Category Archives: Nokia
I fired up a Nokia N95-3 yesterday to test a mobile site's compatibility with the old S60 3rd ed FP1 browser and look what came up when I opened the browser (images above).
It's a full screen ad for the N9. I believe that it will appear on any N95-3 where the user hasn't altered the default homepage. The North American N95-3's default home page is www.nseries.com/usportal/ which redirects to http://nokian9.12dld.mobi/n9/view.do?name=NOKIAN9, a promotional site for the as yet unreleased N9 MeeGo phone.
I really like this page, not only does it feature the most exiting new Nokia in several years, but it's also beautifully designed mobile page . I love the use of color and the way it adapts to different screen resolutions. It looks just as good in Opera Mini as in the Nokia browser and even better on the N8.
But the kicker is that "Shop" link on the second screen. It leads to a page where you can choose any of the 50 US states and "Find a store where you can buy your Nokia N9"! I chose New York and according to Nokia the N9 is available at a number AT&T stores!
Of course the N9 hasn't been released and supposedly will not be sold in the US. But what to make of this mobile site? Is it an Easter egg created by a MeeGo loving contract Web designer? Or did Nokia at one time have plans to sell the N9 on a larger scale including a deal with AT&T? Probably not but we can dream.
Two week's after Nokia's N9 MeeGo phone announcement the platform is still generating considerable buzz. The N9's not released yet but its developer only clone, the N950, is starting to show up outside of Nokia - and its getting rave reviews.
FoneArena has just published an extensive hands on report by Dhruv Bhutani covering the N950. Laced with dozens of high quality photos and videos it's phone porn at its finest. Dhruv says he's "in love" with the N950, calling the hardware solid and the keyboard even better than the E7's. He also raves about the multitasking, noting that with 30 apps running he is able to switch between them without any lag at all.
Sergejs Cuhrajs at My Nokia Blog attended an Intel Developer event in London yesterday where several of the developer attendees had already received N950's which they were "effortlessly using as a primary phone". Sergejs got to play with one of the N950s and blogged about his experiences. Like Dhruv, he was impressed with the build quality, calling it "consumer ready" and noting that the slider hinge felt very solid. Which is interesting as a rumor going around at MWC time claimed that the N950 was scraped as a consumer device because mobile operators found the hinge too flimsy. Segejs urges Nokia to "please take my money!" and release another MeeGo phone this year, a consumer version of the N950.
Unfortunately I'm afraid few of us will ever see the N950 or even the N9. Rumor has it that only some 93,000 N9's will be produced. Based on the countries listed in a 'Check Availabilty" dropdown on Nokia.com, the phone will only be available in a limited number of markets - which do not include the US, UK, Canada, India, Germany, France, Italy or Spain. While the N9 will probably be available in the gray market in the unsupported countries it will be expensive and without warranty.
Nokia CEO Steven Elop has been quoted as saying that even if the N9 is a huge success, the company will not create any more MeeGo phones. Which seems like a strange statement coming from the head of a for-profit organization where success is invariably followed by a sequel.
Instead Nokia seems committed to Windows Phone as its sole smartphone platform. Unfortunately for Nokia, Windows Phone, unlike MeeGo, does not seem to be generating much enthusiasm with the tech press and or with the buying public. For the sake of Nokia's employees and investors, I sincerely hope Nokia's Windows devices are a success However, if I were Mr. Elop I'd keep the heroic MeeGo team employed and busy working on a fallback strategy in case the Windows Phone effort falters.
At last weekend's Nokia Unleashed event I discovered that my N8's battery was not lasting as long as it used to. After about 8 hours of moderate use (taking about a dozen photos, responding to a few Tweets with Gravity, a one minute phone call and maybe an hour's worth of Web browsing) my battery was completely dead! A full charge of the N8 (which is only 8 months old) used to last at least twice as long
When I got home I decided to try hard-reseting the phone, which restores it to factory default state, to see if that would help with the battery life issue.
Before the PR 1.2 firmware update in March resetting Symbian^3 devices like the N8, C7 or C6-01 was a no-no as it would delete the Ovi Store and Ovi Maps as well as the Qt run-time. For several months after the N8's release there was no easy way to get the two apps and Qt back. I'd heard that PR 1.2 fixed that problem and based on my experiences that's true, although the process is still not as seamless as it could be.
If you installed PR 1.2 using a PC with Ovi Suite or the Nokia Software Updater (NSU) hard resetting is especially easy as the firmware that's installed that way includes Ovi Maps. If you installed PR 1.2 over the air with the Device Update option on the phone you will lose Maps when you reset but it's easy to get it back.
Here's how to hard-reset a PR 1.2 or latter Symbian^3 device and reinstall the Ovi Store and, if needed, Ovi Maps.
- Prepare: There is some risk in doing a hard reset. Only reset your phone if you are having performance or stability issues. Be sure the phone's battery is fully charged or plug in a charger before resetting. Running out of juice during a reset could potentially harm the phone.
- Make backups: a hard-reset will reformat the phone's internal C and E drives deleting anything you have saved there including contacts, calendar events, messages, ringtones, photos and videos.
- If you have a Windows PC available, do a full backup of the phone with Ovi Suite. Chose the "All" option which backs up settings, messages, contacts, calendar, bookmarks and some files
- If you don't have a Windows PC, open the File Manager on the phone (Menu > Applications > Office > File Manager) click Backup and do a backup of "All" (which is basically the same as the Ovi Suite backup and includes settings, messages, contacts, calendar, bookmarks and some files).
- I'm not sure what Nokia's "Files" backup does, but it doesn't seem to backup anything on the E drive. So if you have a PC, put the phone in mass storage mode and backup the contents of the phone's E drive to a folder on the PC. If you don't have a PC use the phone's File Manager to copy the files you care about on E, including the Music, Videos and Pictures folders and anything else you have saved there, to folders on the memory card. To be on the safe side also copy any important files on the phone's C drive to the PC or memory card.
- Do the hard reset. There are at least two or possibly three ways to hard reset a Symbian^3 device. As far as I can tell they all do the same thing.
- From the main menu, tap; Settings > Phone > Phone management > Factory settings > Delete data and restore
- Or enter *#7370# in the dialer which will do a hard reset
- Supposedly you can also use the "three finger salute". Power off the phone and hold the Volume Down Key, Camera Key and Menu Key. With the three keys held down, press and hold the power button until the phone vibrates. Note: I could not get this method to work, it simply restarted the phone without doing a reset.
- Restore the Ovi Store. When the reset completes check that you have connectivity. The Ovi Store and Ovi Maps are huge downloads so if you are on a capped or metered data plan, you might want to set up a WiFi access point. Then tap the Ovi Store icon on the home screen (image top, left) which will load the browser and open store.ovi.mobi which will prompt you to download and install the Ovi Store.
- Ovi Maps: If you updated your N8 to PR 1.2 over the air without using a PC, Ovi Maps will be missing, as evidenced by the ugly question mark icon in the place of the Maps one on the home screen in the image top, left. To get Maps back log into the Ovi Store, search for "maps" and install Ovi Maps to get the current stable version of Maps. Or go to http://betalabs.nokia.com and get the latest Beta version of Maps which always has more features than the one in the Ovi Store and is generally no less stable.
- Restore the E drive and Nokia backups that you made. When restoring the Nokia backup through Ovi Suite or the File Manager I like to uncheck "Settings". Whatever problem necessitated doing a hard reset could have been the result of a bad setting so I prefer to start with a clean slate. It only takes a few minutes to set up access points, profiles, themes etc. manually.
Kudos to Nokia for fixing the Symbian^3 hard reset issues. There's still some room for improvement though. On other platforms and on older Symbian devices a hard reset will restore the phone to 100% factory default state. Pre-installed apps like the Ovi Store and Maps and essential system software like Qt should not be lost in a hard reset. Requiring extra, largely undocumented, steps does not provide a very good user experience. I suspect Nokia did it this way because the internal "Z" flash drive which holds the OS image is too small to hold everything. Surely there has to be away to make to automate the extra steps.
On the positive side when I restored my backups (E drive and the Ovi Suite backup, minus "Settings") and restarted the phone, it only took about 5 minutes for all my apps to be reinstalled automatically. And I got every single app back and they worked perfectly. This is a huge improvement since my last Symbian phone, a N95-3, which had to slowly reinstall each app, a process that took close to an hour and then failed to install many of the them.
So did the hard reset fix my battery woes? It's too early tell but the phone does seem a lot snappier. I'll update this post once I have a chance to evaluate the battery life.
I'm still trying to digest today's announcement that Nokia will adopt "Windows Phone as its primary smartphone strategy". Symbian will become a "franchise platform", which based on the slide below (from one of Nokia's announcement press PDFs) means will it will be gradually phased out.
Meego will become a research project for exploration of future products. As the side below shows R&D investment in MeeGo will drop by about two thirds. That slide also suggests that massive layoffs in Nokia R&D lie ahead.
I've had about 30 minutes of hands on with Windows Phone. My first impressions as a user are generally good. WP has a fresh new UI that seems responsive and intuitive. It's a young platform and a bit unfinished in some areas. For the sake of the company's employees, investors and partners I hope that Microsoft and Windows Phone prove to be a good fit for Nokia and help to reverse its slow decline.
But I'm also sad for all the dedicated Symbian and MeeGo developers, designers and QA folks inside and outside of Nokia who will have their lives and livelihoods disrupted. I've been through a couple of these sorts of transitions myself and it's hard, very hard both for those let go and those who remain.
As a proponent of open source and open systems in mobile the news is disheartening. Symbian and MeeGo are open source. Windows Phone is closed. The geek dream of a truly open mobile platform is dashed yet again.
I feel that Symbian could have been saved. It's a great multi-tasking OS with excellent imaging and video support that is also very power-efficient and runs well on low cost hardware. The knock on Symbian has been that its user interface is dated and user experience clumsy and unintuitive. I feel that with Symbian^3 Nokia made a great first step in modernizing and simplifying the Symbian user experience. I still think that with a bit of performance optimization and a committed effort to quash some annoying bugs, Symbian would make a great OS to compete with Android in the low-end smartphone market.
I'm even more disheartened with Meego's demotion to a lightly funded lab project. Over a year ago I had a Nokia N900 running Maemo, MeeGo's predecessor. The hardware was clunky but the OS was very good. It was fast, stable and had a gorgeous, intuitive and powerful user interface. In 2009 Maemo was more finished than Windows Phone today. It had multitasking, desktop Flash, copy/paste and the best browser I've ever used on a mobile phone - all things that Windows Phone currently lacks. Best of all Maemo ran the full desktop Linux plus X11 stack and could install apps from any source including many desktop Linux apps. There's something very exciting about a handheld device ably running a full open source desktop coupled with a touch friendly UI.
I had high hopes for Maemo and expected Nokia to quicky tie up a few loose ends like the lack of portrait mode support in most apps and begin releasing a long line of polished, consumer oriented Maemo smartphones.
Instead Nokia entered into an alliance to combine Maemo with Intel's Moblin netbook OS to produce MeeGo. Unfortunately the alliance seems to have resulted in nothing but delays and setbacks. Rumors suggest that the N900's successor has been cancelled and that Nokia is switching to using the not yet commercially available Intel Medfield CPU instead of the ubiquitous ARM processor for its first MeeGo phone.
At least Intel seems committed to MeeGo and Nokia is still saying they will ship a MeeGo phone this year. I hope they do and I hope they sell millions of them. If the OS is as powerful and open as Maemo I'll certainly buy one.
Hindsight is easy but I bet if Nokia had stuck with Maemo they would not wound up in the humbling position of having to downsize and rely on using someone else's OS for their flagship phones.