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Lumia 900 Featured

The Lumia 900 has been featured as "The Networker" in the latest issue of to Entrepreneur Magazine, a publication covering small businesses, startups and the like. As one can see with the above photo, the Lumia 900 is praised for its design, SkyDrive integration, LTE speeds, collection of Microsoft apps, and how it "looks like a toy".

Unfortunately, no mention of Nokia OEM apps is present, nor how the Windows Phone has won numerous awards. Still, it's great to see the Lumia 900 (and Windows Phone for that matter) rated up there with the iPhone, Motorola Droid 4 and Samsung Galaxy Note in a respectable magazine.

Check out a closer shot of the page after the break. Thanks Teddy for sending the photos in!

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Samsung is back in...white...with the Focus 2 on AT&T. What do I think of it after a few hours? Let's find out.

Samsung Focus 2

For many of us, the original Samsung Focus (review) was our first foray into the Windows Phone world. And truth be told, it was an excellent experience. With it's 4" Super AMOLED screen, slick design, light body and decent (for the time) camera, the Samsung Focus set the precedent. Recent numbers also reflect that status with upwards of 90% of AT&Ts first generation Windows Phone being the Focus.

Today, AT&T and Samsung have released the Focus 2, a moderate update to the original design (check out today's unboxing video). Eschewing glossy black for the new hip white, dropping in a faster 1.4GHz CPU and adding 4G LTE are the most notable changes. Adding a more rounded design with some updated sensors and cameras are the more under-the-hood type differences.

So how does it stack up in the first few hours I've been toying with it? For $50 on contract or $399 off, the Focus 2 is a nimble little guy that has certainly caught my attention.

The feel of the device is really good in the hands albeit a touch slippery. The roundness of the device, while slick, makes it a joy to hold and at 4" for the screen size, it's a more natural fit. The chrome accent adds a touch of class and while the device is very plastic, it doesn't feel cheap. The buttons have an interesting layout with the volume keys to the left, power and camera to the right. While odd, it does make it less confusing than the Lumia 900's where they are all lumped together on the same side. Travel of the keys is good and they're tactile with no rattle.

The Super AMOLED screen is really brilliant but obviously not as good as the Lumia 900's. Still, it holds its own and it's great to look at while not getting to grimy.

Audio quality is moderate with very little distortion when maxed out. It's a touch tinny but not by much.

The camera is surprisingly good even at 5MP, in fact forgetting the loss of resolution, it's as good if not better than the Nokia Lumia 900's. While it doesn't really contain any advanced settings e.g. no anti-shake or panorama, photos are well detailed and pleasing to the eye. We do however recommend turning up sharpness and contrast a smidge more to make the most of it.

Any extras worth reporting on? No, not really. There are the advanced GPS settings (GLONASS) and Samsung's "extra settings" present but other than that it has the same wallpapers as other Samsung Windows Phones and their regular cheesy ringtones.

Overall though, we're impressed and like the Focus 2 a ton. It feels great in the hand, is fun to use and makes a solid addition to AT&T's lineup. I'm going to have little problem adding it to my repertoire of Windows Phones.

Check after the break for a few more pics of the device and a couple camera samples (compared to the Lumia 900)...

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Our first impressions of the new Samsung Focus 2 from AT&T

Samsung Focus 2 from AT&T

AT&T has yet another Windows Phone on their store shelves today. It is the Samsung Focus 2, a 4" Super AMOLED screened white Windows Phone.

And it's not too shabby.

We picked one up this morning at our local AT&T store and the Focus 2 makes a nice first impression. Measuring 4.79" x 2.47" x .43" and weighing in at 4.3 ounces, the Focus 2 is very comparable in size with its older brother the Samsung Focus (4.84” x 2.56” x 0.39” and 4.1 ounces).

The Focus 2 fits comfortably in the hand and has a compact feel, especially after using the HTC Titan II for the past month. Screen quality is as you would expect from a Super AMOLED screen, rich saturation and contrast. I'm partial to a larger screen but the 4" screen on the Focus 2 looks nice. I still have reservations on having a white Windows Phone but we'll see how well things hold up over the next few days.

The Focus 2 is powered by a 1750mah battery and moves along rather nicely with the 1.4ghz processor. The Focus 2 is fitted with 8gb of memory, a 5mp rear camera, VGA front facing camera, and is 4G LTE compatible. Now before you moan and groan about the Focus 2 only having 8gb of storage, remember this is an entry level Windows Phone. Plus with SkyDrive gaining momentum, you have a solid off-device storage option.

Overall, the AT&T Samsung Focus 2 makes a nice first impression. We're going to take the Focus 2 out for a test drive over the next few days and will get a full review up on the site shortly. With the Focus 2 running $49.99 under contract, we'll also see how the Focus 2 compares to the Nokia Lumia 900 (as well as the Lumia 710) to see how these two sub-$100 Windows Phones match up.

Stay tuned, there's more to come and after the break, check out our unboxing video...

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Windows Phone Fan

The team behind the We Love Windows Phone website over in Hong Kong have kicked off their Windows Phone fan giveaway. The LED fans -- when in operation -- display a short presentation stating "Windows Phone" "Simply Faster" (see above photos). Stock is limited, but this competition is open to international platform fans.

Check out the quick demonstration below of the product in action.

All that's required is a short form to be filled out, which includes the question "What would you like to see as the next Windows Phone souvenir to attract the public?" The application period ends on May 23rd, and note that entrants will bear the cost of international shipping. Head on over the We Love Windows Phone's website for the form and further details. 

Source: We Love Windows Phone (Bing translation)

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WP Central

You've asked for it and now you'll get it.  In the continued push by Nokia and Microsoft of the outstanding Lumia line of Windows Phone, new Xbox Avatar props have been created. What's more, they're free.

The props were noticed by the site Xbox Avatar Gear and come in three flavors:

  • Nokia Windows Phone Longboard
  • Windows Phone #1 foam finger
  • I <3 Windows Phone shirt

So how do you get one? Simple, you just sign up for the Windows Phone Insider Newsletter. That's it.  Once you do so, you'll receive an email with your Redeem Code which you can then enter at Xbox.com. We did it and managed to grab a Longboard which is pretty snazzy.

WP Central

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AT&T Titan II gets a price drop to $150 on contract

Titan II

We just got back from our local AT&T store and we noticed that the HTC Titan II (see review) has gone from it's $199 pricing point ($550 off contract) to $149.99 ($500 off-contract).

The pricing coincides with today's release of the Samsung Focus 2 (of which we'll have an un-boxing video coming up soon). With the price drop of the Titan II, AT&T has given a little more consistency to their Windows Phone 4G LTE lineup:

  • Focus 2 - $49.99
  • Lumia 900 - $99.99
  • Titan II - $149.99

We also noticed an HTC Android phone received a similar price drop, so this looks like just a normal re-calibration of the market. The HTC Titan II, featuring a fantastic 16MP camera and a massive 4.7" screen is still "king" of specs on Windows Phone, though it's clearly being over-shadowed by the more "sexy" Nokia Lumia 900.

Still, at just $50 more than the Lumia 900, the Titan II is now much more competitively priced and for some, this will make more sense for those looking for a new Windows Phone 7.5 device.

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Parnell on SNL

Many of you should now be familiar with Chris Parnell if you're outside the US. The funny man is widely known for his work on perpetual sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live and has recently been the voice of Nokia's Lumia 900 campaign. Personally, we dig him a lot as he's got a great voice and presence.

Last night on the season finale of SNL, Parnell (who left the show years ago) teamed back up with Andy Samberg for a sequel to their song "Lazy Sunday". The video can be seen on Hulu (if you're in the US) and it's certainly well worth the watch, especially on this gorgeous weekend.

What makes last night's performance funny (at least for us phone geeks) was the screen capture teased for the video's premier. Verizon brazenly sponsored the show last night and it was borderline spammed all over their Facebook page and Tweets, often featuring cheesy 4G LTE "video interviews" of terrible quality.

As you can see in the image above, that's Parnell speaking on a glossy-white Lumia 900 (as he should be) and the image is of course posted by, Verizon. While certainly an inadvertent coincidence, it does ring a bit funny since the carrier is so lukewarm to Windows Phone. Of course no one will get the joke except for us but that's okay.

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Final Fantasy iOS

Just a week ago, we looked at a number of Xbox Live games whose Achievements were discovered by avid French gamer Zebrasqual: Mirror’s Edge, Battleship, and Fling. I daresay Mr. Squal’s sleuthing rivals my own, as he has uncovered two more future games’ Achievement lists. Both titles will surely appeal to console gamers: Final Fantasy and Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition.

Head past the break for full details on both upcoming games.

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WP Central

The UK loyalty card scheme Nectar has released an official app for Windows Phone, which is now available on the Marketplace. A number of brands are supported, including Sainsbury's, BP and Homebase, that all enable customers to collect points on purchases. Racked points can then be spent on special offers or products from the likes of easyJet, Argos, Philips, and more.

  • Bonus point offers available
  • Easy access to Nectar account balances
  • Collect points when you shop online with hundreds of brands via Nectar eShops
  • Store Locator – check out all the places you can collect and spend your points
  • Register Nectar cards via the app

Stores are displayed on an interactive map, with account balance and offers readily available. It's a superb looking app, taking Metro guides into account.

WP Central

You can download the official Nectar app from the Marketplace for free. Thanks Paul for the tip!

WP Central

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Where do mobile gamers go for first looks and details of upcoming Xbox Live titles? Why, Windows Phone Central of course! Today we’re pleased to bring you the first screens and trailer for MonstaFish, the final Xbox Live release of the month. It comes from UK developer IronSun Studios, makers of IonBallEX and Battlewagon.

In MonstaFish, too much toxic waste has been dumped into the water, resulting in gnarly mutations known as MonstaFish. As you can imagine, these toxic fish aren’t good to eat and must be removed from the environment for the good of all. That’s where the player comes in…

Head past the break for pictures and details of each game mode!

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Hasta la Muerte Raven

It’s been a while since we’ve had occasion to mention Hasta la Muerte, a December 2011 Xbox Live release from French developer Pohlm Studio. Thought we could not stop for the game, the developers kindly stopped for us, recently releasing the first Hasta la Muerte title update.

Hasta la Muerte version 1.1 release notes

  • Fixed bug that prevented ‘Those dear delicious ravens’ Achievement from unlocking

…And, that’s it. There are 18 tiny ravens hidden throughout the game - see the image above, courtesy of Zebrasqual (full list here). Previously, only 17 would show up as being collected, preventing the associated 20 GamerScore Achievement from popping. Thanks to the update, Hasta la Muerte’s full 200 GamerScore is finally attainable.

We’re always glad when a broken Achievement gets fixed, but it’s disappointing that the update didn’t include Fast App Switching support. Hasta la Muerte was released after the debut of the Windows Phone 7.5 Mango update, but there was a window of time in which some Xbox Live games got pushed through without 7.5 support for various reasons. I would also like to see the game’s main menu undergo a revision – it’s one of the least intuitive menus of any mobile Xbox Live title. Pohlm Studios expressed some interest in fixing those issues when we first spoke to them, so perhaps another update will drop somewhere down the line.

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WP Central

Nokia announced late last week that their Reading app would be coming to the Lumia line this week and sure enough, that app is now available for download.

Nokia Reading promises to fill in the gap where apps like Amazon Kindle are not available for Windows Phone users, which turns out is a large part of the globe. Having setup their own eBook marketplace, Nokia seems to have done have a good job of offering an important service to many on Windows Phone who otherwise would not have access to the latest NY Times best sellers.

Nokia Reading

Of course the bad news as can be discerned from the title is those in the US (and possibly elsewhere) cannot download the app. Much like Nokia Music, licensing and possibly territorial divisions are evidently keeping this app and service out of our hands. But seeing as we have Zune Pass and Amazon Kindle, we'll probably survive.

Pick up Nokia Reading here in thew Nokia Collection. Thanks, Tim S., for the tip!

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WhatsApp

It's been awhile since we've seen an update to the popular messaging program WhatsApp (okay, well just over 30 days, not bad) so we're curious to see what could version 2.0 bring that required a whole version bump. Turns out, not too much. According to the release notes this is what you can expect from the latest version:

  • Set your profile picture
  • Several bug fixes

It's not the craziest amount of changes but the new profile photo makes the app feel more complete, the Settings are more refined and our "Paid" account doesn't expire till 2021, so we're happy about that. The app feels a bit faster to us too, which is a common complaint, so hopefully that will make some of you happy.

Pick up WhatsApp version 2.0 for Windows Phone here in the Marketplace. Thanks, Rudy Z., for the heads up

QR: WhatsApp

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Lumia 900

Nokia has caught some flack for their less-than-stellar Windows Phone cameras, something which we probably remind people of all too often. Regardless, you have to admire their commitment to offering some of the best OEM apps on Windows Phone.

Word on the street (specifically Hong Kong) is that Nokia will be launching a new app for the Lumia line called Camera Extension which will allow users to have a new panorama feature, smart group capture, burst mode and self timer as new camera functions. These additions look to compliment the photo editing abilities in their Creative Studio app released a few weeks ago.

Camera Extension

The info was even captured on a slide during a Nokia "experience day" for the Lumia 900 and the info was revealed by a Nokia representative ensuring the legitimacy of the claim. No details on when we can expect the release but if we know Nokia, it's probably right around the corner.

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Official SmugMug app now available for Windows Phone

Official SmugMug app for Windows Phone

Looks like that push for more official apps on Microsoft's mobile OS is still rolling forth which is good news for all of us. SmugMug (www.smugmug.com) is where those too good for Flickr flock and is one of the biggest and most interesting photography sites on the 'net. Possibly only rivaled by 500PX, it's a spot where the more "serious" shutterbugs amongst us post their work (meaning our array of cat photos are probably not welcomed. Booo.).

SmugMug

Having an official app for Windows Phone is a welcomed gesture as many of our users will surely take advantage of the new app. So what do you get?

"Explore and be inspired by stunning images shot by passionate photographers around the world. Browse the day's most popular images on SmugMug's global photo community, or view the most beautiful photos of all time.

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WP Central

On an interesting podcast over at Platform Biased, Daniel Smith who's a CX-XBLA Producer at Microsoft, reveals some interesting numbers about those first generation handsets. Out of the three that came out (putting the Dell Venue Pro to the side), the Samsung Focus (see our review) reportedly accounted for about 90% of the sales while the LG Quantum (review) had about 8% and the HTC Surround (review) only garnered a meager 2%.

Smith doesn't mention AT&T directly nor does AnythingbutiPhone (where we grabbed this story from) but obviously that can't be the whole tale. T-Mobile launched the HTC HD7, Sprint followed months later with the HTC Arrive and Verizon even later with the HTC Trophy. T-Mobile and AT&T also both had the Dell Venue Pro, though that was an unofficial as it was never available in stores. Likewise, AT&T eventually picked up the HD7s (review) late in the game.

So there weren't three Windows Phones but rather nine for the first generation and the three mentioned were AT&T specific.

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Beem v1.1

Back in early April we reported on the new streaming music app Beem by Windows Phone Development MVP Den Delimarsky. The app taps into Digitally Imported (www.di.fm), the popular electronic dance music site which features everything from Techno to Trance to Chillout to Progressive making it quite the value. What's more, both the service and app are completely free and the app doesn't even have any ads. Did we mention it's pretty gorgeous too?

Beem v1.1

Version 1.1 just hit the Marketplace with a bunch of welcomed new features, some of which are extremely impressive:

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Nokia Lumia 900 survives torture test

If there was any doubt how well built the Nokia Lumia 900 is, the above video should ease anyone's concerns over build quality. The unibody design coupled with Corning's Gorilla Glass make the Lumia 900 a very solid Windows Phone. Solid enough to drive nails. 

The engineers who tested the durability of the Lumia 900 did the same test on the Lumia 710. The 710 held up just as nicely as the 900.

Now for the obligatory disclaimer. While the Lumia 900 clearly survives the torture test in the video, we don't recommend you using your Lumia 900 to build a deck, repair the back steps or deliberately abuse your Windows Phones.  Such activity would likely void your warranty.

Chime in below in the comments if you're Nokia Lumia 900 has survived near death experiences.

Source: Conversations Nokia

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Bridgestone Australia chooses the Lumia 800

Windows Phone and Nokia received another vote of confidence. This time from Bridgestone Australia who has chosen the Nokia Lumia 800 to replace the company's smartphone fleet.

The Nokia 800 won out over the iPhone and Blackberry in part due to the Windows Phone support for Outlook, Work and Excel. Bridgestone's workforce was a little divided in their needs with Sales needing easy email access and managers needing better integration with business apps. Then there was the desire for a device that bridged employees work and personal lives. Scott Baxter, Group IT Manager for Bridgestone commented,

"There was a strong business case for the Nokia Lumia 800. It gives us the best of both worlds - seamless integration with familiar business tools, such as Outlook, Internet Explorer, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, as well as exceptional design and build quality."

Baxter also commented that Nokia Drive and Maps were two appealing apps that will allow staff to dispense with separate GPS devices.

Source: ITWire; Thanks, Hassan, for the tip!

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Mobilicity and Windows Phone Central Photo Contest

Windows Phone Central, with the help of Mobilicity, is having another Photo Contest to win a Windows Phone -- the Nokia Lumia 710 (review) which just arrived on the Canadian carrier. This time around, we've scaled things down a bit and instead of a black/white theme, we are going with the Great Outdoors. It doesn't have to be a picture of the Grand Canyon and a picturesque shot of your front yard will do.  It can be a sunset, a photo of the lake, the mountains, a garden, just anything outdoorsy that is eye appealing.

WP Central

Here's the fine print...

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geoDefense Mango update adds Live tiles and more

geoDefense Lead

geoDefense Swarm is out now and doing quite well, if reader comments and my own enjoyment are any indication. But the original geoDefense, which also happened to be the first good tower defense game on Xbox Live for Windows Phone, is still loved by many. As such, Critical Thought Games recently released an update to make geoDefense even better for current and future consumers.

geoDefense version 1.4 release notes:

  • 60fps on devices that support it  (previous cap was 30fps)
  • Live Tile (pin the game tile to the home screen, will flip to show progress)
  • Live Secondary Tile (hold down on level in list and it'll make a quick-jump live tile on home screen)
  • Supports Fast Application Switching
  • Fixed a bug with the targeting logic of locked laser towers (This was a big deal on some levels.)

Mango features are the standout additions. Many of us swear by Fast App Switching, so it’s great to see another popular Live game add that support. If only they would all follow suit (*cough, Plants vs. Zombies, cough*). Can’t go wrong with Live Tiles, either.

geoDefense is an easy-to-learn and addictive tower defense game. See our full review for details. The game costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Get it here on the Marketplace.

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Lumia 900

Nokia is moving closer to its China launch of the Lumia 900, according to dates reported by Chinese news website Sina Tech. The Lumia 900 was approved for use on GSM and WCDMA networks by State Radio Regulation Committee (SRRC) on April 18, and the website is pointing to a June release for the Windows Phone. The younger brother, the Lumia 800c, was launched in the country back in March.

AT&T has been witnessing expectation surpassing results with the 4G version of Nokia's flagship Windows Phone since its launch earlier this year. Let's not forget the news of the platform market share overtaking the iPhone in China, which should continue to capture more of the market with the introduction of this high-end device. The Lumia 900 sports a 4.3" ClearBlack AMOLED display, 1.4GHz chip, 512MB RAM, and 16GB of storage.

Source: Sina Tech, The Next Web

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Tips and tricks for using SkyDrive on Windows Phone

In our latest how-to guide, we show you how to make the most of your Windows Phone and SkyDrive cloud storage

SkyDrive for Windows Phone

We've touched on the basics with Microsoft's SkyDrive services and the SkyDrive App for your Windows Phone. But how does all that translate into every day use?

The obvious every day use for SkyDrive and your Windows Phone is to free up storage space and make content easily available. Why bog down your Windows Phone with documents, pictures, and music files when you can store them in the Cloud and access them at your leisure? But did you know that several quality apps utilize SkyDrive? Of course you did... and we'll try to cover a few along the way as we look at every day uses for your SkyDrive account.

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Twitter and Live notes

New Twitter integration with Live and the People Hub. Left (New) and Right (Old).

Microsoft has evidently updated how Twitter interacts with Live services on Windows Phone by automatically pulling down a contact's Twitter profile an merging it into "Notes".

We're not sure when the change occurred but reader Kaush noticed the difference today which evidently happened when Windows Phone auto-syncs back to the server for contact updates. We managed to break out our international Titan (which we last used a few months ago) to quickly compare for a "before and after".

As an example, under Jay Bennett you can now see his Twitter profile integrated into Notes whereas the device on the right does not have that information.

While this is a small and subtle change, it is certainly good use of the Notes area which often goes unused.  So to our readers: is this something really new or have we just missed it?

Thanks, Kaush, for the tip!

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WP Central

Microsoft is developing a cross-platform service that will enable users to migrate from competitor platforms (or Windows Phone) to Windows Phone, according to a patent filed back in 2010. The service will allow apps to be detected on the legacy handset, which will then be listed on the new Windows Phone for convenient downloading, providing users with peace of mind when it comes to installed apps.

According to the filed patent, the company is planning to provide functionality within the service that would analyse installed apps on the legacy handset (eg.: Android). The service would then search for identical or similar apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace. The user would be presented with popular third-party suggestions should official apps not be available.

If there's no third-party app present on the Marketplace, the service will notify the user in the future once a similar app is published. Is that more than enough? Not according to the company. Microsoft is reported to be wanting to take things further with actually creating a complete solution where app data would be stored and transferred across to new Windows Phones or from other platforms, preventing data loss. Of course, little detail is available and we're yet to see how this service could work with the likes of Android and iOS

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