A Triad Of Nokia Phones
Three Home Screens
I have been lucky enough to be using three of the latest Nokia phones available for the last week or so (well the E7 isn't exactly new, but it feels like it with the events of the last couple of days !) The E7 running Symbian Belle , a leaked version, the Nokia N9 running Meego Harmattan, which I was lucky enough to recieve when I attended Nokia World and the newly released Nokia Lumia-800 Windows Phone which I received from Nokia via The Amazing Collective, running the latest build of Windows Phone Mango.
This is not a review, as such, but merely a quick comparison, and the tale of my last few days , which rwsulted in me spending many hours messing with my phones and computer, doing resets, unlocking and flashing leaked software !! Despite my being a bit of a geek, my IT skills are EXTREMELY limited, I simply mess with phones a bit, and so I approached the events of the last few days with some trepidation. As a result there have been changes to all my phones over the last few days, mainly good ones, but some not so good !
Firstly let me state that I would not recommend anyone , skilled or otherwise, either unlocks or hacks there phone, or install any software other than that provided by the manufacturer and using the recommended methods, at best you will invalidate your warranty and at worse you could brick your phone, I took the risk, because as I mentioned before, I'm a geek, and to be honest , it created a few frustrations and a couple of scary moments, that said, it's done now and all three phones are working fine . This piece isn't a tutorial on changing your phone, it's just a few thoughts from me and a few photo's and screen shots.
Messing with software
So the least involved operation was to reset my N9, I'd been having connectivity issues and struggling to get MFE to sync, so I thjought I'd reset it by going into settings and selecting reset and cleared the device, this took about 15 minutes and wiped the phone, the most annoying thing beinf I lost Stewie from the lockscreen, fortunately, I had saved the link from my article about the N9, explaining how to change the operator logo on your N9 and also the image created by @psychomania666 for me on my laptop and so managed to download the app to perform it, along with all my other apps from various sources, and the N9 is now fully functional and set up as I like it .http://www.my-meego.com/software/applications.php?fldAuto=406&faq=13
The second task, was to unlock the Lumia-800 so that I could install apps that came from sources other than the market place, you need a licence code from Chevron7 , who unlock the phone which costs $9 and you need to install an SDK on your PC to do the operation, but after several hours downloading software, and consultations with my mobile guru @psychomania666 , I managed to complete the operation and unlock the Lumia and install an app to take screen images, something I really need and greatly missed on the Lumia. All my phones have had a screen capture app available and it's very useful for things like this, but also for helping people on forums, a picture paints a thousand words and two or three replying to a users issue, save writing an essay !! The links to all the instructions and Chevron7 are here https://labs.chevronwp7.com/Default.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fAccount%2fUnlock.aspx and the xap file for the screen capture app here http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1316199
So finally, I put a leaked version of the up and coming Belle software onto my E7 http://www.symbianzone.us/2011/12/how-to-flash-symbian-belle-on-nokia-e7.html
I have mixed feelings about this, although mainly positive, the UI is fantastic, there is much more customisation, the phone appears to have more space available on C and I really think the official release will be a joy. However there are a couple of issues with the leaked version (you stick your hand in a fire and you're liable to get burned!) firstly the functionality of the physical QWERTY keyboard on the E7 has been messed up with the leaked release, which is chinese and only supports Chinese and English as languages. The keyboard still works, but some of the symbols have neen moved about, so if you want ' what you get is ? And if you select &| you get %, very frustrating, general typing is however ok, and the virtual QWERTY and Swype work fine. Also some apps either won't install or won't work on my E7 now, whether it's a fault of the leaked software or a lack of compatibility with Belle and simply requires the apps to be updated I don't know, and this could be one of the reasons Nokia have delayed the official release of Belle, which obviously needs to be right on release, if you use Skype on your phone, don't mess with leaked Belle, it doesn't work !!
All in all I really like the E7 with Belle and can live with the drawbacks until the official release arrives, and as it's not may main phone, it's not a major issue for me. If anyone reads this and has only one phone, do not under any circumstances consider using anything but an official release !!
Belle Screen Shots
So, how do they all compare ? Well as a long time Symbian/Nokia user I am familiar and comfortable with the E7, and even though there are big changes with Belle, the fact it's like 'an old pair of slippers' puts me at ease and I find it easy to use, extremely customisable and well supported with apps, at least for my user case. The phone is fast, it has great codec support for Video , which is important to me as I use it for viewing video on a daily basis and I love the fact I can simply drag and drop all my media to a Symbian phone, the battery life is better than Meego and Windows Phone, at the moment, which is why I still have it as a backup, and email and web browsing are fine. I also like to customise my ringtones and alerts, a feature that is somewhat limited on Windows Phone, you can change the ringtone, but as of yet, I haven't been able to find a way to customize alerts or alarms with my own tones, not a major thing more of a large irritation .
The N9 with Meego Harmattan is great, the UI will surely be adapted to other phones, everyone who's used it loves the swipe interaction on the phone, it's quick and beautifully built, it supports drag and drop, although the codec support for video is not as good as Symbian^3, but you can customise all your tones, and despite lack of app support at the Nokia Store, because the N9 is running an open platform, there are many things you can get and install on the phone from the web.a good info source is http://www.meegoexperts.com/ where I've found several apps for my N9 including the fennec version of Firefox browser which works really well on the N9. The day to day use of the N9 is great and it does all I want from a phone, but like the E7 and Symbian it has a limited shelf life, both the operating systems are being put out to pasture, and Nokia are , over the next few years, moving exclusively to the Windows Phone mobile operating system for there smart phones and so to the Lumia-800.
I've only had the phone a week, so these are really still initial impressions, and they really are mainly good. I've managed to overcome some issues, and am having to learn to live with others. I must say that for an average user, the whole experience is slick, quick and intuitive !! I really do like the phone and the OS, I've overcome my dislike of the Tiles, they aren't so bad once they start changing and show info and pictures, the main operation of the phone is quick and easy to use and it has the best web browsing experience of the three phones, in fact it's as good as any on the market. The 'hubs' once you get used to them are really very good, and do allow customisation of what appears in photos for example. The email client os also superb, as I am a Hotmail user this is to be expected, although I know google mail users who also find it works really well, and the mail for exchange syncs my contacts, calendar and mail efficiently. The app store or 'Marketplace' is expanding constantly and there isn't really a lot you can't get there, and I'm managing with the Lumia as my main phone just fine for now and am happier being able to take screen captures. What I am still having issues with is Zune, and maybe this is because I'm thick, but I find the settings and use of it a pain, it takes forever to convert Video, and failed to transfer some of my music whilst trying to install hundreds of photos from my computer to the phone which I didn't want, I will persist with the programme but it really is the bain of using Windows Phone for me at the moment, that and having to use the built in tones for my mail and text message alerts.As a 'phone' it's been great, the call quality is fine and messaging is good and easy with the excellent built in qwerty keyboard (although a version of Swype wouldn't go amiss) I'm really liking the Windows Phone Facebook app interface and the Mehdoh Twitter app also works great for me (but would still jump back to Gravity if @janole decides to port it to WP) and I am genuinley enjoying it so far, which is a good job as I really want to continue using Nokia products in the future. So once I've got my head arround Zune I think things may work out very well . It is a very young OS and Nokia have done a fantastic job producing a brand new phone with a brand new OS in a very short period of time, it works well, it's well built and it does what it's meant to !!
Thanks for reading