended Depth of Focusing and All About Symbian has a great series exploring the technical differences between the traditional two-stage (focus & take the picture) camera technology and Extended Depth of Focusing. Stay tuned for some more photographs exploring scenarios where the C7 shines in taking photos.
- The C7 runs on Symbian ^ 3which is on maintenance mode since Nokia’s moving forward with Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 in the future. Compared to Android and iOS, there aren’t many quality apps available for the Symbian and no carrier in the United States offers subsidized pricing for this $399 phone. This ‘disadvantage’ is the same one I had noted with my Nokia N8 and frankly, I’ve made my peace with this especially as the Nokia N8 is a great multi-use tool!
- ****Issues with the trial device didn’t let me assess the multitasking capability of the Nokia C7.
Parting Thoughts on the Nokia C7
The Nokia C7 is available for purchase via third party merchants like the Amazon Store, etc. Currently , Amazon has the Nokia C7 at $429 and the Nokia N8 at $399. That is not a typo, but to be fair, the Amazon price difference between the C7 and the N8 fluctuates within the range of ± $40. Also note that on NokiaUSA.com, the Nokia N8 is priced at $449 and the C7 isn’t listed for purchase on NokiaUSA.com. So, why would you possibly pick the Nokia C7 over the seemingly same-priced Nokia N8? Well, it turns out in other parts of the world, the Nokia C7 is cheaper than the Nokia N8.
In the UK (on Nokia UK’s website), the Nokia C7 is about a hundred pounds less on a pay-as-you-go plan than the Nokia N8 and a little over 50 pounds more than the SIM-free Nokia N8. In Indonesia, the Nokia C7 is at least, 400 RRP more than the Nokia N8. In Norway, the Nokia N8 (without a contract) is over 1300 NOK more than the Nokia C7. The table below shows the price differences between the Nokia C7 and the Nokia N8.
|Country|| Nokia C7 (Phone only)
|| Nokia N8
|Finland||370,00 €||479,00 €|
|France||329,00 €||419,00 €|
|Poland||1 399,00 zł||1 729,00 zł|
|Russia||15490 руб||19990 руб|
|Spain||379,00 €||479,00 €|
|Sweden||3 495,00 kr
||4 295,00 kr|
|China||￥2,988.00 (WiFi version)
￥3,198.00 (3G version)
|￥3,598.00 to ￥4,899.00|
For users living in areas with this price disparity, getting the Nokia C7 will be a tough decision/call, but here are some conditions that could make the C7 a good choice:
- If the N8 is ‘too much phone’ for your needs i.e. you’ll never need HDMI-out or 16 gbs of onboard space
- If you’re not into (quality) phone photography or couldn’t care less about megapixel ratings
- If you like the form factor of the Nokia C7, the touchscreen capability and presence of the ‘soft’ keys/menu
However for those in the USA or areas where the difference is less than 100 (dollars, pounds, naira, etc), I would hesitate to recommend the Nokia C7 especially when the Nokia N8 is available for the (almost) same price *and* has more awesome-to-have features like a kickass camera, 16GBs of internal space, USB-on-the-go and HDMI-out! In the US, no cellphone provider carries the Nokia C7 so you’ll have to pay the full price ($399) which is nothing to sneeze at. The C7 is not quite a camera-phone as getting non-landscape photos from the phone was hit-or-miss. As a C7 owner, you’ll have access to the plethora of applications on the Ovi Store for Symbian ^3 and I’ve found some useful apps on the Ovi Store that I’ve found. In fact, if I could marry the soft keys and form factor of the Nokia C7 with the Nokia N8’s hardware, we’d have a phone I would buy again! Get a Nokia N8 instead and you’ll thank me later. 🙂 I don’t think Nokia will complain if one person opts for the Nokia N8 over the Nokia C7. *grin*
In summary, I recommend USA users considering the Nokia C7 ‘upgrade’ to the Nokia N8 (for ~ $10 more on Amazon) instead.
- * – Africa & the Middle East as well as some Asian countries are not represented.
- Unfortunately, the review unit I was sent had something wrong with it because the Menu button did not do anything except to ‘wake’ the phone. This particular C7 had lost the ability to view running applications which made running multiple apps impossible. WOMWorld/Nokia is aware of the issues with this particular C7 and I’m fairly certain this issue is not typical of production C7 units. Here are some screenshots (made with Smartphoneware‘s Best ScreenSnap) on the trial Nokia C7 showing the absence of “show open application:
Here are some screenshots (and video) I took of a remote Nokia C7 showing that the C7 *does* support multitasking and viewing open applications:
Getting a Smartphone? Get a data plan too.
One of the things I was concerned about (before splurging on an Android Phone) was the fact that I didn’t have a data plan. I got my first cell phone from AT&T in 2004 and after dabbling with the awful pay-per-use data plan, I opted out of their data packages. Back then, their data plans were ‘pricey’ to my still-broke self. Now (around the coming of the iPhone), most carriers require data plans so you won’t suffer this problem. These days, you should tack an extra $15 – $30 a month to your cellphone bill with data plans from the popular carriers. 🙂
In any case, I am still without a data plan and missing out on a bunch of cool applications.
I have since discovered that the *really* fun applications (barring games) require an internet connection. Yes, WiFi is good, but when you’re on the road, you’re out of luck. Without further ado, here are the “things” I (meaning you) am missing out on without a data plan:
Free Google Maps navigation
If you aren’t ready for paid Android navigation apps like Ndrive, Navdroyd, Copilot, the free Google Maps app is your next best bet. To use Google’s free turn-by-turn directions, you need a constant internet connection. However, you may be forced to use an offline maps utility which consumes space on your microSD card. I’ve currently got an 8GB Transcend microSD card in my G1 phone and planning an upgrade to a 16GB Transcend microSD card in order to take advantage of offline maps like Ndrive (North America maps for Ndrive consume nearly 6gbs of space which leaves me little room to install apps on my current 8gb microsd card). I’ve got a license to Ndrive navigation software that is begging to be used!
Geo-location is the rage these days (see: FourSquare, Yelp, Gowalla, Whrrl, etc). It’s not my cup of tea so I won’t be telling the world where I am or where I’m not (unless I want to send a not-so-subtle message about how quickly I’m climbing a non-existent social ladder). That said, unless the restaurant/club you’re in has free WiFi, no checking in for you. The same goes for the Twitter/Facebook apps for Android. Unless you’re at home (in which case, I would be using my laptop), you can’t use these apps without an internet connection. Without WiFi, you’re out of luck. I wouldn’t be writing this post if there was free WiFi was as pervasive as cell phone towers.
As you know, the Android phone is tied really closely to your Google account. I mean, contacts + calendars are all synced from your Google online account to your phone. This means, changes made to your contacts + calendars made from your phone won’t show up instantly on your online Google account if you aren’t connected to WiFi at the moment. If you’d had a data plan, you wouldn’t be worrying about when the carrier pigeons will ferry your data from your phone to your Google account. 😀 It’s not all doom and gloom. I’ve obviously survived thus far. It’s a pain, but workable.
That said, I’ve found my Android phone to be useful even without a data plan. In the Android Market, there’s no shortage of apps that don’t need an internet connection. For those old school people without a data plan (raise your hands in the air/ wave ’em like you just don’t care … actually, it hurts.), here are some recommended apps to pass time with until your next WiFi connection:
You can do … anything (almost)
Take your pick. On my G1, I’ve got the following apps that contain things I can consume until my next WiFi connection.
- Note-taking:Writers/BloggersArtists are incurable note-takers so this shouldn’t come as a surprise. I swear by the Android app from Snaptic called 3banana notes. Even though I haven’t used any other because I can’t imagine anything that is simpler than this app, I love it. You can jot down anything that comes to mind, append images/location data & your notes are stored on your microSD card or phone to be synced to your Snaptic account or Google account!
- Factbook: Support the Android developers It’s a paid app and it is pretty much a copy of the freely available (online) CIA Factbook which has been ported to the Android phone. It comes in a pretty GUI and should keep you full of random trivia.
- The Holy Book (Bible, etc): The free bibles out there are mostly the King James’ version of the bible which is freely available on Project Gutenberg. The others are just fancy versions like NIV, etc. Simply read the reviews or test out the Bible apps to find “the One”.
- The Dictionary: I used to read dictionaries as a hobby when I was younger. I don’t do that enough these days, but with the ColorDict app, I can fill my head with more highfalutin’ words than necessary.
- Fresh of a recent reformat to install Cyanogenmod v. 6 (a.k.a. Froyo), I’m on the hunt for a good Android app to let me save articles from my browser to read them later. Basically, an Instapaper-like app for Android. I’m still looking so feel free to chime in with recommendations although I’m not sure this would work as I hope because it would require some syncing to go on from my browser to my phone and thus require an internet connection.
- Books: Pick your favorite eBook reader (I’ve settled on FBreader which has a simple eBook application for the Windows platform) and download hundreds of free eBooks from publishers around the world e.g. Smashwords, Feedbooks, etc. FBReader offers an easy way to browse and download quality reading material. When browsing the catalogs, FBReader offers more options for searching for books by authors, subject, languages, popularity, etc. , it’ll offer you a more ‘animated’ list of options.
- Medical ‘trivia’: I’m a fan of filling my head with largely useless tidbits of medical information (not a fan of the Michael Quach style of trivia apps polluting the Android marketplace). I’ve spent well over $100 on medical apps from Skyscape. Sidenote: Skyscape rocks for allowing me to transfer my apps from device to device. Then again, the Skyscape apps aren’t just $2 – $10 apps and if the previous phone is truly retired/dead, transferring is the least they can do. BUT Skyscape didn’t give me the run-around and that says a lot about their company.
- Have Fun with Exercise/GPS: With apps like RunKeeper and CardioTrainer, you can track more than just calories burned with your exercise routine. If you’re just curious to see what your daily route looks like on the computer, there is the My Tracks apps that can track and create an easily shareable file (i.e. gpx, kml or csv formats). Be warned that should you attempt to multi-task while recording a track, you’ll loose your spot on the map and have to restart. I can not wait for GPSed to be available on the Android market. I loved the GPSed app (I upgraded to the GPSed Pro version) on the Windows Mobile system and it rocked my world by making my commute less lonely. 🙂 Sidenote: The GPSed App is available as a .jar file and this can be apparently converted to Android package (.apk) file although I didn’t get that site to work and there might be another option for converting .jar files to .apk files.
- Fun with Pictures: I’ve got the paid PicSayPro application on my phone and it’s been a great app to edit the 3 megapixel photos I’ve taken with the G1. There are other photo editing apps available such as Adobe’s Photoshop Express, Urbian Inc’s Retro Camera, etc.
I’m sure I’m missing out on other things I can do even without a constant data connection (listening to music is blindingly obvious) so expect another post with me belaboring the point that I probably am better off getting a data plan soon. 🙂 Cheers!