Throughout the history of PDAs and smartphones (so we're talking 20 years), one particular design battle has been raging, seemingly without a victor. From which you have to conclude that the battle is quite evenly matched. Yet I disagree, arguing that, from the user's point of view, there's a very definite winner, while manufacturers have a different preference and slant on this particular aspect of design.
Recent Features - S60 3rd Edition - Page 3
With the arrival of the HTC One for Phones Show review, and with its imaging pretensions ("ultrapixels"!), what better opportunity than to put it up against the best camera-toting smartphones on both Symbian and Windows Phone? In the shape of the Nokia 808 PureView and Lumia 920. Oh yes, and, by popular request, I introduce an imposter from 2007 to the competition, the Nokia N95 classic, the world's first smartphone with a decent camera (and sensor size and megapixel quotient that's still comparable). How will that fare against the class of 2012 and 2013?
You'll remember the 'Scroll and Select' days of S60, hopefully. Smartphones driven by a navigational d-pad with central 'OK' button. Now look in your hand to see Symbian in Belle Refresh or Belle FP2 form and there's very little similarity. How did we get from one to the other and could things have happened differently? I say yes.
Obviously I'm 'preaching to the choir here', but I noticed a label in a Windows dialog yesterday and it brought back some happy memories of ways in which the super-versatile, super-flexible Symbian OS has helped friends out in ways that I'm sure other mobile OS would baulk at... Your comments and testimony welcomed too!
Having received what we knew to be the last new Symbian-powered device in summer 2012, it was somewhat amusing to see the rest of the tech world making a big thing of Nokia actually saying this in its recent results announcement. Not only that, but expressing every opinion from 'Symbian finally dead and good riddance' to 'Symbian declared dead but here are all the devices we fell in love with over the last decade'. Symbian nostalgia in the tech press? All very well and good, but I contend that all of these sites and their writers are missing the bigger picture here. As it turns out, Symbian is emphatically not dead after all, and here's why.
It's all very well looking at flagship devices, the household names that always get the glory - but what about the rest? The unsung hero devices that didn't cost the earth, that never claimed to lead the field and yet which provided the maximum functionality and reliability with a minimum of fuss. Here then are my top 10 smartphones that punched above their weight over the last decade in the Symbian world.
"Not another article singing the praises of the Nokia 808 PureView?", I hear you cry. Well, yes, but a thought occurred to me as I rooted through my growing Symbian hardware archive, looking for something specific. For the last ten years, every Symbian user/fan has had to compromise, to a greater or lesser degree, in choosing a device. With the Nokia 808, I contend, this landmark (and last) Symbian-powered phone also represented the end of having to compromise. At all.
Look away if you have a nervous disposition(!) but below is a heart warming tale of how an ageing Nokia N95 classic came to the rescue of my ailing Nokia 808 PureView - and an observation that the N95's audio output could have been of even higher quality - but it was compromised by the need to fit such large speakers into the N95 slider form factor....
Picture the scene.... The snow falls gently, settling around the cars and houses.... The fire is lit and the living room is nicely warm. Your nearest and dearest are gathered round, talking and giving presents and enjoying the day. Kids are playing, excitedly. When all of a sudden... FLASH! A sheet of white light, illuminating the whole room. Not, as it turns out, accompanied by angels singing, for this isn't a divine event but a clued up geek using his smartphone with Xenon flash. Yes, it's that time of the year again, a true Christmas tradition. It's time for Steve's Xenon rant. And with more impetus than ever this year, now that standalone cameras have been all but eliminated from homes across the world.
As you know, I've taken lots of photos with lots of camera phones and thus have some experience with using the different form factors. While, camera performance comparisons-aside, you can take acceptable photos with almost any phone these days if you know how to hold it and use it right, that doesn't mean that all camera phones are made equal in terms of physical usability. Heck, even all but one of the Symbian-powered camera-centric brigade fall down by my exacting standards. All but one. The One.