Articles

Mandel vs SG3

If you've been following along today, Samsung finally pulled the sheets off of its much anticipated Galaxy S3 Android phone. The device is chock-full of the latest specs and is currently the biggest threat to Apple and their iPhone yet. You can get all the nitty-gritty at our sister site AndroidCentral.

What's very odd about the look of the device which was shown for the first time today was we've seen it before. In fact, we saw it last night in a post at the site WPXAP.

Those pics were of the SGH-i667 aka the Samsung Mandel a 4G LTE Windows Phone destined for AT&T. Those photos were quickly pulled from the WPXAP site, though we managed to grab them before they dissapeared. An oddly timed leak?

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Ask WPCentral: Any PayPal apps out there?

HelpPayMe for Windows Phone

Are there any PayPal apps for your Windows Phone? One reader sent us this question and we took a look over at the Windows Phone Marketplace for the answer. There are two apps currently available that have PayPal connections, HelpPayMe and PayPhone Lite.

HelpPayMe

HelpPayMe allows you to send money, request money, view transactions and view your current PayPal balance.

PayPhone Lite

PayPhone Lite is similar with the ability to view your balance and transactions history but also throws in a Live Tile to show the balance and a PIN to secure the app.

Here's our reservations. Neither of these apps are official PayPal apps and you are basically allowing a third party access to your PayPal Account. With PayPHone Lite you log into your account and grant the app permission to access your account. With HelpPayMe, you have to set up API access with PayPal. While we haven't heard of anything nefarious occurring with either app, we'd prefer an app that provides a more secure, direct access to PayPal.

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Nokia Lumia 610 coming to Amazon in a few weeks

Amazon Italy has the entry-level Nokia Lumia 610 available for pre-order and set to be in stock on May 22. It is currently listed at a price of € 203.51 ($267). The Lumia 610 is Nokia's first attempt at a truly low-end offering and will come loaded with Windows Phone 7.5 Tango (build 8773), which is a stripped down version designed to run on as little as 256MB RAM.

The Lumia 610 is available for pre-order at Amazon Italy

Inside you will find:

  • 3.7" screen
  • 800MHz CPU
  • 256MB of RAM
  • 8GB internal storage
  • 5-megapixel rear camera

But despite the budget hardware, the 610 is still a hot little number.  It retains the look and feel of its higher-end brethren and fits nicely in the Lumia family.  It's not clear if the May 22 availability applies to other European markets, but we will keep you posted as we find out.

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WP Central

The UK carrier Orange has the Lumia 900 listed on the help section of their website. Not only is the Windows Phone detailed with photos, tips, helpful tutorials and more, but the user guide is available. Now, we're not ones to jump the gun but this appears to be a pretty definitive 'yes' to the Lumia 900 coming to Orange.

The next question is "when?". With the delays that are occurring throughout the country and beyond, it could be quite the wait. Then again when the retail chains all launch the smartphone later this month, carriers might not be far behind (if at all).

The Lumia 800 and 710 are both "out of stock" on the carrier's website. With this hint at the Lumia 900 joining the two Windows Phones, this could be a sign that Orange is satisfied with sales thus far. Orange is also set to launch the Lumia 610 with NFC technology later this year.

Source: Orange; thanks Simon for the tip!

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Nokia has got hold of Priyanka Chopra, an established Indian actress, singer and former Miss World to host some videos for the "Blown Away by Lumia" Windows Phone challenge. Just like the Smoked by Windows Phone campaign, Chopra challenges participants at common tasks to see which smartphone is faster. 

The Blown Away by Lumia challenges have come under fire since Nokia began uploading the video clips to sharing websites, with Samsung publicly announcing the company believes Nokia's aggressive campaign is "unethical", but we've also seen some humorous reactions, including a girlfriend of a losing participant.

Check out the other two videos after the break.

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Nokia tablet?

Jorma Ollila, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Nokia Corporation, told the well respected Financial Times that Nokia has plans for tablets and "hybrid" smart devices, details nearly lost in the article focusing on how Nokia is trying to rebound from losing market share lately.

While specific on the device plans are scarce, Ollila did give a few tantalizing details in the interview, noting:

“Tablets are an important one, so that is being looked into, and there will be different hybrids, different form factors [handset designs] in the future.”

We can of course only surmise that Ollila is referring to Windows 8 plans for the fall where Nokia is expected to release such devices. Such a pronouncement echoes an earlier comment by Marko Ahtisaari, Design Chief at Nokia who said in March that he spends a third of his time at the company on tablet development.

With Nokia making advances in flexible screens, their excellent design esthetic and the new Metro layout of Windows 8, we see yet another perfect storm to take on Apple in the tablet space.

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WP Central

Microsoft may not be dominating in the United Sates or Europe but that isn't stopping them from expanding to the rest of the planet. In their continued expansion of the web Marketplace, which we use everyday, Microsoft has added a healthy chunck of countries to the list.

Twenty-two in all were brought online today, including Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Croatia, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine, Venezuela, UAE, Bahrain, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Israel, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Ubiquity is the key word here and Microsoft has always been a fan of market saturation. So long as Windows Phone apps and games are available everywhere, developers will be encouraged to create new products and customers will enjoy the convenience.

Launching last September, the Windows Phone web Marketplace has continually and constantly expanded over the last few months, enabling users to browse, purchase and send apps right to their phone without any wires. Recently however, there were some problems as Microsoft makes adjustments to the backend, resulting in some unplanned downtime for customers.

To learn how the web Marketplace works check out Microsoft's tutorial.

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WP Central

Motorola has been granted an injunction on Microsoft products being sold in Germany. The Xbox 360, Windows OS, Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player will all fall under the ban, should it be put into place. The injunction follows a ruling claiming the software giant had infringed two Motorola patents required to support H.264 video coding and playback.

An official statement from Motorola reads the following:

"We are pleased that the Mannheim Court found that Microsoft products infringe Motorola Mobility's intellectual property. As a path forward, we remain open to resolving this matter. Fair compensation is all that we have been seeking for our intellectual property."

According to reports, this is just one of several cases involving around 50 properties owned by the smartphone manufacturer. Microsoft has stated that should the software giant meet the demands of Motorola an annual bill would be in the region of $4bn (£2.5bn). The manufacturer has denied this claim.

A statement from Microsoft has been published, which highlights how the company will look to appeal the decision.

"This is one step in a long process, and we are confident that Motorola will eventually be held to its promise to make its standard essential patents available on fair and reasonable terms for the benefit of consumers who enjoy video on the web. Motorola is prohibited from acting on today's decision, and our business in Germany will continue as usual while we appeal this decision and pursue the fundamental issue of Motorola's broken promise."

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Samsung SGH-i667 Mandel?

The Samsung SGH-i667 aka the 'Mandel' is one of the last Windows Phone that we have very little information about. It passed BT certification in January and then cleared the FCC in March but since it did not co-launch with the HTC Titan II and the Nokia Lumia 900, it is presumed that the Samsung LTE phone was canceled.

Now, two images have leaked out of the device, the first one you see above is the back of the phone and it shows a svelte, glossy white smooth rounded back.

The second image is a screen cap of the device connected up to Zune Desktop, showing the device name. The AT&T logo is prominent on the device and featured in that image which is pulled from Microsoft's servers.

The device also appears to be sporting only 8GB of storage (with 5.61 available) which tells us that this was probably not a high-end, flagship phone for AT&T but an offshoot of the Focus Flash, which also goes by the name i667.

Zune Desktop with i667

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WP Central

Microsoft has announced an upcoming Windows Phone developer summit, which will be held in San Francisco on June 20-21. The company is set to activate plans to attract more developers and big-name brands to the platform. One of the major complaints with Windows Phone is the lack of popular apps that are available on competitor platforms.

Microsoft has done a good job thus far with bringing companies to Windows Phone to build apps for consumers and broaden the Marketplace inventory. Some developers are even swayed without the software giant intervening - Windows Phone owners have proven to be a stubborn bunch when it comes to showing interest in a much desired port. DrawSomething is a good example of this with the community urging the developers to support Windows Phone.

What's interesting to note about this developer summit is that it's a week before Google I/O 2012, and is even in the same city. It would be a smart move for Microsoft to make it as convenient as possible for developers on other platforms to attend their Windows Phone event. Even if the attendees show no interest in building apps, for them to actually be present during the presentations could be enough to motivate the poor souls.

We'll of course be there for the event should you not be able to make it.

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Lumia 710

Canadian carrier WIND is set to launch the Lumia 710 tomorrow, May 3rd. We previously covered the rumours pointing to an early May release for the Windows Phone, and now those who have been waiting eagerly will be able to pick one up. The Lumia 710 is to be priced at a reasonable $259 without contract, or for $99 on the WINDtab with the WIND25 and $0 on the WINDtab with the WIND40 monthly plan. 

Emails have been sent out to early ordering customers with information detailing the upcoming launch, including the above pricing.

WP Central

The Lumia 710 (see our in-depth review) packs a 1.4GHz CPU, a 3.7" ClearBlack screen and a 5MP camera - perfect for anyone who requires a budget Windows Phone.

Source: MobileSyrup, WIND

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WP Central

Microsoft has released some more information detailing the Windows Live services for the next upcoming instalment of the software giant's operating system. As the company continues to move away from the Windows Live and Zune brands, Microsoft Account begins to take over with services such as Messenger and Hotmail being rebranded for easier recognition.

The UI hasn't been the only element of Windows to be redesigned, as one can see in the below table the Windows Live services will all be renamed to match the simplistic new approach Microsoft has undertaken.

WP Central

Those who have actively used Windows Phone will feel right at home with Mail, Calendar, People, Messaging, Photos / Videos and other new branding that will be present in Windows 8. It's interesting to see just how far the services have come. Skype isn't mentioned, but we're sure we'll see more details as to how VoIP will be further integrated into Windows 8 and Windows Phone. We've also yet to hear more surrounding Microsoft's new music service.

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Fable Heroes Xbox 360 impressions

Fable Heroes

As part of WPCentral’s ongoing Xbox 360 coverage, we’ll sometimes discuss console titles of interest to our readers. Last week’s Arcade Next XBLA release was Bloodforge, a dark and gory action game from Climax Studios. This week’s release, Fable Heroes cleanses the pallet with a much lighter tone and cooperative play.

Remember Fable Coin Golf, the Fable-themed Windows Phone exclusive that shared a connectivity feature with Fable 3 on 360? Fable Heroes is another spin-off, this time of the beat-em-up genre. It also skews younger than the mainline Fable series, putting players in control of wooden puppet heroes as they romp through stages based on the console games. You won't find a story of any sort here (unlike past Fable games), as it centers squarely on the multiplayer experience instead.

Head past the break for our full impressions.

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WP Central

Microsoft has plans to introduce a $99 Xbox 360 console package that will be accompanied by a two-year monthly subscription as early as next week. According to sources, the software company will offer the 4GB console package, which includes a Kinect sensor, at Microsoft Stores in the states. The bundle will be subsidised with a monthly fee of just $15.

As well as the console and Kinect, customers who make the purchase will have a Gold subscription activated on their Live ID Microsoft Account throughout the contract duration, and will be covered by a two-year warranty. There is likely to be an early termination fee for those who have the desire to break out of the contract prematurely, but how does the cost work out? Total amount comes to $459 ($99 upfront fee with a two-year $15/mo subscription) for the soon-to-launch package offer. But should you purchase the bundle with a Live subscription outright (without the offer), you'll be looking at around $400. 

Microsoft is targeting those who are keeping an eye out for a cheap entertainment centre. With Windows 8 on the horizon, not to mention a new music service, the software giant will look at more ways to attract potential customers to their new ecosystem. As a slight humorous side-note: the $15 monthly fee equates to $360.

Source: The Verge

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Nokia to launch the impressive PureView 808 in May

WP Central

Nokia surprised many at the Mobile World Congress 2012 event in Barcelona this year by announcing a beast of a smartphone - the PureView 808. Boasting a 41MP sensor, coupled with advancements in camera technology and research by Nokia, the Symbian powered smartphone is set to be a diamond when it comes to snapping those memorable moments.

While the Nokia 808 is no Windows Phone, it's exciting to see how Nokia can stay in the midst of the competition with available resources. It has been confirmed that technology used in developing the 808 will eventually be available on Microsoft's platform (an extension to the exclusive partnership with Carl Zeiss reaffirms this possibility) - something many of us wouldn't mind witnessing. 

The Finnish manufacturer has published a press release (three in one day - not bad) detailing plans to start rolling out the Nokia 808 in select markets this month. The smartphone has received multiple awards, including Best Mobile Device at Mobile World Congress and Best Imaging Innovation for 2012, and also features full HD 1080p video recording (with 4x lossless zoom).

Would you be interested in a Windows Phone from Nokia that features such a camera, and will you pick up the Nokia PureView 808 just to see how it is? Check out the press release after the break.

Source: Nokia

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WP Central

The Finnish manufacturer has announced in a press release today that they have filed patent lawsuits and will be taking on HTC, RIM and Viewsonic. Nokia has filed the patent claims in the U.S. and Germany, alleging that products from the three manufacturers infringe a number of owned patents.

Louise Pentland, chief legal officer at Nokia, had the following to comment on the situation.

"Nokia is a leader in many technologies needed for great mobile products. We have already licensed our standards essential patents to more than 40 companies.  Though we'd prefer to avoid litigation, Nokia had to file these actions to end the unauthorized use of our proprietary innovations and technologies, which have not been widely licensed."

Nokia is reported to license standards essential patents to more than 40 companies, and while the manufacturer would prefer to avoid litigation; there's no apparent room for unauthorised usage. A total of 45 patents are included in the claims, which have gone to the ITC (U.S. International Trade Commission), as well as regional courts in Mannheim and Munich, Germany.

Nokia proprietary innovations that are protected by these patents include dual function antennas, power management and multimode radios, as well as software feature enhancements that include application stores, multitasking, navigation, conversational message display, dynamic menus, data encryption and retrieval of email attachments on a mobile device. Fairly "basic" stuff to the average consumer.

Apple and Microsoft are among a number of companies that have been actively engaged in patent lawsuits. With Nokia's continued struggle to regain marketshare, not to mention a pretty steep loss reported in the previous financial quarter, some would say it's about time the company started fighting hard. Check out the press release after the break.

Source: Nokia

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WP Central

Nokia has announced an extension to their exclusive partnership with Carl Zeiss, which will lead to more collaboration with future smartphones. The two companies have been working together closely and their efforts have seen the N8 and Nokia 808 PureView (set to launch this year) come to life, blowing away the market with advanced smartphone optics.

Jo Harlow, executive vice president of Nokia Smart Devices, had the following to comment on Carl Zeiss' contribution.

"Carl Zeiss was a crucial partner in the creation of the first PureView experience. The benefits of our ongoing collaboration will be more PureView innovation and further advancements in smartphone imaging in the coming months and years."

As well as PureView, the same technology has been used in the Nokia Lumia Windows Phone family. Since the Nokia 808 runs Symbian it's certainly an exciting time for those who await for Windows Phones with better quality shooters, especially as Nokia has since confirmed that PureView technology will be coming to Windows Phone since the demonstration was presented at MWC 2012.

Michael Kaschke, CEO at Carl Zeiss AG, followed up with some praise.

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We've had isolated but frequent reports of certain bug and issues with the popular Nokia Lumia 900. We summarized them in our previous post as they include things like purple-grays on the display, camera shutter button that stops working and issues with the device volume keys not working.

Check it out for more details and once you have pop back here and vote on whether you are having any of those problems. Note: You can vote for multiple items

Did we miss something? Have a theory on what's causing some of them? Want to just pontificate? Lets us know in comments.

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From purple screens to rattles to unresponsive buttons, the Nokia Lumia 900 still has a couple of nagging problems for a few of us. Here's what people are complaining about most.

WP Central

The Nokia Lumia 900 seems to be doing well for AT&T and for some reason we can't leave our glossy-white one out of reach for long but there are still plenty of bugs and issues rolling in to our inbox at WPCentral. Although that data-bug is now history thanks to a quick response from Nokia these few, seemingly random issues are plaguing numerous Lumia 900 users. We'll go over a few:

  • Purple screen - Grays appear with a purple hue when the display brightness is set to low (or automatic and goes to low). Although it could be a software calibration issue it doesn't affect all Lumia 900s, in fact it's just a subset that are out there. Our own glossy-white Lumia 900 has this and it's quite obvious when on the low-setting. You can commiserate with others in our forum who are having this problem. Nokia seems to be trying to isolate which builds it may be and you can submit your device information in this Nokia help thread.
  • Camera button won't wake the phone - This issue is caused when the device is powered off/standby and you hold the camera button to launch into the camera app. It's actually easy to replicate: Run any app and leave it on screen then power off the phone. Now try to hold-n-launch the camera via the shutter button. It won't work. Turn the device back on, exit the app, go to stand by and now try it and it will launch. We've had it happen even without an app running under lockscreen. (Thanks, Sepatown for the replication trick)
  • Vibrate feature rattles - We complained about this in our 900 review and even have a video of it compared to the Lumia 800. In short, the vibration feature rattles to different degrees on many Lumia 900s often sounding like an electric razor. Once again, the problem is on some phones while not on others. You can follow the threads here at WPCentral and Nokia Support for more info.
  • Inline remote on headset issue - The Nokia Monster Purity headphones sometimes won't forward/pause a track. Also, volume rockers when the device is a sleep won't respond and/or require multiple pushes
  • Low volume is high - Even on "1" the volume is quite loud and doesn't start to vary till "7".

Nokia sure has a lot on their plate and we know they are actively looking to address these but the question is how much of this is firmware and how much is it Quality Control (QC) with the hardware? We should caution that not all Lumia 900 users are having problems but even Rafael and I both have Lumia 900's with "purple grays" and my vibration rattles a bit too.

We'll be paying attention but for now, you may want to read up in our "Official Lumia 900 Bugs List" to see what others are saying.

Update: Take our poll to see if others are having the same problems or not

Image Credit: tewmgd (XDA forums); See the vibrate-rattle issue demonstrated on video after the break...

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Gather The Harvest, the Xbox Live Deal of the Week

The Harvest

If you’re not interested in spending $4.99 for a multiplayer racer like Pac-Man Kart Rally this week, perhaps an action-RPG at the same price would be in order. The Harvest, from the recently-restructured South African developer Luma Arcade, is on sale for $4.99 (for the second time), down from $6.99.

The Harvest is an action-RPG set in a distant future in which aliens have conquered humanity. Thanks to the development of armored mech suits, the remaining pockets of humans finally have a chance to fight back. Our review praises the game’s beautiful 3D graphics, easy controls, multiple playable characters, and diversity of upgrade options.

The Harvest was one of the first quality Windows Phone-exclusive games. But many gamers passed over it or don’t know about it due to the lofty $6.99 price point. I would argue that a price drop is in order by now, but the sale price is fair enough for a game of this caliber.

The Harvest is on sale for $4.99 for one week only. Get it here on the Marketplace and start harvesting! Or stopping the aliens from harvesting, whatever.

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ESPN app

Although Nokia's ESPN app available in the Nokia Collection gets some mixed reviews partially because it relies on Internet Explorer for some advanced stats, overall fans seem to like the co-branded offering.

One feature that was missing however was a Live Tile for sports score updates and now that has been addressed with version 2.1. The new update came out in the last 24-hours and users seem to be quite happy so far with the ability to just glance-and-go with the app on their Start screen.

No other tweaks or fixes are known with version 2.1 but needless to say, if you follow sports, like ESPN and love your Lumia than you'll want to grab this app ASAP. Pick it up here in the Windows Phone Marketplace but only if you're on Nokia.

Read our review of the Nokia ESPN app here.

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HTC Sound Enhancer for Windows Phone

HTC has pushed out an update for their Windows Phone Sound Enhancer. While no change log is available to let us know what all the update accomplishes, it appears to improve the graphics lag.

The graphics lag appears when the SRS Enhancements are turned on in the Sound Enhancer and can be a little on the annoying side. The graphics lag wasn't present in every app, mainly the games that had greater graphics animations (e.g. Fruit Ninja, Line Birds, etc.).  We've never received official confirmation that the two are related but after applying the recent update, the lag doesn't appear to be present.

The Sound Enhancer has been updated several times and with each update, the graphics lag issue seems to get a little better. Maybe this update did the trick.

For those who have installed the update, see any changes?

Thanks, Yodani, for the tip!

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Skype gets an update for the app and network

Skype for Windows Phone

First the Windows Phone news on Skype. The app has been updated to version 1.1.0. It is our understanding the updated is mostly "under the hood" stuff to improve performance and fix some bugs. If you haven't seen the update being pushed out, as is the case in my area, hopefully you'll see it soon.

The other news on Skype is that it appears the Skype network has received a slight overhaul. Microsoft is replacing some peer to peer client machines with Linux boxes to provide a more stable and secure network. These supernodes will handle a significantly larger traffic load.

According to Microsoft the network improvements are a part of their ongoing commitment to improve the Skype user experience.

This has not changed the underlying nature of Skype’s peer-to-peer (P2P) architecture, in which supernodes simply allow users to find one another (calls do not pass through supernodes). We believe this approach has immediate performance, scalability and availability benefits for the hundreds of millions of users that make up the Skype community.

It's nice to see Microsoft invest in Skype's infrastructure. If you haven't downloaded Skype for your Windows Phone, it is a free app that you can grab here at the Marketplace.

Source: ARS Technica; Thanks to everyone who tipped us on this!

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Pac-Man Kart Rally now live in the Marketplace

Pac-Man Kart Rally for Windows Phone

We mentioned Pac-Man Kart Rally was heading to the Windows Phone Marketplace on May 2, 2012. Well... it arrived just a wee bit early.

The Windows Phone game from Namco Bandai went live just a little while ago and brings all the goodness of Wifi Multiplayer to your Windows Phone. Pac-Man Kart Rally is the first Xbox Live title with local Wifi multiplayer which allows two players to compete against each other in the same room using two phones connected to the same network and two copies of the game.

Pac-Man Kart Rally

Pac-Man Kart Rally includes ten characters, thirteen tracks, and plenty of power-ups and upgrades. There is a trial version available with the full version of Pac-Man Kart Rally running $4.99. You can find Pac-Man Kart Rally here at the Windows Phone Marketplace. Keep tabs on the site and we'll have a full review up as soon as we can get Paul off the race track.

Thanks, Zebrasqual, for the tip!

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Nokia Lumia 900 Dicota Hard Shell Case Winners!

Dicota Hard Shell Case

Over the past twenty four hours we received 144 comments from readers on how they carry their Nokia Lumia 900. There were plenty of case recommendations plus several who simply carries their Lumia 900 in a pants or shirt pocket.

The turn out was great and as promised, we randomly drew three commenters to win a Dicota Hard Shell Case for the Lumia 900. Our three lucky winners are ajithinnet, ousooner314 and ricanchuloinfla!

We've sent out email notifications to the winners and we'll be shipping the hard shell cases out shortly. Thanks again for the great turnout and some helpful recommendations on cases.

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