Today is N8 day here on AAS, launching with the news that, now available in most markets for the Symbian^3 generation devices like the Nokia N8 and E7, most of which have been successively upgraded and should now be using Belle Refresh firmware, is a 'Upload to SkyDrive' enhancement. This is a much expanded version of a photo uploader which appeared briefly a year or so ago. In this case, your contacts are also (optionally) uploaded to Microsoft's free cloud service. Screenshots and details below. Taken with the Nokia Suite changes in the last year or so, it seems that Nokia really is trying hard at last to help Symbian die hards transition over to Windows Phone and Microsoft services. How's it doing? Your comments welcome.
Recent News - Miscellaneous
Google has announced the end of life for Google Sync, which was designed to give access to Gmail, Google Calendar and Conatcts via Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync protocol. Starting from January 30th 2013, consumers will no longer be able to set up new devices using Google Sync, although existing connections will continue to function. Below, I explain what impact, if any, this will have on Symbian users.
Never mind the appallingly old YouTube client which still sits decadently in the Nokia Store (and should have been pulled years ago), it's good to see Google's YouTube HTML5 site now serving up an even better version for all mobiles, but specifically Symbian - the existing site (featured in my story here) was very fiddly to use. Screenshots of the new version are below, along with proof that the version served up for Symbian is now identical to that for Windows Phone and Android.
Nokia is pushing an application update (not a firmware update), via both the Nokia Suite desktop application and Software Update mobile app, to Symbian devices that have not yet received the Nokia Belle Refresh update. The application in question is called Homescreen Widgets, and adds a set of widgets that were seen in the Refresh update.
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.
In a press release this morning, Nokia has revealed plans to "sharpen its strategy, improve its operating model and return the company to profitable growth". The company will be cutting up to 10,000 jobs by the end of 2013, closing its famed Salo factory in Finland, making a series of targeted investments around location and product experiences, making changes to improve the competitiveness of its feature phone business and making chnages to its leadership team.
Nokia also updated its financial guidance for Q2 2012, indicating that competitive industry dynamics are negatively affecting its smartphone business to a greater extent than previously expected. As a result non-IFRS Devices & Services operating margin will be below the Q1 2012 level of -3%.
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.
Following last week's profits warning, Nokia has released its formal Q1 2012 Results, reporting a non-IFRS loss of EUR 260 million, on net sales of EUR 7.3 billion (down 29% YoY). Nokia's 'Devices and Services' division's loss was EUR 127 million, compared to a profit of EUR 292 million in Q4 2011). Total smartphone device sales were 11.9 million, compared with 24.2 million units in Q1 2011 (down 51% YoY) and 19.6 million units in Q4 2011 (down 39%, QoQ). Gross profit margins on smartphones in Q1 were 15.6% (down from 28.9% YoY). Quotes and comments below.
A Sunday, and April 1st at that, is an unusual day to launch a flagship product, but Nokia has done this with the new E710 Communicator. Seemingly incorporating some of the best bits of both the N8 and E7, we have, at last, a smartphone that we'll leave no Symbian fan dissatisfied. Press photos and specifications are all shown below.
Yes, we knew that the Nokia 808 PureView will come with Symbian Nokia Belle Feature Pack 1, but questions like 'Which other devices will get this update?' and 'What's in it?' spring to mind. Over on Nokia Conversations, a few more morsels have appeared officially. Here's what we now know.
Nokia has announced planned changes at its factories in Komarom (Hungary), Reynosa (Mexico) and Salo (Finland), to "increase efficiency in smartphone production". These three factories will now focus on "smartphone product customization" and device assembly is expected to be transferred to Nokia factories in Asia, where the majority of component suppliers are based. Around 4000 employees will ultimately be lost.
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).
The news that Nokia just handed over its one and a half billionth Series 40 phone was interesting - and impressive - and got me thinking and fact-checking. Just how many Symbian-powered smartphones have been sold, in total, i.e. in the last decade? Turns out it's now well over 500 million, i.e. over half a billion Symbian smartphones have already been sold and are... out there in the world somewhere. Some thoughts below.
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...
We've gotten used to all our phones now coming with Gorilla Glass, meaning no more casual scratches and no need for screen protectors. Well, 'Gorilla Glass 2' has now been announced by Corning, its creators, at CES 2012, scheduled to start going into smartphones towards the end of the year, and claimed to be 20% thinner yet as tough as the original, meaning that screens can be brighter and more sensitive when used with capacitive touch technology.