In conversation with Engadget's tnkgrl, I postulated that Nokia had spoiled the Symbian world rotten with the launch of the 808 PureView. As the technology poster girl for the next-gen PureView camera technology, the 808 made it into production through (no doubt) gritted teeth inside parts of Nokia. Unwittingly providing users of the Symbian OS with a massive shot in the arm in terms of hardware to take them through one or two extra years. What if the 808 hadn't made it into production at all? What would we be using right now?
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One of the staples in the Symbian world since the days of 'Series 60' has been Epocware's Handy Safe Pro - the original encrypted database of private info, synced happily between multiple Symbian devices and a Windows desktop. Heck, many of us still use it, despite a few availability glitches (cough: E6, Mac desktop), but the way forward when the time comes to move away from Symbian isn't completely clear cut. In this feature, I explore some of the options available, including SBSH's SafeWallet.
I find it absolutely fascinating to reflect that, having owned or reviewed the iPhone 5, the Galaxy S4, the HTC One, the Blackberry Z10 and every other top handset of 2013, and despite recognising that their functions and features win out overall, for many users, my SIM card keeps making its way back into the Nokia 808 PureView. Yes, the great camera is one reason, of course, but I can think of nine others, in direct contravention of the wisdom of the age. Why not see how many of these ring a bell with you...?
Now this should be a really interesting fight. I've compared the Nokia E6 to several QWERTY candybars from the Android world in the past, but it's been a bit of a mismatch in terms of overall quality, in favour of the Symbian device. The Blackberry Q10, on the other hand, is much more cutting edge in terms of specs, is brand new, and is also priced at a premium. As a result, it should present a very serious challenge to the 2011 Symbian-powered E6.
2013 should see, somewhat belatedly, a feature that has been standard on Nokia's Symbian since 2009 (and also on Meego) finally make it onto Windows Phone. Admittedly, there are some technical considerations here, since the feature only works if the devices have an AMOLED screen (most of the Symbian smartphones do/did), but there have also been issues of OS support, I suggest. What I'm talking about is, of course, the 'always on clock', about which I eulogise below, along with gratuitous shots of owls and leaves....
In this feature, guest writer Ow Kah Leong rounds up a year of the Nokia 808 PureView as his principal phone, smartphone, camera and travel companion. While acknowledging areas in which Symbian may have slipped behind, it seems as if the 808's build quality, camera and yes, even, the applications available, have kept it as the top of Ow Kah Leong's tree. Here's his report from Singapore...
In fact, ignore the title, because I've included no less than five top camera-toting smartphones in this group test. In addition to the big three, the Nokia 808 PureView (still reckoned to be champion by most people), the Nokia Lumia 920 (the flagship Windows Phone until tomorrow!) and the Samsung Galaxy S4 (brand new and top-rated), I also wanted to include the 2010 Nokia N8, since its sensor's megapixel count and performance should be a close match for the SGS4, plus last year's Galaxy S III, so we can see how much of a difference Samsung have made in terms of their camera tech. Let the fight rage!
Now, I've been eulogising about 'proper' flashes in smartphone cameras since the Nokia N82, back in 2007. And by 'proper', I mean a Xenon flash, just as you'd find in a standalone camera. The Sony Ericsson Satio and Nokia N8 and then 808, all running Symbian, kept the rant alive, but elsewhere Xenon flash has been almost non-existent. Yet now we have rumours of new Nokia Lumias, running Windows Phone 8 and (allegedly) having Xenon bulbs, along with (also rumoured) Sony's upcoming 'Honami' handset and Samsung's Galaxy S4 'Zoom'. In short, 2013 is (probably) about to become the year that Xenon flash finally makes the journey from Symbian into Windows Phone 8 and mainstream Android.
The E6 may look a bit diminutive in today's world of monster screens, but it's still a popular concept in some circles. Not least chez Litchfield, which is why, when my E6 started playing up (after one app install too many!), I decided on a change and went looking for custom firmwares. Here's my report on the appallingly lengthily named 'Nokia E6-00 v3 - 111.140.58 -Belle Refresh Enhanced by Luna Updated' - what does it offer, over and above the final official Nokia firmware, how did the flashing go and how well does it work in practice?
I've done a lot of smartphone camera shootouts over the last five years on All About Symbian and All About Windows Phone, each revolving around taking the same shot with a number of different test units and then (at some point) cropping in to look at pixel-level detail. And each time I get called out for doing this: "Real users don't crop in to the level where they can see pixels". Here's my defence, aided by some rather nice example photos from a mystery device...