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3 years ago

Editor's desk: First impressions of the AT&T Samsung Focus 2

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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.

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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3 years ago

Unboxing and hands on with the Samsung Focus 2 from AT&T

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Our first impressions of the new 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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3 years ago

Windows Phone enthusiast website fan giveaway now underway

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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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3 years ago

Love Windows Phone? Show it with your Xbox Avatar and three new Windows Phone props.

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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.

This isn't the first time we've seen Windows Phone Xbox props before. Back in June 2011 we saw a prop for US users that was simply a Windows Phone device that your avatar held in his hand and tossed around. There was also a limited edition Beards n Beaks one which was quite amusing.

However this new offer looks to be a much more widely available which is a good thing. Show off to your friends and share the Windows Phone love. Go grab it now.

Source: Xbox Avatar Gear, Windows Phone Insider Newsletter Thanks, Lucas L., for the tip!

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3 years ago

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

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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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3 years ago

Nokia spokesman Chris Parnell using Lumia 900 in new SNL digital-short. Sponsored by Verizon.

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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.

On top of that, Verizon is evidently buying up Nokia keywords on Twitter. In the above image, that was a search for "Lumia". Bad Verizon, bad.

Thanks, Jay S., for the screen cap!

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3 years ago

Final Fantasy and Super Monkey Ball 2 coming to Xbox Live on Windows Phone

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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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3 years ago

Official Nectar app available on the Windows Phone Marketplace

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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.

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

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3 years ago

Take an exclusive look at MonstaFish, coming to Xbox Live on Windows Phone for May 30

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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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3 years ago

Xbox Live - Hasta la Muerte update brings raven Achievement back to life

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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.

Hasta la Muerte is a curious little maze game with a unique premise and distinct art style. It costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Get it here on the Marketplace.

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3 years ago

Nokia Reading now available for Windows Phone, except for those in the US

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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.

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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3 years ago

WhatsApps goes to version 2.0 on Windows Phone with minor improvements

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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

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3 years ago

Nokia reportedly readying new camera app for their Lumia line called Camera Extension

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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.

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.

Be sure to check our out "Best Photography apps for Windows Phone" post as well as our tips on taking good photos for more info on your camera.

Update: Two more pics have surfaced. One of the Data Counter app and the other of Camera Extension

  

Source: BlogJackPhone; Thanks, Jack!

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3 years ago

Official SmugMug app now available for Windows Phone

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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.).

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.

And if you already have a website on SmugMug, there's more: Log in to see your galleries and share your photos with anyone, anytime. You can even take pictures on your phone, edit and upload them on the go."

In other words for a version 1.0, SmugMug covered all the basics including that valuable upload ability. Combine your SmugMug account with our Lumia 710 photo contest and you have yourself an interesting combo!

Pick up the official SmugMug app for Windows Phone here in the Marketplace. Big thanks to Sabita M., for the heads up!

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3 years ago

Microsoft: 90% of first gen phones sold were the Samsung Focus

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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.

Reported percentage of AT&T 1st Gen Windows Phone sales

Still, it was quite obvious that the Samsung Focus, which is getting a sequel this weekend, was always the big seller on the platform early on and for good reason. It also explains why we'll probably never see an HTC follow-up to the Surround and why LG became gun shy on Windows Phone.

Source: Platform Biased; via AnythingbutiPhone

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