At an event in New Delhi, Nokia unveiled the Asha 501, the first of its next generation of Asha smartphones, powered by the new Nokia Asha platform. Priced at £63 ($99 / €75) before taxes and subsidies, the device is intended to provide a low cost smartphone option in Nokia's product portfolio, positioned between the Lumia range of Windows Phone devices and the Series 40 range of feature phone devices.
Recent News - Hardware
Ah yes, Symbian, the platform that just won't die. Rolling out today are a big set of 'New homescreen widgets' for the Nokia 808 PureView and other Symbian Belle Feature Pack 1 and FP2 smartphones (i.e. the late 2011 and 2012 devices). The new platform widgets include a release version of the (previously beta) Webview, a new form of contact shortcut, a stopwatch, a front-camera 'Mirror' utility, and 'Toggle Flashlight'. More below.
File this one under 'rumour', but sources inside the industry have informed us of a planned next generation QWERTY communicator running Symbian but with current specifications. Filling in a gap in the market, this would be a very welcome addition to the smartphone pantheon, as well as continuing Symbian's rich heritage. Rumoured specs include 32GB of internal storage, and a 4.3" AMOLED screen with inductive stylus.
After the general release of Belle Refresh firmware for most of the Symbian^3/Anna generation of smartphones, firmware v111.140.0058 has started to roll out for the Nokia E6 too. Part of the delay was because this device is different in that it has a slightly higher resolution screen, with 4:3 aspect ratio, though there's probably an element of real world testing going on before Belle Refresh hits the rest of the world's E6 product codes.
Available now for my Nokia N8 (screenshots below) and E7 Communicator, and rolling out around the world for various other product codes over the next few weeks, is Belle Refresh, characterised by firmware version 111.40.xxx. The main improvements for this Symbian release are more widgets, a Music player refresh, plus updates to other core components, including Web and Qt, and fixes for various issues, including the longstanding Flash video playback problem.
AAS special correspondent Ow Kah Leong takes a very first look at the retail Nokia 808 PureView, with photos and some impressions. The 808 is now on sale in his home country of Singapore, so we pressed him into service! This is just initial coverage, to whet your appetite, there will be more from him and from the regular team in due course when review units arrive.
Today at Mobile World Congress 2012, Nokia announced its new Symbian (Belle, Feature Pack 1) flagship, the 4"-CBD-screened 808 PureView, the "first smartphone to feature Nokia PureView imaging technologies" (implying future use of the system on other devices, possibly on Symbian, possibly on Windows Phone). The headline feature is the 41 megapixel oversampling system implemented on a huge 1/1.2" sensor, enabling standard resolution photos to be produced yet with dramatic zooming (24-74mm) available without loss of detail, and with lower digital noise. Zooming is also available without loss of detail, in video mode. Up to 38 megapixel images can be taken at full resolution. Read on for much more.
We thought that the somewhat underpowered Nokia 500 wouldn't get the Belle OS update for some weeks or even months, but it seems that Belle's rolling out for this device from today, possibly even giving the phone a new burst of performance. Some details and quotes from Nokia below.
It was interesting to see various sites round the web today linking to dial-a-phone's comparison of the camera results from the new Sony Xperia S and the Nokia N8, especially given the conclusion that the newcomer is the 'clear winner'. However, such comparisons are more than a little misleading - there's far more to testing out a phone camera than shots of still subjects in bright....
The roll-out of Nokia Belle (i.e. Symbian Belle) for existing Symbian^3/Anna devices has started across the world, with most devices (here's the official Nokia Belle rollout status checker) getting an update via Nokia Suite to firmware v111.030. There's no OTA (over the air) update available this time because of the complexity and size of the update, which means the latest Nokia Suite on a Windows PC is required. Nokia is enabling the update, product code by product code, across the world. (Story updated again, with list of known issues).
When Nokia introduced CBD (ClearBlack Display) at Nokia World 2010, for the C6-01 and E7 models, there was an element of uncertainty involved as to how this technology worked. Certainly it was incredibly effective at cutting out reflections from ambient light, but noone seemed to know the full details. After much digging, we established it was something to do with polarising layers, but only now do we see a clear depiction of how CBD works.
In the spirit of my own cardboard (DT-29 copy) phone stand, Aliqudsi, over on My Nokia Blog, has had a brain wave and used two bulldog/binder clips to create a four legged, stable stand for his N8, though it will also work for any other similar device, ostensibly for holding the camera phone up for stable filming, without worrying that it will fall over. Clever stuff...
Designed exclusively for China's TD-SCDMA 3G network, Nokia has announced a new Symbian-powered smartphone, the 801T, described as 'a special design for business-focussed elite high-end users'. It's notable for being the 'industry's first stainless steel unibody smartphone' and has a 4" CBD display, NFC, an 8 megapixel EDoF camera with dual-LED flash, 720p HD video recording and built-in CMMB mobile TV (with antenna). More below.
Yes, yes, Phones Show 155 is out later today, but that's all Android and Windows Phone-focussed. But, with the formal All About Symbian review of the Belle-running Nokia 701 now finished (part 1 - part 2) and with all the technology highlights out of the way, I though it worth reminding people of Phones Show 154, which was Symbian all the way. In case you hadn't watched it yet, it had my video review of the 701, plus a humourous view from the future, one in which Nokia and (cough) a dismembered N86 play a part...
With Nokia already putting NFC into all its Symbian smartphones and with RIM and Samsung also launching some models with the technology, plus HTC, Apple and others planning NFC into their roadmaps, Digitimes is reporting that Taiwanese smartphone manufacturers are estimating 50% penetration of NFC within two to three years. From my own observations this seems about right, though I'd put it at 80% for smartphones away from the budget end.