(Anodised aluminium monocoque case – that is what grabs you when you see a Symbian powered Nokia N8 smartphone for the first time. That’s what happened to me and it became my first smartphone and it remained until it was clear that it’s OS, Symbian^3 will no longer be developed with new releases. Image source: http://mobilemegamall.com)
My venture to smartphones probably triggered by an incident at a car park – the parking attendant with dirty short pants & flip-flops was updating his status on Facebook with an iPhone. It then occurred to me that the age of the smartphone is already here and somehow I had missed catching the boat.
So, back in January 2011, I went back and finally got myself a smartphone. Despite my friends choosing between Android-powered phones and iPhone, I picked Nokia’s flagship phone – the Symbian^3 powered Nokia N8 (which was released in September 2010). After all, back then Nokia was one of the biggest and well-known phone makers out there.
Unfortunately despite it coming with a rather impressive set of specifications, something was missing. It took almost 1.5 years for Nokia (I am sure after numerous complaints) to come with the right firmware updates to its robust Symbian OS to move forward the N8 to the level that is in par with the more developed & widely used smartphone OSes – namely Android and iOS. The only let-down of N8 when it comes with comparing with other smartphones out there was on the hardware.
N8 had very little RAM, not-so-impressive processing power and a rather bulky design although it fought back hard (and they won hands down) with the very best, fully downloadable Ovi Maps, anodised aluminium monocoque case, Gorilla Glass, AMOLED screen and 12MP camera with Carl Zeiss lens (still remains one of the best cameras in the Nokia line-up – the other is the 41 megapixel PureView on the 808).
With its last update to Nokia Belle Refresh last year, it remained a good robust smartphone to have – battery storage was not so bad (my friend’s Android smartphone had even worse power storage despite having a larger battery – but it could be due to Wi-fi) and the onboard maps & GPS came very handily when driving through unfamiliar roads. But it was still lacking when it comes to apps – not that I am complaining much about that (I rarely download anything else but games and I do have a good selection of games that would keep me engaged for hours and without draining the battery drastically).
I have dropped the phone a couple of times but it is still working. In the last 2.5 years, the only major problem that I had with this phone was on the power circuits which got “fried” twice and had to be replaced. I have myself to blame for that – as it only happened after long and heavy usage of the phone on games. So, other than that, it was good enough for calls, SMSes, navigation, emails, internet surfing and yes, games.
After Nokia Belle Refresh and despite Nokia fiddling with Microsoft’s Windows Phone in 2011, there was still hope that Nokia will provide on some form of updates now and then for the Symbian^3 OS.
But when at the end of 2012 Nokia decided to go full swing on Windows Phone and came up with their new flagship smartphone – the Nokia Lumia 920 which runs on the latest Windows Phone 8 OS – it was clear that Symbian^3 is going to take a back seat. It will be going to be rare to see any form of solid firmware updates coming along the way anything soon for Symbian phones. It was ageing too and too complicated for quick updates – Symbian turned 16 years old this year but it has not moved that far with innovations.
P.s. Read here on the interesting story on Symbian and why it died.
(Smartphones these days handles more than just making calls and sending SMSes -we use it to watch videos, listen to music, take photos and videos, surf the net, GPS navigation, check emails, play games and use it as a mobile knowledge tool. Thus it needs to have strong robust hardware and a long-lasting battery. Image source: http://www.sonymobile.com)
Yet, I was still happy with my N8 until the beginning of this year when my wife’s phone (the much older Nokia 6300 series) started to have battery problems. And she also wanted to move on to the smartphone landscape since all her other siblings are using smartphones as well.
So, one night she popped the question – when I am going to change my phone? And lately, as her old phone problem started to get worse (and my kids wanting mobile entertainment, games and music) and me always being on the move, it was time for me to look for a new phone – one that does not run on the soon to be dead Symbian.
So I turn and weighed my options and I started with getting the right OS for my next phone.
I like my older N8, it came with solid hardware but at the end of the day, the OS was stagnant. I turned down Windows Phone 8 from my list outright – firstly it was still new and I am not sure if Nokia or Microsoft will change their directions again in the coming months. It is also claimed to be weak.
iOS was popular but since it only runs on an iPhone, it was expensive, inflexible and some of the hardware sucked (I know some of the iPhone fans would differ the thought on this).
And that leaves me with Android and there is a couple of choice of models with various specification and prices to choose from. From the top range HTC and Samsung Galaxy smartphones to some low range CSL smartphones, it would not be easy for me to pick one to replace the sturdy Nokia N8.
So, I decided to list down some minimum specifications and then match them with what the market has to offer.
This is what I had in mind – it must run at least the latest Jelly Bean 4.1.2 and it should have a gracious RAM & processing power (a minimum a duo core and 1 GB RAM – the Nokia N8 was running a low 256MB RAM but at most time, it was enough). I also do not want to spend too much money on the phone – as technology moves along, the price will come down.
So why spend too much on something when there are cheaper alternatives or prices will come down soon.
(Sony Xperia SP is well made, looks beautiful and punch with strong hardware and runs on the popular Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2 OS. Image source: http://www.sonymobile.com)
After a while of “research” and comparing the various specifications – I decided on Sony Xperia SP which was launched in Malaysia sometime in April 2013 and comes with an impressive 1.7 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB RAM, 8-megapixel camera, a sturdy aluminium frame, internal storage of almost 6GB, slot for microSD up to 32GB and a 4.6-inch Gorilla Glass display.
It is claimed to be the fastest dual-core phone yet, better in performance than Samsung Galaxy Note II and HTC One X+. It is also claimed to be one of the best mid-price smartphones money can buy.
It also has something that most of the other smartphones out there does not have – a light effect which displays different colour light at the bottom notification bar for call & SMS actions (it also lights up for music which looks very cool and it also lights up in red when charging and turns green once it reaches 90% plus charged).
Other specifications are pretty much standard with other smartphones out there although I preferred it’s speakers to be on the side instead of on the back (same thing on the N8 which muzzles out the sound when the phone is placed on it’s back although in the Xperia SP, the camera lens cover lift enough space for speakers)
And since Malaysia mobile operators are moving ahead with 4G LTE and part of the country can support 4G, Xperia SP already comes with built-in support for 4G & NFC. Compared with some of the other premium phones that support 4G & NFC, Xperia SP seemed to be more affordable too. The official selling price is RM1,299 but some dealers are selling it for RM1,099 (probably after the smartphone rebate of RM200).
I am able to use back the Nokia’s USB charger for this phone – so I don’t need to worry about charging the phone which can last for 4 days with its “STAMINA” feature set on (and if I don’t play games or surfing the net).
It is not the end of Symbian though. My older Nokia N8 had found a new owner – my wife who soon got herself busy with the ins and outs of using a smartphone and her grandmaster on this is not me but rather my son who had also “explored” my new phone even before I could get my hands on it and checked all its features.
Symbian somehow lives on if you consider the phone range in the family but for me at least, it is finally dead. It is time for Android and what it can do (or rather what I am going to do with it) in the coming months.