Recent Features - S60 5th Edition - Page 5

An honest assessment of usability of Symbian handset options for 2013

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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?

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Fashion over function: 10 pieces of Symbian jewellery

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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!

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The Top 20 Symbian games of the last three years

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Although games continue to appear for Symbian, as of late 2012, it's safe to say that most of the best ones have already now appeared - begging the question of which are/were the best, at least for the touchscreen generation? If you've just picked up a Nokia 808 then where should you start in your search for gaming? We're not talking thousands of top games, as on iOS, but there are still plenty of decent leisure titles that are well worth investigating. Here's a crowd-sourced top 20!

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Going retro. How far back would you go?

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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?

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My top dozen favourite smartphone accessories

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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....

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The Sealed Battery showstopper: Heroes and Villians

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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.

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Drawing a line in the sand: N97 owners can have useable firmware or Qt - but not both!

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Herewith a cautionary and hopefully interesting tale. I loved the possibilities of the Nokia N97 form factor, back in the day (2009). Huge swappable battery, FM transmitter, full QWERTY keyboard, transflective screen, camera lens cover, full-face touch, and so on. But the system disk and RAM size were problems, of course. Showstopping problems, as it turned out. So I've been experimenting with custom firmware for the N97 and it turns out that there's a big sting in the tail... followed by a real 'line in the sand' choice that, viewed askance, still ends moderately happily!

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The Branding issue: was Symbian always doomed?

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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.

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How to: Buy a replacement battery

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It's arguably one of the dirty little areas in the Nokia and Symbian world, something that you'll get burned by if you're not very careful. I've alluded to best practice several times in article comments but it's now time to spell things out loud and clear. I've ranted about the importance of having a replaceable battery before, but where on earth do you get a new battery from? There are so many charlatans wanting to sell you something cheap... here are a few pointers and rules.

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How to: Get Android on your Symbian smartphone

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It's a fair cop - that's one heck of a provocative headline. More accurately, this feature should be called 'How to use Google services with your Symbian smartphone', but that sounds a hundred times more boring! We all love our Nokia hardware and probably a fair number of great Symbian applications, but the lure of Android and the seamless Google integration becomes stronger and stronger each year. Yet there are things you can do to bring a lot of this Google goodness to Symbian - today.

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