Microsoft's own reviewer's guide for this, the Band, talks about it being 'the first device powered by Microsoft Health', and this is the key to understanding the accessory itself. Introduced initially in the USA at the end of last year, there was a feeling that it might never reach the rest of the world in that form, since the Band was quite clearly a 'version 1' and with many flaws. That it has made it to the UK in late April 2015 is handy because it means we get to play with it - and appreciate it, but don't be fooled that the Band is attempting to be a serious mass market product yet. Wait for 'Band 2', slimmer, lighter, tougher and cheaper.
Recent Reviews - Hardware
Even though we reviewed the more unusual and unique Lumia 640 XL first, don't be deceived - it's the vanilla 640 that will receive the lion's share of Microsoft's marketing and the lion's share of the resulting sales. It's cheaper, more normally sized, yet still has decent components and is just about everyone's idea of a "'my first smartphone' that doesn't suck". Which sounds rather dismissive of the 4xx and 5xx series of Lumias, but the 640 is a cut above these devices for not that much more money on the High Street.
With one eye on Asian phablet-loving markets and the other on business markets in Europe, Microsoft has very carefully tailored the new Lumia 640 XL to appeal to both sets of users while keeping cost as low as possible. In the process, with remarkably few compromises and impressing at almost every turn, the 640 XL just became the de facto phablet for anyone wanting to spend £200 rather than £600.
The new bottom of the Lumia range is upon us, a low price but does it all represent a compromise too far, as on the ill-fated Lumia 530? Surprisingly, no, the compromise is very modest, as long as you're happy with a slightly smaller screen and don't need to shoot macro photos...
Back in July last year - so about eight months ago, I reviewed the Lumia 930, fresh out of the box, with a few glitches, with Lumia Cyan and in - ahem - bright orange. Quite a bit has changed since that time, both on the device and in the industry as a whole. Plus it's a whole lot cheaper. With all that in mind, using a few bits from the original review where appropriate plus 80% that's brand new, I wanted to re-review the Lumia 930 in March 2015. Yes, it's not perhaps the flagship that Windows Phone needs as a 'hero' device, but it's currently incredible value at just over £300 SIM-free in the UK (for example), around £150 less than when it launched.
Having already reviewed the Billy 4's big bother device, the Billy 4.7, the smaller, cheaper, more lowly specified device is always going to seem like an anti-climax. And, in truth, much of what was said about the 4.7 is also true here, but in miniature. What of the Billy 5S LTE? We're working on getting that one in, too....
You'll remember that I recently went on a quest to find a source of the in-ear, stereo 4-pole headphones that ship with the best Lumia handsets? I came up trumps, with the replacements costing only around £6, but the quest itself made me aware of how generally unsatisfied I was with the audio quality at this end of the headset market. Hence this review, taking the next rung up the quality ladder with the new ROCK JAW Arcana v2 - with good results.
It's sleek, it's colourful, it's cheap, and it doesn't come from Nokia or Microsoft - it's the Yezz Billy 4.7, in hand at AAWP Towers. I've been looking at it in detail and it's stunningly thin and light. In terms of functionality and performance it's - in theory - exactly halfway between the Lumia 535 and 735, I'd say. Which would put it in pretty good company, were it not for the unforgiveable lack of attention by Yezz to the finer details of getting going with a new (to the company) operating system...
It comes to something when the worst things I can say about the brand new Microsoft Lumia 535 are that the colour and finish on the case plastic are not to my taste. Glossy orange would not be high up my personal wish list. However, away from that factor, it's hard to argue against the balance of budget components and features in the 535 - it's finely pitched to impress as much as possible for as low a price as possible and, in that regard, succeeds.
Launched at IFA 2014 and available for just over a week now, here's my review of the new 'Nokia Lumia 830' - if you look very, very closely at the small print, there's mention of 'Microsoft Mobile' (expect future Lumias to have Microsoft much higher in the mix though). Billed as an 'affordable flagship', the 830 does get most of the way to fulfilling this claim, perhaps only falling short at the moment because the software that enables much of its main USP is currently missing in action.