Despite the torrent of device releases across the world this year, I was struck by a comment on one of my Phones Shows, pointing out that in some ways smartphone hardware has gone backwards in the last few years. This is something of an exageration, but I got the point. Moreover, I thought it well worth documenting the different aspects of yesterday's (and today's) smartphone technology - are there indeed tricks from the past that 2012 designs can learn from?
Recent Features - Symbian 3 - Page 28
Has the world gone raving mad? Have we all lost our sense of perspective? It seems that the madness of the Apple iOS App Store, where half a million applications jostle in a massive 'race to the bottom', price-wise has caused the rest of us in the mobile world to completely lose track of what an application or game is 'worth'. I saw a comment recently which declared that a full Symbian app was "overpriced" at £1 and another that a genre-defining, spare-time-consuming Windows Phone game was "hard to swallow" at £2.29. Really? Really?
One of the unique selling points of the Nokia E6–00 is its high pixel density screen. However, its 2.46" VGA display offers a unique challenge to developers who are used to creating applications for the nHD resolution Symbian phones. This difference greatly affects gaming, where re-factoring the user interface can be far less trivial than it might be in other applications. We take a look at the various approaches of bringing games to the E6.
Another in my little series of tech highlights (previously: BL-5K differences and EDoF gen2), ahead of my full review of the Nokia 701. This time looking at the display change for the 701, compared to the C7. The latter used the same AMOLED display as the N8, albeit hidden a little behind a slightly mirrored oleophobic coating, whereas the new 701 uses an IPS (In Plane Switching) LCD, similar to that introduced by Apple for the iPad and iPhone 4, plus Nokia's CBD system. How do the two displays compare in differing light conditions?
Much criticism has been levelled at Nokia's ever-growing pantheon of EDoF-equipped smartphones. From the C6-01 to the E7 and E6, each device's camera has been criticised for not allowing close-up ('macro') photos, despite all the other advantages of Extended Depth of Field processing. Has Nokia listened? Yes. Can you now shoot macro photos? Not quite, though you can get closer to your subjects. You'll also see significantly better photos in all conditions - the EDoF camera (and associated electronics) in the new Nokia 701 effectively represents EDoF generation two.
Most of us have grown up with Symbian. Specifically, in the last five years, we've grown up with S60. Meaning a 'Menu' system of application shortcuts, neatly arranged into folders (a system that iOS and Android are only just now adopting - but that's a rant for another day), plus a homescreen system offering some live info and a handful of favourite shortcuts. Symbian^3 enhanced this by adding extra homescreens, but we now have Symbian Belle coming with a possible six homescreens and no application folders - how does this affect how we use our devices to best effect?
I've written about EDoF before, of course, explaining how it works and rationalising why it's used so much and who it's aimed at. Ten of the eleven Symbian^3/Anna/Belle smartphones use EDoF cameras, rather amazingly - Nokia has gone 'all-in' with the technology. But I wanted to come to a verdict once and for all - for me, this time: could I live with EDoF? Taking only the Nokia C7 with me for a whole weekend of family activities and leaving the N8 at home(!), just how good could my EDoF-taken snaps be? Or just how disappointing? We find out below in a truly image-tastic gallery, with comments.
The smartphone world moves, as they say, at a frantic pace. What is cutting edge one month is replaced six (or even three) months later. Making rather a mockery of typical 18 and 24 month phone contracts, but that's another rant for another day. More to the point, we've had a number of new Symbian handsets announced and then made available in the last few months (Nokia 603, 700, 701), all running Symbian Belle. Where on earth does this leave the original Symbian^3 handsets from 2010? On the shelf? Not likely....
NFC, widely touted to be one of the 'next big things' is here already in the Nokia C7, Google Nexus S and Blackberry Bold 9900, plus all the new Symbian Belle handsets have it built-in and other manufacturers and platforms are sure to follow. But what actually is Near Field Communications and how does it work? What can you do with it right now and what will it enable in the future? Here's a bookmark-able primer that should answer all your questions.
We've all been impressed by Apple's launch of their 'Siri' voice interrogation technology in the new iPhone 4S. But it should be borne in mind that something along the same lines (though admittedly nowhere near as adaptable) has been possible for ages on Symbian, even on extreme budget hardware. Just as a reminder, and with some comments on whether this is the way forward for smartphones generally, here's a demo of the free Vlingo in action on an old S60 3rd Edition handset.