Now is the time... to double up and stock up?

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From a Symbian enthusiast's point of view, the scare stories over availability of spare parts for repair and the ever-dwindling stock of new hardware across the world are something of a wake up call. Yes, no doubt all of us are still keeping an eye on developments elsewhere in the smartphone world, but until someone else comes up with hardware as good as Nokia's Symbian flagships and with an OS that's as flexible and feature-packed, there's a very valid case for keeping a look out for a 'spare' for your 808 or E7 or E6, or whichever Symbian-powered device you're currently depending on.

You see, despite the obvious ecosystem and service advantages of more modern smartphone platforms, it's still tough to beat some of the USPs of Nokia's Symbian phones, not least the QWERTY keyboards of the E6 and E7, and the camera/flash of the 808 PureView. And it's still tough to beat the sheer flexibility of a fully multitasking OS and almost full access to a proper file system. All good reasons to stick with Symbian and its device portfolio - maybe for years, maybe just while you look around at alternatives.

Buy one get one free?

My latest purchase, an almost mint condition white Nokia 808 - alongside its original black stablemate!

At which point you might like to consider what you'd do if your Symbian smartphone stopped working tomorrow, or got dropped, or eaten by the dog (etc.)? Unlike with traditional phone insurance, where the issue is usually paying for a replacement rather than finding one, if your 808 or E7 were to die tomorrow, you might have a real job finding somewhere reliable to sell you a device with proper warranty and in appropriate SIM-free and perfect physical conditions.

And this situation is only going to get worse as time goes on, of course. 

Which is why I'd like to humbly suggest that now - right now - is the time to look in the clearance sections of your local national device retailers, now is the time to save that search on eBay, now is the time to scout round 'for sale' forums, now is the time to keep an eye out on the small ads. 

If you do succeed, as I did above with my white 808 (shown above, love it!), then you've actually achieved slightly more than you think you have. Not only do you have a backup device, but you've also:

  • doubled the number of spare parts and resources. There might well be a time when the speaker of one has gone and the motherboard of the other has failed. Simple - open 'em up (it's easy in the 808's case) and swap components around to produce a fully working device!
  • acquired an exact match for your smartphone's battery (assuming you haven't got an E7, which has an almost sealed battery) - so you've effectively acquired a 100% genuine battery for keeping charged and swapping in as needed. Genuine batteries are definitely not trivial to find online, so this is definitely noteworthy.

Battery flexibility!

In addition to these general reasons, AAS readers might be interested to know my extra, ulterior motive for buying another Nokia 808 PureView. As part of a new focus (going into 2014) on custom firmware for Symbian handsets, I wanted to experiment with custom firmware for the 808 without jeopardising, or interfering with the normal day to day use of, my main device. Hence - one to fiddle with and flash (a procedure which wipes the device each time, of course) and one to use. Mangling a quote from The Matrix: Revolutions, "two 808s, two uses - sounds like providence?"

Yes, expending effort to try and find backup Symbian devices comes across as a bit of a rear guard action at this stage in the OS's life story and in the face of impressive technical advances elsewhere in the smartphone world, but it made sense for me - and perhaps for you? Let us know if you've bought (or are intending to buy) a backup/duplicate smartphone - which one and what was your own personal thinking behind the acquisition?