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.
Recent Features - S60 3rd Edition - Page 5
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.
Here's a question for you. Which Symbian-based handsets deserve a place in the pantheon of usable smartphones going into 2013? Where do we draw the line going back and how do the current generation of devices fare when looked at in the cold light of Android day? I try to give some honest opinions below but your comments and input most definitely welcomed. What will you be putting your SIM card into next year?
The feel of cold hard metal in your hand - there's nothing like it. The quality, the sense of something very special. I reviewed the Apple iPhone 5 recently and declared it as much an item of jewellery as a phone, which got me thinking. Which Symbian-powered phones from the last decade have impressed as being utter triumphs of fashion over functionality? Not necessarily metal (though that plays a part), but smartphones which have looked a million dollars and not really lived up to the valuation. Here's my top 10. Or should that be bottom 10? I guess it depends on your priorities!
Nokia has been consistently at the top of the camera phone tree for a decade now, but many people were curious about Nokia's choice of using 5 megapixels as the default capture resolution for the 2012 Nokia 808 PureView. The claim is that the pixels themselves are 'pure' and that most people don't need more than 5mp, but I wanted to quantify the 808's claims in the best way I know possible - by comparing directly with Nokia's own 5mp Xenon-equipped imaging flagship from five years ago, the N82. Let the shoot out commence!
File this under 'middle of the night musings', but it's a question I often ask myself. 'How far could I go back in Symbian history and still have a device which filled all my needs today in 2012?' After all, there are some functions which (e.g.) the 2007 Nokia N82 does a heck of a lot better than 90% of today's oh-so-droppable, oh-so-expensive touch-slab smartphones, albeit with a less obviously pleasing UI. But how far could I go back? At what point does the antiquity of the hardware and software get in the way?