news and opinions about Nokia Series 60 Symbian phones and other high-priced Finnish trinkets
S60 vs. WM5
Two perspectives on which is better: one from Steve Litchfield at AAS
and the other from palmsolo at geek.com
I am a fanboy of S60 and do think, like Steve, that its a better out of the box solution and more friendly to users than WM5. But I believe that for most users, WM5 is getting to be good enough, and that Microsoft is going to make huge inroads in '06 in the smartphone market vs Nokia/S60.
I don't see a huge appeal - 2mp without a flash and standard S60 screen size -- but it's an attractive looking phone in these pics.
N90 in the flesh
I also played with the N90 at CompUSA -- wonder of wonders, they had a live model on display.
What I thought was the biggest drawback of the N90 -- it's size -- really didn't bother me very much at all. The phone is not that much bigger than my 6681 in height and width... the depth is bigger, but not grotesquely so. The phone was completely comfortable to hold in my hand as well as up to my ear.
The phone had many positives. The first was the display -- it has to be seen to be believed. It is really a beauty, and the pictures you've seen only begin to do it justice. The photos from the camera render beautifully, the icons are razor sharp, and the lighting element is perfect. Nokia really needs to make this screen standard -- its on the quality of the nicest Sharp phones from Sprint which blow me away every time I see them.
The second striking thing about the phone was the build quality. The thing opens and closes with a snap, no rattles. The twisting element felt comfortable and sturdy -- it gave me confidence that the body would hold up to repeated use. The joystick on the side of the phone and the shutter button both had great response and were firmly set into the phone. And the keypad was fabulous -- it reminded me of the 6230 but was even better -- nicer tactile response and less movement. I assume there were some bad N90s floating around early on in the manufacturing process, but the one I played with was one of the finest Nokia phones I've ever held in terms of quality.
The camera was totally satifying in terms of the form and the function. The autofocus seemed to work fairly quickly - I didn't detect a significant lag between pushing the button and either the autofocus element working or the shutter. The pictures and videos looked marvelous on the phone's screen, at least.
The real drawbacks to me for this phone are twofold: the external display and the clamshell design. I found the display to be embarassingly bad - it was irritating to use as a viewfinder, and I'm sure I wouldn't like looking at it on a daily basis for tasks like reading messages. And as a longtime candybar afficionado, having to open and close the phone fifty times a day to write emails and text messages would be a drag.
I'd highly recommend this phone for someone who puts photography at the top of their feature list for buying phones. Don't let the size scare you away.
I was quoted a price of $499 with a one-year contract extension, $799 without one, at CompUSA. The system said this "special" was good through 5/31, which indicates a price drop at that time, given the N80 should be finally on the market by then.
Nokia 770 thoughts
I hate to call something a review when I didn't have a chance to give it the once over for a few days, at the very least. So here are some of my thoughts about the Nokia 770 internet tablet.
I checked out the device at my local CompUSA (they finally have their Nokia display up and running). Along with a live 770, they also had a live N90 which I played around with, as well as a dummy 6170 and 6682.
The device feels wonderful in your hands -- it's just the right size for my large man hands. And the stylus -- though unusually flat -- also felt right while using it.
The screen was beautiful, and the build quality seemed very good. No creaking or rattling that I was able to find on the display model.
The device was connected to the in-store wifi network. I played around with the built-in browser for about ten minutes -- the feature I thought would be the big attraction of the device. Well, either because of the sluggish cpu, the lack of enough RAM, or the software itself, I found browsing to be a real disappointment. The speed is only slightly faster than what I would have expected if I had paired the device with my phone using bluetooth and EDGE.
Perhaps it was running the older OS version, and the speed would improve with an upgrade. But the device didn't grab my imagination during a brief run-through. I have a tough time seeing buying one until it gets a faster chip/OS -- it was definitely too slow for me to give up my Fujitsu Lifebook with a Pentium M chip, for sure. Given the fact that you are giving up screen real estate and a keyboard with the N770, the speed is a compromise not worth making for the portability.
It's currently on sale at CompUSA for $350.
More N80 tea leaves
There's been a bunch of intelligence indicating that Nokia will not get this phone to market in 1Q. The Vodaphone 'coming soon' announcement
. The fact that the 9.1 SDK just got released. And this post
by alexandr3 on Mobile Review's Nokia forum.
Smudie's 6630 photos
I'm always looking for great photos from an S60 phone. This flickr blog
shows the high quality pics you can get from a 6630 (I miss mine).
Seven Always-On Mail Review
Seven's internet edition
of their push mail is a tremendous product. I honestly don't think I've encountered another must have piece of software like this in the three years I've been using S60 phones. This service turns your phone into a blackberry, essentially, and is not a carrier-dependent service. Some brief thoughts on the service:
1) Setup. Very simple process for pop/imap users -- nothing more than signing up, installing the .sis file from their website
or from Handango
, and entering your server info. I had a bit of a problem during the "test" phase when they see if your mail server is compatible -- it gave me an error message, yet when I signed in on the website to check the status of my account, it showed that the service was working fine. I think this had to do with the fact my server username is firstname.lastname@example.org, not just username like most pop serviers.
They provide a thirty-day free trial use. The only drawback is that the software is not updated for any N-Series phone, including the N70 and N90, according to customer support. I have installed on my 6681 with no issues. They are working on an updated version for the N70, and say they will have a version for Symbian 9.1 ready in "mid spring."
2) Integration. The Seven app uses the built-in S60 email program, unlike other programs such as Profimail, which is a real plus for me. Profimail is a fine program, with some display advantages over the built-in client. However, there are little problems that the lack of integration causes, such as lack of vibration notification and softer font display than the built-in program provides, that make it unsuitable for my use. Seven mail shows up in your inbox, and the app automatically sets the settings in the built in client for use of the service.
3) Frequency of download. The service downloads mail to your phone from the server on average every four minutes. I find this to be perfectly adequate for my use, although sometimes the service can get a little sluggish and take up to ten or fifteen minutes. This has only happened to me a couple of times in the last sixty days I've used the service, so it's not a significant issue.
4) Dependability. I find this service to be as dependable as blackberry.net service - it's yet to go down. I'd say more dependable, but I haven't used blackberry.net in several years.
5) Display. This is one area where they can improve -- because it uses the built in email client, there is no html display of email content. But I can live with this because I'm happy with text display.
6) Attachments. Sending and receiving attachments works very well. Because of their use of data compression, I find that sending and downloading attachments is faster than performing these functions without Seven.
The only bad thing about the service is that it has become like a pair of 'golden handcuffs' for me when it comes to phone upgrading -- I won't buy a new phone until it is supported by Seven. This is probably a big plus - at least on my budget.
$49.95 per year at Handango.
Edit: I've also thrown open the door for opinions from Howard Forum users here
Ipod: No compromise
Mikko at the See into S60 blog
writes that he considers music a more compelling application for mobiles than imaging. To me, he's dead wrong for several reasons.
1) Battery life. I have an Ipod Nano that lasts weeks - yes, weeks -- on a charge with fairly regular music listening. Listening to music on a mobile drains that charge down in a day when combined with normal phone and data usage. As long as phones are power eating beasts, I'm not going to make the problem worse by using my phone as a music device.
2) Design. The Ipod, unlike some other Apple products, is not successful just because of marketing hype. The Ipod is a well designed, elegantly engineered, rugged little machine. I've never had a loose button or a wiggly case in my four generation owning of Ipods. With the Nano, space has almost not become a factor in deciding whether to carry the device. Contrast this with the N91
, a truly large and strange looking beast that looks like it is unwieldy to use (I hope to someday actually see one of these devices in person to make that decision, nearly one year after product announcement, but that's another issue). At least Nokia is starting to address the standard 3.5 mm jack issue in this phone, but it really needs to be across the board. As long as there is a proprietary pop port
, Nokia is fatally hobbled in this area.
3) Software. Navigating through songs, albums, artists and playlists is clearer and easier with the no-nonsense Apple menu. Nokia still has a way to go at least with the current version of S60 - we'll see what 9.1 looks like but I doubt it will equal the Ipod.
I'll never carry my Canon digicam in my pocket 24/7. I will carry a Nano and a phone 24/7, at least until Nokia and Symbian produce a mobile that can provide a nearly equal music experience with no compromises. Until then, how bout producing a 3 mp phone with autofocus? SE has shown they can do it, and I refuse to believe that Finnish engineers and German lensmakers can't figure out how to do this in a compact form with a vibrate function.
Virgile, you are giving me a heart attack
Beautiful N80 pictures
from Virgile at Planete Nokia. He seems to get the phones fairly close to launch date, so maybe we are going to see the N80 sooner than later (he seems to get the phones about a month before launch).
He also has pics of a bunch of 3 other new S60 releases:
- Nokia N91
A Phone Like Me?
I got a good laugh out of this quote from In-Stat "analyst" Bill Hughes.
"The basic trend I see in mobile phones is wanting the device to become more of a reflection of who you are," Hughes said. "Customizing the phone is very personal and represents who I am. The smartphone offers greater ability at personalization."
WTF? The reasons why I want an N80 has nothing to do with representing "who I am." I want a smartphone with wifi, with a slider, with a 3mp camera -- a phone jam packed with features. I want an enabler, not a mirror.
N80 coming "soon"
Once again, a "first quarter" Nokia phone won't appear until a quarter later. Basically, whenever Nokia says a phone is coming out in any quarter, pick the last day of the quarter and add a month or so, and you might be in the ballpark of when in fact the phone will hit the market.
So Nokia. Phone is announced, massive excitement created, schedule slips, excitement ebbs. Yawn.
Save your memory - Opera Mini
Just the perfect cure for out of memory messages caused by the full freight Opera browser. I've been using it on my 6681 and love it -- better than reqwireless ever was, and is really light on a low-onboard memory phone such as mine. The Register speculated yesterday
on whether this marks the beginning of the end for smartphones. I do agree that for me, at least, the big drivers for S60 usage are browsing and email (pop/push). One big reason has fallen by the wayside now that you can get content on most any java phone you'd like.
It will be interesting to see who is the first -- Yahoo! or Google -- to come out with a java push email client (Yahoo! appears to be in the lead with the Yahoo Go! software for Symbian 60). If that happens, it will really open up a lot of other phone options for me, especially since Nokia seems increasingly unable to move phones like the N91 to the market quickly enough to keep up with consumer expectations and Sony Ericsson competition.
My Symbian reviews N71 and Symbian 9.1
The phone sounds pretty fine, although what's the deal with Nokia and teeny tiny keyboards made for small children?(6630, 6681, N70 and now N71). The new version of Symbian sounds fast and stable, and the backwards compatibility issue is no big surprise to me.
750 mhz ARM processor for Symbian announced. I'd like one of those babies in my N80.
Cry for help.
I thought I'd go public with my desire for an N90. Sure, it's as big as a Jetta, doesn't have vibrate, it is a flip, and it has the antenna where your hand belongs. But boy, are those pictures sweet. Just check out Michael from Mobile Burn's Flickr blog.
I'm trying to hold out for a N80, which should start being available within the next two months. But my name is 60, and I have a problem.
The Nokia Experience Let's Me Down @ Compusa
Guess its about as ready for prime time as the Yahoo! go app. ;)
Yahoo - get real.
I downloaded the Yahoo! app mentioned in my earlier post to no avail. I know it needs 2mb free memory on the phone, but I have most of my 6681 apps on the card and yet I still have something like 1.7mb free. Get real -- if I can't get it to work, what hope does the rest of humanity have. Smells like a rush job for CES to me.
Boo fuckin' hoo on you.
Good things come to S60 users from Yahoo! (perhaps). I'm still trying to get it work on my 6681, but have gotten two 'out of memory' messages when trying to open it off my 512mb memory card.
E60, N80, and VOIP
Interesting interview with the Czech head of Nokia's operations there. He says the E60 and N80 will be showing up "early" in the year... hoping that means this month, not on March 31. Also, I like the discussion about VOIP... clearly, the WIFI functionality of these phones has been a sore spot with the incumbent GSM/WCDMA carriers who are about to see their lunch eaten by free skype calling.