Doing SXSW with a Nokia and a TERN

This past weekend I was in Austin, TX, for South by SouthWest, one of my favorite events every year. South by SouthWest (known simply as ‘Southby’ or SXSW) is a three-tiered festival consisting of interactive, music, and film. I typically go for the ‘Interactive’ part, since I’m a tech nerd (though the music I’ve heard is amazing, as well).

Gearing up for the event, my friends at Nokia USA reached out and asked if I’d like to test out the new Nokia Lumia Icon and a TERN foldable bike. I wasn’t really excited about the Icon, to be honest, but a foldable bike sounded interesting, and bicycles at SXSW are a definite win.

Lumia Icon

Nokia Lumia Icon at Nokia SXSW

While I wasn’t excited about it, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have another phone with a killer camera, so I took a loaner Lumia Icon for the weekend. The phone itself is typical Nokia build quality – rock solid, amazing in-hand feel, and slightly industrial-looking design. It’s got a 5-inch 1080p display, Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and 20megapixel PureView camera. There’s a dedicated camera button, which is one thing I miss from my Nokia phones.

The Lumia Icon runs Windows Phone 8 with the Lumia Black update. It’s not my first experience with Windows Phone, and while they’ve been able to convince developers to port over most of the ‘key’ apps, it’s still not my favorite experience. However, using the Icon for several days, I actually didn’t mind Windows Phone that much. Granted, I was basically using it as a connected camera, with a bit of GroupMe messaging here and there.

Photos were, as expected, amazing. Most of the action at SXSW happens at night, and it performed well enough in low-light situations. The flash is LED, so it wasn’t mind-blowing or anything, but it got the job done. Instagram is available for Windows Phone, so I was able to quickly crop and throw a filter on to share my images. I also posted a few straight to Twitter, which was dead easy, as well.

I was actually most impressed with the battery life. As mentioned above, I wasn’t exactly using this as a powerhouse or my primary device, but it still seemed to barely sip power from the battery, even while taking photos and videos. It’s a 2,420mAh unit, with wireless charging and a standard microUSB port.

If you’re looking to switch from something like the iPhone, I’d highly recommend that you at least look at one of Nokia’s Lumia smartphones. Android users, I’m afraid, might be frustrated by the software (or notice the lack of customization, more accurately). I know I would definitely at least look at them from a connected-camera standpoint, if I was in the market.


TERN bikes lined up at NokiaSXSW

The bicycles were provided by BikeHugger, and I got a TERN Link. The bike was awesome – and Nokia had smartly attached a handlebar mount so I could use HERE maps on my Lumia Icon while cycling around town – REALLY handy, and Nokia always seems to have an eye on the little details, so it was welcome.

TERN bikes are foldable – the Link that I used had a hinge in the middle of the body, and another near the handlebars that allow the bike to fold in an ‘N’ formation. The resulting folded bike would fit in a roughly 2.5-foot cube, give or take. It was REALLY easy to fold, and easy to carry while folded up, as well. The wheels were a bit small, but worked great in the urban setting of downtown Austin.


As someone who has coordinated influencer programs myself, I was quite impressed with the experience with #NokiaSXSW. The Lumia Icon was great, and the team even offered service for it, if I wasn’t a Verizon user. The battery life and camera quality were both perfectly matched to an experience like SXSW, and definitely carried me through. The TERN bike was also a really smart addition – being foldable, it was easy to transport around town, and the handlebar mount for the Lumia Icon allowed me to experience HERE Maps while riding around town, which was brilliant.

Thanks to the Nokia USA team for coordinating and helping me stay connected and mobile at SXSW.

Disclaimer: I was provided a loaner Lumia Icon and TERN bicycle for use at SXSW by Nokia. I provided my own SIM card, and returned both the phone and the bike at the end of the trip. I was not compensated otherwise, though I was asked to use the #NokiaSXSW hashtag for any appropriate posts. 

Published by rcadden

Just a dude with a phone.

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