Starting off (in the smartphone world) with Series 60 (on Symbian) handsets, transitioning through Windows Phone 7.x phones, and ending up on Android, LG has officially closed its Mobile division, with the short statement quoted below. It's been a rocky road for LG, but even back in the mid 2000s at the Symbian shows, I never really felt their heart was in it, at least in terms of selling to - and supporting - the West. Some thoughts and a few looks back below.
Recent News - Hardware
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.
After the disappointment of the oddball 'Nokia 9 PureView', compared recently here to the Nokia 808 and Lumia 1020 (etc), Nokia (at least the new Nokia brand under HMD) has now announced another contender, this time with a more conventional PureView 48MP f/1.8 sensor - phew! The X71 is only just shown in China and will probably arrive in Europe as the 'Nokia 8.1 Plus', in a few months time. But with 3.5mm jack, expandable storage and capacitive fingerprint sensor (all missing in the '9') as well, plus the single large sensor configuration (plus wide-angle), this possibly is the PureView phone you're looking to move to?
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.
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.
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.
Today, at MWC, Nokia announced the Nokia X range of affordable smartphones, running on a customised version of AOSP (Android Open Source Project) software. The devices, the Nokia X, X+, and XL, are aimed primarily at "growth economies" and are compatible with generic Android apps, but also run a range of Nokia and Microsoft apps and services.
This is a Delight custom firmware release that many have been asking for - the Nokia 701. This device didn't get released as widely as the Nokia 808 but has many positive attributes, as listed here in my comparison with the Nokia N8. And 701 owners on AAS have been (literally) crying out for the Delight custom firmware to take them away from Nokia's ceased firmware track and onto something more dynamic and with far more benefits. Step in the Delight team with some welcome news.
Since Delight custom firmwares came onto the Symbian scene, the most asked question of all was: when will this come to the Nokia E7 Communicator? With its full width fold out QWERTY keyboard, the E7 remains somewhat unique in the smartphone world, yet it has been held back by lack of updates from Nokia. With the arrival of Delight CFW v1.0 for the E7, the device just got itself a new lease of life.
We're now firmly into 2014, Nokia is never going to issue another firmware for devices like the classic N8 - and probably never even another SW_update patch. So there's nothing to lose and everything to gain by experimenting with custom firmware. This is the first time my much beloved N8 has veered off the 'stock Nokia' trail, but it's already enjoying the extra space and extra speed of a great CFW.
You may remember that I'd been experimenting with Delight custom firmware on the likes of the Nokia C7? Well, the next big version of the Delight firmwares is out, simultaneously for the Nokia 808, N8 and C7, see the links below. I installed it on the Nokia 808 PureView and have been impressed so far.