All About Symbian - Nokia (S60) and Sony Ericsson (UIQ) smartphones unwrapped

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Old 02-11-2009, 08:24 AM
slitchfield slitchfield is offline
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When is a phone not a phone any longer?

In this feature, I look at the creeping size increases in modern 'phones' - at what point do they cease to become phones and turn into media 'tablets'? I postulate a definition that refers to the way in which these devices are used - proving that the Nokia N900 and HTC HD2 definitely aren't phones at all and throwing doubt on the N97 and iPhone in the process. Controversial? Moi?

Read on in the full article.

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Old 02-11-2009, 08:41 AM
sapporobaby sapporobaby is offline
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Probably one of your best articles Steve. Exactly spot on in my opinion. While the N900, N97, iPhone, et al have phones, I consider them to be platforms more so than phones in the traditional sense. My N86 is a phone, as is my E75, but my iPhone, and my soon to be purchased N900 will in my mind be media devices that use the telephony functions as enablers to access wider functions. Without the telephony aspects, these devices would be severely crippled as they rely on an Internet connection to round out the "complete" package. The fact that they require two hands to complete tasks is simply part of the game. I can do a few things one-handed on my iPhone but I also run the risk of dropping it as it is sort of too slippery to do things with one hand. Maybe we are seeing an reversion back to two-handed operation.

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Old 02-11-2009, 08:56 AM
hargs48 hargs48 is offline
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Good article Steve,if I may add a few phones to your examples listed,I feel they do make up more "than the numbers"

As 3.7" screens go,the most common phone is the i8910 Omnia HD followed the WM-powered Ominia II

3.8" would be the HTC Touch HD

4.1" would be the Toshiba TG01

and left-field would go to the LG BL40 New Chocolate with a 4.01" screen with an 21:9 aspect ratio and a (similar to E90) 800 x 345 revolution

The upcoming Android-powered SE XPERIA X10 is said to have a 4" screen.

Seems that all manufactures will be offer 4"+ screen in the not too distant future...

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Old 02-11-2009, 09:05 AM
slitchfield slitchfield is offline
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Thanks, I'll add a few of those to the main text....
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Old 02-11-2009, 09:19 AM
sapporobaby sapporobaby is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slitchfield View Post
Thanks, I'll add a few of those to the main text....
Additionally, I think the iPod Touch proves your point as well. You see how limited it is without some sort of connection to the Internet. It becomes a self contained device with limited functionality, and is little more than a media player.

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Old 02-11-2009, 09:28 AM
davidmaxwaterma davidmaxwaterma is offline
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'support'

Ah, now there's something you can say that 'supports' your opinion - as in doesn't just restate it (like the article to which you referred on twitter), but actually provides some evidence and/or explanation; though, since you wrote it, I'm not sure you can claim it supports your argument - that's just cheating

In any case, a nice article.

I still disagree though - and for two reasons :

1) When I forget my N900, I say "I left my phone at home" and such like. I've heard others say this too, so clearly users of the device thing it's a phone.

2) When I call my wife at home, she answers 'the phone'...it also requires two hands (for dialing) and it isn't even portable/mobile. Even the cordless ones are awkward to use single-handedly.

It seems to me you're back in the whole 'smartphone' vs 'phone' argument. I was curious at the time - the time prior to you renamed your 'smartphones show' to the 'phones show' - wondering if you were then going to include all those fixed land-line models too; or perhaps you're now claiming they're not phones too.

In any case. I'm not sure what the point is. Why would you want to say that the N900 isn't a phone? I suppose your motives are revealed when you say :

"The debate started because a number of people were pressing me to admit that the new Nokia N900 was a far better 'smartphone' than the N97. [snip] but the problem is that, despite including a GSM/3G antenna, earpiece and microphone, the N900 isn't (by my reckoning) a phone, and so by definition can't really be a smartphone."

Could it be that you just hate to admit to something being better than the N97? Resorting to the "it's not a phone" argument is quite tenuous, IMO. Better to actually say it isn't better for real reasons, like it only works in portrait mode (apart from when making phone calls), you can't use it two handedly (apart from for making phone calls), and you can't send/receive MMSes; and whatnot. How about just assuming it *is* a phone for the time being and comparing each on its merits. You might find that the N97 still wins.

  #7  
Old 02-11-2009, 09:31 AM
davidmaxwaterma davidmaxwaterma is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sapporobaby View Post
Additionally, I think the iPod Touch proves your point as well. You see how limited it is without some sort of connection to the Internet. It becomes a self contained device with limited functionality, and is little more than a media player.
I don't get your point. Does 'phone' now mean 'connection to the internet'?

What happens if you remove the cell radio from an N97? Pretty much the same as removing the cell radio from an iPhone which results in an iPod touch, I'd say.

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Old 02-11-2009, 10:36 AM
mattrad mattrad is offline
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Question

Great article Steve.

I have to agree with davidmaxwaterma though - trying to narrow the definition of "phone" quickly reveals your own preferences.

What is a phone? Anything that makes phone calls.

What sort of phone calls? Mobile, or fixed line, or VoIP.

This will include desktop computers, so you could narrow it down to mobile phones, i.e. those that include GSM/CDMA connectivity. But this still includes mobile-enabled netbooks.

You could also include non-cellular enabled devices such as the iPod Touch. It has wifi, but include a mic and Skype, and it's now a (limited) phone.

In short, what constitues a "phone" is now a moving target, and quite hard to define. An increasing number of devices will be given mobile connectivity, but may not allow person-to-person speech. Is it a phone if the device can make calls, but it's not a person making them?

  #9  
Old 02-11-2009, 10:46 AM
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On their own website, Nokia describe the N900 as this:

"the Nokia N900 - a high-performance mobile computer with a powerful processor, large internal storage, and sharp touch-screen display. "

However, if you use your Nokia N900 to make telephone calls whilst out and about, then you are using it as a mobile telephone.

The more I think about this, the less I care. It really doesn't matter.

  #10  
Old 02-11-2009, 11:02 AM
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One handed emphasis

I think Steve is trying to emphasise phone==one handed use, tablet/pda/pmp == two handed use. Best example would be use of BT headset with a two handed device, don't think anyone would call it a phone.

Having said that, you're likely to see (and already see) a number of crossover devices eg. with slide out keyboards / ebooks / UMPCs and looking at these, the n97 has been a bit of a dud compared to it's sibling the n97 mini. Given a choice between n97, n900 or n97 mini i'd be willing to bet nobody would choose the n97.

  #11  
Old 02-11-2009, 11:25 AM
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Great article Steve, and certainly one of my pet subjects of the last 2 years.

In my humble opinion the smartphone has been on borrowed time since January 2007.

"I appreciate that the vast majority of Nokia's fortunes are collected from the mid-tear smartphone market, but honestly this is of little interest to me. The smartphone (regardless of manufacturer) was only ever a stepping stone, a place to rest up while I waited for a powerful computer that would fit in my pocket.

This is one of reasons why I've champion the iPhone over the last couple of years. The iPhone, even the original version, was always more about pocket computing than smart phoning."


http://web.me.com/jamesburland/Nokia..._Computer.html
http://web.me.com/jamesburland/Nokia...in_Maemo!.html
http://web.me.com/jamesburland/Nokia..._Computer.html
http://web.me.com/jamesburland/Nokia...Computer_.html
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  #12  
Old 02-11-2009, 11:36 AM
davidmaxwaterma davidmaxwaterma is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
I think Steve is trying to emphasise phone==one handed use, tablet/pda/pmp == two handed use.
Fair enough, but *why*?

Quote:
Best example would be use of BT headset with a two handed device, don't think anyone would call it a phone.
As someone who uses a BT headset (actually two, though not at the same time) with N900, I'm not sure I get your point. I am sure I'm missing something though...

Quote:
Having said that, you're likely to see (and already see) a number of crossover devices eg. with slide out keyboards / ebooks / UMPCs and looking at these, the n97 has been a bit of a dud compared to it's sibling the n97 mini. Given a choice between n97, n900 or n97 mini i'd be willing to bet nobody would choose the n97.
I'm not sure. I had a quick try of an N97 the other day and found it quite nice actually - I feel like it's had a bad rap. I wonder what the new firmware will do for this.

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Old 02-11-2009, 11:40 AM
UKJeeper UKJeeper is offline
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"When is a phone not a phone?"


When it doesn't make/receive phone calls!


Seriously, they are all 'phones', but the 'phone' evolutionary tree has been forking all over the place in recent years. Only one branch of which are still just 'phones'. Mobile devices that make/receive calls and the occasional text.

All other branches of this tree have grown in different directions. Some more business-centric, some media-centric, others in other directions. For instance, phones that been developed as (almost) strictly SatNav devices. Most of these branches sprouted off due to different user demands. Now that we KNOW phones can do more than we expected 5-6 years ago, we all want them to do different things.

This branch, the one Steve's discussing, is the one where people wanted larger screens built onto heavy duty, multi-use devices. I blame the Iphone for this. Apple produced a big TOUCHABLE screen that had a QWERTY keyboard and the ability to *gasp* watch movies, in a reasonable resolution (and frame rate!). Since then, this new branch of the tree has just shot up.

Now there are a mulititude of large screen touch phones. And some are getting larger than others.

Are they all getting too big? No, i don't think so. With the increasing number of features and options being shoehorned into most 'modern' mobile phones it's only logical that they increase in size. Especially being one of the most common features being touchscreen. People want the real estate to be able to work on their screen. How many of you are still using 15" monitors (by choice)? Another feature is media and games. People want a bigger screen to watch movies and play games. A lot of phones (the good ones anyway!) now have hardware graphics accelerators, just for this purpose. And of course we're all now accustomed to surfing almost full size, flash enabled web pages.

But this is only one branch on the family tree. For those that don't want/need a large (huge) screen there are plenty of other options.

As far as one handed use, perhaps i have large hands, but i can use my Samsung one handed (one thumbed?) for almost anything. If i switched to a T9 display instead of QWERTY, i'd don't think i'd ever need to use two hands.


Is it a pain to have to use a phone two handed? Not for me, but i made a concious decision to accept that, if i wanted a phone as big as the one i have, with a QWERTY, that i may have to use it two handed.

Does the phone 'feel big'? No, not really (to me). But then i'm coming from an E90 and i have a TP2 here at work. When the Samsung is in my pocket i have to keep checking it's there!

Victorinox make a Swiss Army Knife that has one blade, a can opener, and a screwdriver. They also make the 'Champ', which has EVERYTHING!. The Champ is 4 or 5 times the size of the basic model, even though it also has the same basic features that you require in a pocket knife. I've had a large, heavy, often two hand required, Champ on my belt for 18 years.


Finally, look on the bright side. If Apple hadn't created their version of a large screen tablet form factor, we might all be walking around with HTC Advantages!

Last edited by UKJeeper; 02-11-2009 at 11:53 AM.
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  #14  
Old 02-11-2009, 12:12 PM
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I think Nokia have been quite careful in their description of the N900, mainly because it is quite large as phones go, and also because it generally works only in landscape mode, which is clearly quite a restriction when considering (potential) one-handed operation.

The N900 is described as a sort of computer-platform which CAN make calls, in the same way that a laptop can be used to make calls (ie. Skype). By making this distinction, even if the general public don't buy into it, Nokia can theoretically avoid complaints that it is too big to be a phone, or is too hard to use as a phone, by stating that it is not actually a phone. It's a subtle distinction, but a clever one nevertheless....

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Old 02-11-2009, 12:16 PM
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Totally agree, i'm the same vintage as Steve, and in my mind, proven advancements in technology meant squeezing more functions and better performance in to SMALLER units, these days the penchant for making devices ever larger seems somewhat neanderthal to me.
My personal rule of thumb, is anything larger than the iphone is just too damned big!
 

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