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.
Recent Features - S60 3rd Edition - Page 5
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?
Whichever smartphone you're currently rocking or aspiring to, the chances are that there will be a certain amount of extra hardware that you'll find helps you get through the day, enhancing what the phone does and helping it do it for longer. Here, in a somewhat personal, though fairly cross-platform selection, I pick my top dozen smartphone accessories. Don't sneer at the back, I bet you get grabbed by a few of these too....
I've commented before at length (and quoted below) on the pros and cons of having sealed batteries in our smartphones, i.e. batteries which can only be removed or changed at your manufacturer's designated service centre. My stated bullet points are all very well, but I've now had direct experience in the last month that strongly leads me to declare having a sealed battery as a showstopper, for me personally, at least. Below is my tale of woe and a handy table of which smartphones are vulnerable to potential disaster in this way.
Now, there's an element of guesswork in what follows, but I did want to address the issue of camera phone design, specifically the use of PureView 'phase 2' for the new Nokia Lumia 920, using Optical Image Stabilisation, large F2.0 lens and faster, brighter LED flash instead of simply using a proper 'Xenon' flash. Using back of envelope-style calculations, I try to draw some conclusions, though one thought keeps popping up in my head: if I was heading to a party or down the pub, I think I'd get better snaps from my 2007 Nokia N82 than the (late) 2012 Nokia Lumia 920. Controversial, me?
I've been over Nokia's greatest mistakes before, but there's another elephant in the room that needs addressing. It was a hot topic of debate back in the early days of Symbian and the ramifications of what was decided then worked themselves out in the following twelve or so years. Branding. I contend that Symbian as an OS has always been fighting a massive rearguard action - if the name itself had been allowed as much prominence as Android and iOS and Windows Phone have now, I suspect that Symbian's trajectory might have risen a lot higher and extended further.