Symbian-Guru.com Is Over

As of today, I will no longer be updating Symbian-Guru.com, and will be purchasing an Android-powered smartphone – my new Nexus One should arrive tomorrow. I’ve been a Nokia fanboy since 1999, and a Symbian fanboy since I got my Nokia 6620 in summer of 2004. Since then, I’ve personally owned 10+ different Symbian-powered smartphones, and have reviewed nearly every Symbian-powered smartphone that’s been released in the past 3 years or so. I’ve tried to use all of Nokia’s various products and services to the best of my ability, and I just can’t do it anymore.

I can’t continue to support a manufacturer who puts out such craptastic ‘flagships’ as the N97, and who expects me to use services that even most of Nokia’s own employees don’t use. I also can’t continue to support a mobile operating system platform that continually buries itself into oblivion by focusing on ‘openness’ while keeping a blind eye towards the obvious improvements that other open platforms have had for several iterations.

When I received my HTC Eris, I was 100% convinced that using Android would ruin Symbian for me. Ironically, the Eris showed me the ugly side of Android – the side that reveals itself on crappy processors paired with piss-poor amounts of RAM. In fact, it was the Nokia N97 – the company’s last real “flagship” Symbian device – that has completely and utterly killed Symbian for me. The Nokia N97, when announced, was supposed to be the epitome of Nokia’s high-end smartphone offerings. Nokia is the largest cellphone manufacturer in the world, with the largest worldwide marketshare on the planet. The Nseries was originally conceived to be the company’s top-notch smartphones – the best of the best, if you will. The N9x devices have always been the best of the Nseries, as well – the cream of the crop of the best of the best, and yet the N97 is quite possibly one of the most embarrassing devices ever to come out of the Finnish monster.

You may be saying, ‘well, sure, but the N8 is set to come out any month now, shouldn’t you give it a fighting chance?’ Yes, of course I *should*, but I won’t. When the Nokia N8 was first announced, I was dead convinced I would purchase one out of my own pocket. I started putting money aside, ready to even pre-order the N8 as soon as I could. However, the more I use the Nokia N97 as my primary device, the less I’ve been convinced that the N8 is going to be better. Time and time again, Nokia’s high-end smartphones have arrived with pathetic processors, stingy amounts of RAM, and small batteries – why should I put up another $500 of my own money ‘just to see’?

Nokia-N8-memory-full(image credit: The Nokia Blog)

If you recall, when the Nokia N97 was announced, we all drooled over it endlessly. We marveled at its features, its monstrous internal storage, sliding hinge assembly, 1500mAh battery, and more. We waited a disturbing 6 months for it to actually be available…only to actually get it. The launch firmware on the Nokia N97 was so bad, I sincerely hope that whoever gave it the A-OK to be released has been fired from Nokia. It took them another 6 months just to release a firmware that wasn’t rubbish, and now, the ‘flagship’ languishes behind other devices, frustrating owners like myself more and more each day.

Despite getting one that was manufactured much later than the initial batch, my Nokia N97 had the famed camera slider issue, where the ‘protective’ lens cover was actually damaging the lens it was designed to protect, flooding photos with the dual-LED flash and making them useless. The GPS, once strong, now loses signal every 10-15 seconds, making the free voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation offered by Ovi Maps a complete waste (not to mention the POI database in my area is abysmal). Don’t bother filling that 32GB of internal storage with music – it’ll bog the phone down so much you won’t be able to use it for a thing.

The pissant processor in the N97 is another aspect that completely kills the device. The phone is hardly able to keep up with the operating system’s multitasking capabilities, frequently running out of RAM and slowing to a crawl. Worse, the C: storage – where you install 3rd party applications and where the majority of Nokia’s own products install themselves – is so small it’s ridiculous. After installing Nokia Messaging for Email (which should have been pre-installed in such a flagship device), Ovi Maps’ latest update, and Ovi Contacts, I’m left with less than 10MB free. To add insult to injury, this 10MB tends to disappear on its own – I’m down to 2MB after being at 10MB a week or two ago. The only way to recover it is to hard-reset the phone, which I’ve done several times, and then painstakingly re-installing all your stuff. It still takes me close to an hour, and I would consider myself a pro.

After this experience with the Nokia N97, there’s simply no way I trust them to not screw up with the N8 – not enough for me to fork over $500 of my own money, at least. Sure, the N8 looks good on paper and in the first reviews – but then again, so did the N97, as I recall.

Symbian Foundation is also a factor in my decision to dump it all and go Android. Like Android, Symbian Foundation prides itself on being open and free – loudly and oftentimes obnoxiously boasting about how its source code is free for all – despite no one really caring about this, at least in my circle. The platform still languishes behind Android in simple features – being able to replace various pieces of the OS at the users’ whim, native threaded SMS/MMS, integrated IM, and a usable app marketplace, among others.

What’s worse is that developers of popular online services are completely ignoring Symbian, putting it further and further behind the other platforms. To date, there is still not an official client for Dropbox, Pandora, Last.FM (don’t get me wrong, Mobbler is one of the reasons I’ve stuck with Symbian, but it’s still not official), Foursquare, Twitter, and a host of others. Yes, there are solutions to this on Symbian, but nearly every other platform has an *official* client from these popular services – showing that the developers see those platforms as something their users would actually be using.

To be truthful, I’m also exhausted with trying to be a Nokia/Symbian fan in the U.S. There is absolutely zero marketing effort from either company in this market, and it’s not for lack of opportunities. For the past 2 years, the season finale of American Idol has been held at Nokia Live theatre in Los Angeles, California. I watched both finales, and did not *once* see a Nokia logo anywhere on the screen through the shows. In fact, the only mention of Nokia, at all, was when they said the name of the venue. No banners hanging anywhere, no ad space during commercials for the latest Nokia device from the U.S. carriers, nothing. It’s pathetic. While European carriers stumble over themselves to carry the latest Nokia devices, American carriers tend to pick up the lame-duck and low-end versions of Nokia’s phones. This is improving, but at a snail’s pace. Both Symbian and Nokia are dying brands in the U.S., if not already dead, and I’m sick and tired of banging the gong alone.

Most of my friends and family now carry Android-powered devices. My dad traded in his Nokia 6126 for a Motorola Backflip, and my mom, who previously used my N95-3 and 5800 XpressMusic, did as well. My little brother just picked up an HTC Hero, and my wife, who has carried the N81 8GB, N96, and E71, is now eyeing the HTC EVO 4G. As mentioned earlier, I’ve already sold off my N97 and ordered a Nexus One from Google.

The Nexus One has the fastest mobile processor available today, a whopping 512MB of RAM, and is consistently being updated to the latest version of the Android operating system. Its hardware also conforms to the requirements put in place for Android v3.0, surprisingly.

And so, after 3 years and 8 months, Symbian-Guru.com is officially done. Thanks to Nokia’s consistently piss-poor hardware choices and Symbian’s lack of ability to even remotely compete in terms of features, abilities, and overall experience, I’ve lost my passion for both.  As mentioned, the site will remain, but it will not be updated any longer. To all of you whom I’ve met – both online and offline – it’s been easily the best 3 years and 8 months of my life. I’ll still be online in the usual places, and will still be actively blogging about mobile/tech/Internet at my personal site, http://www.RickyCadden.com. Of course I’ll still keep my eye on Nokia. If they can put out 2 flagship devices in a row that don’t completely suck, I may even give them another chance. I won’t hold my breath.

To Nokia, you guys are losing. Hard. Wake the hell up. Doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting different results is the definition of insanity.  I’ve been a huge Nokia fan since my 2nd cellphone, and I just can’t do it any longer. You guys aren’t competing like you once were, and everyone but you seems to see that. You used to build the world’s best smartphones, the world’s best cameras, the world’s best GPS units – you’ve lost pretty much all of that, and with nothing to show for it. You unveiled your Ovi vision over 2 years ago – I was there. Today, it’s still a complete mess. I have to log in every single time I visit the site – regardless of how many times I check the ‘remember me’ box. I spent 6 months (and about 3 hours at Nokia World 2009) trying to find someone to help me with Ovi Contacts on the web – no one knew who to point me to. You spent millions of dollars purchasing your Ovi pieces – Ovi Files, Ovi Share, and a host of other little companies – are you proud of what you ‘built’ with them? Most of your own employees (that I’ve talked to) don’t even use them, so why should I?

To Symbian, if you’d stop shouting about being open, you’d see that you’re losing too. Consumers are leaving and developers are staying away. Frankly, I think Symbian is better off than Nokia at this point. I’ll give you a hint: the first step is to consolidate. Your top three manufacturer partners (Nokia, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson) all have their own app stores – that’s three times the work for your developers to get their apps to consumers. Second, you guys need to find someone else to build your platform’s flagship devices – Nokia is actively and consistently blowing it for you. Nokia’s lost a few folks to HTC – see if you can get them to build you a platform flagship. The best operating system in the world can still be crippled by crappy hardware.

This was not an easy decision to make. To be honest, I’ve wanted to write this post for the past several months – I’ve had numerous conversations with Dotsisx about this, and we both kept saying ‘let’s give them some time, surely Nokia/Symbian is going to improve.’ Guess what – they didn’t, and it’s just….sad. Like watching your favorite sports team lose game after game after game. Eventually, even the most die-hard sports fans have to find a new team.

I do want to say, however, that Nokia is not without the talent to do some awesome things – nearly every single Nokian that I’ve met personally – save for a few – are the friendliest, nicest folks; eager to listen to (and better understand) feedback on any product at any time. Some of this feedback is immediately reinvested in future products, which is awesome. As I’ve attended Nokia World three times, every time has been awesome and reassuring to see the Nokians who are actually doing things and who get just as frustrated as I have with various things. Unfortunately, this awesome talent seems to be wasted somehow. I sincerely hope that the upper brass at Nokia starts listening to the folks who are putting in extra time and effort – these folks know what’s going on, and like I did originally, simply want to see Nokia succeed.

Symbian Guru and Dotsisx

When I told Dotsisx that I had finally made the decision and started writing the post, she confessed that she was at the same point that I was, and put together her part. We’ll both be leaving the site, but she has her own reasons:

Well, what can I say after this articulate tirade from Ricky? How much can I add when The Symbian Guru himself gives up on Symbian, just like when a few days ago, a company called SymbianGuru (without the dash) started releasing software for Android. It should be a sign, nah, it should be a freaking glowing DANGER light if someone cares to notice.

Although my experience has been different from Ricky’s in some areas (I have a Nokia N97 Mini and don’t suffer the internal memory issues he has, I also live in Lebanon where Nokia is huge and does a lot of campaigns and marketing), Ricky sums up a lot of my frustrations with Nokia and Symbian right now. Much like him, I have been a fan and a power user from the moment I bought my Nokia 3250 XpressMusic 4 years ago. Since then, I’ve owned and trialed more Symbian/Nokia devices than I care to remember, but for posterity’s sake here’s the list: C5, E52, E55, E61i, E66, E71, E72, E75, E90, N81 8GB, N82, N85, N86 8MP, N93i, N95, N95 8GB, N96, N97, N97 Mini, X6, 5530 XM, 5730 XM, 5800 XM, 6210 Navigator, 6700 Slide, 6710 Navigator, 6720 Classic, and Sony Ericsson Satio. Woosh! I’ve evangelized Symbian and smartphones when people didn’t know what those weird words meant, I’ve shown friends around me how to use every single feature in their phone and I’ve convinced many colleagues in the Pharmacy and Medical field that they don’t need a PDA or a Windows Mobile to access relevant medical information, they can do it right from their Nokia with several applications especially MobiReader and its collection of medical eBooks.

Unfortunately, times have changed. The E71 is and will always be the absolute best phone I ever used and one that symbolizes the epitome of mobile technology for me. Since its release though, it has been a steady decline, and although I currently own and use a Nokia N97 Mini daily, I’m annoyed by many aspects of it, not the least of which is how Nokia’s own applications lag painfully on this rehash of a flagship that was supposed to fix some of the original N97′s shortcomings. Take Nokia Messaging for Email, IM or Social Networks. The UI is ugly, the features have been evolving at a snail’s pace, and I’m pretty convinced the team tests those apps on different hardware with 1GHz processors because no one in their right mind would release apps like that, not beta, not alpha, not even pre-alpha. I swear I could get a VISA, buy an airplane ticket, travel to Texas and talk to Ricky in person before Nokia Messaging for IM loads and opens a conversation with him on my N97 Mini. Another pet peeve I have is with the nonavailability of official Dropbox, IMDB, Facebook, Paypal, Ebay, Read It Later, … applications on Symbian. But honestly, how can you blame outside developers when Nokia themselves can’t seem to pull through a decent application?

This is nothing though compared to the absolute lack of any medical application on Symbian^1. There’s none. None whatsoever. Not decent, not half bad, not totally bad. NONE. Absolutely Zero. Zilch. Niente. How silly is that, when the Apple App Store has a complete category dedicated to Medical software?! On my E71, I used to use Skyscape apps as well as MobiReader for my 200$ bought medical ebooks. Now I no longer have those: Skyscape never ported their apps from S60 3rd to Symbian^1, and MobiReader went into oblivion. The one reason I fell in love with Symbian/Nokia in the first place is now the reason I hate it passionately. Ironic, isn’t it? Some pundits will argue that there’s a bookmark for that. I’m sorry, when I need my info instantly and my mobile connection is slow and costs a ton, there’s no bookmark for that, “there’s an app for that”. As it goes, I have been carrying an iPod Touch daily and am bedazzled by the amount of amazing quality and quantity of freeware medical software for it, let alone paid applications. The fact that huge companies like Epocrates, Lexi-Comp, Medscape, Vidal chose to ignore the Symbian platform speaks a ton about how bad things are for the ecosystem.

What good does it do me, as a user, if you have 40 or 50 or 60 % marketshare when you fail to gain any developer traction? There’s Qt, widgets, Python, an SDK, Java, d’oh. But where are the medical applications? Where are thespecialty apps that I once wrote about on S60 3rd but were never ported to Symbian^1? Where are the games that make me pop my eyes in awe? The N8 will get Angry Birds. Big whoop. It took me all of 2 days to finish all levels of Angry Birds on my iPod Touch and you know what? When I was done, I moved on to the next game. Could I say the same about the N8?

When I think back to 3 or 4 years ago, when the iPhone and Android were first launched, I remember how they were a joke for many Symbian users. But look at them now! Look how much has evolved and grown in those two, software and feature-wise as well as ecosystem-wise. Four years ago, I had a long list of arguments to use when friends told me they’re getting an iPhone. But year after year, that list grew smaller. Now I just stand there and nod, knowing that there’s nothing I can argue with. The mobile space has seen a mind-blowing acceleration, hugely thanks to the iPhone, and meanwhile, Symbian and Nokia have stayed the same. I have now come to expect that whatever feature is still missing from Android/iOS will probably be added soon in a future firmware update. I wish I could have the same faith and certainty about Symbian.

I’m pretty sure these words will surprise if not astonish many of you who know how much of a Symbian faithful I am. Right now, I honestly don’t know where I stand exactly in regards to Symbian. The fact that I’m doubting my position is reason enough for me to stop writing here. I can’t evangelize a platform when I’m no longer 100% convinced myself: that would be hypocrisy and I’m not a hypocrite. (This is *precisely* my position, too – Ricky)

As I repeated many times, I love my iPod Touch but I’ll probably never buy an iPhone. There’s just so many hoops I have to go through to make it work like I want it to, thanks to Apple’s closed walled garden approach, and that’s not something I’m willing to go through with my main phone. I don’t like the touchscreen-only form factor and I’m not wow’ed by the eye candy of the OS either, but I can definitely see the appeal of iOS thanks to that ever-growing App Store. So for now, I am locked to Symbian for a couple more years mainly thanks to the lack of any decent mobile data service in Lebanon and Symbian giving me full control over data consumption, but my heart is no longer in it. I am currently actively seeking and drooling over any Android device, and I know that despite the data consumption issue, if I get an Android with a slide-out qwerty, it’ll be the end of Symbian and Nokia for me.

On a personal level, now, it’s time to move on. Those who have followed me on Twitter know that I have been actively seeking a location to open my own pharmacy. I finally found it. I’m moving from being an employee to becoming my own boss with my own little business. I’ve also gone back to writing. I used to be an amateur English/French writer/poet before I started blogging and I miss it a lot. I’ve recently taken back my (virtual) pen and will see if I decide to start self-publishing some of my work. I guess God closes a door and opens a window. Those are two amazingly big windows!

But this isn’t a farewell. You know me, you know I’ll always be passionate about mobile and tech. It’s not as much as I’m quitting Symbian, it’s more like I’m quitting being a Symbian advocate, and exclusively a Symbian fan. If you need your Dotsisx fix, I’ll still be around on Twitter as @khouryrt, on FoneArena where I’ve been contributing galleries, reviews and opinions for the past year and a half and where I’ll continue writing whatever floats my boat, be it Symbian, iOS or Android, on NokiaLB which tackles Nokia news (not just Symbian, ie let’s cross our fingers for Meego) with a slight twist on Lebanon and the MiddleEast, as well as my personal DotsisxBlog. I hope to see you there.

I just went back and re-read the title of this post “Symbian-Guru Is Over”. It saddens me that we have come to this, but Ricky and I have been discussing it for a long time, yet we never got past the “we should close it” talking stage, always digging in and finding a reason to keep the passion flowing. It’s staggering that we now finally decided to sit down and write our final post. It had to be done and although it was hard at first, I’ve now come to terms with the decision. I was a Symbian-Guru reader and fan long before I became a writer here, 2 and a half years ago. I love the community, I love how strongly opinionated you, our readers, are, how many times you’ve set my facts straight or argued with my point of view. I love the people I got to meet through Symbian-Guru, be it passionate Symbian fans, other bloggers, or Nokia employees, I cherish the moments and opportunities that have risen since I joined the site and the tons of things I learned that can’t be put on paper and that are related to Symbian but that stretch well beyond Symbian. It’s time to close this chapter and hand the torch to all the new and passionate bloggers out there who still love Symbian and Nokia dearly.

We both also want to thank the various contributors to the site over the years – Wampyre, who has stuck with us the longest, but also PseudoFinn, Ollywompus, SchawlaF, and yes, even Gorilla. We couldn’t have done it without ya’ll.

SPB Mobile Shell Rocking More Awesome

SPB Mobile Shell for Symbian-powered handset is an application that brings you a totally new look for your touch-enabled handset. With much advanced options to customize the user interface to suit your need it’s a handy partner to have. If you haven’t read our review of it yet. You should to head over to see just how awesome it is.

There’s now an update for this application bringing it up to version 3.5.5 with enhanced features and improvements on the existing ones. To much delight there is now less RAM usage when using this application and addition of new widgets as well as 4 free themes included. The restore function have also gone smarter by being automatic so you don’t have to worry about backing up your settings manually.

You can grab the new version of the application from our Symbian-Guru Store. Users of previous version can enjoy the benefit of no need for reactivation and preservation of previous settings. For new users the application have a free and fully functional trial period of 15-days so you can get a hands on experience before deciding to buy.

Do you like Mobile Shell’s user interface better or are you still old school Symbian?

[Via Press]

Can't Stop Solitaire Free For A Limited Time

Some games from the physical world are never dying and still remain popular until this day even when transformed into the digital form. Among them we can find Sudoku, Marble Maze and Can’t Stop Solitaire.

For those unacquainted, Can’t Stop Solitaire is a card game where the objective is to solve the different kinds of solitaires by clearing all the playing cards on the table. The game features 15 different types of solitaires that you can play, among them the more familiar ones such as Klondike, Spider, Freecell and Pyramid. Should you be blank on the rules of a particular solitaire game you can simply look it up and learn it by the help of animated moves.

A nice feature in this game is the ability to create a list of games you like as favorites and statistics for each game played. Additionally there are the usual aspects such as being able to choose different backgrounds and card decks.

The best thing however is that for a limited time this game is free from the Paragon website until July 11th . The game is compatible with handsets running S60 3rd and 5th Edition.

Have you grabbed your copy yet and how do you think it compares to other similar games?

EyeCall – Touch-Less Phone Silencing

Imagine you can silence your ringing phone just be waving a hand over it, how about sending a predefined message to the caller by just covering the phone . As farfetched it seems,  with EyeCall your Symbian phone can do it.

Eyecall

EyeCall, developed by EyeSight, makes use of the front camera on your mobile phone to detect movement and perform accordingly.  Wave a hand over it, the call goes silent. Cover your phone for a couple of seconds and it will send a predefined message to the caller.

Scr000073

The video below will give an idea on how the application works.

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Muy32qF0UI

So what do you think, does EyeCall meets your expectations or more could be done with the front cam? Do inform us in comments.

E72 Thoughts From The Guru

Nokia E72The Nokia E71 is arguably one of the most popular Symbian-powered smartphones since the N95, and many of you guys and gals are still using it, which is awesome. However, clearly there are things that the venerable E71 is missing, such as a decent camera, 3.5mm audio port, and updated version of the Symbian platform.

Enter the E72.

From the moment it was announced, the E72 has had to live up to its older brother’s reputation of a rock-solid build quality, stable firmware, and overall killer experience. Definitely big shoes to fill. From the spec sheet, it looks like a slam dunk. However, before declaring a dead winner, I asked Nokia if I could check one out for you guys, to make sure it really is all it’s cracked up to be. Dotsisx already put the device through our standard Symbian-Guru review process, so this will be a much shorter ‘review’. You can read her full E72 review series here.

Hardware

The first thing I noticed on the E72 is that the build quality looks like perhaps some Nseries guys have been sneaking into the Eseries department. There are far too many light leaks, and there is also a noticeable gap between the display and the top edge of the QWERTY keyboard, as you can see below.

Nokia E72

The keyboard, fortunately, is just as nice as that of the E71 and E63, with a nice feel and excellent tactile feedback. I personally really enjoyed the layout, as well – the keys are nicely spaced, and you’ll notice there’s no shortage of handy shortcuts built-in, including the flashlight feature from the E63, quick Bluetooth access, and quick silent-mode.

Nokia E72

Sadly, as Dotsisx hit on before, the battery cover is just poorly designed. There is only a single clasp, as opposed to the 2 on the E71, and this clasp is horribly weak. On several occasions, the door came loose just in normal use, which is definitely a bad thing. Fortunately, the SIM card slot is nicely designed – easy to insert and remove the SIM card.

Nokia E72

The front of the device has been tweaked as well, to keep up with the latest Eseries design cues. The softkeys and send/end keys have been recessed slightly to give prominence to the shortcut keys positioned between. Unlike its predecessors, the E72’s shortcut keys are only two buttons with shortcuts on either end, somewhat like a rocker, as opposed to a real button. The raised design also lends itself to accidental keypresses, so that I was constantly dumping myself back to the homescreen by accidentally pressing the Home button instead of the softkey.

Nokia E72

The E72 is also the first Eseries to feature an optical d-pad, integrated into the expected physical d-pad. While most, including Dotsisx, found themselves turning this feature off, I found it to be quite nice. You can use the optical d-pad to simply brush your finger across and quickly click through the menus. It can be really handy, and definitely saves your thumb from getting calloused from the hard edges of the rest of the d-pad. Of course, there’s room for improvement, such as the ability for each ‘swipe’ to count as more than a single ‘click’, and some sensitivity tweaking, but I personally found the optical d-pad to be a great addition to the E72.

Software

The Nokia E72 comes with a ton of internal storage for your apps and themes and whatnot. Unfortunately, where Nokia was generous with the internal ROM, they were incredibly stingy with the RAM, leaving the Nokia E72 with only around 40MB after bootup. This is fine for normal users who may only have one or two things running at once, but it’s pathetic from a company who should have learned from previous debacles in this category, such as the N95-1, N96, and more recently the N97 and N97 Mini. Users shouldn’t have to hassle with constantly monitoring their RAM usage on the flagship Eseries business device.

The Nokia E72 also ups the ante in the media department, almost to the point of completely becoming an Nseries. There’s finally a standard 3.5mm audio port, perfect for listening to your music through headphones, earphones, computer speakers, or even a home stereo system. The music player is also a bit updated, thanks in part to the update to S60 3rd Edition, Feature Pack 2. Audio quality through the 3.5mm port is awesome, as expected, with no noticeable hiss or static. The built-in speakers are decent, though not something you’ll want to use all the time.

Nokia E72

The Nokia E72’s camera is a breath of fresh air in the Eseries family. It’s the first Eseries to feature a 5 megapixel autofocus camera, and it’s actually really nice, too. Gone is the annoying purple tint of the E71, replaced with truer color representation and a much faster overall experience. The team has done a great job of bringing a quality camera to the Eseries lineup. Unfortunately, the phone still lacks a dedicated camera button, which drives me bonkers. Instead, you’ll need to set a shortcut from the main screen if you want to be able to quickly snap a photo.

Nokia E72Conclusion

A year ago today, I would likely have loved the E72. It’s built well, has plenty of features from both the Eseries and Nseries camps to be a good in-between, and works well. The firmware is great and there is now a bundle of great apps that run on S60v3 FP2 to keep me happy. However, it’s 2010, and after spending some time with the 5800 XpressMusic, I’m now convinced that I simply must have a touchscreen smartphone. It doesn’t need to be entirely touchscreen – hybrid devices like the N97 and N97 Mini are preferred – but it needs to have a touchscreen, nonetheless.

Thus, I’m rather pleased to send the Nokia E72 back to its home with Nokia’s PR folks. If you’re not into the whole touchscreen ‘thing’, and just need a really solid business-oriented smartphone, the E72 is it. It completely trumps the new BlackBerry Curve 2 (85×0) series in nearly every way possible (unless of course you like/require BlackBerry OS), and it’s definitely a sexy piece of kit. Even better, Amazon.com currently has the E72 NAM on sale for $340 with free shipping – a killer price for such a full-featured device. UK readers can shop our UK Mobile Phone Deals site for the E72 with a contract, too.

Posted in Phone Reviews. Tags: . 10 Comments »

Should Nokia Release A 1000$ Phone?

In the last couple of years, a very visible trend has been picking up with Nokia-related hardware and devices: they’re becoming cheap, way too cheap. While this isn’t a bad thing per se, and is bringing the smartphone to the masses (think C5, 5800 XpressMusic family…), it isn’t necessarily helping Nokia’s image as the ultimate high quality mobile phone manufacturer that it once was.

Although the Nokia N8 is not the 2010 flagship, it surely fits in the top range in Nokia’s portfolio. But at less than 500$ before taxes and subsidy, it definitely doesn’t convey the image of an all-singing all-dancing device. Plus, it makes me wonder what the flagship will cost. Probably less than 600$ before taxes. Cool. But what’s wrong with that I hear you wonder? Well it worries me when a company can’t find more tech to cram in a handset and make it cost more than 600$.

From my limited observation of mobile phone usage in Paris and Lebanon, I’ve noticed that more and more people associate their device with a status image. Be it coolness (iPhone), business (Blackberry), fashion (Samsung)… every brand has a certain image it conveys. Not only that, but the price plays a very important role in that image too. Many average Joes don’t care about features or spec sheets, they want the best. And for them the best is the most expensive. People believe an expensive device should be better or else it wouldn’t cost this much. So when your current best effort tops at 500$ (before the true flagship is announced that is), it’s hard to believe you still “have it” especially that others have devices at 750$ and more. By definition, you don’t look as impressive. Not only with that particular device, but your whole range starts looking poorer because your top of the range isn’t as bang as the competition.

This isn’t just a theory. Over the years, I’ve asked many people why they bought a Nokia handset and got several answers. The most frequent is “they make the best devices”. I usually look in their hand and find a 50-60$ S40 dumbphone and smirk “this isn’t the best”, to which they reply “oh yeah, but have you seen insert name of flagship at the time of the question“. It’s like you know how great the Maybach is, but you can’t afford it so you buy a Mercedes C180: same manufacturer but you know they build the best.

So what do you think? Should Nokia pool all their know-how in one 1000$ handset to gain back their flagship status? And I’m not talking about the Vertu or 8800 line, or a re-hash of a device like the N97 Mini Gold, I’m talking about a good device packed with features and priced expensively. It needs to work really well (to avoid debacles like the N97 one) and to bring a few singing and dancing features to justify the price, but in my opinion, it doesn’t even need to pack one thousand dollars worth of tech, maybe 800$, but still price it at 1000$ for the shebang effect of getting a super expensive piece of tech. Opinions?

Impressive Unboxing Of The Nokia E73 Mode For T-Mobile

Nokia_E73_ModeAs I hinted about on our Twitter account recently, I got a new toy yesterday – the Nokia E73 Mode for T-Mobile. I like reviewing the carrier-branded phones because it’s interesting to see how much progress Nokia has made with each carrier, specifically when comparing the phone to a similar unbranded device. Nokia normally releases its Symbian-powered smartphones on AT&T in the United States, but the E73 Mode is specifically for T-Mobile, which is an interesting change.

The first thing you’ll notice about the E73 Mode is how much Nokia stuff is still here. Take a look at the unboxing video below to get an idea

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsLj0Vk-Y_g

For starters, the first thing you see when you open the box is the E73, overlaid with an advertisement for Ovi Maps with voice-guided navigation. This is impressive mainly because T-Mobile already offers their own branded navigation application – one that normally costs the consumer $10/month extra – not so with the E73 Mode, and they’re apparently proud of it. Even better is the handful of free accessories that come with the phone. In the box is a leather slip-cover (typical of the Eseries in general), a USB data cable (albeit an insanely short one),  and even a car adapter, for charging your device in your car! If that wasn’t enough, there is also a special offer that lets you go to http://www.nokianavkit.com and fill out a registration form to have a windshield mount kit, including a device-specific holder, shipped out for free! There’s some paperwork required, but those car kits aren’t cheap – it’s a heck of a deal.

Even without powering the phone on at all, I’m quite impressed with the initial packaging and unboxing experience. Any consumer unboxing the Nokia E73 Mode is likely to be impressed, as well, and will quickly realize they’ve gotten themselves quite the gadget. However, first impressions can be deceiving – U.S. carriers are well-known for branding their devices into oblivion – stick to Symbian-Guru.com to find out just how badly the E73 Mode has been tickled pink by T-Mobile’s branding department.

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