First, thanks to Geekzone and Telecom New Zealand for choosing me to participate in this Blog. I am extremely excited about this opportunity. I never thought that I would be selected as there are others on Geekzone that are more 'geeky' than me. Most of my IT knowledge is self-taught. I don't have any formal training in IT.
I shall introduce myself. I work in the health sector. I use my phone mainly for calls, txt, email, browsing and certain apps related to my work. Occasionally I do play games and I take photos.
I have been using Android for some time now. It started with an HTC magic back in 2009. I have been using a few other Android-based smartphones from different manufacturers since then. Currently I am using Galaxy Note but I also have a Motorola Defy and Samsung Galaxy Nexus as backups. I don't have much experience with IPhone / iOS though.
The Nokia Lumia 920 is my first Windows Phone device. In this post, I am only going to highlight interesting points from my viewpoint. Please write in the comment section if you have specific questions.
I received my Nokia Lumia 920 about a week ago. The phone comes with white wall charger and USB cable. It also comes with a headphone, manual and SIM key to unlock the micro SIM card slot. My first impression of the phone. WOW!
I have always been impressed with Nokia products. I think Nokia is synonym with phones that are long-lasting, tough and durable. The Nokia design team is highly respectable and they are known to push the limits. The Nokia Lumia 920, one-piece monoblock polycarbonate body is such an exceptional design. The phone feels premium in hand. At the back, the 8.7MP camera is detailed with ceramic zirconium.
- 4.5" Display size, IPS
- Aspect ratio: 15:9
- 332 pixel per inch(ppi) (to put this into perspective, iphone 5 has 326 ppi)
- Storage: 32 GB, not expandable
- 2000mAh battery with standby 460 hour on 3G (Telecom smartphone network is 100% 3G), 74 hour music playback
- Front / Rear facing camera
Head onto Nokia site for details (www.nokia.com/nz-en/products/phone/lumia920/specifications). The Nokia Lumia costs NZ$ 999 (if you are getting it upfront, without any network contracts).
This phone supports:
- Quadband GSM (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
- Pentaband WCDMA (850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100)
- Pentaband LTE (800 / 900 / 1800 / 2100 / 2600)
This means you can use this phone on ANY network in New Zealand (ie. Telecom New Zealand, Vodafone New Zealand, 2Degrees) and pretty much everywhere throughout the world. On top of that, this phone also supports DC-HSDPA. Theoretically you can approach download speed of 42Mbit/s. This is double the maximum theoretical speed of ADSL2+!
LTE is just 'warming' up in NZ. There is some discussion on Geekzone forums with regards to this. Telecom and Vodafone are on top gear getting their 4G network ready. This means the Nokia Lumia 920 is a future-proof phone. Once the 4G switch is turned on, your Nokia Lumia 920 should be able to give you access to that part of the network data service.
The phone display is spectacular. Personally, I have not yet come across any phone that produces a crystal clear image. Side by side comparison to my android collections, Nokia Puremotion HD+ display beat them all. This Puremotion technology in Lumia allows 2.5x faster response time for individual pixel compared to standard IPS displays. Because of this, it enables the refresh rate of 60Hz. As far as I know, there is no other phone that has a refresh rate this high.
The display is bright and I can actually read it right under the sun in the middle of the afternoon. Thanks to Clear Black Display technology and sunlight readability enhancements.
One more thing to note, the screen is ultra-sensitive. In the menu below, you can set the sensitivity to high. What it means is that you can use gloves or even fingernail to scroll. This would be useful during the winter!
Dedicated Button & Ports
Facing the phone, on the left side, there is no side key. On the right hand side, there are volume rocker, power/lock/unlock and dedicated camera button. Pressing the camera button for 2 seconds will bring the phone straight into the camera app when locked even if your phone is password protected.
Top part, there is a headphone jack and noise cancelling microphone. For the bottom part, you have stereo speakers and micro USB jack in between. Three specific touch buttons at the bottom of the screen:
Left arrow - Back, but if you press and hold, it will bring you to the recent running apps. Unlike Android, you are unable close these running apps by swiping.
Windows - Bring you into the main screen / Tiles
Zoom - straight into Bing search and also gives you choice to scan QR codes and Microsoft Tags.
Soft Reset (if the phone froze)
Press and hold the power button and volume down button for 10 seconds. You will feel that the phone vibrates and automatically reboots. You will not lose your apps or settings.
Hard Reset - everything will be deleted, back to factory state.
Hold the volume down, power button and camera button until you can feel the phone vibrating. Quickly release the power button but keep the volume down and camera button for a further 5 seconds.
If you can reboot the phone normally, hard reset can be done by going to [Settings] - [About] - [Reset Your Phone].
Smartphone cameras are now an integral part of our life. The Nokia Lumia 920 main camera sports 8.7 MP and Carl Zeiss Tessar lens. The maximum resolution can be as high as 3552 x 2448 pixels. The short pulse high power dual LED flash can function as far as 300 cm. The secondary/front facing camera produces a picture resolution of 1280 x 960 pixels.
One thing to note is the camera also uses Nokia PureView camera technology. This is the same technology as Nokia PureView 808 that can take 41 MegaPixel picture. One can expect excellent quality.
Please note that my phone is from Telecom NZ. Turning up the screen, you will be greeted with the infamous blue Telecom Logo. Other than this customized start-up screen, there is no other obvious Telecom brandishing stuff on the phone.
The setting up is outrageously simple. The phone offers multiple languages. After that it will guide you step by step. They have made it really simple for new users by offering 'recommended' vs 'custom' settings. Each setting has short explanation about what it does.
Once done, you will see blue coloured tiles and a greeting text message from Windows Phone.
- The phone is gorgeous.
- Puremotion HD+ display, 60Hz refresh rate, 332 ppi make Lumia 920 the phone with the best display out there.
- Elegant camera.
- The phone design is simple, dedicated camera button is a great idea.
- Easy to setup - no prior smartphone knowledge is required.
In a next post I will explore the Windows Phone operating system.
About the author
Hi, my name is Fergus. I am a big fan of the nakedmolerat character in Kim Possible - Rufus. I work in the health sector. I am also a volunteer firefighter when I am not working. I started using computers when I was five years old. I am the 'guy' that family and friends approach when they have issues with their computers. I am also an Android fanboy (Yes! I believe Android will takeover the world soon). It was such a great opportunity when Telecom New Zealand and Geekzone offered me to be one of the Nokia Lumia 920 / Windows Phone reviewers. I hope my reviews are helpful to the readers.
Basically Nokia has announced a series of accessories that will either charge the Nokia Lumia handsets or charge and perform other functions, such as work as a speaker set or NFC tag.
This is the Nokia Charging Plate DT-900. You plug it to the wall and any time you drop your Nokia Lumia 920 on the charging plate it will start charging. No mess plugging and unplugging cables from the phone.
Nokia wireless chargers are compatible with Qi inductive power standard. Devices can be charged up to 4cm from one another. It's pretty much the same principle used in some electrical toothbrushes you can find in your supermarket. Other smartphone manufacturers also support the Qi standard, including HTC, Samsung, LG.
Here is my Nokia Lumia 920 charging wirelessly. It even works through the Otterbox Commuter case I put it on:
From my experience charging time seems to be similar to what I'd get if using a USB wall charger.
Wireless charging is a feature on Nokia Lumia 920. If you have a Nokia Lumia 820 you can use an optional Nokia charging shell, replacing the original backing of your smartphone to achieve the same results.
I was invited to try the Nokia Lumia 920 on Telecom New Zealand and I entered into this Windows Phoneexperience as a somewhat biased fandroid, with no prior knowledge of or interest in Windows Phone, and an expectation that it would feel well short of my requirements. In some aspect I almost felt guilt that I was potentially robbing this experience from a true Windows Phone fan. A week into my journey with the Telecom supplied Nokia Lumia 920 and I am absolutely loving the Windows Phone 8 provided by the Telecom Nokia Lumia 920 smartphone.
Out of the box this is a very manly phone, It is big, it is weighty, it definitely makes an impression. The design cues stem from the 'less is more' philosophy, the single piece polycarbonate body provides a clean, simple visual whilst providing a very solid feel. After using a white phone for the last 6 months the satin black finish is a welcome change.
This phone ships with one of the tidiest USB AC chargers I have ever seen. Nokia have beaten Apple at their own game, the charger is tiny, the USB cable is long and feels superior to what we have come to expect. One does have to ask the question though, why Nokia do you ship a black phone with a white charger and USB cable? The micro-sim tray will look very familiar to Apple users, as it resides in the top of the phone and requires a special tool (included) to pop the sim tray out but again some engineering excellence is highlighted as the tray design makes loading and containing the sim a very simple task.
Powering up the phone for the first time I had no idea what to expect, I had never so much as held a Windows Phone device let alone used one. Given I have had reasonable experience with Android and the Google eco-system I figured there would be some element of similarity so had already created a Microsoft Live account in anticipation. One aspect I did not expect to be so easy was integrating non-Windows accounts, after signing into my windows live account I connected two Gmail accounts, Facebook and LinkedIn also. This seamlessly integrated contacts and calendars into the native apps so literally within a few minutes I was up and operational and connected to the world. It couldn't be simpler.
Navigating through the menus you soon realize that this is a very different experience to Android or iOS and in some aspects it seems devoid of features and setup options, but then it hits you, the integration and the theming and how it ties the OS and all its apps together. Each app follows a consistent and standard layout all with similar theming, this all combines to provide a stunningly integrated and consistent user experience.
Three key social media apps, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, have a fluidity and simplicity has to be experienced to fully appreciate. Another app that demonstrates this fluidity of design and function is the NZ Herald app, it just works.
I have only began to scratch the surface with regards to the capabilities and functionalities of both Windows Phone 8 and the Nokia Lumia 920. The impressive camera, Office integration, Skydrive cloud storage, but will leave this for future blogs.
Another surprise worthy of mention is the battery, I am consistently getting over a days use per charge which to compare with my S3 in a similar usage pattern was struggling to get more than 16 hours. Overnight the battery barely registers a drop even over a six or seven hour period and this is with two email accounts running in the background. You just use this phone, you don't need to monitor usage to control battery life.
Another pleasant surprise (coming from a Galaxy S3) is the time required to charge the battery, I have not measured time required but suffice to say it would be half the time required to the S3 (which takes an exceptionally and painfully long time!)
Of course Windows Phone 8 is not perfect, the number of apps available in the app store highlights that it is an operating system still in its infancy. A bugbear for me is the notifications/tones options are relatively limited, you can apply custom ringtones but not custom email or messaging tones, also there is no independent control of volumes. I am also missing a few of the automation/productivity type apps of which I was spoilt for choice with Android. This however does lead me to some questions I have asked myself repeatedly throughout the week, do I actually need the customization that Android offers? Is it a need or a want? Does it cause more problems than it provides solutions? What is the ultimate combination of smart devices?
In rounding off this blog there is one aspect above all else that the Nokia Lumia 920 has reinforced to me over this past week and that is that it is a truly fantastic phone, putting aside that it is a very capable smart device, it is also a truly fantastic phone. In a time before smartphones being as common place as they are today, Nokia was probably the brand that most of us were most familiar with, there were few if any phones that offered that combination of call clarity, strong reception and long battery life that Nokia did so well.
The Nokia Lumia 920 looks to continue this tradition being most pleasant to actually talk on and use as a conventional phone, something often overlooked in the tech specs race. Coupled with my move across to the Telecom $59 Open Smartphone plan with 500 anytime minutes I have found myself in a position where I have plentiful minutes plus a great phone so I am tending to ring people where previously I would have just sent a text or email.
About the author
My name is Wade, I am probably best described as a slightly demanding tech savvy consumer who is fast approaching an age where one needs to start planning one's mid-life crisis. I'm a family man with two extraordinary daughters, as well as a fabulous and understanding (most of the time!) wife, hobbies include home theatre and car audio. work in supply chain within the manufacturing sector. I have a vested interest in simplifying and enriching both my work and personal lives through technology. I live in a household filled with the usual plethora of Apple devices however my weapon of choice has become Android and the Google ecosystem. Windows Phone is a somewhat unchartered territory for me. Having no prior experience with Windows Phone or SkyDrive, I am very much looking forward to immersing myself into this ecosystem and understanding how it stacks up for my needs.
Now, this won't be an exhaustive feature review and there'll be a bare minimum of spec-talk - mainly because I figure there's plenty of other sites (including Nokia and Telecom) that'll handle all that better than I can.
Instead I'm going to focus on how this new phone and operating system combo behaves in New Zealand, on a New Zealand mobile network, in the hands of a Kiwi and what were the things about the whole experience that I reckon you'd like to know if you're in the market for a new superphone.
Let's kick off with the outside. A polycarbonate monobody means there's no case joins to detract from the uber-onesie-ness, and the rounded sides means there's no sharp edges to dig into your palm. The edges of the screen are curved as well; they fade softly into the main body. This curve isn't just for design aesthetics, either: a common interaction in Windows Phone is a sideways swipe to navigate between tabs, and Nokia researched that it just feels better when your finger meets a curved surface instead of a hard edge or plane - how's that for attention to detail?
OK, so the phone looks great and is suitably touchy-feely, but how does it stand up to real-world use? Well, Nokia's put some next-level materials in the game here. The physical buttons and the camera strip on the reverse are made from ceramic zirconium, which resists scratches like your dinner plate shrugs off your knife and fork. The Gorilla Glass used on the screen is already well-known for taking an "is that the best you can do?!" stance against even those punishing keys and coins in your pocket or handbag, and the rest of the phone is polycarbonate with colour fused all the way through it - not just surface-coating here. All these materials not only feel great (they're warm, not cold), but the visible effects of any dings or scratches are hugely reduced, so it should look great for longer.
Talking about someone's weight behind their back is generally considered a bit rude, but in the Lumia 920's case it's a hot topic that a lot's been written about already, so I've left mine in the other room while we chat about this. (We'll just whisper, OK?)
I did some quick informal surveys and the feedback from people who held the Lumia 920 for the first time ranged from "it's a lot heavier than my phone" and "I wouldn't want to get caught up-side the head with it" to "hey, it feels like a real phone" and "premium".
Personally, my first impression was "heavy" but, after using it for a week, I now describe it as "reassuringly solid" and I don't notice the weight any more. The best way I can describe my perception change is like this: remember when you agonised over the size of your first big-screen TV? When you rationalised picture size against cost, and 'significant other' acceptance factor against credibility with your mates? And you at last made your choice and grinned like a happy idiot when it was finally installed? But then 2 weeks later you were sitting there and you realised, "Yeah, I could've gone bigger..."? Well, the Lumia 920's weight is like that: after a few days you just wonder what all the fuss was about.
I know, that's just one more opinion, when what you're really thinking is "But will *I* think it's too heavy?".
Well, we're all about practical advice around here, so I present to you the Authorised Lumia Offline Heft Approximisator (ALOHA, patent pending): grab some spare change, some sticky-tape and your current mobile then find out your current mobile's weight (GSM Arena is useful). The Lumia 920 weighs 185g so if that's heavier than your mobile then work out the weight difference. Then stick a close-enough combo of coins (the Reserve Bank says a 20c piece weighs 4g, 50c is 5g, $1 is 8g, $2 is 10g) to the back of your mobile and bam!, your mobile is now the same weight as a Lumia 920. No, it's not the classiest of looks, I'll grant you, but give it a couple of days and see if you can deal with the weight or if you start walking in circles because you're now leaning to one side.
By the way, think twice before assuming you'll need to add a case protector to the Lumia 920; it seems to have one of the toughest exteriors around. Much like a great Bond film it's been hit with a mallet and slashed with a knife, plus run over by a car and tossed 3 stories high to land on asphalt and after all that it just strolled away with not much more than a minor flesh wound. (Your mileage could vary, and I'm not game enough to repeat this one!)
From an interaction design perspective, I think the Modern UI is a great-looking visual style system. It's won't be for everyone but if you're over the visual clutter of icons and wallpapers and buttons and menus that some other mobile operating systems use then this'll be like an oasis in the desert. It's not so much that everything unnecessary has been stripped away, more that a blank page was the starting point and then every element that was added had to fight for its life to stay there. Once you know the basic interactions, you get a sense that if something isn't easy to find then it probably isn't there; the UI doesn't make you feel foolish for not knowing lots of secret handshakes. I liked:
- The People Hub.Scratch the 'like', I love this. The People Hub pulls all communications together and can show them by person so you can see "what's Maverick been up to" at a glance instead of having to open up individual apps to learn "what did Maverick post on Facebook, what did Maverick text me, has Maverick emailed me, what's Maverick tweeted". Hubs instead of apps is a radical shift, but it's one that (for me) feels far more friendly and intuitive.
- Animations.I won't describe all these, because if you end up getting a Windows Phone then these design touches are wonderful to stumble across. Icons rotate smoothly as you change the orientation of the phone, the 'More' ellipsis is a great and consistent way to help people learn icons while not cluttering the display for experts, menu list items twist slightly as you touch them, and lots more. It's details like these that give the UI a polished, premium feel. Plus animations on the Lumia 920 are so smooth thanks to the Lumia 920's 60Hz screen refresh rate; the tight integration between UI, OS and hardware is literally visible.
- Adaptive application menu. Initially the application menu is just a straight list but once the number of apps in the list goes above 40, Windows Phone automatically adds letter headings and separates all apps into sections based on the initial letter. Any letter heading can be touched to bring up a shortcut alphabet index list. It's a really nice touch but it also reveals some design philosophy: that Windows Phone adapts to you and your behaviour.
There's a shedload of interactions in a large operating system like Windows Phone, so I'll just touch on a couple that are different to their counterparts on other mobile OSs. I liked:
- Dictation and voice control.I found the vocal command parsing to be as good as Google (though perhaps a little slower), and I had far better success than with Siri on iOS, who I always had to put some kind of weird accent on for. (Maybe that's just me, though...)
- Camera trigger.One of the smartest things about Windows Phone is all phones have to have a dedicated camera button so the camera can be quickly activated even if the phone is locked or asleep. Your risk of missing that photo op is greatly reduced.
- Copy and paste. It just works. And it looks darn good doing it. The cursor even locks itself to a spot about 1cm above your finger-tip so as you move your finger around you can see exactly where the cursor is without having to peer around your finger - genius. My one niggle is I don't seem to be able to copy part of a text message, I have to copy the whole thing and then delete the bits I don't want. Hopefully that's an easy future enhancement.
- Onscreen keyboard. It's fast and uncluttered. I turned off suggestions to get more screen real estate and I find I do miss Android's Swype (so handy when walk-messaging). One puzzler is there's no '.co.nz' button on the email/URL keyboard, instead there's a '.co.uk' button and '.co.nz' isn't even in the fly-out options. I'm hoping a future patch might alter the button to reflect the country/language chosen in the 'Browser and Search language' setting but given our population it might take all of us to get some attention for this one!
Let's chat about some of the Lumia 920's techno-innards and specifically how they work in New Zealand. There'll be no CPU or RAM benchmarks here, instead I thought I'd go into a couple of lesser-sung heroes that I was a fan of:
- Battery Saver is in the Settings menu. It seems to function a lot like Juice Defender on Android but with a trigger threshold: when the battery level hits 20% the system turns off notifications and email auto-updates to really stretch out that last 20%. The effect is that instead of the battery depleting by 10% overnight, when Battery Saver was activated it only reduced by 4-5%, so it's a great feature if you're away from a charger.
- The camera is definitely a superb feature of the Lumia 920. Songs will be written in its honour, I'm sure. Nokia has also released some great camera apps exclusive to the Lumia range (check out PhotoBeamer) that you won't get on other Windows Phone devices, too.
- GPS uses satellites to determine your location and Nokia Maps uses that to map where you are. So far, so same-old. But then the wow-factor arrived: I was walking and it was tracking me. I'm not just talking about a marker being updated every few seconds; I moved a step, it moved a sub-pixel (the map was zoomed-in). No joke, it actually felt like I had my own satellite watching me - it was both very impressive and slightly unnerving at the same time. It's a great example of hardware working superbly with both the operating system and application layers.
- DC-HSDPA is a new technology that Telecom is currently rolling out to its Smartphone Network, to enable faster data download speeds. The key bits in that unwieldy acronym are 'DC' for 'Dual Carrier' and the other 'D' is for 'Downlink' and means a compatible mobile device can ask the network for double the normal data connections to boost its download speed. So does the Lumia 920 support DC-HSDPA, I hear you ask? Why, yes. Yes, it does. DC-HSDPA is still being rolled out around the country so coverage is increasing as I type, but I did some tests at Telecom Place and a couple of spots around the Auckland CBD to see what's possible with the Lumia 920 and this network upgrade. There's no Speedtest.net app for Windows Phone yet, so I ran the Speedtest.net app on an iPad 3 connected to the Lumia 920 using its Wi-Fi internet sharing feature. Even with the overhead of that translation and extra step in the mix, the results were impressive:
Room for improvement
But it's not all rainbows and fluffy bunnies, there are still some teething issues to work through:
- The Windows Phone Store needs some more apps. If you're an app-fiend, this is probably the thing that'll give you the most disappointment initially. The good news is almost all the heavy-hitters are available and this is a fast-growing area, plus there's an online tool to help you find Windows Phone equivalents for your favourite apps. One note is there seems to be a 'store' for each country, which means you only see reviews/ratings from people in your country. That's useful if the app has local content, but in a small country like ours a small sample size also means it can be hard to see which apps are popular or good.
- The time stamps on incoming text messages appear as if they're arriving from 13 hours in the future. This can cause a couple of "what the...?" moments initially, especially for texts received in the afternoon since they show with tomorrow's date, but it's not a huge problem once you know about it. It's a known bug and a software fix is coming soon.
- Text messages arrive with the sending mobile's number in the format +64271234567 but phone calls arrive with a number format of 0271234567. This means for callerID to work properly you currently need to store phone numbers in both formats, or you won't consistently see which of your contacts is calling/texting you. The good news is this bug is known to both Microsoft and Nokia and a fix is coming in mid-late December through Nokia Care Direct if you need it urgently, and Over-The-Air in early 2013.
- There's a few other minor things I'd personally change, but they're far from earth-shattering and I'd feel pretty mean to pick on them; it's easy to forget this is basically v1 of a new operating system, while Android and iOS have each had over half a dozen major releases to fix little niggles. A good resource to see what suggestions have already been requested is the Windows Phone User Voice feedback site.
Overall, I've thoroughly enjoyed my initial experience with both Windows Phone 8 and Nokia's Lumia 920 - I can definitely see why they're so popular and I'm looking forward to putting the wireless chargers through their paces when they arrive.
The Lumia 920 hardware is solid (in every sense of the word) and has oomph to burn - I don't think it really needed to get out of first gear when I was testing it. Its size and weight mean it won't be for everyone but if it fits you then you'll be rewarded with a powerhouse of premium kit.
As for Windows Phone, the apps store is still very young compared to Android and iOS, but it's growing the fastest and I think the ecosystem has exciting potential thanks to tight integration with Microsoft's other properties like Xbox, Office, SkyDrive, Skype, Surface and Windows 8.
If you're looking for your first smartphone then I'd encourage you to play with a Windows Phone to see whether the minimalistic "people-focused" interface works for you as well as it did for me. Equally, if you're a power smartphone-user who's open-minded about trying something different to your current mobile operating system, then this one may take some adjusting to, but once you do I think you'll find it hard to go back.
About the author
Hi, I'm Crispin. By day I'm a UX specialist for Telecom's Digital team, so I look after big web projects and help make them awesome for our visitors. By night, I set morality aside and fight crim... errr, I mean I help small businesses with technology support on everything from Bluetooth headsets to NASs to backup strategies. HTPCs are a hobby and the proportion of electronic devices in my home vs 'dumb' ones makes it increasingly likely I'll be an early target for our new robot overlords. I lived in Wellington for 5 years and I'm now based in Auckland with two very determined yukka plants, a large electricity bill and a countdown to the next international film festival.
Why test updates, can’t you just release them?
We won’t push any software updates out to customers that aren’t 100% tested and working on the smartphonetwork.
In a nut shell, we believe that thoroughly and rigorously testing software updates means a better customer experience, with less issues. It also means:
- Bugs in your mobile can be avoided
- We minimise the number of phones returned to our service centre for repairs(half of all handset returns are for software issues)
- You’re less likely to need to call us for help
Why does testing take so long?
The first step is obtaining a stable version of the software from the handset manufacturer to test. Early versions of software releases are often developer-orientated, and whilst contain new feature can contain a number of bugs. There are times during our testing processes that we identify issues that are likely to give customers an unsatisfactory experience. When this occurs we notify the handset manufacturer and wait until a resolution is available.
We only reject software if testing shows it’s likely to impact our customers or the network. That said, the true test of course is when it’s in customer hands – everyone uses their smartphone differently.
What’s involved in testing?
We receive a test version of the software update after the manufacturer has carried out their internal quality checks. We then run a full set-up of tests, concentrating on the defects the software is resolving. We will then run a regression suite of tests to ensure that no new issues have been introduced.
Once we approve the software the manufacturer will then forward the software through to Google for approval. If it passes Google approval, the manufacturer then needs to load it on to their servers.
Aren’t you holding updates back to get us to buy new phones?
We believe the latest software is the best, as it improves the handset’s performance, and the experience the customer will have with it. We have never held back an available update for any other reason than the release failed our testing programme and the manufacturer was unable to resolve this. This would have translated into a substandard customer experience.
But this software is already out overseas, what’s the hold up?
Every mobile network is different – we think it’s important to test software updates on our own network, in our own conditions, to give our customers the best experience we can. There are also time where our testing has identified issues that other networks have missed and are subsequently having customer issues.
What’s Telecom’s position on unofficial builds?
Most manufacturers make open software updates available at roughly the same time they become available to network operators like ourselves. The open updates don’t go through the same network testing programmes, and are therefore available a little sooner, but with the trade off of not being fully tested on the network you’re using it on.
While some customers are comfortable taking software updates from ROM sites, we have seen some issues with ‘unofficial’ builds, and recommend waiting for the release from your network operator.
Aren’t you just filling your handsets with bloatware?
Our customisation is a very small part of the software updates and it is extremely rare that these delay the release of software. We add:
- Settings ie Access Point Name (a network identifier)
- A bookmark in the app menu to Your Telecom
- A Yahoo! icon on the stock Android browser
- Four bookmarks in the browser
- Start up and shut down screens (not on all phones)
With modern smartphones, the user is in control, and can change the apps or appearance as they wish (a factory reset will restore these settings of course). The much criticised browser icon on the Samsung GALAXY SIII was just that – an icon change, as a branding exercise, and exists on the majority of our Android handsets.
About the author
Richard Irvine is Telecom New Zealand's Social Media Manager. You can contact him through Telecom New Zealand's Official Twitter account.