All About Symbian - Nokia (S60) and Sony Ericsson (UIQ) smartphones unwrapped

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  #1  
Old 28-07-2010, 10:18 AM
slitchfield slitchfield is offline
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The sadly flawed Symbian world top-end line-up - looking to the N8

In this feature, I've been taking a long hard look at the top-end smartphones in the Symbian powered world over the last three years, pointing out their flaws and frailties, and - where appropriate - pointing out what should have been done to fix things up. Yes, Symbian has been cracking along with record momentum in the mid-tier, with Nokia trouncing the iPhones, Blackberries and Android phones in terms of raw unit sales, but Symbian's partners have been scoring rather a lot of own goals in recent times. And what of the 2010 Symbian^3 crop, such as the imminent Nokia N8 - will these suffer a similar fate? I'm optimistic...

Read on in the full article.

  #2  
Old 28-07-2010, 10:40 AM
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Why is still everybody talking about those 1990's drive layout with z:, c:, f: etc.?
I'd expect the future telephone (N8, Nx) to have one internal memory (e.g. 8GB) for apps, media, and all the other stuff - no one needs drives in a mobile phone.

  #3  
Old 28-07-2010, 10:46 AM
Peter Sulzer Peter Sulzer is offline
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I can't agree with your opinion of the N8. The unprotected camera lens shouldn't be a problem. That of my communicator is also unprotected and still fine after nearly 3 years.

The N8 has one design flaw, which makes it absolutely unacceptable:

I want a real high end smartphone as available e. g. with Android or WinMobile OS (e. g. Samsung Galaxy S or HTC TouchPro II). This means:

Display with at least 3,7" and a resolution of at least 800x480.

Even my Communicator has a resolution of 800x352 which is fine if you are browsing web sites (like this forum), as there is no need to scroll horizontally.

Why should I buy a new Symbian phone, which has a lower resolution as my current one. The upcoming C9-00 with keyboard and even 4" screen also has only a resolution of 640x360 - idiotic, such a large screen and such a low resolution. You can find Videos and specifications of this device when you google for "Nokia N9" (the name will most probably be C9-00).

Sorry, I hope Samsung will bring the Galaxy S Pro (Galaxy S with full 5 row keyboard) also to Europe, then I will buy it, although I prefer Symbian a lot.

  #4  
Old 28-07-2010, 10:57 AM
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I honestly do think the E71 is the best of the lot. I'm not really a camera guy, and I'm using the adapter on the E71 to listen to music as I type this. That adapter is annoying, but, I've had the phone ever since it came out.

Here are the good bits about the E71:
- Battery life (I fly often, I like music...so thats a plus)

- Nokia Messaging Email (Push and Exchange support)

- Build Quality. You can trust me when I say I've put this thing through its paces. Its rock solid.

- Stability

- Flawless multi-tasking: I'm using Opera Mini, while streaming Mobbler, I have push e-mail on, and I'm chatting to a buddy on Google Chat using Ebuddy. Its working seamlessly and the task switcher (Long pressing the Home key) is a god send.

I considered going Android (I've decided to jump on the Touchscreen bandwagon for media reasons), but, no Android phones out there have everything I need. Actually, all of them are disqualified because the N8 has a Pentaband 3G radio. I need that because I go to the US quite often...and I finally get to use T-mobile 3G there.

But, I can't really hold that against the HTC Desire (the premier Android I was considering). However, the N8 wins out over the Desire in some important aspects:

- Battery life (I've used a Nexus One...Android batteries are terrible compared to my E71). I just hope the N8 provides that...

- Better multi-media (the entire reason for me going touch phone): HDMI, better camera, etc.

- USB-OTG

Also, what the hell is this about Symbian not having a good UI? My E71 is pretty damn easy to use. Perhaps I'm just too familiar with Symbian. The major thing I have against the IOS (even bigger than iTunes) is this whole "no homescreen" business.

- Pentaband 3G

  #5  
Old 28-07-2010, 11:03 AM
brendand brendand is offline
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I too am a bit worried about the N8's battery - but take heart in these two technical facts:

1.) AMOLED technology uses less power.
2.) OpenVG as a rendering system is much more power efficient than the traditional graphics systems on previous Symbian versions. ALL graphics operations go through Open VG now, so that could be a boost.

It remains to be seen though how long it actually lasts in real use.

As for Peter's criticism of the display resolution, if that's something you deem critical that's fine. I would say the N8 has many other advantages that override this. But you define a 'real high end smartphone' as one that has a 3.7" display and WVGA resolution. That's a bit of a terrible definition of a smartphone. In my opinion anything *over* 3.7" isn't a 'phone' at all, so much as an undersized tablet.

Also, to address the 'issue' of RAM some people are so keen on highlighting. I've checked with one of the current beta testers for the N8 and they say that it has 140Mb free at startup with all 3 homescreens filled. From my experience on the Satio this more than enough and combined with data paging it should (almost) banish OOM errors.

  #6  
Old 28-07-2010, 11:16 AM
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Rafe Rafe is offline
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It's probably worth saying that there were good reasons for a lot of these problems.

The RAM issue (noted by high end users mainly) was an issue in the hardware family. Simple doubling of the RAM wouldn't have done much. My understanding is that the channel (bits connecting to processor etc etc) was as much the limitation here. In other words you would have had two banks of RAM, but only one would have operated at a given time. Performance issues would have been apparent, presumably negating the benefits.

Its also worth saying there were a lot of good things too. I think the E71 and E72 in particular can be argued to be the best in their class. Of course such things are subjective though.

Some of Steve's points are subjective too - I love the materials of the Vivaz for example - great design. But that's the point - different opinions. In general I think its fair to say that high end Symbain devices have generally been perceived as poor in the last 12 months. That said there's relatively few real stand out devices for me full stop. A lot of 2009 seemed to be about mediocrity. I guess it inevitable as we transition from one hardware life cycle to the next.

Steve nailed it when he said there' no perfect smartphone. I would add to that - that everyone has a different ideal too. I never really understand the obsession with processor Mhz or screen resolution for some. For me it's more about what it's actually like to use.

Symbian^3 is a lot more power efficient, so will be interesting to see how that goes. That said I yet to meet a high end smartphone with truly acceptable battery life. One of the prices to pay for carrying around a high end device is poor battery life. This is why I love my E72.

Really interested in seeing what WDP does to memory usage in Symbian^3 and general stability.

I don't see the camera glass being an issue either, but clearly this is a case of wait and see to an extent.
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  #7  
Old 28-07-2010, 11:16 AM
slitchfield slitchfield is offline
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Actually, for average use, AMOLED uses more power, not less. In extreme cases, with white web backgrounds and a light theme, up to 15 times more power.
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  #8  
Old 28-07-2010, 11:17 AM
Kurt Usen
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Yes, pathetic 640x360 screen resolution is an absolute showstopper. I will never even consider to buy such a phone with 800x480 now almost a commonplace...

Last edited by slitchfield; 28-07-2010 at 11:49 AM.

  #9  
Old 28-07-2010, 11:52 AM
gadget freak gadget freak is offline
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Nokia messenging email, the app by nokia thats not actually intergrated into a nokia phone!!! is there another os where the premier email app has to be booted up and where you have to configure the connection, as you do with mail for exchange which is at leat intergrated, these little things are what needs to be eliminated pronto.

  #10  
Old 28-07-2010, 11:53 AM
NickAnstee NickAnstee is offline
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For me, no lens cover go a bit deeper than just protection from scratches, it effects the whole ergonomics of how you handle the phone. for example when I pick up my less than perfect N97 at least I don't have to worry about how I hold it to avoid thumb prints etc on the lens because the lens cover is shut when not taking a photo. With my E90 and N96 I found I was always getting thumb/finger prints all over the lens and hence having to hold it a certain way to avoid this which also becomes irritating. I feel no lens cover is a poor design on a 12mp camera and a design cop out.

  #11  
Old 28-07-2010, 11:58 AM
beardyweirdy beardyweirdy is offline
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I agree with a lot of what you've said here, certainly my idea of a flagship device is the one that has the best bits of all the others which Nokia seem to have inexplicably missed in recent years.

As one of the many long-time-Symbian-users-who-recently-made-the-switch-to-Android who seem to comment on these threads I still really hope that the N8 proves to be a big success.

Personally I'm sceptical that it will live up to some of the expectations being put upon it. Whilst spec-wise it seems pretty good (screen resolution notwithstanding), there's so much pressure on Nokia to redeem itself at the moment that it's going to be immediately put under an awful lot of scrutiny when released. I suspect that it's not just this phone that's going to be reviewed, it's Nokia's overall ability to continue playing in the smartphone premiership.

That's a lot for a single device to live up to, and from what I've seen and read about the UI in particular, this phone doesn't seem to be quite enough to do that. If it had been released a year ago, or if the climate were different and it were being judged simply on it's own merits, I reckon the N8 would fare a lot better than I fear it will be in this context.

Certainly those people who specifically want a great camera phone would be daft not to be considering the N8, but I suspect most smartphone users are like me and view their devices as 'swiss-army knives' that they want to be competent at whole range of things rather than very good at one single aspect. Even on a good day when my N97 was working as it should (and this is the essence of what I perceive the N8 will offer), it was definitely playing in a different (lower) league to my HTC Desire for all-round functionality and useablity.
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  #12  
Old 28-07-2010, 12:24 PM
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Why no mentions about the under powered cpu speed on Nokia's Symbian phones.

Any speed web page rendering would show it being slow compared to the A4s, Snapdragons and the Omap3s of the world.

And I have to agree with the first poster. Its time Symbian move away from multiple drives or at least fixed size ones.

  #13  
Old 28-07-2010, 12:32 PM
alweekes alweekes is offline
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AMOLED power consumption

Steve,

re: "Actually, for average use, AMOLED uses more power, not less. In extreme cases, with white web backgrounds and a light theme, up to 15 times more power."

Do you have a reference for that?

All the manufacturers data I've seen for AMOLED displays, show around 3x power consumption for AMOLED compared to LCD, *when running a full white screen* on like for like LCD / AMOLED.

For almost every other use case, including high-colour full screen images, the current consumption varies from <0.8 to <0.6 times that of LCD.

When displaying icon lists against a black background (e.g. App list) current consumption is around 0.4 times that of LCD.

So yes, it's dynamic, but for most users, most of the time, AMOLED will give them better battery life than a comparable LCD screen.

The all-white issue is primarily a UI / design / education issue which is easily dealt with through software, meaning that as AMOLED proliferates and designers become more savvy, further gains can be had. Web browsing is probably the worst case for most people as white backgrounds are common there, but they aren't full-screen white, so even there the jury is out.

Clever UI design can bring massive gains here, by darkening the screen area around a dialogue box, for example. This has dual benefits of focussing the users eyes and gaining battery life at the same time, a real win-win.

Like all technologies, there's both positives and negatives, AMOLED doesn't age evenly, can suffer screen burn etc. but overall AMOLED / S-AMOLED *coupled with good design on the part of the manufacturer* has a lot of very real benefits in a mobile device.

Andy.

Last edited by alweekes; 28-07-2010 at 12:37 PM.

  #14  
Old 28-07-2010, 12:46 PM
clonmult clonmult is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurt Usen View Post
Yes, pathetic 640x360 screen resolution is an absolute showstopper. I will never even consider to buy such a phone with 800x480 now almost a commonplace...
Its a show stopper? I think you need to get out a little more.

I really don't think the N8 is the high end - double so when you consider the potential price - sub 400 is relatively cheap for the specification of the device.

Now, if it was a device carrying a much higher price tag, I'd understand your comment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Sulzer
You can find Videos and specifications of this device when you google for "Nokia N9" (the name will most probably be C9-00).
No you can't. The devices that were seen around did have a larger screen, around 4", but the text was just as crisp on them, suggesting that they were actually higher resolution.

Please don't count rumour mongering and guess work as facts. I can't believe that gsmarena actually have specs of the device on their site.

  #15  
Old 28-07-2010, 12:56 PM
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Unhappy Enough RAM?

Sorry but cannot understand with Steve about the amount of RAM in N8. Although 256 MB is the double of the 128 MB that N97, X6 and the other current phones have, but take the upgraded OS into account, with its new UI. I have seen earlier that doubling RAM for the next generation is simply not enough as the OS evolves in the meantime as well (my old E70 with just 64 MB built in had the same RAM problems as my new X6 with 128 MB built in).
It is really disappointing, as it seems that the hardware specification is always one or two years behind the OS requirements. And Nokia plays this game for several years now!! I really cannot understand why.
Read the previews about N8 (for example on mobile-review.com) and you will see that N8 will have the same RAM issues.... again.
Which means that I can see no hope anymore, any reasons to hang on and stay a Nokia fan. I have been using Nokias for 12 years now, always their "flagship" models, and now I am sorry to say that next time I will choose an Android handset for sure.
Sorry Nokia, too many mistakes, and even worse, always repeated.
 

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