The smartphone world in the last 3 years have seen more hype than ever before, three new operating systems came to life: iphone OS (rebranded iOS), android OS and webOS. With all the innovations and the attempts in innovations there were a few who failed, both technology-wise and in PR blunders. This is my top 5 list of smartphones and their technologies in the last 3 years that deserve a big failing grade.
5. Nokia N-gage 2.0
The N-gage 2.0 gaming platform was one of the most hyped and promising innovation of the time. The gaming service touted chatrooms, online gaming, scoreboards and an on-device storefront to purchase games-the first true appstore. Nokia carried out heavy marketing and touted the service as the future of mobile gaming, however what followed was one of the biggest fails in Nokia’s history. The first thing that crippled the service was the small amount of devices that were supported, many of which only supported the service in theory but never performed well with it. Only big name companies could build games for the service, the two man developer group had no chance and could not get a license, this could have been forgiven if those big companies churned out a lot of quality games, however a lot of games were of poor quality and had lackluster gameplay. Nokia crippled what could have been the best gaming service on a smartphone bar none and it will continue to haunt them in the foreseeable future. This deserves number 5 on this list.
Palm had been at the forefront of the American smartphone market, being one of the founding fathers of the smartphone itself. Palm’s relevance began to decline in 2005-2007 and by 2008 they were nowhere to be seen. Palm’s announcement of webOS was followed by numerous patriotic comments from American technology blogs who sung songs of Palm’s revival and counterattack on the smartphone market. What was not noted was that webOS was little more than a web technology based UI and application layer running atop a Linux webserver which pose extreme difficulties for programmers of heavy applications. This, combined with poor uptake, release of the smartphone on a struggling network and poor marketing, rendered webOS doomed from the start. The struggling company and it’s webOS was finally bought by hp, one year after the supposed ‘revival’ started.
3. Samsung Omnia HD I8910
I included this here because it is rather a sad story of how neglect by a manufacturer can render a device almost useless. When it was announced the I8910 was one of the most powerful smartphones ever; an 8mp camera, the first phone with HD video recording, a powerful A8 cortex processor at 600mhz combined with a GPU capable of displaying 14 million polygons a second, a 3.7 inch AMOLED screen and HD out via DLNA rounded off the list of the most impressive specs. The smartphone was launched with crippling bugs that were only slightly patched by Samsung, within months the device was totally abandoned. So terrible was the bugs that the device was rendered almost unusable for even a simple thing such as a phone call. The modding community came to the rescue of miserable i8910 owners churning out custom firmwares after custom firmwares. It is true that the difference between the official firmware and the custom firmware is but night and day, but this remains the worst case of manufacturer abandonment in smartphone history.
2. iPhone 4 antenna issue
Didn’t see this coming? This found it’s way on the list because of it’s sheer wide-scale effect and how obvious it should have been from the beginning. In every phone manual you see the warning “touching the region near the antenna will cause reduce signal”, and keep in mind that these antennas are safely hidden behind plastic protection, imagine what touching the live metal antenna could do? Well we no longer have to imagine because we have a live demonstration in the iPhone 4. I was hoping that Apple could defy the law of physics when they unveiled the iPhone’s revolutionary antenna but instead it has caused the biggest fail in the iPhone history. Touching the static laden human ski against any antenna will affect it’s performance; touch a TV pole, radio antenna, cellphone antenna and any other antenna and you will have the same issue, then why oh why did apple decide to leave bare antennas out in the open for human beings to touch and caress? Combined with apple’s totally failed explanations and proposed fixes, this quite obvious issue makes it to number two on this list.
1. Nokia N97
This makes it to number 1 on the list not only out of sheer obviousness but how much problems it is riddled with. Slow processor, low RAM and low C drive memory riddles this poor beast even today creating what can be described as Nokia’s worst device in history, it is that bad. Nokia decided to put an OS requiring twice as much ram as the N95 8gb in the same amount of RAM the N95 8gb had, it does not end there. Keep in mind that all the apps now also require more RAM to load, so does the higher resolution screen and the newer hardware components, these are things that should have been quite obvious from the beginning, but not to Nokia. Nokia then went on to put an old processor,designed for the 2007 N95 in an OS twice it’s weight and running an hardware intensive touchscreen controller. To top things off Nokia did not put enough internal C: memory to even install it’s own official programs! These combined with buggy firmwares created the worst fail in recent smartphone history.
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