Back in March 2020, so just under two years ago, Planet Computers launched the Indiegogo campaign for the Astro Slide 5G, the follow up to the Gemini and Cosmo Communicators, all with full mechanical QWERTY keyboards. While the latter two were more akin to the old Psion palmtop or Nokia Communicator form factors, i.e. clamshells, the Astro Slide 5G is similar to the classic 2010 Nokia E7 (on Symbian), with an external full touchscreen that slides out of the way when needed to reveal, in this case, the famous QWERTY key layout. We've been getting drip fed news from the Planet team over the last 12 months, so here's my round-up and summary.
Recent News - Symbian 3
News from the Delight Custom FirmWare (CFW) team is that Delight for the Nokia C7, E7, and N8 are getting a 'farewell update'. This is a generic firmware for these models and has undergone a huge 'refactoring'. The final plan is to port this generic firmware bit by bit to the remaining Belle Refresh smartphones. See below.
With Windows Phone (8.1 and W10M) news and software now almost at a standstill, you'll have noticed that a lot of AAWP content has involved comparisons and recommendations from the wider mobile world. So, going forwards, we've expanded the 'All About' sites to include All About Mobile. As the name suggests, it covers features about all mobile platforms of interest. All content is tagged and we'll make sure that it appears on each relevant site in the family. Which is partly why AAM (hey, a new acronym) launches with up to three years of relevant content! Do please be gentle with us in the comments, since there are a few minor quirks and rough edges that are still being ironed out.
News from our far flung contact Michael "Mivas_Greece" about continued activity in the Symbian world - all entirely user-driven these days, of course. But worthy of note for anyone still playing (or even using day to day) Symbian. There's loads below for onward fun, including the linked site subtitle 'Symbian isn't dead yet'!
Some phones never die. And the Nokia 808 is still going strong in some hands, thanks mainly to the untiring work of developers of custom firmware, who get around broken servers and certificates to keep an unsupported platform functioning in 2020. Here's news of a brand new version of Delight CFW for the Nokia 808.
Long time AAS readers will remember the Nokia N93, a unique multi-form factor smartphone with a barrel camera that included a genuine continuous 1-3x zoom lens system. It worked superbly, at least in good light, with the caveat that the reduced aperture when zoomed meant that evening and night shots suffered. Partly because of this, Nokia (and then the world) moved to computational photography and smart cropping into large, high megapixel sensors in order to try and zoom without the same degree of aperture loss, cuminating in 2012's Nokia 808 and 2013's Lumia 1020. But now comes news that a continuous zoom lens system may be making a come back, 14 years on from the N93...
Back in March, I looked at the first hands-on videos with the F(x)tec Pro1 prototype, inspired by the classic slide and tilt mechanisms from the Nokia E7 (and N97 and N950), with full QWERTY functions hidden beneath a large touchscreen. Fast forward six months and the Pro1 is now a reality, with the company putting it up for pre-order, with hands-on videos of the 'final' hardware. A review handset is coming to AAS/AAWP in the next few weeks, but I thought a quick round-up was needed in the meantime.
Rafe's over at MWC, though you don't have to wait for his comments to know that there is a new 'PureView' device released, exactly seven years after the Nokia 808 and six years after the Lumia 1020 - and from the new Nokia, run by HMD Global. Consider this the latest phase of the original PureView if you will, but the only real link other than the use of ZEISS lenses is that there's lots of computational photography going on.
The SIStore team, the most active developer team in the Symbian world, has just released - as a Christmas present to the world(!) - a whole new Delight Custom FirmWare (CFW) OS release for these three popular Nokia smartphones from the 2010-2012 era. All the details are below, though note that I personally haven't installed this, so the usual caveats apply in terms of risk. Mind you, if your six to eight year old smartphone's in need of updates and a complete refresh then look no further!
DigiPassion reports the welcome news that Microsoft has updated the old Nokia Software Recovery Tool (NSRT) , thought abandoned, along with all some of the old Nokia Series 60/Symbian firmware images - and it all now works again, with images now firmly on Microsoft's servers! Guess Microsoft is not quite the 'evil empire' after all? Good news anyway, and this will breathe new life into quite a few older Symbian-based phones.
If you've seen the odd error message recently on a Symbian smartphone, at least when using it on Wi-fi, it's because Nokia's longstanding connectivity-test.ext.nokia.com server is now offline, the latest in a long line of Symbian support resources to disappear under Microsoft's ownership of Nokia's Devices division. The good news is that Wifi connectivity does work on the whole still, albeit without automatic connection. [Update] The URL has now been restored - presumably with Nokia's cooperation, so you can relax again!
Unsurprisingly, the end of Symbian as a viable smartphone platform just got even closer, with Microsoft (Symbian's new owners after the Nokia Devices buy-out) shutting down all the servers handling Over The Air and Nokia Suite firmware updates. In theory this will happen at the end of this year, but some readers are reporting that it's all shut down already. Not that any of this will stop real Symbian hard core users, mind you, since the Delight custom firmware images are still available, as are SIS installation files for many third party applications. But, bit by bit, it's getting harder and harder to stay on Symbian without an excessive amount of work.
I reported a while back that cuteTube had ceased working because of YouTube's deprecation of its v2 APIs - happily I can now report that the next-gen CuteTube 2 is now available and works fully with YouTube and other video streaming sites. See below for screenshot proof. Existing cuteTube owners can simply upgrade by letting the in-app upgrade download happen and then installing the new client from Files or similar.
We knew this was coming, of course. The Nokia Store (for Symbian, etc.) closed for new business/apps well over a year ago and we knew that a deal had been struck with Opera for the latter to keep it going in some form. The recent Store update contained the necessary redirect code and now the button has been pushed by Microsoft to redirect any use of the on-device Nokia Store application to the Opera web site/store.
Billed as a Christmas present to the Symbian community, the Delight Custom Firmware (CFW) team has published v1.5 of its eponymous and rather excellent custom firmware - there's nothing critical that forces anyone happy with Delight v1.4 to update, but completists and enthusiasts (like me) will want to anyway! Screenshot proof, notes, quotes and links below.