Monday, 15 February 2010

Nokia 5230

So I went for a £99 Nokia 5230, a Vodafone PAYG handset, with whom I already have my existing monthly contract. Some good points, some bad. All in all I can't wait for my broken N79 to come back from the Nokia Service Centre, but here's some highlights of the 5230 so far:

+ A-GPS with...
+ Ovi Maps with full worldwide voice guided sat-nav (on a £99 handset, result!)
+ Finally a bit more control over the home screen (formerly known as active standby)
+ Hardware lock button
+ Decent build quality, despite being all plastic
+ 3.5mm headphone sockets, fairly standard for Nokia it has to be said, others finally following suit...

- Resistive screen fairly poor
- Too many "double touch" moments in menus, S60 5th Ed not great for the touch paradigm
- Duplication of options menus, with "Options" and the '3 stripes' button labels in many applications
- Nokia Sports Tracker just about installs (with warning of incompatability), and fails to run
- Mail for Exchange, only installed by grabbing the Nokia 5800's installation file
- Mail for Exchange refused to play natively with Google, had to use Nuevasync instead

- Java apps (Gmail, Snaptu, etc) have ugly touch d-pad GUIs
- Only 2MP camera with no flash (but only a £99 phone, to be expected)
- No WiFi, no deal-breaker for me, but is to many others

Its a shame about some of the application incompatabilities and the Java app d-pad, because apart from that the hardware is good for the money. Maybe it just shows the 5800 and N97 classic/mini handsets are worth the extra cash if you need the extra features. This should just be a stop-gap handset until June when I'm due an upgrade however...

Friday, 5 February 2010

Symbian S60 and S40 (N79 vs 6300)

So the screen on my Nokia N79 (S60 3rd Edition FP2) died on Wednesday morning, leaving me sans-phone until I returned home that night from work, to boot up my old Nokia 6300 (S40 3rd Edition). It is much smaller and lighter than the N79 and with a predominantly metal case where the N79 is all plastic. Overall it feels much nicer in the hand and less creaky - one nil to the 6300.

But more than that, although I have become used to all the many S60 apps that are floating around (apps with much better design and functionality than Java-based apps on the S40 devices, due to the fact that S60 has a native API to write to, and of course can multitask) I actually really enjoyed going back to S40. Here's why:
+ Speed of the user interface, almost every action or menu dialogue is much faster
+ More customisable active standby; why we can't customise the S60 3rd Edition active standby screen is beyond me, and none of the replacement apps for this have cut it for me so far
+ Countdown timer & stopwatch - bizarrely missing from S60 out of the box
+ "Recently used" in "to" dialogue of new SMS - again, missing from S60 and so useful!

On the other hand, S40 loses points because:
- No auto/regular contact/calendar sync to Google OTA - turns out I've become very dependant on being able to add/modify data to my Google cloud services on computer or mobile and known they would be in sync within minutes
- No multitasking - again, something long-time "feature phone" users may not have worried about, until maybe moving up to a "smart phone", then trying to go back to

I admit that the N79 is perhaps quite old now, and maybe a bit more beef in the CPU/RAM area may make S60 more responsive.

So if S40 is still being developed, which Nokia made hints about in January when showing how they expected proportion of form factors and operating systems to pan out over the coming years, maybe multi tasking and OTA syncing, or Mail for Exchange, may come around the corner?

The question now is whether to bear the 6300 without Google sync for 6 months until contract renewal time, or buy something like a 5800/5230 to bridge the gap, or buy something new and shiny, maybe even dip into Nexus One or N900 territory...