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 - Page 6
Back in January 2011, almost two years ago, and just before the infamous decision by new CEO Stephen Elop to switch Nokia's strategy away from Symbian and Meego and towards Windows Phone, I identified 5 things Nokia was doing wrong with their smartphone hardware and no less than 10 things it was doing wrong with the software. Below, I take a look at how Nokia did, set in the context of a company somewhat crippled by moving resources away, throughout the two years, from Symbian (as discussed here) to its newly adopted platform.
You can't move in our corners of the Internet without some debate springing up about which is best: hardware keys, virtual keys, T9 or Swype. It's almost a religious thing, with devotees of one solution or another. So I thought I'd devote a little effort to a data point for each system, in my hands at least. Yes, personal preference will play a huge part in the solution you end up with. But which, from a statistical point of view, is fastest at the end of the day?
In my latest comparison, I take the Lumia 920, which I've now used for a month, the Nokia 808, which recently had its upgrade to Belle FP2, and the hot-off-the-press Google Nexus 4, an Android flagship in terms of pretensions and core specifications. Three platforms at different stages of their lives, three different form factors and user experiences. Let's put them head to head...
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.
It's all very well having a monster camera on board (Nokia 808, N8 or N86), but what about when your phone has a lowly space-saving EDoF camera? For example, on the Nokia E6, E7 or C7. I've been over the principles of EDoF before, but this piece brings you a dozen specific tips and examples to help you get better snaps.
One curious quirk of the modern phone world is the way the humble SIM card has slimmed down - annoyingly, it's not quite so easy to swap SIM cards between phones as it used to be, with half the phones using 'mini SIM' (the old standard) and most of the rest using 'micro SIM' (and yes, a few iPhones being different and using 'nano SIM'!) Now, when dealing with SIM holders which are low-tech and/or 'open', sticking a micro SIM into a recommended adapter is usually problem-free, but devices with sprung SIM slots like the N8 and C7 are a different matter. You may remember David's disaster story here? Happily, there's a very low-tech workaround, as detailed below by guest writer Paul Sargeant...
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?
Following my review of the Mugen BV-4D 1500mAh replacement for the Nokia 808, many people had wondered how practical it would be to transplant this cell into the E7 Communicator - after all, the form factor of the battery and pin configuration is identical. The main issues were a few slight worries over nominal voltage and charging quirks, over the actual capacity of the Mugen battery and, perhaps insurmountably, how the heck to get at the E7's battery in the first place? Fear not, for All About Symbian again paves a way where even angels fear to tread - I dismantle my device and attempt to give it the world's first E7 heart transplant. [Summary: don't get your hopes up!]
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!