Unlocking your N97 mini’s true potential

I have been sporting an N97 mini for three weeks now after a not so impressive meeting with Android a month back. This is my first Symbian phone in 7 months and so I was looking for something as reliable and fun as the E71 I had a year ago. I had two choice of Symbian phones: the former E-series flagship E72 and the former N-series flagship N97/N97 mini. I ended up choosing the N97 mini because I thought the E72 was too similar to the E71 in looks and frankly I wanted to try out the touch version of symbian to see if it is as bad as everyone put it.

Nokia N97 mini: the phone that could have been…

My main problem with the N97 mini is not the UI, lack of transitions or the ‘limited’ amount of apps when compared to iPhone and Android, but my problem is just how badly Nokia messed up what could have been a really great device. To me the N97 mini is not only sexy in looks but rigid in construction and have what I believe is the perfect form factor for my type of work. What crippled the N97 mini and the N97 is the piddly amount of ram in the device. Seriously it is almost impossible to multitask with any heavy application at all without having the other application close, after a day of use free ram with no application open is down to 39mb! I am not here to rant however, I am here to help you live with these shortcomings as much as possible and to pimp your N97 mini to such an extent that you wont recognise it. Read more about Unlocking your N97 mini’s true potential

Problems faced by Symbian in attracting developers

Symbian have from day one faced problems in attracting developers. Ever since it’s inception almost a decade ago, the OS have continually lost out to other platforms in both app count and quality. Whether it may be Palm, Windows Mobile, iOS or more recently Android, the platform have been increasingly losing the app count battle. In an environment where many analysts believe a loaded appstore is a key to success, should Symbian and its key backer Nokia be worried? To have an idea of what our answer might be let’s travel back in time to the first few years of Symbian.

2001-2004

During the period of 2001-2004 Nokia and Symbian faced one main competitor: Palm. This comparison is somewhat lopsided when taken on a global note, Nokia’s total smartphone sales dwarfed Palm’s in everywhere except the US. The funny thing though is that even with this huge advantage in reach and influence Nokia still failed to attract as many developers as Palm. This turn of event will not be so surprising if one was to take note of the difference conditions each faced: Nokia’s influence in the US was not as big as Palm’s, which then went on to hurt it’s app numbers because most app developers are actually in the US. So even while selling just a few million devices yearly compared to the 20+ million being sold by Nokia, Palm still managed to gain double the amount of applications in half the time as Symbian. To make it worst Symbian c++ was difficult and expensive to learn when compared with Palm’s garnet and later Windows Mobile OS, in everyway Symbian just could not compete. Read more about Problems faced by Symbian in attracting developers

Nokia’s goal with Symbian^3

The long anticipated and rumored Nokia N8 smartphone has been announced officially, both with a positive and a negative effect on Nokia. The N8 thundered to the scene with some pretty impressive features, most notably a 12 megapixel camera utilizing the largest camera optics to ever find a place in a phone. The biggest hiccup to come about, which is quite unfortunate to say the least, arrived in the form of a preview report from a prominent Russian tech journalist. The preview was done from the usage of a very early prototype, a prototype Nokia said was among the earliest available, which went missing before showing up on the preview done on the journalist’s site. Nokia did release a statement on their conversations blog where they spoke about wanting back the device, and that they would try and discover the source of the leak. The journalist described the software as premature (it was since it was a prototype) and he went on to joke that someone in the company might want to bring Nokia down (ironic), which he described as the reason for the N8 coming to fruition. The big issues though is not about the leak itself, it is about the software, it is about Symbian^3.

Symbian^3 is a very important milestone, both for Nokia and the Symbian foundation alike. What is this big milestone? This milestone is entirely based on the Qt 4.6 framework, with which Symbian^3 and the Nokia N8 ships. Qt is significant in that it will allow Nokia to fulfill their cross platform ambitions, it will allow programmers to write an app for Symbian and deploy it across Meego, windows, linux and Mac OS with minimal change to code. Read more about Nokia’s goal with Symbian^3

Nokia N8 Official!

The long rumoured and sighted N8 from Nokia has finally been made official. The device packs a 12mp autofocus camera with xenon flash, HD 720p video recording, HD video out, 3.5 inch OLED capacitive touchscreen, Symbian S^3 with HWA UI, real visual multitasking, 680mhz OMAP3 CPU with dedicated GPU and a plethora of other features including pentaband 3G(unofficial) and paging file memory.

Nokia n8

The device was previewed by the Russian journalist Eldar of mobile-review.com who seems to be always getting his hands on Nokia devices before launch (who knows, he might have a KGB agent infiltrating Nokia once in a while :)). He seem to be less than impressed (not a surprise) and complained about trivial stuff such as the size of the HDMI port (leaves me to wonder how an HDMI port on a phone should look, considering that the N8 is the first GSM with the feature) and the quality of the pics taken with the cam in comparison with the satio. Still the OS is in beta and performed admirably well when compared to iPhone OS 4G beta, which barely works although it have been in works a couple months before S^3 went opensource Read more about Nokia N8 Official!

Pimping the Nokia N95 into the new Decade

The N95 was arguably the greatest innovation of 2007(clashing with the original iphone in this regard) and the single most advanced smartphone of the time. The N95 was the first symbian smartphone with integrated GPS module, the second with advanced TV out capabilities, the first smartphone with a 5 megapixel camera and VGA video recording, the second smartphone to feature a programmable GPU, and I could go on and on. The original N95 suffered from a lack of sufficient RAM, an extremely buggy initial firmware and slow GPS among others. The RAM problem was fixed with demand paging and in the newer N95 8gb, N95 NAM and N95 8gb NAM models while the GPS antenna location caused poor map performance that continued well into the other year.

Nokia n95 Smartphone

Now 3 years after the release of the original N95 and 2 years after the N95 8gb we are left wondering what to do with the still spectacular N95 hardware. Nokia did announce in an interview that we will be seeing the end of numeric-keypad based smartphones in a few years, going towards touch and touch hybrid QWERTY instead. The N95 8gb/NAM is still the most powerful numeric-keypad smartphone that nokia have ever built, combining the powers of a modest processor with a spectacular GPU and massive free RAM to trounce Nokia’s newer offerings. Lets now see how well the power of this device can be utilized at present and see if it can stand its ground in an increasingly touchscreen smartphone world. Read more about Pimping the Nokia N95 into the new Decade

Nokia and Palm’s Dilemma

Nokia and palm both were leaders in the smartphone segment of the mobile phone market. This leadership is not about market share, it is about innovation which we have seen brought forward by several newcomers to the smartphone market recently. Arguably the most innovative step made since 2003 was the iPhone, not in features but in bringing a completely new front to the smartphone battle. The iPhone lacks a plethora of features and is even branded as a simple dumbphone by some, however no one can deny that the iPhone was a remarkable step in bringing the former niche touchscreen segment to normal mobile phone users. The touchscreen devices prior to 2007 were mostly seen as unwieldy, nerdy and quite complicated to the average user, the iPhone changed that. what does the iPhone have to do with palm and nokia? Well the biggest chat in the blogosphere over the last two and a half years was about how the iPhone was bringing trouble to the original pioneers of the smartphone.

Lack of innovation have been the deciding factor in the weak position of the two pioneers today. Palm os was well designed for the business class and performed well allowing them to grab a relatively large share of the then niche smartphone market. Palm os functioned well with both touch and keyboard, however the attempted hybrid structure only performs well with business subjects as normal consumers will find the lack of gestures completely rather unintuitive. Nokia on the other hand fielded a full keyboard controlled user interface from start, and although Symbian OS was fully capable of running a touch driven UI, they never put much into it. The only pre-2008 nokia smartphone to feature a touchscreen was the then sophisticated nokia 7710. The 7710 featured the application framework Hildon, derived (the same ui used in the n900, n800 etc) series 80 UI ont op of Symbian OS 7.1 . The phone was held back so much by Nokia that it was eventually canceled. Nokia refused to work with any other touch based phone since, telling reporters in 2006 that there weren’t any plans in the immediate future to develop touch based phones, thus they missed the touchscreen train. Read more about Nokia and Palm’s Dilemma