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

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Old 08-06-2009, 03:28 PM
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Pt2 - Living with the i8910 'Omnia' HD - the first week

Pt2:

... Part Three:
Daily use with an i8910 Samsung "Omnia" HD :

HARDWARE
Screen - see above comments; it is the best available as of now IMHO - also has Haptic feedback, which I didn't like.

Speed of O/S - this handset feels FAST. I read from other forums that it has ~799 (?) Mhz processor and performs roughly twice as fast as the Nokia 5800 Xpress. I don't care about the details. The screen rotates from portrait to landscape quicker than anything I have seen before.
NB - In parallel, you can transfer files over USB, whilst using the DLNA media server, whilst surfing the web and receiving a text, with 8 programs running in the background; all without the 'phone crashing.

In call quality: Acceptable. Speakerphone is clear. But for both, I expected better.

Battery :
It is 1500 mAh + a plastic door with Orange on it, but a firm fit and a good amount of pressure to slide off... I have slid it on/off only 3 times in the week. Twice on the first day, then once on day 5 as the phone appeared to crash (my only crash so far) via the Podcasts application.
Quick answer: you will have to charge it up every night as you WILL be using the i8910 a LOT ! but it lasts longer than my expectations. To Samsung / third party : will there be an extended battery? I always buy the 3000 / 3600 mAh (sometimes two of them).

Subjective battery use: always difficult to make a comment as everyone uses a phone differently; but I try:

from a completely flat battery i.e. mobile refuses to turn on (it gives message that you must charge it up) :
zero bars on the indicator - about every 20 minutes (followed by one minute's use on the screen to allow the battery bars to equilibrate) the battery gauge goes up two bars. After 40 minutes, 4 bars stabilise etc. It takes about 2h of straight charge to fill up a flat battery to stabilised 'full bars' on the handset; I would say leave it on for 4h+ to be sure. This is ok.
For Samsung: Where is the super stylish charging cradle accessory? (e.g. to beat the inductive Palm Pre charging pebble!)
Everyone note also that the power/data port is a micro-USB connector (not mini-USB ).

External covers:
The i8910 has a cover for the headphone port at the top, the micro-USB data cable/charger port, and micro SD slot (up to 16Gb, but 32 Gb possible? not sure at present), both on the left hand side. This are for anti-dust measures I guess, but could easily break off under heavy use. Something else to worry about. NB when the 32Gb micro SD comes out, if it does work, I will buy and copy over my iPod touch / mp3 library. For the time being I stick with the onboard 8Gb.

Video-calling; 50p/minute in the UK, don't use it myself. Made one call. Best experience yet, as the screen is so wide; you appear in a smaller window at the top. I made the call to a business friend in Europe. It was a great experience, fluid and a good resolution. Given the width of the screen and the size of his image, impressed. Not sure how much it cost me.

Next to video calling camera on front = proximity sensor. This turns off the screen when you hold handset to the side of your face. It takes about 0.5-1 sec for the screen to come back on, even during a call, when you lower the handset to view the screen. A bit funny at first, but you must just learn to wait for the screen to turn back on... obviously a battery saving measure.

Holding the handset:
Very slippery. Hand aches gripping its form after a 30 min call. Must get used to it. A finger-print magnet. Samsung could have rubberised/siliconised the side edges. One of the accessories could have been a micro-fibre pouch.

Exterior Camera lens / design:
No lens cover. No xenon flash, only LED flash. Both negatives IMHO. Handset rests, when you put it down e.g. on a table, on the metal ring around the camera lens. This metal ring will sooner or later get scratched greatly. There are no rubber feet on the back of the handset to stop damage.

Speakers:
Holes at top and bottom of handset. They are excellent and the best I have used on a handset. Enough said.

Lock button:
There is a locking button for your right hand thumb to use ... assuming you are right handed ... this is great, and something I have learnt to love from some WM6 based handsets. It is second nature to push this, thereby stopping any accidental on-screen touches or calls, as you slip the handset back into your (empty) pocket. Well done Samsung. It also doubles up to activate some in call functions.

SOFTWARE
Well, not sure where to begin, the Symbian O/S in its latest incarnation, to someone coming from WM6.1 and and iPod touch v2.2 ... it does its job. You have to learn it. It is too early for me to say that on a week's impressions... but the iPod software still is the easiest to use, I am missing my Windows Mobile software archive (bought and freeware) and the obvious business integration of WM6.1 that I have cultivated. Lots of menus that feel more hidden than they should be. Clunky, difficult. I am sure it is highly customisable, but I have yet to enjoy tweaking it. In due time, I will indulge in ROM updates etc., but probably not in the first year.

Profiles: when handset on, and unlocked via pushing for 1 sec the side Lock button, then push and hold the 'End call' button, a menu appears: e.g. Silent, general, meeting, outdoor; all can be used as a template and then customised and saved. Excellent.

Telephone application:
Very clear; big dialling numbers on the screen. Easy to get to contacts. I transferred my contacts from my old mobile, to Outlook, then to i8910 via the Samsung PC studio. Easy. Detail: no idea how to change or remove my old photo thumbnails linked to my contacts. They appear in the i8910's speed dial application automatically, but i can't change them (yet)! (?) Speed dial app is good.

Radio:
Works well, easy to store 6 presets on its main screen, with option to store more in a further menu. Amazingly, I found you can record to the onboard 8gb Mass Memory at anytime. I have no ieda for how long thought and it is difficult to start the recording (menu option). Also, the clip you record you can assign as an .mp3 ring tone immediately! Excellent.
But no Sleep function (?) like the iPod touch, so you cannot set the radio to turn off at night after e.g. and hour. That would have been a lovely touch.

Messaging app: does the job; all the icons, for all apps, are very clear on the OLED screen. Excellent.

BBC iplayer: .sis version works, sometimes slow to respond to touch (?). Also serves lower quality streams of shows than I expect. I still use the IPod touch...

Built-in music player: does the job. Screen rotates to landscape like ipod; but otherwise no comparison, iPod much better.

Built-in video player - apparently plays a lot of movies / codecs; I tried ripping a few bizarrely specified .mp4s with my IMTOO converter. These don't play e.g. a 480p attempt. 480x272 did though. I tried to get an .xvid file (I am not used to doing this), which did on the PC, but not on mobile. Gave up through lack of knowledge and time (2h+ to get a failed xvid file is enough for me). I do not intend to pay for DivX encoding, so that aspect of the player is redundant to me.

Office folder, with applications in it:
Calculator / clock / calendar / converter / dictionary / smart reader (automatically converts business card into text, seems to work) / Dictionary / file manager / zip manager = all ok, look great on the crisp screen.
Adobe reader - fine, but NO FULL SCREEN mode??? Am I missing something here?
Quick office - MS word reading etc, BUT YOU HAVE
to PAY to get a licence to EDIT documents? Again, very disappointing. This is not going to happen.

Not yet tried direct printing to a bluetooth enabled printer, expect (LOL) it to work.

Digital compass:
Exists and appears to work fine. Useful. I do go hiking a few times a year, may be a life-saver to some. Maybe. Will still take a proper compass.

Opera mini 4.2. Excellent, works. Just install it.

Other applications tested, and ok.
Accuweather.
Gmail, but in Java form, only uses half the screen as it assumes some hardware buttons need to be put onscreen (?).
Realplayer - redundant sort of, as ue Video player.
Voice recorder.
Freeware: PaintPad; ScreenSnap; Timer.

Biggest problem with software from first week.
The 'Podcasts' application crashed after two uses, and refuses to start with a blank black screen, hangs in the background for about 30 min then a 'Full Memory' error appears. It is now broken and does not work. I do not have the expertise to fix it. May write to Samsung if time.
Timer
Screen snap

Games:
Asphalt 4; in-built (supplied) driving game. Seems ok, played for 10 seconds! no time. Removed all Orange games, as these are demos anyway which time out and are not optimised IMHO for this handset. Waste of space for me.
Good .sis freeware that works ok:
Blackjack
Meteor (v good Arkanoid/breakout)
Solitaire
Solo Noble
Sudokumaster.
- most others I found one evening do not install or do not understand the touchscreen.

The big conclusion IMHO:
The last time I had such a technology rush was with using the iPod Touch 2nd gen (my only iPod to date) for the first time.
The i8910 has the best screen to date on an easy to use mobile 'phone with a great 8MP camera. It also plays back standard .mp4s with great clarity and colour depth.
BUT The iPhone still has the best O/S and surfing experience.
AND WM6.1 still has the best software base for me.

I am sure I have missed lots of points, E&OE etc, but this is what I have managed to note during the last week. I will try to reply to specific comments, if any appear, to this post, but I lead a hectic life.

PS I can't find any FM transmitter; I'll say again: disappointed can't get any recorded HD content to play on my TV via PS3 DLNA! (even if sound is poor)

  #2  
Old 12-06-2009, 11:47 AM
frankquattrone frankquattrone is offline
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Hi, could you comment on the how loud the ringer is, how strong the vibrate is, how loud the earpiece is and how the reception is? Thanks.

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Old 12-06-2009, 12:33 PM
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Hi - ringer is acceptable VERY loud. You can easily assign any .mp3 to it, even an .mp3 recorded from its onboard FM radio (see one of the options in the Radio app). You can therefore customise your own high-piercing ring tone, if you like. I have mine set to ascending volume, and don't like it to get past 4 rings!

Menu -> settings -> Personal -> profiles -> choose a profile as a template e.g. 'outdoor', then customise it, and save it out as e.g. FrankLoud.
The options for customising your own profile include 12 different sections, one of which, "Ringing tone" is based on any choice of .mp3 that exists on the device. My favourite is currently called 'supersonic.mp3' but there is no reason why you couldn't record own high pitched tone as an .mp3,as I said, and in secs assign it to your profile!

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Old 12-06-2009, 12:48 PM
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re: Vibrate - now, this is more subjective. All I can say is that you should try it in a shop. I would probably say average/good+. NB I did have a mobile about 8 years ago that was so heavy that when it vibrated it was unmissable, even scaring me! However, its battery life was rubbish, perhaps in part due to that! For me, the vibrate on the i8910 works well IMHO.

re: by ear-piece I suppose you mean the one on the handset, rather than using the in-ear headphones handsfree kit.
In fact, both are acceptable for me, (I have no problem with my hearing). I have received calls out and about in a very noisy city (London) and boosted the vol. using the handset's volume buttons to 8/9, the max. (+10) is way too loud for me under any circumstance using the handset's earpiece. Little distortion, but it is just too loud.
BTW It is easy to use switch on the speakers whilst in a call, and place the handset on a table. On +8/9 this is more than acceptable - I would say 10 is too loud, even in a small conference room. You will not be disappointed. The speakers are exceptional IMHO.

re: In call quality - acceptable, but it is not outstanding IMHO. This is one of the few areas I think could be improved, either that or my last HTC mobile was exceptional in this regard. Still, I find it fine. I use my mobile about 2h on most days in voice calls and so far I haven't really thought about it.
Cheers!

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Old 13-06-2009, 04:35 AM
frankquattrone frankquattrone is offline
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Thanks, this is really helpful. I had an iPhone and had to get rid of it because I could never hear the ringer (among other things). With the earpiece volume, how loud are the streets of London? I'm wondering if I can hear someone while in a noisy bar/club without having to go outside. Lastly on the call quality, I'm mostly concerned about getting a good signal. Read some comments that this isn't very good. I guess if you're in London, coverage is probably pretty good everywhere but maybe you could comment on how it performs indoors when the signal isn't very strong.

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Old 13-06-2009, 11:18 AM
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Very difficult to reply to you, as there are so many different types of noisy situation - I would say that in a noisy bar/club you will still struggle - but I can't think of any mobile where you wouldn't, if the music is thumping out the other person on the line would struggle to hear you also, perhaps! Out in the street the noise level is much as less as you are not in a confined space, but still 'noisy' IMO and this is where I usually take calls. I have found vol. +8/9 settings ok, as I said, and +10 actually too loud in this context.

re: signal quality - I am fortunate to live where I get 3G+ outside, and borderline 3G/3G+ inside. So I have never really had a problem with any of my previous (Windows Mobile) based phones either. However, I have a good mate who has the iPhone 3G who struggled indoors at my place (but in UK that is O2). I myself have used T-mobile and Orange, and for me, neither of these operators has ever given me a problem for signal quality. Just lucky - everyone will struggle with signal in certain places. That is why I always want a GPS with a built-in chipset that works and is not reliant on packet data; at least wherever you are the satellites still 'sing to you'!
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Old 15-06-2009, 03:05 PM
frankquattrone frankquattrone is offline
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Thanks for the quick answers. I'm definitely going to get this phone. Just waiting for them to start selling it here in Singapore.

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Old 23-06-2009, 04:08 PM
frankquattrone frankquattrone is offline
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Hey rleader, they're going to start selling this in Singapore in a week or two. Since you've had the phone for awhile now, anything come up that really bugs you about it? I'm debating between this and the new iPhone. I was dead set on the i8910 but now having second thoughts. Especially since the price of the two are going to be about the same with the same monthly charges. By the way, have you tested the camera in low-light situations with the LED, such as in a bar taking a picture with friends? The camera seems to me to be the biggest advantage of the i8910 over the iPhone. Thanks!

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Old 24-06-2009, 03:36 PM
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Argh!

frankquattrone - yes, I've had my handset almost 4 weeks now - but argh! - you ask TOUGH questions :-) I should say it's a $64″trillion”dollar question (in these times of bank ‘bail-outs’)
Ok, but I am always one to stand up and be counted -

The i8910 or an iPhone 3Gs…
IMHO the deciding factor: are you someone who hasn’t owned an iPhone/iPod touch before?
If you haven't, then get the 3Gs and enjoy the technology hit, coupled with its O/S being so polished and much easier to use for daily tasks.

However, like me, if you already have a relatively new iPod touch, or iPhone 3G, then I went for the i8910 to learn Symbian and finally have a decent mobile camera, + good battery life for watching some pre-ripped movies on-the-go. The OLED screen is just a great bonus, but the Symbian OS is taking some REAL learning compared to WM6.1 & the iPhone interface. It really does feel a couple of years out of date on this score.

If you do go for the Sammie, then just remember that IMHO the HD movie recording is practically nonsense and DLNA wireless streaming barely functions, even if you have a PS3. I still haven't read any reports of anyone actually getting this to work. I haven't had time to go to my local electrical stores to find a Series 8 OLED Samsung with built-in DLNA to see if it works at all for .mp4...

Good luck! Try them out & enjoy the new convergence - *pray* the next iPhone has an OLED, usable physical keyboard and 8MP+ camera! If the planet is going to hell, we may as well use up its resources properly.

PS Singapore is a great city *envy*
*Fingers crossed* London will live up to its Olympic duties...

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Old 24-06-2009, 03:39 PM
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frankquattrone - extra:
If you do go for the i8910, get a black silicon shell - feels really a robust handset now (but not for the fashion conscious).

re: camera. Again, no kudos to Samsung for not having a full lens cover. The lack of Xenon flash also means I have only taken two shots, out of hundreds, in the dark… I also have 4 hot pixels, so low light/high ISO shots also require post-image editing to get rid of these tiny white spots. No big deal. The camera remains incredible for such a device, but you are pushing it for those bar photos. Take a small IXUS 100 instead, eh? :-)

Finally, when you’re outside in the sun, you will still struggle to see these new screens, either i8910 or 3Gs … my old WM6.1 (ROM-updated) handset (with keyboard) is much better in direct sunlight… you win some, you lose some. Go test!

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Old 25-06-2009, 02:11 PM
frankquattrone frankquattrone is offline
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Really appreciate the replies. Hopefully my line of questioning isn't too much of a pain. I owned the original iPhone 2G, got rid of it and now have the Nokia 5800. Prior to that, I owned 3 different WinMo non-touch phones. The iPhone UI is definitely sweet and the iPod is awesome. There was just one huge deal breaker for me which is the way the calendar works. Agree with you Symbian feels outdated but from my experience, it works well and the phone / PIM functions are top-notch. Kind of like a cross between the iPhone and WinMo. Glad to hear you're still happy with the Sammie. I think this seals it for me. Its the only device that does everything I need reasonably well. Hopefully I can make it out to London for the Olympics. I'm sure you guys will put on a hell of a show.

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Old 26-06-2009, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Biggest problem with software from first week.
The 'Podcasts' application crashed after two uses, and refuses to start with a blank black screen, hangs in the background for about 30 min then a 'Full Memory' error appears. It is now broken and does not work. I do not have the expertise to fix it. May write to Samsung if time.
Ah, the Podcasts application, the constant thorn in my side in my first month with the i8910. It's so utterly broken, that's almost unusable. You've run into just the first of many, many bugs of this app. You will find out about the others soon; I won't spoil the surprise .
Here's how to fix it. Remove the two files 'APodCast.bin' and 'APoddirectory.opml' inside C:\Podcasts\default. After you do this, it will work again, but you'll have to add again all your podcasts. After you add your podcasts again, I'd recommend you make a backup copy of these two files, so that the next time this happens you can just replace these files with your backup copies instead of having to re-add all the podcasts manually.

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Old 26-06-2009, 03:15 PM
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Quote:
If you do go for the i8910, get a black silicon shell - feels really a robust handset now (but not for the fashion conscious).
As an alternative solution for the fashion conscious, Noreve has just announced this morning their leather cases for the i8910. I bought some time ago one for the 5800 and I was very impressed with the quality; they're kind of expensive though.

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Old 26-06-2009, 03:31 PM
frankquattrone frankquattrone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rvirga View Post
Ah, the Podcasts application, the constant thorn in my side in my first month with the i8910. It's so utterly broken, that's almost unusable. You've run into just the first of many, many bugs of this app. You will find out about the others soon; I won't spoil the surprise .
Hey, the suspense is killing me. Are the bugs only in the Podcast app or are there other bugs? Anything you'd say is a dealbreaker? Also, if you have any pics taken in a bar-type setting and could upload them, that'd be really helpful for me.

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Old 26-06-2009, 05:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frankquattrone View Post
Hey, the suspense is killing me. Are the bugs only in the Podcast app or are there other bugs? Anything you'd say is a dealbreaker? Also, if you have any pics taken in a bar-type setting and could upload them, that'd be really helpful for me.
Many of the bugs in Podcasts are dealbreakers. But I'm a Linux user, so downloading podcasts with iTunes and transferring them to the i8910 is not an option, and therefore I've learned to navigate very carefully around them.
I've seen alpha-quality software, and I would categorize Podcasts as pre-alpha. My guess is that they started to modify the standard S60 Podcasting app but run out of time, so they released the app in this sorry state. I really hope they'll fix it soon in a fw update.
To Samsung's credit, this is the only app they've broken. The others they've customized are very stable.

Last edited by rvirga; 26-06-2009 at 05:24 PM.
 

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