Andrew Orlowski has already covered most of the pros and cons of the OS and its accompanying UI in his Nokia N8 review, but in short, the layout tends to look cluttered and ugly, settings seem unnecessarily complex and finding your way around the menus can be a pain. I still encountered some of those annoying random prompts to allow network or WLAN access, which have plagued the system for some time too.
Excels in terms of signal strength and call quality
It’s certainly not disastrous, but these days it’s barely keeping up with the Joneses, when Nokia used to be Jones number one. On this evidence, the company will need a Windows-style total revamp of its operating system and user interface to prevent it being left behind – the basis is there, but the UI needs serious consideration.
Call quality, however, was particularly good, with no problems picking up a signal, even in a notorious network black spot. It was also excellent with the onboard speaker, delivering clear and untrammelled speech which was easily distinguishable even above heavy background traffic. Wi-Fi connectivity was also more receptive than usual, with almost twice as many potential networks being picked up as I’d normally expect to see. Even so, the Symbian browser still isn’t much fun to use, with its cluttered navigation and options system.
The email wizard on my test sample had a bit of a glitch, defaulting to the Exchange account settings rather than allowing me to set up another account. This was probably a one-off however, since Symbian 3’s e-mail on the N8 and C6-01 both make it easy to set up alternative accounts.
Writing messages isn’t as easy as it could be, however, due to the touchscreen keyboard .It’s alphanumeric keyboard only in portrait mode when it would have been nice to have a choice. The landscape Qwerty keyboard, is under-populated with 35 keys and is rather awkwardly laid out on the numbers/symbols interface.
On-screen keyboard options are a bit limited
There’s a social networking widget that shows your latest Twitter or Facebook updates, but only one at a time, and you’ll have to view your emails using a separate widget, which seems to go against the pull-it-all-together trend of other systems’ SN widgets.
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Fixable versus built-in faults
Well, iPhone 4 was a near perfect execution, but with a fundamental design flaw that really couldn't be overlooked by any balanced reviewer. 75% is a fair reflection of this. With an adequate antenna design, it should have been a 90%+ product (I'd drop a few percent for the poorer ergonomics compared to the 3GS). Unfortunately, as a hardware flaw--- and a design flaw at that--- the phones are stuck with the problem. Yes, a silicone bumper fixes it, but it does dent Apple's reputation for being utter perfectionists.
The Nokia Symbian3 phones are the opposite - near flawless hardware design and execution, masked by a very dated user experience. 75% is a fair reflection of this too.. With a more modern and streamlined UI and shell, this would be a 90%+ product too.
The difference between them is that Nokia have an opportunity to fix their problem, and very importantly, to fix it for the people who have already bought these phones. They have promised a fully new UI in mid-2011 to coincide with (and copy the look and feel of) their MeeGo phones, but before that, in February, a new browser and other feature improvements are due.
Delivery has been a problem for Nokia before, though, so let's wait and see...
Didnt want a droid or a money pit phone so went for an N8 fully aware of whats been written about the OS. Knowing the hardware itself is top drawer is not a bad place to start when looking for a reliable phone.
Re the connectivity pop ups, personally, I quite like knowing what my phone is doing data wise, and dont feel it encroaches on the experience at all.
My conclusion so far is that if you like playing with settings, S^3 is all good. Im looking forward to the Q1 update to see what that brings, but its not half as terrible as many reviews seem to make out. (already had a minor update a few days ago that makes the whole phone feel snappier).
Same as anything new to you SW wise, within a few days of using it, things become much easier / understandable once you know where to look.
Why no mention of the built in FM Transmitter? thats a very useful feature if your in the car a lot & no accessory required.
Opera Mobile / Mini for web browsing obviously, although the symbian version is flash enabled for the youtubes iplayer requirements.
Nokia are getting there again, their internal failings and odd management structure are well documented but once that starts getting fixed & its looking like it, I dont think I'll be going back to SE any time soon.
Isn't it the GUI not the OS you should be moaning about?
I have the Nokia N8 and think it's great. Out of the box, it is a bit, well clunky, but that's the GUI, not the OS.
I've also downloaded the SPB GUI app and it transforms the phone. Literally transforms it.
Up to 5 homescreens, individually movable widgets, far smoother scrolling. It is like having a totally different phone.
If a third party can deliver such a stunning interface, why can't Nokia?
At about £25 it's an expensive app, but worth it.
It shouldn't though, require an app...
I mean, seriously, WTF?
I thought this is a tech site, not a fashion site.
No other mobile OS is nearly as feature complete (SyncML, BT-OBEX, Imap-Idle ...) and yet all you can say about it is "ugly and clunky"?
A reviewer has to take it as they find it, not try to fix its faults
True, the bumper fixes the problem, but I'd expect the reviewer to review a product the way it arrives, not with optional additions In Apple's case, they didn't supply the part with the phone, so it would be misleading to review the phone with that part fitted.
If we allowed this kind of thing, we'd quickly get to the stupid situation of saying things like : "Sure Symbian3 is clunky, but we replaced its UI with this shell, making the phone much better than X, Y, or Z" - well, yes, but the average customer doesn't get that fancy addition.
It's like saying that a particular car's engine lacks power, but never mind, we can ad a nitrous oxide kit to it; or the ride is overly hard, but never mind, we can change the springs, and then rating the vehicle with those modifications as being the most powerful and comfortable in its class.
Apple's brand value is based on their obsessive attention to detail - you buy an Apple product, the idea goes, and you can be assured that every little detail has been considered. Releasing a mobile phone with a badly designed antenna somewhat tarnishes this image, but the rest of the product was so good, that it didn't matter for most. It probably is the best smartphone/portable-media-device on the market, and as long as you don't experience the signal issues, it's near perfect. It is however, very far from being the best *phone* on the market, hence the low review score.
On Nokia's history of updates; yes it has been appalling, but they have at least admitted this, and are changing it. Some of the blame also has to be laid at their customers, the network operators, who often modified the phone software, introduced bugs, then didn't approve new, better, firmware for the phones. Symbian^3 has a better design that reduces the amount of screwup an operator can introduce, and allows firmware updates underneath the operator garbage.
Here's the test: Nokia have promised two major and one minor update for S^3 phones before Autumn, with the first, minor, expected sometime around this week and the first major on in February. I want to see how they execute on this, before passing judgment.