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

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Old 15-10-2010, 10:32 AM
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Nokia N8 in use... my review

The Nokia N8 is the best touch phone by Nokia so far.

There, I've said it and I mean it.

The N8's build quality is very good. Sturdy and solid, it sits in the hand very neatly and feels good with its cool aluminium casing and flush AMOLED 3.5" screen.

On the subject of the screen, it is a vast improvement over the TFT of the N97, although I would have liked a 3.7” for web browsing.

The beastie of a 12 mp camera mounted on the rear with its Xenon flash really looks, and is, the business.

Under the hood it has 256 MB of RAM, double that of the N97 classic, and roughly half of which is available during general use, a far cry from the measly 20 to 30 MB (or less) of the N97 classic.

The phone (C) memory is now 256 MB, which with the latest Ovi Maps 3.06, Nokia Midnight themes, SPB Shell and the two downloadable games plus sundry other app's, still leaves me with about 150 MB free.

Couple this with the 16 GB internal memory and the ability to add a 32 GB micro SD card and you have a mass storage monster.

Even the CPU has been ramped up from the N97 classics ARM 11 434 MHz to an ARM11 680MHz with 3D graphics HW accelerator.

Symbian ^3 is, outwardly, no different to its predecessor in appearance but it has, with the hardware, improved its performance over the N97. No more religiously closing each program before moving on to the next to conserve and husband RAM. This handset is designed to have multiple app's/program's running.

The built-in battery also offers a good life span too. Even with my initial "playing" with the N8 it only required charging at the end of the day and, in normal use, would probably last longer.

To those of you familiar with the N97, the layout of the N8 differs very little. The most obvious difference is the 3 home screen's of the N8 as opposed to the one of the N97. In all other respects and to all intents and purposes the layout and menu's and icons remain the same.

All in all, as I said at the beginning... The Nokia N8 is the best touch phone by Nokia so far.

So, why don't I like it?

"Hang on a minute", I hear you say. You just said it was, "The best touch phone by Nokia so far"... and so I did.

What I didn't say is, "It's the best touch phone on the market".

Therein lies the difference.

I've been a Nokia "fanboy" since the 3210 at the turn of the century. I've owned numerous smart phone’s from Nokia, the N80, N80IE, N95 and N95 8GB as well as my last phone, the N97.

However, a couple of months or so ago, I lost my beloved N97 handset and was forced to make an insurance claim. I was offered a selection of phones to replace my N97 classic, as it is no longer (within a year) manufactured by Nokia. I was gutted! I'd spent 100's of hours getting my N97 right. The GPS was fine, I wasn't experiencing too many crashes or freezes, so long as I was careful. I knew which app's worked and which didn't cause problems for various reasons. Whether it was due to bad programming or the limited N97 hardware.

Finally, I opted for the HTC Google Nexus running Android.
Mainly because I had heard and read good things about the Android platform and the Nexus had just been nominated as the Android developer handset.

When I first received the Nexus, it came with the latest and greatest, version of Android firmware (2.2 FroYo) on it, my initial reaction was that it didn't possess hardly any programmes and was very basic indeed but boy, oh boy, was it fast, slick and smooth.
No freezes, lags or crashes. I soon learnt that Android was all about customisation and began downloading app's that I wanted from the comprehensive, and very good, Android Market, in most cases, free-of-charge. I discovered that the ethos behind Android was to make it fully customizable and so I began searching out the app's that I missed from my N97... and they were there a plenty. What's more important, they worked!

More than that, the app's were updated automatically. No more trawling through the websites of various app designers to see if there was a newer version out. Also app designers that were previously bringing out stuff for Symbian were now doing the same for Android.
So now I could have Skype, Nimbuzz, Last FM and Truphone on the Nexus.
I do miss Ovi Maps with its downloadable map data already on the phone but, I have to say, Google is catching up with its real time navigation.

After the 100's of hours I'd spent backing up, restoring, reading, researching, tweaking, trialling, new and beta app's on the Nokia N97 in an effort to coax it into doing what I wanted it to do without crashing, freezing or locking up, the Android on 2.2 and the Nexus was a joy to use...

and that brings me to my point about the N8.

I was watching TV the other night and Stephen Fry, a British comedian, TV presenter, actor and self confessed techno freak, was fronting the new Windows Mobile launch. I found this odd as he's always been a big iPhone fan from the beginning.

However, one thing he said struck a chord with me and summed up my feelings on the Nokia N8 that, previously, I couldn't quite put my finger on.

He said that, "A mobile phone should also be fun and a joy to use".

The N8 isn't in my opinion. After receiving it nearly two weeks ago and opening it up, I can only describe my feelings after a few hours with it as "underwhelmed, disappointed and a feeling of déjà vu".

In spite of the larger RAM, bigger CPU and Symbian^3, I started to notice the same things happening that I'd witnessed on the N97 classic and my feeling of déjà vu is increasing the more I use it on a day to day basis.

Occasional lags, temporary screen freezes, multiple screen taps required, scrolling stiff and laggy.

I placed the identical photos, videos and music on the N8 as I had the Nexus and was disappointed immediately with the Gallery. I'd expected the Photo Browser from Nokia Beta Labs but was greeted by just a very basic long list of thumbnails that scrolled from top to bottom in portrait mode and also in landscape mode. I would have expected a side to side scroll in landscape.

The next thing that disappointed me was the built-in browser. It just seems so slow and antiquated now. The Android 2.2 browser leaves it standing, both in terms of speed and ease of use I’m afraid.

Also I find that the multi-touch (pinch and zoom) on both the Gallery photo's and the browser, is a bit hit-and-miss and can cause freezing of the screen.

Also be warned that not all Symbian 3 app’s will be directly compatible with Symbian^3 and so you may find yourself waiting for updates from developers, Nokia and various companies.

Don't get me wrong, the N8 could be a very good handset with some more firmware updates and the right app's installed on it (SPB Shell, which Sony Ericsson are pre installing on their Vivaz and Vivaz Pro, springs to mind), however, I remember saying that about the N97 classic and then endured a year of frustration trying to just make the phone usable.

After the N97 fiasco, what else can I call it? Nokia badly needed a smartphone to compete with the iPhone, Android and Windows Mobile and I just don't think that "out of the gate" the N8 on Symbian ^3 is it. I'm not the only one who thinks that, as Symbian seems to have been abandoned by Samsung and, Nokia's partner in Symbian, Sony Ericsson, a decision that I doubt either of them took lightly. Even developers are now switching to other platforms.

I'm no techno wiz. I'm just, I like to think, a fairly average mobile phone buyer and user who feels that Symbian ^3, whilst an improvement on Symbian 3, is merely a stop gap measure to allow Nokia to carry on selling smart phone's whilst it develops MeeGo from the ground up. Perhaps worse than that, I get the feeling that Symbian^3 is still, “work in progress.”

If you don’t believe me about Symbian^3 then just take a look around the forums and see the problems already being reported.

I believe Nokia have made some mistakes and are in danger of losing their overall share of the phone market worldwide but, in particular the smart phone market, because of some very poor decisions in the past that are still affecting them now. They have allowed the iPhones, the Androids and Windows Mobiles to get a foot hold on the smart phone ladder and boy, are they climbing. By my reckoning, Nokia are now a couple of years behind and cannot afford to slip any further.

Since receiving the N8 I've constantly been asked, "Is it better than the N97?"

The answer is most definitely, "Yes", but there again... it couldn't be much worse.

The next question is usually, "Is it worth the money?"

The answer to that is, "No". You can buy other smart phone's that are better, or just as good, for less or on better contract terms.

If I were to mark the Nokia N8 out of 10 on Design, Features and Performance, in day-to-day use, against that which I had hoped for, it would be...

Design
Hoped for... 9.0
In use... 9.0

Features
Hoped for... 8.5
In use... 7.5

Performance
Hoped for... 9.0
In use... 7.0

This brings me back to Stephen Fry and his comment again about being, "A fun thing, and a joy to use".

My answer to that is, "No". I believe from my time with the N8 so far, that it will require the same due diligence, man hours, frustration and research that the N97 required to make it useable, not to mention a few firmware upgrades, and I am just not prepared to go down that road again with the possibility that in less than a year’s time the N8 is discontinued or abandoned in favour of the next new Nokia smart phone running MeeGo.

In closing I would like to reiterate that I'm no expert on mobile phones such as the likes of Steve Lichfield, Rafe and Ewan. I'm just a Mr Joe Average, like most of you, who puts his hard earned money down and wants to own a smart phone that does what it says and, "is a joy and fun to use."
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N8 Release PR1.2 Software version 014.002 date 2011-03-01 Product code 0598980 Manufactured Finland

Last edited by ironass; 15-10-2010 at 10:33 AM. Reason: update

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Old 15-10-2010, 11:30 AM
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Beer Do you remember

what you thought when you got your N95?

When I got mine I was happy that it was so powerful yet it wasn't that polished in the performance department.

It really took Nokia until about firmware 20.x before the N95 became really stable (I think thats when demand paging was introduced).

So I'm picking that this is the case with the N8 .. time will tell I guess.

Cheers for your everyday user review .. and answering our questions .. I've asked for an Asian version of the N8 from my supplier.

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Old 15-10-2010, 12:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seki View Post
what you thought when you got your N95?

When I got mine I was happy that it was so powerful yet it wasn't that polished in the performance department.

It really took Nokia until about firmware 20.x before the N95 became really stable (I think thats when demand paging was introduced).

So I'm picking that this is the case with the N8 .. time will tell I guess.

Cheers for your everyday user review .. and answering our questions .. I've asked for an Asian version of the N8 from my supplier.
I can remember my feelings when I first got my silver N95 three and a half years ago...

I was overwhelmed... not underwhelmed!

There was nothing on the mobile phone market to touch it.

You're right, it did take 3 firmware updates to get it all singing and dancing but by that time I'd also got myself, 6 months later, the N95 8GB, with its larger screen and double the RAM, as I was so impressed with the N95.

In fact it was only this January, almost 3 years on, that I received the last updates for both of them, which I still own and love.

How different from the N97 classic which Nokia stopped manufacturing within a year and has left users anxiously waiting for a further update whilst they devote their time to making Symbian^3 usable and get MeeGo up and running.
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Old 15-10-2010, 12:52 PM
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I support your point of view but I don't agree with it.

Let me put it this way: Symbian ^3 OS is not only the present of NOKIA but it's also the future and the past. It's legacy that inherited the best aspects of former Symbian OSes, loads of applications that still run on the system for that matter. New apps to follow and already a set of valuable services, often for free like the Ovi Maps navigation service with its global scale, a thoroughly implemented push e-mail service, support and flexibility that rivals almost none.

It may well be that the Symbian Web browser at the moment it's lagging behind a bit, but it's still fully functional with features and compatibility like the full adoption of Adobe Flash support, which is important if your Bank (and I'm not saying YouTube) is using it on your home banking account.

You may blame that fact that NOKIA is unclear about which horse is staking on, but they're taking precautions like QT which will ensure clients will still get seamless experience between platfroms should one prevail and they give their customers the opportunity to choose between them. And that matters to me, most than 1000 stupid measure-your-whistle meters for iPhone.

What about the HD camera with xenon flash, the wonderful media player app which I think it's far superior than that on the iPhone both in quality (presumably) and usage, the pentaband radio frequency with typical NOKIA signal strenght, the HDMI TV-Output that means every HDTV can be connected not just those with DLNA sucking the life out of its battery, the Wi-Fi N, the Bluetooth 3.0, the FM Radio with RDS (it's even more powerful than my car's sat-nav which costs 7 times a NOKIA N8), a 3D graphics co-processor, and carefully optimized Symbian battery life... how much could I go on ?

2 weeks ago I bought a Samsung Omnia HD (and modded with HX-V8) which everything considered I still believe it's the best Symbian ^1 top-of-the-line Smartphone but I didn't go with it. A friend of mine told me to buy it with confidence, but I was fooling myself believing that. Everything was fine, I did not like particularly the way it looked, the way it becomes smudged, the way it feels when you're grabbing it from a flat plane, the awful battery life (if you use the screen like I do on my NOKIA N95) and so on. But don't you know the fact that made me dismiss this phone ? Audio quality absolutely terrible. I returned if after two weeks and I am very happy with that.

I am not gonna buy a NOKIA N8 now, but I am surely eager to buy it in the future, maybe 6 to 12 months from now. Hardware will get cured if it has problems, production processes will get further optimization, rate of defective units will decrease over time, you will get software updates already in it and an S^3 app pool ready to start with, better availability (that also counts for RMAs) and a price tag that will get inevitably less pricier over time.

It's all like a chain, like it happened with my Omnia, put everything but one link not in the right place, and the chain will not keep up (and I return it!). NOKIA N8 for me represents everthing of the above. Not the strongest in many parts... but with every link in place it's an unbroken chain of digital convergency that you can rely on, leaving beheind tens of equippiments you don't need any more.

Last edited by m80116; 15-10-2010 at 06:56 PM.

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Old 15-10-2010, 01:41 PM
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Like you, I support your point of view but cannot help wondering where the, now discontinued N97 classic, appears in the unbroken Symbian chain. Leaving its owners, like orphaned children in the snow, waiting with baited breath for another firmware update to fix their problems.

As regards the N8's camera and speaker system, I have praised them in this and other threads.

It seems a shame that Nokia's co-partner, Sony Ericsson, in Symbian doesn't appear to share your vision of the Symbian platform having just recently dumped it:-

http://crave.cnet.co.uk/mobiles/sony...ship-50000900/

along with Samsung:-

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/...-dumps-symbian

This begs the question... Why?
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Old 15-10-2010, 01:44 PM
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Have posted a reply but have been modded... yet again!

kkkkkoooonnnnttttrrrraaaabbbbaaaannnnndddd!!!!!

Update. It's now been restored in the move to the Symbian^3 forum.
(back on for a Christmas drink kontraband)
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Old 15-10-2010, 04:43 PM
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N8 - a bit of a shame really

Ironass great review and sadly what you said was what i perceived the N8 would be like when it finally arrived.

The N8 and probably other new Nokia phones will have great features such as the camera and flash and Nokia Maps but when you put all the pieces together - hardware, os, apps, useability, customizability, etc it doesn't always add up.

The N97 concept was good, let down by poor specs, the N8 seems to be the N97 how it should have been (minus the qwerty!) not the big step forward it should be.

When you look at other similar priced phones, you have the Nexus one, but i think of the HTC Desire both do almost all the N8 does but better, and with ease and without tweaking the number of apps open at anyone time, etc. Sure they might be beaten on the camera but when you add all the pieces together they do add up! And they fly!

When i got the N97 all i initially wanted it to do is what the images/videos on the advertisements promised eg transitions. I'm still waiting! The N8 i think does but generally not much more than my v22 N97- its seems as boring a device to use as the N97 - there's no pizazz!!

Until you get some of that as well as features that work seamlessly then Nokia will struggle to compete at the top end.

A sad thing really.

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Old 15-10-2010, 04:56 PM
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Thanks, for the review. Like you, I also owned an N97 and have spent countless hours getting it to the point where it is usable. As this is my first ever smartphone, I was not bothered by issues I had to deal with as I was busy exploring the N97 and figuring out what I can do with it. I still encounter issues with it, but nothing I cannot work around. It's just darn annoying at times.

I have been mulling over dumping the N97 and getting something better. The N8 wasn't on my radar because I wanted a physical QWERTY keyboard. I have been following the comments and reviews because one phone that is on my radar is the E7. I think that other than the camera, the experience with the E7 will be similar to the N8. The familiarity with Symbian and having things configured to the Ovi account would make a transition to the E7 easy. It's just the money factor that is holding me back.

I have never used and Android phone before, but I am interested in the HTC Desire Z. That is the other phone currently on my radar. I've also heard many good things about Android phones from many people. Transitioning to another brand of phone would involve more work, but I think that my overall experience would be better. The other thing is that it seems that there are more and more apps that I want are available on Android, but not on Symbian. The Desire Z has been announced to be available on my carrier next month. Again, the money factor is holding me back.

I only had my N97 for 7 months. Since it is working fine for me now, it would be hard to justify (to my wife) dropping hundreds of dollars for a new phone so soon, while my N97 still does the job. I kinda also want to get more mileage out the time and effort I invested in my N97 before I mothball it.

The N97 is like that luxury car you bought with all the bells and whistles. Then you realise that it is a lemon, but you already spent good money on it and don't want to spend more good money on something else. So, you're stuck with it and you might as well make it work. You finally got it to work more or less. It's just that when you start it up, you have to let the engine idle for 2 minutes before driving or it will stall. Also, if you want to load up your trunk, you cannot carry more than 2 other passengers or your car will stall. It takes you from A to B, but takes 2 minutes longer and you cannot overload it with too many passengers if you carry any cargo in the trunk. You can work around it, but it is annoying.

I'm secretly hoping my N97 bites the dust, but the it just won't die. I guess the good thing is the construction of this phone. I have dropped it onto a tile floor and it has fallen off my car mount onto my gear shift a few times and yet it still runs. The robustness of the N97 seems to be giving Nokia some time to come up with a good "next" phone for me.

I'm waiting to see the reviews and user experiences of the E7 and Desire Z as well as what improvements to S^3 that comes out. I understand that there will be a new browser. I'm also waiting to see if this new Qt will lead to more apps that I want to be available for Nokia phones. I feel I'm on the verge of abandoning my N97, but the leaks have been plugged so far, so there's no urgency. Nokia still has an opportunity and time to retain me as a customer. I'm waiting for Nokia to impress me, but the clock is ticking.

Thanks, for listening to my rant. Just had to get it out.
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Old 15-10-2010, 04:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ironass View Post
Have posted a reply but have been modded... yet again!

kkkkkoooonnnnttttrrrraaaabbbbaaaannnnndddd!!!!!
Ditto.


<Edit: Done k
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Old 15-10-2010, 07:43 PM
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You'll never get satisfied with NOKIA becasue of the oomph of a totally new and unexplored system. In this regard I agree with the reviewer.

But I also think that if you buy a NOKIA N8 hoping for out of the world effects or browser speed you totally miss the point.

The N8 is all about convergence, still it's good that the parts subject to criticism ar not those that counts for digital convergency. By the way: who cares of Froyo's animated power leeching backgrounds ! I haven't used that feature once on my High Performance home Computer (HPC that is my brand), and I never will on a mobile device. Yes it could have been better if some little lag was filled, if there were animated backgrounds for the childish buyers that want them. But what if I say browser speed but your website doesn't get rendered at all because of an omitted component ?

NOKIA is already competing at the top, currently I am quite let down by the lack of the competition to the latter NOKIA product range (N8 for power users, E7 for business, C7 for ordinary users). I really couldn't accept to get a run of the mill camera like those you get from other devices, even Samsung PIXON 12 don't fit me with its overprocessed (mostly oversharpened) photos. And so for the music, and so for the maps... basically it is like that for any feature the NOKIA N8 has.

I am actually FRUSTRATED and worried by the lack of competition in term of high quality media convergency. I returned a Samsung i8910 (Omnia HD) for the not so good audio quality, how could I be satisfied by anything else than a Nokia now. I've tried the iPhone 3Gs which sounds just as awfully... why is that audiophiles buy Archos instead of iPod... maybe Nokia fit in between for audio quality, but I am never gonna accept anything less as long as I can.

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Old 16-10-2010, 08:27 AM
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GPS taging of photos

Hi ironass!

Are you willing to field specific questions that forum members might have? I don't want you to be inundated

My (first) question is: Have you tried GPS tagging photos? I wondered how well the N8 performs in this area as it's one of my tick-in-the-box requirements.

Cheers!
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Old 16-10-2010, 03:25 PM
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Its interesting, having spoken with you before about my 1st N8, that things are seeming considerably better lol.


Just as a quick pointer tho, the sound quality is low coming from that small 2mm strip on the back against the stereo speakers on the X6 which I have.... anyway, Im sure there will be more.
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Old 16-10-2010, 03:47 PM
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Could anyone tell me is the phone better at viewing pdf files than the n97 which is useless.

I need to view pdf files a lot around the 7mb-8mb size

My next phone must be able to do this fairly well.

Cheers.

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Old 16-10-2010, 08:38 PM
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pizazz is not Childish!!

m80116 I dont think its childish to want your devices to be able to function properly and do it with some style. A citroen 2cv gets you from a to b just as adequately as an Audi, but i know which one it would be nicer to do it in.

The N8 is a more reliable n97 with essentially a similar o/s. Use an iphone 4, any android phone or preview the windows 7 mobile o/s and you see a richer and more pleasant to use interface.

You may or may not like these operating systems but you have to agree they are a better experience than symbian^3 - certainly for me and many others.

Having experienced the real disappointment of the n97 and what Nokia promised (disappointment includes denial and stonewalling of problems such as gps and lens and very poor initial firmware) i am always going to expect to be underwhelmed and sceptical about their latest device and its claimed performance.

Does convergance mean stop gap? Unless your a super nerd most people like a bit of fun - even accountants! Things like nuclear reactors need purely functional interfaces not phones, even business or power phones!

Of course this is only my opinion - feel free to disagree!

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Old 17-10-2010, 12:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TurtlePower View Post
Use an iphone 4, any android phone or preview the windows 7 mobile o/s and you see a richer and more pleasant to use interface.

I'm not saying you are wrong, but speaking for myself as I stated before swyping around in style is not my priority end I think it shouldn't be for the N8 owner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TurtlePower View Post
You may or may not like these operating systems but you have to agree they are a better experience than symbian^3 - certainly for me and many others.
Negative ! They are a nightmare for me with no copy/paste, selected multitasking, outboard customization or inferior components (camera, media player, microphones), or materials and style.


Now that I remember even my (returned) Omnia HD was pissing me off. I usually at some point listen to the music while doing my workouts. Try to take a picture with the Omnia and there you go: coitus interruptus! Music stops. Can you understand how frustrating it can be?
Quote:
Originally Posted by TurtlePower View Post
Does convergance mean stop gap? Unless your a super nerd most people like a bit of fun - even accountants!
Convergence means that I'm replying to this message multi-quoting with ease on my N95 (Opera Mini) with background music and stuff. I think the N8 already delivers that bit of fun you're talking about. I'm glad they didn't change that modus operandi, for me it would almost be the end of mobile practicality.

Last edited by m80116; 17-10-2010 at 02:22 PM.
 

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