The N900: just a Qik note

Last weekend I visited London’s Natural History Museum (the NHM) to take part in a secret filming mission for a new and yet-to-be-made feature film. With an N86 in one pocket and an N900 in the other I set out, intent on recording the action… as it happened.

As it happened, the shoot was so intense and so quick that I only had time to capture a few photos here and there as well as just a couple of Qik videos before and after. Once on my way to the NHM and once again after my part of the filming was at an end.

The first one, I streamed from my N86. The second, from the N900. Not much difference in quality if I’m honest, but that’s not why I’m here.

Take a look at these two images:

Qik - N86
Qik - N86
Qik - N900
Qik - N900

One of the many great things about Qik is that you can share your location while filming. It would seem that the new N900 version has had a slight upgrade over its N86 counterpart.

From what I can tell, the N86 only pinpoints the location of where you started filming. The N900 however pinpoints you where you start, then tracks you while you move around and then pinpoints you where you stop!

Great stuff.

This might not be a new feature, but it’s certainly a welcome one on the N900. I love geotagging my photos and videos and if we’re now moving into the world of geotracking then I’m a very happy man indeed.

Stavros will be pleased.

Vodafone Live!, not available on the N86 [UPDATED]

POST UPDATED 12/10/09 – Scroll to the bottom of the article for the latest…

Vodafone, oh Vodafone, why do you upset me so?

Regular readers of my work will know that I have an ongoing love affair with Vodafone UK, or ‘Big Red’ as I affectionately call her.

Voda-moan
A mini Voda-moan

We’ve had our ups, our downs and our fallings-out, but over the years we’ve grown to appreciate our mutual quirks and subsequent relationship demands. Lo and verily,  today we have another… hurdle to overcome.

Some of you may remember me wondering just where my handset of the moment, the N86, would land when it reached these shores. I speculated that it would be land on the lap of Big Red, but alas they passed and plumped instead for the N97.

Ah well.

So far, so what eh?

Being the Nokia aficionado that I am however, I wasn’t going to let a small thing like no carrier support prevent me from owning my handset of choice, so I promptly went out and bought one.

End of story, right? Wrong.

Thing is, among the myriad of reasons for me having been a Vodafone customer for the best part of 15yrs, one of them – today at least – is its home portal, currently going under the name of Vodafone Live!

It’s through this portal that I find music, games and mainly, my train times. I don’t drive and when I make plans, I keep them. I often plan my journeys with an almost military-like precision and Vodafone ‘My Trains’ is an invaluable service that I use pretty much every day, without fail.

From here I may choose to visit different parts of the Live! service… but this particular saved bookmark is nearly always my jumping off point.

Now, look at these two pictures….

Vodafone Live Vodafone Live on the N86

Something’s wrong with the one on the right, right? Of course there is.

Even worse though is this, the Vodafone Live Homepage:

Vodafone Live Vodafone Live on the N86

Both pages are from http://live.vodafone.com, both are connected using the Vodafone Live APN. The only difference is the handset I used; my old N95 8GB is on the left and on the right, my beloved N86.

I asked @VodafoneUK about a possible fix on Twitter, to which they replied (over three tweets):

Using the WAP access point will give you best chance of it rendering properly however it maybe a case of it not being Vodafone Live! compatible if it’s not rendering normally through the WAP access point. It may be worth posting your settings on the eForum to make sure everything is set up as much as it can be bearing in mind the N86 isn’t a phone we stock. Thanks.

The first part is fine. Naturally I’d check to make sure I was using VF Live as the default access point. I did. I am. The latter part, ‘bear in mind isn’t a phone we stock’… hmm. This was backed up and re-iterated by a couple of Vodafone staffers who also said ‘we don’t support phones we don’t range’.

This is also fine. A perfectly justifiable reason for not rendering your web pages. However, to me at least, this is EXACTLY the reason that you should be doing just that for these devices. Here I am, with a T-Mobile exclusive device (for argument’s sake) and I’m looking for a new network. I decide on Vodafone and sign on for a SIM-only deal. Then I discover that my phone isn’t supported on their webpages, so I decide to go somewhere else.

You see where I’m going with this, right?

The N86 is a similar screen size, build and design to the not-too-shabby (and Vodafone supported) Nokia N85. If it’s a simple case of switching the user agent* sniffer to present the N85 screens for the N86, then this is not a big job. Nor is it complex. Quick fix. Done.

*For the uninitiated, a user agent is basically the identifier string for the browser that you use when you browse the web (mobile or otherwise). For instance, the user agent string for the N85 looks something like this:

NokiaN85-1: Mozilla/5.0 (SymbianOS/9.3; U; Series60/3.2 NokiaN85-1/11.047; Profile/MIDP-2.1 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 ) AppleWebKit/413 (KHTML, like Gecko) Safari/413

Whereas the N86 user agent string looks a little something like this:

NokiaN86:  Mozilla/5.0 (SymbianOS/9.3; Series60/3.2 NokiaN86-1/10.086;; Profile/MIDP-2.1 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 ) AppleWebKit/525 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0 BrowserNG/7.1.13380

(Thanks to friend of Really Mobile Richard Hyndman, CTO at Mippin for that extra detail)

A final thought…

Back in my youth, while working through college, I had a friend who spent a his time working at a rather large chain of fast-food restaurants. The Manager of which had a policy that meant that for any food voucher or special offer coupon presented at the counter, no matter for which chain (be it for McDonald’s, Burger King, Wimpy etc), if they could fulfil it then they would honour the voucher.

As he told me at the time:

“It is better to please someone else’s customer who might come back another day than to tell them you’re not interested and never see them again.”


————- UPDATED – 12/10/09 ————-

A member of @VodafoneUK’s PR team has literally just been in touch to let us know that the Vodafone Live! pages have now indeed been provisioned for the Nokia N86.

Here’s a screen shot to prove it…

Huzzah! Its a-Live!
Huzzah! It's a-Live!

Congrats Vodafone, you’ve just earned 20 ReallyMobile points.

Keep it up! 🙂

Love your N95? Get the Nokia N86.

That’s right, I’m back… and I’m bringing my N86 review with me.
In short, as the title suggests, if you were a fan of the N95 – then the N86 is for you.

That’s right, I’m back… and I’m bringing my N86 review with me.
In short, as the title suggests, if you were a fan of the N95 – then the N86 is for you.

The Nokia N86 8MP
The Nokia N86 8MP

You may remember a few months back that fellow Really Mobile co-founder Ben Smith and I sat down to argue discuss the merits of Nokia’s much heralded saviour of 2009, the N97.

It’s a testament to the industry we watch, work and live in today that this now seems like such a long time ago. Here we are some eleven weeks since that post went live and already, I feel like I backed the wrong horse. You see, I was only impressed with the N97 for what is wasn’t. The firmware wasn’t buggy, the hardware wasn’t a let down and the camera wasn’t incapable.

But what did it really bring forward?
Aside from a new form factor, not much.

I said back in the Spring, way back before we launched Really Mobile, when discussing the N97 that I was in fact looking towards to the N86 more than anything else on the horizon…

“…to my mind the N86 is the true replacement for the N95 8GB.”
— James Whatley, April 19th 2009

…and I am very pleased to announce that I was not disappointed.

When it came to choosing a handset for the Lucozade Energy Challenge, the N86 was the only option. I’d read about it, seen videos about it, hell – I’d even taken some shots with an early prototype myself.
This handset has been everything my N95 8GB ever was and more.

Having used the N86 solidly now since the end of June I can safely say that this is my phone of choice and will be for many months to come. You all know I’m a Nokia fiend but of late, that love has waned. Especially in regards to the previously mentioned, N97.

However the N86, the beautiful Nokia N86 8MP – to give it its full name – that which we first glimpsed way back in February of this year at Mobile World Congress, is an excellent phone in the traditional sense.

And it’s this last part dear reader, that is the keystone to the whole of this piece.

You see – I doubt that we will ever see a phone like the N86 ever again. The sheer elegance and sophistication that goes into this perfect combination of this phone first, camera second device is as gorgeous as it was the first time you ever laid eyes on it.

There really is not much I can say about this phone’s feature set that hasn’t already been said. One would imagine that most of you know that the N86 sports a rather fetching 8MP camera (which, on my recent travels around Africa, has yielded some spectacular results). It would be frivolous to assume that the amazing video output from this stunning piece of kit has completely passed by that of even the most casual of mobile fanatics. And I would certainly be completely mis-judging my audience if just for one second I assumed that none of you had noticed the glorious industrial design mixture of glass and metal, making the Nokia N86 one of the smoothest and cleanest handsets one could ever have the great fortune to hold.

A dying breed?
A dying breed?

Give it a silver finish and you could be forgiven for thinking that it was an E-Series.

Yes, it really does feel that good.

It is fantastic. It is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

What it makes me feel though, is sad – and not for the reasons you might think.

I just can’t help thinking that thanks to all sorts of things; the iPhone, the advent of Android, the upcoming Maemo war on Symbian. Phones like this will soon be consigned to the history books. I just have this horrible, dreadful feeling that what I’m using here, is an ending.

The phones of tomorrow are iPhones, are Androids… The N900 looks nice, but the 5MP camera doesn’t come to close to that of the N86. The new Nokia X6, with its capacitive (read: iPhone-esque) screen and its deep level music-based DNA still doesn’t match up to the content creativity skills of my beloved N-Series.

Yes, iPhones are lovely – we know this. Even the HTC Magic came close to swaying me from the Finnish fold some time ago too. But the days of just being able to push real and actual buttons will soon be gone. Relish in them while they’re still here. Remember that feeling. Take happiness from it. And treasure it.

Reading on Symbian-Guru this past week that, as of Nokia World 2009 – ‘Nokia is Touch’ – I shed a tear.
As the Finnish giant moves to embrace Maemo as well as further expand its Symbian 5th Edition range, it stands to reason that the N86 could very well be the last great N-Series device.

Get yours while you can.

Nokia N86: Coming to Vodafone this Summer?

The N86 on Vodafone: Will they or won’t they?

Regular readers of my personal blog will know that – pre-Really Mobile launch – after discovering the N97 was due to be launched on Vodafone UK later this June, I happened upon a rather sumptuous nugget of information regarding another much anticipated device…

Chatting on the phone with Vodafone’s customer services, I thought I’d bring up the subject of the Nokia N86.

The conversation went something a little something like this:

Have you seen this phone?

“Do you have the N86?”

“Well it is here, but it has a question mark next to it.”

“Oh. Is that bad?”

“Oh no Mr Whatley, it just means we’re still testing it. I can’t confirm that we are going to get the N86 in stock but I can tell you that we have it here internally and we’re testing the software to make sure it works correctly “

Great stuff…

BUT as yet still unconfirmed.

Soon after the above post went live, I heard from a number of sources that I may very well be incorrect, the N86 would not be coming to Vodafone and, that just because Vodafone are doing the testing, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be doing the selling.
 
For example, Voda may very well be putting the phone through it’s paces on behalf of Phones4U, who coincidentally were first to market here in the UK with the Nokia N8
5.

So, who to believe?

Well this morning I get another tick in the ‘Yes they will’ box via a source inside a Vodafone store who said that they’d had a Nokia rep in-store this week who had informed them that yes indeed they would be getting the N86 at some point this Summer.

Another phone call to Vodafone this afternoon and the customer service rep I spoke to could find no longer find any trace of the device on their systems.

The plot thickens…

Why am I so excited about this phone? Well, this 8 megapixel beauty took me completely by surprise at Mobile World Congress three months back and, although originally pitched as the successor to the much-overlooked Nokia N85 (the N86 test model above was in fact labelled ‘N85 8MP’ on its debut in Barcelona), to my mind the N86 is the true replacement for my much-loved N95 8GB

What’s the deal Voda? Are you or aren’t you?
If you are, then sign me up! I’m in… and I bet I wouldn’t be the only one either.

*sigh*

In the meantime, according to our friends at World of Nokia you can now pre-order the N86 from Play.com SIM free, for a paltry £399.99!

Are you getting one?
I know I am.

I’d just like to know where from…

Arriving this July, the N97 and…?

Browsing through my Google Reader this morning, I came across this article from the guys over at NokiaUsers.net reporting that Vodafone has just confirmed a July release date for the Nokia N97 here in the UK.

You can read more about the handset over on Vodafone’s dedicated N97 page, but needless to say, this announcement is very good news indeed.

As some of you may or may not know, I am a card-carrying Vodafone member, I have been for some time and, upon hearing that the N97 was en route to my network of choice, I am very happy indeed.
Since it was first announced at Nokia World in December, the initial buzz has been largely positive.
In fact, I remember putting virtual pen to paper at the time and exclaiming how much the the prospect of this handset excited me; even going as so far to say:

“I firmly believe that the Nokia N97 is the replacement for my N95 8GB.”

However, as I mentioned, I wrote that at the tail end of last year and since then?
Well, some things have changed.

Since Nokia World, not only have has there been several opportunities for me to have hands on time with the N97, but also Mobile World Congress (MWC), has come and gone. This conference, previously known as ‘3GSM’ and held in Barcelona each February, is the largest telecommunications event in the world and this year saw the unveiling of the Nokia N86.

This 8 megapixel beauty took me completely by surprise at MWC, and although originally pitched as the successor to the much-overlooked Nokia N85 (the N86 test model above was in fact labelled ‘N85 8MP’ on its debut in Barcelona), to my mind the N86 is the true replacement for the N95 8GB.

Why?

I carry two phones. I have done for some time now and I have no doubt that this habit will carry on into the future. My current ‘handset strategy’ is made up of the aforementioned N95 8GB which acts as my personal device, and a Nokia E71 as my work/business phone. Whenever I’m testing new devices I always, always swap out my E71 and swap in whichever piece of gadgetry I happen to be reviewing (the latest of which being the Nokia 5800 Xpress Music).

However this was not the case with the Nokia N86. Two weeks after Mobile World Congress, just in time for MGoL VI in fact, I happened to find myself in possession of said 8MP wonder and I was that impressed I instantly made it my personal device of choice (if only for the few days that I was able to test it anyway).

This. Speaks. Volumes.

If you’ve read any of my mobile stuff in the past you’ll know how much I love my N95, it’s certainly been through the wars over the years and for any device to come anywhere near taking its mantle, it has to be something pretty special.

The N86 is that phone.

The N97, as wonderful as it is, to my mind could have well been labelled the ‘E97′. What with the full qwerty keyboard and ‘communicator series’-like design, the N97 bears more relation to the E90 than to any Nseries phone I’ve ever seen. When I read that Vodafone were going to be shipping the N97 this coming July, I immediately got on the phone and registered my interest. Fortunately it turns out that I am due an upgrade around the same time as the N97 is scheduled to release.

Fantastic.

But that’s not all…

While I was the phone with Voda, I also enquired after the N86…

“It’s not one I’ve heard of Mr Whatley” …came the reply.

“Oh, would you mind checking for me anyway? I work in mobile you see and I really like the look of the N86, it has an 8MP camera and well, it’s very similar to my N95 8GB…”

“Oh here it is Mr Whatley, I’ve found it on our systems.”

“You have?!”

“Yes. Nokia N86. Got it. Now… Ah.. Ok.”

“Yes, yes, what is it?”

“Well it is here, but it has a question mark next to it.”

“Oh. Is that bad?”

“Oh no Mr Whatley, it just means we’re still testing it. I can’t confirm that we are going to get the N86 in stock but I can tell you that we have it here internally and we’re testing the software to make sure it works correctly “

“Really?!”

“Yes Mr Whatley. While I can’t go on record and say that it’s definitely coming, we are still testing. I can tell you that nine times out of ten, when it’s testing, it normally means we’ll be getting it sooner or later.”

“That’s great news, thanks!”

“You’re very welcome Mr Whatley, thanks for calling Vodafone.”

So there you have it. The N97 is coming to Vodafone in July and, from the sounds of things, the N86 won’t be too far behind it.