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Nokia the Next Gizmondo?

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the just-wanta-make-a-call dept.


An anonymous reader writes, "Yesterday Symbian announced that 100 million Symbian smart phones have shipped to over 250 network operators worldwide since the company's formation. According to a CNet article, however, Nokia phones running on the OS are actually worse than their non-Symbian predecessors. From the article: 'The fact is, Nokia's phones are in danger of turning from the iPods of the phone world into the Gizmondos — from devices dedicated to doing one thing well to jacks-of-all-trades that do too many things poorly. The S60 3rd Edition interface has received tons of criticism from veteran Nokia users for being far too complicated to use. It's great that there's new stuff to play with, but not so great that the old stuff, as in making calls and sending texts, has been made more complicated.'"

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Does it have... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#16897646)


Hurry up Apple (1)

Divebus (860563) | more than 6 years ago | (#16897668)

It's getting worse and worse.

Re:Hurry up Apple (3, Insightful)

viniosity (592905) | more than 6 years ago | (#16897760)

I call fud on this. I did a review of the Nokia N73 as it relates to OS X some time ago (search for it.. this isn't a plug) and found absolutely no problems with the 3rd edition of S60. I hadn't used a Nokia in quite a while so if things were significantly worse I think I would have picked up on it.

As it stands now, I'm extremely happy with my N73. And since it syncs with my iTunes, iCal, and address book I effectively have a serviceable iPhone already.

Re:Hurry up Apple (1)

Ajmuller (88594) | more than 6 years ago | (#16897794)

Have to wholeheartedly agree. I have an E61 (not an E62) that I absolutely love. I've not had any problems with this phone at all (save getting it to sync when I first got it -- there was no sync software (for OSX) at all since it was too-new but that was solved by time)

Re:Hurry up Apple (1)

Rytr23 (704409) | more than 6 years ago | (#16897976)

I wholeheartedly agree.. Same with my N80.. and the browser on this version of symbian is nothing short of amazing.. pocket IE is an amateur hack by comparison..

Re:Hurry up Apple (2, Informative)

Ajmuller (88594) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898034)

Indeed, i should have mentioned this specifically. The pocket browser on here is amazing. It even beats the mobile version of Opera by a long-shot. Mostly in how it *doesn't* render pages "properly". When absolute widths are specified, it will automatically minimize them so that no column of text is wider than the screen, meaning: no side scrolling, this and about 1000 other little tiny things makes this the absolutely best mobile browser i've ever used.

Re:Hurry up Apple (1)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898962)

Yes, the Nokia browser is great but, sadly, it's only one of two browsers on the platform and the other, mediocre one is the default that's used when you follow links from other apps. Furthermore, a web browser isn't the primary app that you run on these devices and the rest of the platform, in the E61 case, is worst of breed. Great browser or no great browser, the E61 isn't worth owning.

Re:Hurry up Apple (2, Interesting)

mobiilimarsu (1027740) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898690)

Seconded. I'm reading/typing this on a N80 and it doesn't cost me a dime (that "default" guy seems to have an open access point everywhere ;)

My list of flaws (3, Informative)

EvilNTUser (573674) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898080)

No, I love my N73 too, but there are several problems. I'm sure someone somewhere is going to post about how all they want to do is make a call, but that's actually implemented fairly well, although not perfectly. People who want to use the hardware to its full potential are the ones who will suffer! Here are some real issues I've found, and they amaze me:

  • Simple yes/no-toggles are implemented with dropdown menus. Unforgivable in a mobile device. One press should change the setting, not open a menu. To add insult to injury, the active option is the one that's selected when the menu opens.
  • The music player is retarded:
    • Instead of listing your songs, it wastes the whole screen on empty space. You have to open a menu to get to a playlist.
    • Instead of mapping playing functions to keys, you have to select virtual buttons on the screen.
    • It doesn't let you set it to a specific folder, so if any game uses mp3 sound effects, they will be added to your playlist. That would work on a dedicated mp3 player, yeah, but not on a goddamn general purpose computing device. Jesus Christ, morons!
  • The photo/video viewer does the same thing. Want to hide porn or just some boring diagrams you copied onto the memory card? Nope, can't do it, they'll all show up when you're trying to show someone the cool photos you got.
  • Not a single application including the main UI tries to use the keys that are available. The interface designers seem to be completely in love with menus and virtual buttons you have to select on the screen. What happened, did they fire everyone who worked on Series 40? I want my quick to access alarm clock back.
  • The calendar is obviously NOT designed to minimize button presses.
  • The clock has lost its timer and countdown timer for no reason at all.
  • The phone will display a picture of the person who is calling, but it'll be a 10x10 thumbnail at the bottom of the screen. WTF??

I could go on and on with this crap, but in summary: The hardware is great, but I'm looking to replace every single official application that came with the phone. Oggplay already takes care of my music, and it's brilliant. I hope the application UI designers are out of a job by the time S60v4 comes out.

Although I must say the web browser really shines, to be fair.

Re:My list of flaws (3, Interesting)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898874)

No, I love my N73 too, but there are several problems. I'm sure someone somewhere is going to post about how all they want to do is make a call, but that's actually implemented fairly well, although not perfectly. People who want to use the hardware to its full potential are the ones who will suffer! Here are some real issues I've found, and they amaze me

I recently saw Christian Lindholm [christianlindholm.com], head of Yahoo! Mobile (and former Director of Multimedia Applications for the Nokia Ventures) give a talk entitled "Mobile Usability" at the Neilsen Norman Group's User Experience 2006 in London a couple of week ago.

He used the N73 and other recent Nokias as examples of state of the art devices: full-specced in every aspect (memory, CPU, pixels) and a remarkable device because of it. Nokia are selling more cameras than Kodak (or something like that). Yet despite the subject of his talk, he didn't mention the usability of the phones at all. In fact, I was rather amazed at how uninspiring this man was in talking about mobile phones and their use. For example, he described how Yahoo! designed a mobile portal for the UEFA 2006 World Cup - the most popular sporting event on earth. His description of their design process mentioned some user tests in passing - something like they built the system, showed it to some users, made a couple of tweaks, then went live. I later asked him a question about this. To what extent is user testing a part of what they do at Yahoo! mobile? He fluffed it with some meaningless crap about keeping the user in mind when they design. I kept one eye on Jakob Nielsen sitting in the row beside me - I thought his face twitched rather more then usual while Lindholm said this.

My opinon? People who design mobile devices - or at least this guy - are mesmerised by hardware: the size, the spec, the pixels, the memory. They care very little, if at all, about software and its usability. Take a look at the guy's blog: it's all about hardware, battery life, picture quality, etc. Yes, I know he invented the "navikey" (although not exactly a huge mental leap), but I don't care if my phone produces great pictures if it's hard to take them in the first place. What good is a wonderful screen if you're looking at shit software, or hitting the wrong keys or having to remember arcane menu sequences just to turn on Bluetooth?

Designing software for phones is hard (device compatability, shipping cycles, marketing issues etc. etc.) but in my opinon, if people like Lindholm continue to all but ignore mobile usability, things are not going to get much better very fast.

Re:My list of flaws (2, Interesting)

synx (29979) | more than 6 years ago | (#16899108)

This comment is revealing, as well as the GP. The GP talks about the amazing memory, speed, etc, etc the lists a whole HUGE list of UI problems that demonstrate the designers were thinking of a mouse-interaction paradigm, not a cell phone. Meaning any action is not very efficient - you need to look at the screen too much to activate simple functions, you need to press too many buttons to enable simple functionality, etc.

As for the yahoo guy - well 'keeping users in mind' is not really enough when it comes to design. That thought line is essentially sheer arrogance - it belies an attitude of "we know our users, and we can accommodate their needs" - the arrogance is that they think they know what their users want. Time after time, house after house, many engineering firms have been surprised over and over that what they THOUGHT users cared about, turned out to be completely 110% wrong.

All of these reasons is why I am waiting with bated breath for the iPhone. I know that steve jobs will REFUSE to put the Apple brand on anything as poorly usable, weak willed as the current Nokia/Symbian phones.

One other thing, I looked at a Symbian phone a few years ago. I really didn't like it - the UI was slow, basic functions were SLOW. Hit "dial" to bring up the last calls... why the HELL does this take more than 50-100 ms? Why is it taking 1 second? I blame the Java underpinnings. I think Java has encouraged an entire generation of programmers to code without performance considerations. Hell Java makes it hard to code for performance, since I find it's computation model does not map cleanly in my mind to actual on the chip execution. The development culture also discourages any of that line of thought. You generally accidently stumble into poorly performing solutions, which is remarkable considering how much power we have in computers these days. The dynamic-dispatch nature of Objective C seems positively high performance in comparison.

Making users delighted is all about doing what they expect. The technophiles are clearly in control at Nokia. I hope Apple puts them out of business, because Nokia will have earned it.

Re:My list of flaws (1)

EvilNTUser (573674) | more than 6 years ago | (#16899590)

"Making users delighted is all about doing what they expect. The technophiles are clearly in control at Nokia. I hope Apple puts them out of business, because Nokia will have earned it."

I'm not so sure about that; real technophiles would appreciate a good UI. It seems more like the engineers are in charge of the hardware, but the software is controlled by the marketing department - why else would it ship with a completely unusable mp3 player if not to look good in a checklist? The hardware is more than capable of running anything they could reasonably throw at it.

As for the slowness, it's not as bad anymore. They've upgraded the processors. But yeah, I can't understand why the basic tasks seem like complete bloatware either. It's ok if Oggplay takes a while to load, but how hard would it be to keep the basic phone functions in memory all the time? 10 kB maybe, with a good programmer?

Re:My list of flaws (1)

mobiilimarsu (1027740) | more than 6 years ago | (#16899662)

So you really have no idea what you're talking about? You tried a Symbian phone a few years back and thus know how well current versions perform? FYI the later versions are faster and look better; and Symbian is written in C++. Granted, it uses a slightly odd dialect but it's C++ nevertheless. Yes, you can write Java (J2ME) apps as well, but the core OS X is certainly not Java.

Re:My list of flaws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16903288)

I'm sorry, but Nokia offers a great number of models and, for instance the N91 and E60 series have much more application dedicated buttons. The N91 even has a complete music player control panel, which hides the keyboard.
I do agree, the user interface is not fully without critisism. But qualifications as WTF are not in order. I wonder how you selected your N73. Suely you would have had the opportunity to try it out before you spent your money to it?

Re:Hurry up Apple (3, Informative)

karoliina (977670) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898218)

Well, Nokia does also simple mobile telephones for those who can't understand the complexity of the high end models. They are called the Series 40-phones and they are not running Symbian OS. If you are not a gadget freak that wants all the new features of Series 60 OS and N-series plus possibility to use a large number of 3rd party applications, you propably better to get a Series 40 phone which is not based on Symbian. And if you really want simplicity and lifestyle and status, you can always get a Vertu-phone if that is the style & feel you are looking for. It is nearly guaranteed that you have a higher status phone if you have a Vertu than any of your neighbour. As a gadget-lover and early adopter, I am using the Nokia N93 camcorder phone which runs the Series 60 software which is based on Symbian OS. I got it for the features of it, the user interface played insignificant role and besides of that, as a nerd, it is no problem to use it, it is a lot easier to use than phones from other manufacturers that I have tried, despite of being packed full of features. I could even call the user interface quite intuitive and it is quite quick to do thigns I want to do with it, generally I am very happy with it. Of course I prefer more the touch screen interface of my Nokia 770 Internet Tablet and it is also otherwise a lot nicer as it runs Linux rather than Symbian OS, but as a phone and camcorder the N93 does just fine and compared to the current available alternatives, the N93 is an excellent choice for the use cases it is best intended. There are two kind of people, those who want to get these multimedia computers and those who don't. Both are significant and there are choices for both of them - for the multimedia computers, go for N-series and for the simplicity go for Series 40. There are choices for everyone, better luck next time picking the correct choice. I am happy with my feature rich devices which have high cool and geek factor, I have my devices to be able to do all sorts of things including phone calls, not to do only phone calls, in fact, most of the time I am using my phone, I am not having a telephone conversation with it, but doing something else, e.g. taking video. The video quality of my N93 is pretty nice for a camera phone and the quality of all the stuff it does is top notch. But for those who want to just talk with their phones or who aren't technically oriented enough to use the advanced features (despite they are pretty simple to use really on the N93, the UI is not bad in my opinion, e.g. Windows is zillion times harder to use than that) of it this is not the correct choice, there are number of simple Series 40 models for those.

Re:Hurry up Apple (2, Informative)

stewwy (687854) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898542)

I've had an old n-gage(the first one) for a few years ....until it was lost/stolen a few days ago.
It's OS was pretty intuative everything worked well the address book was useful, and well laid out and its bluetooth connected to my car,computer and headset quickly and easily.

I replaced it with a motorola l6,because it was cheap,but bare in mind this is one of the latest models.
The address book is stupid you seem to have to have seperate entries for each persons phone no. mobile no, email etc
It took me an hour to get an initial connection to my computer via bluetooth but at least it improved my text speed, It only stays 'discoverable' for about 30 seconds,and you cannot change this, not long enough to 'discover' the phone AND type in the passcode reliably. Although its fine once its been done.
I had to read the manual! (something I never had to bother with with the N-gage) to find out where mp3's and ringtone samples I downloaded were stored.

Lest the replies state how to do these things quickly and easily.
My POINT is that using the N-Gage I did all these things without the manual and on first use, the OS/keyboard layout is to my mind intuative.
Using the Motorola I had to look up in the manual, and in one case look up Online, before I could accomplish the same tasks, this makes the OS/keyboard unintuative to me.

The phone is not too bad, its just not what I expect from a phone who's OS should be 4~5 years more advanced, next time I lose it I'll be going back to a Nokia

What are you trying to say? (4, Insightful)

gregmac (629064) | more than 6 years ago | (#16897674)

..that people want phones in order to make phone calls?? Psh..

Re:What are you trying to say? (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 6 years ago | (#16897812)

Yes! Screw text messaging, cameras, video games and cell phones smaller than a baby's hand! There's a market for cell phones that make reliable phone calls consitently without all the bells and whistles. Not everyone need to upgrade their phone every 90 days. I personally average four years between phone upgrades since I only make phone calls.

Re:What are you trying to say? (2, Insightful)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 6 years ago | (#16897866)

I for one wouldn't mind small cell phones, if their battery lasts enough.

The point is being able to call someone and carry it.

Re:What are you trying to say? (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898592)

> I for one wouldn't mind small cell phones, if their battery lasts enough.
> The point is being able to call someone and carry it.

How long do you want the battery to last?

Re:What are you trying to say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#16897878)

Nice sarcasm.

You'd think from looking at these new pieces of crap that the cellular phone providers try to sell that they don't think people actually make phone calls or that people carry their phones with them. Instead we're stuck with huge pieces of junk that do nothing well and make us look like we're carrying a potato in our pocket. They keep pushing cameras because they charge a huge amount per picture to send them to a friend. On our plan with Verizon it costs a $0.25 each. I've never actually seen someone use a camera on a phone. Verizon doesn't give a damn what we actually want. They just want to push their high profit garbage. The same can be same for text messaging. I have never seen someone actually use that high priced crap other than to send a test message. After I saw they were $0.10 each on my bill I now understand why Verizon pushes that useless crap. It's all about the money rather than what the customers actually want.

Just give us a small phone that works well! I want the small phone I had in Japan eight years ago. It had a longer battery life and better radio than either my new RAZR (which has an absolute garbage radio that drops 90+% of the calls over two minutes), my Treo 600, or my Motorola Q. My new Q locks-up more than a dozen times a day because of the Microsoft garbage software on it, and my Treo required a reset about once a week. The phone I had in Japan never locked-up. How about building a small phone that actually works?

Re:What are you trying to say? (1)

cockroach2 (117475) | more than 6 years ago | (#16897954)

While I agree about the camera (that is, new models with 2 megapixels are actually starting to get usable for your occasional picture - just copy it to your PC instead of sending it), but I like text messages. Of course it depends on your operator, but here in Europe you frequently get a certain amount of "free" messages (or unlimited free messages to people who use the same provider), plus it's a handy way for asynchronous communications or to organize an appointment (ie. mass-messaging everyone involved).

But of course, the most important thing for a mobile phone are phone calls (and battery life), which is why I stick with my ancient Sony Ericsson T100 until it dies.

Re:What are you trying to say? (1)

dthree (458263) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902396)

I live in the suburbs in the US and I see people of all ages using the camera on their phones nearly every day.

Re:What are you trying to say? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#16897980)

I've never actually seen someone use a camera on a phone

That's because in the US you're several years behind both Japan and Europe when it comes to cellphones. I'm not kidding - you're welcome to broaden your horizon.

Cellphones are rapidly replacing both dedicated mp3 players (yes, even iPods) as well as low end digital cameras for "party shots".

Re:What are you trying to say? (4, Insightful)

adinu79 (860333) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898020)

Please stop acting like everything revolves around the US. As far as I know your providers are the only assholes in the whole world that cripple their phones to such extent that you can't even connect to your mobile phone to download some pictures off it. I'm happy with having a camera phone. I just connect it to my laptop via my INCLUDED USB cable and software or use a bluetooth connection and can get anything on or off the phone in no time.

And the article is nothing but PLAIN AND SIMPLE FUD, I have an older S60 Series 2 phone and love it. Will switch to a Series 3 phone soon because it's a great mobile platform to use. I have everything I need on my phone, E-mail reader, Web Browser (Opera for Symbian is a great piece of software), IM, organizer. And it doesn't drop calls or anything similar. Your problems must be related to the crap CDMA 2000 technology your providers most likely still use.

Re:What are you trying to say? (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898930)

Thanks for making uninformed generalizations.

Please stop acting like everything revolves around the US. As far as I know your providers are the only assholes in the whole world that cripple their phones to such extent that you can't even connect to your mobile phone to download some pictures off it.

Verizon is the main carrier that does this. The largest carrier in the USA does not.

I just connect it to my laptop via my INCLUDED USB cable and software or use a bluetooth connection and can get anything on or off the phone in no time.

As can anyone with one of the GSM providers in the USA.

And the article is nothing but PLAIN AND SIMPLE FUD, I have an older S60 Series 2 phone and love it.

And because you use an older device which the article doesn't talk about, you're clearly qualified to discount the entire article...

And it doesn't drop calls or anything similar. Your problems must be related to the crap CDMA 2000 technology your providers most likely still use.

No, the problems are most likely related to a broken network.

There are millions of satisfied CMDA2000 users. CDMA2000 has benefits over any TDMA-based GSM technology and advantages compared to UMTS/WCDMA, such as lower latency data than GPRS/EDGE on non-3G networks (1xRTT), an easy upgrade path beyond "2.5G" (with 1xEV-DO), 1.25MHz channel width on all revisions, fast data with EV-DO Rev A -- 3.1MBit/sec down, 1.8MBit/sec up -- compare to 1.8/384 (or 3.6/384 on a subset of devices) on HSDPA.

(I am an UMTS/HSDPA user.)

Re:What are you trying to say? (1)

adinu79 (860333) | more than 6 years ago | (#16899142)

Thanks for making uninformed generalizations. ....... Verizon is the main carrier that does this. The largest carrier in the USA does not.
Sorry for sounding so harsh, I was just answering to the parent that kept complaining about not being able to use his own camera phone because the carrier wouldn't let him, so he stated that camera phones are useless. I agree, answering to a misinformed generalization with another generalization it kinda' wrong.

And because you use an older device which the article doesn't talk about, you're clearly qualified to discount the entire article...

I am going to go for a V3 platform soon and so I've looked into the platform quite a bit. Also I'm a developer and I'm planning into doing some mobile development so I've also looked into the SDK for V3 and it has quite a few new features that are extremely interesting and useful especially from the point of view of the specific piece of software that we plan to implement on the device. From a user's standpoint, one of the most important things the newest version of V3 brings is the integrated web/wap browser with full HTML support (You could also download such a browser for free from Nokia if you had a S60 v3 pre-feature pack 1 ... open source and based on KHTML - same as Konqueror and Safari).

I can go on but It's kinda' late and the point is, I know quite a bit about the platform even if I didn't YET go through the trouble of changing my aging phone :)

As soon as I get the new phone, I'll also upgrade to a 3G/UMTS plan so I'll be able to enjoy that as well :) Anyway, it's true, my comment was probably a little off, as what I was trying to express is the fact that most likely it wasn't the phone's fault that his calls were being dropped but rather it was caused by network problems.

We need a phone with open software on it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#16898136)

Thus anybody could easily modify the interface to meet their needs and usage habits. I'd buy a fucking open software washing machine if they'd only sell one!

If I purchase something, I want to be in charge of it. Probably why I love GNU/Linux.

Re:What are you trying to say? (1)

dabadab (126782) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898524)

If someone wants such a phone then why on earth would they get a smartphone? If you need something simple then, for God's sake, get something simple. For example, there's the Nokia 1112: B&W display, big buttons, simple features. That's it.

Re:What are you trying to say? (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#16900376)

Yeah, I've never got that either.

There are plenty of "dumbphones", phones with little more than my Motorola Graphite supported in 1997. A quick look at the prepaid section in most supermarkets will show you what's avaiable, generally they're all in the $10-30 range.

Perhaps the objection isn't that there aren't "Voice and rudementary text messaging support" (yes, I know some complain they support text messaging. C'mon! The hardware overhead of supporting text messaging is nil, and it's usually ONE extra menu option on the phone, which you can avoid if you're utterly desperate), but that there aren't any expensive phones out there that use it, so someone can walk out of a phone shop and say "Wow, I negotiated a really great deal. This Nokia usually sells for $400 unsubsidized but they only made me pay $100 for it!"

The great thing about cellphones right now is there's an enormous amount of choice in terms of features, designs, and prices, not to mention just "the way it works". It's a little bizarre people keep insisting they just can't find a phone that suits them, still less the elusive "phone that's reliable and bug free and has a long battery life, that I just need to use to make voice calls." Maybe they're just not looking.

ummm, no (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#16897774)

Ummmm, no, Nokia won't be the next Gizmondo. This is because they make more than one phone. They make a whole range of phones, so if one model or family of phones doesn't succeed, it doesn't mean it will be the end of the company.

Re:ummm, no (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#16901028)

Having read the Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] page, I'm none-the-wiser about how Nokia's Symbian stuff is like Gizmondo.

It looks like Gizmondo produced something that worked and was much liked by the people who bought the product, but the combination of having what apparently was a major crook on board, together with absurd business decisions (varying from massive promotional spending on launch parties to a complete absense of publicity for the product in the US) sank the product. Quality certainly doesn't appear to have been an issue.

What does this have to do with Series 60 being, allegedly, not all it could be?

Nokia, Motorola, Sony, Samsung, WMobile and iPhone (3, Informative)

Corpus_Callosum (617295) | more than 6 years ago | (#16897788)

The stakes are high, the players are mammoth and everyone is making the same damned mistakes.

Today's smart-phones are actually very stupid; The interfaces are cumbersome, the features over-hyped while underperforming, the battery and performance problems legendary and yet, the mistakes are accumulating rather than being corrected.

In my opinion, the primary problem is that everyone is using the wrong metaphore for these phones. These phones are not mobile computers and should stop being treated as such. They are supposed to be lifestyle devices. Lifestyle devices need to be simple, elegant and stylish. The only manufacturer that has come close, IMHO, is Motorola with the Razor.

Nokia has some nice features, but as the article correctly posits, the interfaces are simply hideous.

Motorola has taken a shotgun approach and has such a wide variety of different offerings that it makes your head scratch. The Razor is a good phone, but it has yet to be seen whether Motorola knows how to parlay that into a spectrum of lifestyle devices of a higher generation.

Sony Ericson makes hideous phones, in my opinion. They may have nice hardware, but the software is simply terrible.

Samsung has a decent compromise in all categories and their phones are quite popular in Asia, but nothing stands out as outstanding.

Windows Mobile? You have to be kidding. I would rather shoot myself in the foot and use the blood to write on big signs that I hold up than navigate through a start menu on my mobile.

But alas, we are shown a possible beacon of light in the smartphone race. Can Apple offer us some innovation in the lifestyle smart-phone department? I certainly hope Apple teaches these other companies what style and simplicity actually are. A device that quickly morphs from one purpose to another, represents each purpose flawlessly and innovates outside-the-box. Simply the addition of iChat compatibility over WiFi would put the iPhone in a class by itself.

But anyhow, let the arguments begin.

Re:Nokia, Motorola, Sony, Samsung, WMobile and iPh (1)

cockroach2 (117475) | more than 6 years ago | (#16897840)

Sony Ericson makes hideous phones, in my opinion. They may have nice hardware, but the software is simply terrible.

I, for one, managed to get used to my very simple T100 [esato.com] even though the software does have a couple of terribly idiotic issues.

Re:Nokia, Motorola, Sony, Samsung, WMobile and iPh (2, Insightful)

_marshall (71584) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898100)

People who want "Lifestyle phones" are in a specific demographic. Maybe it's a large demographic, or maybe it's one of the largest demographics, but that still stands. Just because you want this for your phone does not mean everyone does! This is why companies like Nokia, Sony Ericsson, etc have a wide range of offerings to suit different needs. If you don't want a phone that works like a computer than for god's sake don't buy it! As you pointed out, The RAZR is probably one of the best "lifestyle phones" on the market, but IMNSHO the RAZRs UI is completely inconsistent, and was one of the hardest learning curves I've had for a midrange device in years. Of course, so many things about software and phone looks are personal taste, so I don't want to get into a pissing fight over who's opinion is the right one =).

My main point is that the "lifestyle phone" segment is covered by every manufacturer, as is the "PDA phone" segment, as is the "low end" segment, as is the "Music phone" segment, etc, ad infinitum.

Everyone needs lifestyle; just don't know it yet (1)

Corpus_Callosum (617295) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898546)

People who want "Lifestyle phones" are in a specific demographic. Maybe it's a large demographic, or maybe it's one of the largest demographics, but that still stands. Just because you want this for your phone does not mean everyone does!
Regardless of what you want to do with your phone, the point of a lifestyle device is that it looks good and very quickly and effortlessly performs it's functions without hassle (it does not cause stress or aggravation to your life, it just works). I agree with you only in one class of exceptions: Science and Engineering - people who desire to use a smartphone as a power tool would probably not find a lifestyle phone very attractive. But outside of that very slim demographic (that probably wants quick keypad shortcuts for everything and can tolerate or even desire complex interfaces), I think that everyone benefits from a lifestyle approach, regardless of their usage profiles.

This is why companies like Nokia, Sony Ericsson, etc have a wide range of offerings to suit different needs. If you don't want a phone that works like a computer than for god's sake don't buy it!
Actually, I disagree. I believe this "shotgun approach" is rooted in something much simpler than attempting to reach different market segments. It is simply the lack of any essential insight into how such devices should be designed to cator to all usage profiles seemlessly. The companies are clueless on how to achieve this and therefore have to resort to verticle market strategies to attempt to get coverage and compete in the different artificial smartphone categories. Even claiming that PDA Phone is a market category that makes sense makes my head spin. Perhaps stylus enabled phones are in a seperate class, but PDA Phones? Come on.

My main point is that the "lifestyle phone" segment is covered by every manufacturer, as is the "PDA phone" segment, as is the "low end" segment, as is the "Music phone" segment, etc, ad infinitum.
And my point is that "lifestyle" should not be a segment at all, but a firm basic requirement of any phone. I can see the need to specialize in certain respects (e.g. power tool phones for developers, engineers, scientists, high end camera phones for photographers, high end media phones with huge batteries for travelers, stylus phones for MBA PHB types, etc...) - however, all of them should resonate style, simplicity and resonance with stress-free living (e.g. lifestyle). Currently, I don't really think anyone has this right. I am holding out some hope that Apple will give us all a clue as to how next generation handheld devices should integrate with our lives. [ crosses fingers ]

Dooing too many things poorely. (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898118)

Nokia has some nice features, but as the article correctly posits, the interfaces are simply hideous.

I own a Nokia E series phone which I use among other things as an organizer. In my opinion the design of the E-series is pretty nice from a hardware standpoint. The phone is ergonomically well designed and compact. What most irritates me about this phone is not so much the complicated interface but rather the other thing the article pointed out which is **core features** that are either lacking or badly designed. And by **core features** I mean telephony, E-mail and SMS communications software and organizer software. My Nokia GSM phone now does indeed try to do too many things poorly. I would like to be able to postpone events with a couple of key presses not five or six, organize to-do notes into categories depending on which project they belong to, I would like not to have to jump through hoops to get a VPN connection to work and most of all I would like easy synchronization ability with all major E-mail systems to ship with the phone for free and a cross platform computer client software wouldn't hurt either since not everybody runs Windows. I had to download sync software for Exchange separately, it wasn't preloaded. Come to think of it the Exchange sync client wasn't even available until a couple of weeks after I bought the phone. My employer has now switched to Lotus and as is I can't easily sync my phone against the company Lotus severs, especially the all important calendar, and even if I could I still need the ability to easily set up a VPN connection where Nokia scores a big fat zero. Say what you will about Windows Mobile, my experience was that it was constantly crashing and usually whiped my phone clean in doing so but it didn't have half of the flaws in it's core features my Nokia phone has. Nokia is losing sight of the fact that people buy GSM phones firstly for Telephony, secondly for E-mail and SMS communications and thirdly for use as organizers. Everything else is a bonus.

Re:Dooing too many things poorely. (1)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 6 years ago | (#16899064)

I owned an E61 for 9 months and its construction is inadequate. After a short time it because flexy and creaky. What made matters worse was the daily freezes that required me to remove the batter to reset. The E61's UI is also the worst of all smartphones (unless you love lots of keypresses) and 3rd party apps are nearly nonexistent. Configuring it was a pain in the ass because the organizational structure was arbitrary. In contrast, my WM5 smartphone Samsung i320 is a breath of fresh air. Yes, the Samsung battery life sucks but it's basically a SLVR with 10mm extra width so that should come as no surprise. Despite the deserved reputation of WM5, my i320 is easily the best QWERTY smartphone I've ever owned (and I've owned plenty).

"Nokia is losing sight of the fact that people buy GSM phones firstly for Telephony, secondly for E-mail and SMS communications and thirdly for use as organizers. Everything else is a bonus."

Isn't that right! Seems like many of these manufacturers have the same problem but Nokia is worst of all. It's a shame that PalmOS sucked so bad because the Treo 650 apps were great for usability.

Re:Nokia, Motorola, Sony, Samsung, WMobile and iPh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#16898134)

You should try using a Windows Mobile phone - the Dash or the Blackjack - before scurrying into your corner awaiting Steve Jobs' table scraps.

Re:Nokia, Motorola, Sony, Samsung, WMobile and iPh (4, Insightful)

tbradshaw (569563) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898140)

I was following you 100% until you claimed the RAZR as an example of a phone that "got it right."

The RAZR is the worst example of form-over-function that I've seen in recent memory. The form factor is fantastic, but the user interface is horrid. It was clear that all of the work on the RAZR went into the slim and beautiful exterior while an interface was cheaply hacked together.

I had the sad occurance of my Nokia 3660 (running Symbian 60) dying on me, and I followed up the phone with a RAZR. I was stunned at the horrible inadequacies I faced when transitioning from the 3660.

I have a ton of contacts synchronized with my laptop. (Which didn't work properly with the RAZR, but I don't know that I would blame the OS directly, more like just poor support for the OS from synching software.) If you have say, 500 numbers in your phone and you want to look for Bob Smith with the S60 contact list, you just type say, "Bo" or "Smi" and there you'll be. With the RAZR, the best I could do was hit "S" to get the "Smith" and then scroll from there. (With 50 numbers in the S's, it was promptly a hassle.)

Most importantly was a core deficiency with text entry. They try the seemly intelligent method of determining likely words by the frequency that you have typed those words via T9. For example, "if" and "he" are the same numbers on the number pad. If you've typed "if" more often than "he", then 43 will give you "if". If you've typed "he" more often than "if", 43 will give you "he".

It sounds great until you use it in practice. In practice the interface to the RAZR is so damn slow that even an elementary student can type text faster than the interface can keep up with. When that becomes the case on a typical T9 system phone, it's no big deal. You learn that "he" is 43 and that "if" is 43# (were # is usually "next word"). So you can really go just about full speed, even though the interface is just trying to keep up.

Sudden with the RAZR this was impossible, because to the user the results of 43 (and other such common sequences) became nondeterministic! You couldn't type faster than the interface could render!

Coupled with very deep nested menus (no reason to take 7 nested menus to get to a commonly used feature), poor sync-ing (using iSync personally), and horrific text entry, I was fortunate enough to just straight up trade my RAZR away for a Nokia 6600. And while I agree that the newer versions of S60 haven't gotten all that much better and perhaps a little more annoying, nothing compares to the amazing inadequacy of the RAZR interface.

The current phones on my wish list are T-Mobile Sidekick (even as just a phone and nothing else, Danger have designed a beautifully easy to use interface) and the forthcoming iPhone (because I trust Apple's iBrand to make an efficient and effective interface).

For me now, software comes first. The RAZR was scarring.

Re:Nokia, Motorola, Sony, Samsung, WMobile and iPh (2, Interesting)

Corpus_Callosum (617295) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898374)

I was following you 100% until you claimed the RAZR as an example of a phone that "got it right."
I should have specified, I currently use the RAZR V3i, which has a slightly improved interface, a megapixel camera, iTunes and a much faster processor. The original RAZR was indeed a bit harder to use.

Even so, the RAZR is far from perfect. My point is just that it tends, for me at least, to be quicker and easier than any other phone that I have owned (and I have owned samples from all major smartphone manufacturers).

Re:Nokia, Motorola, Sony, Samsung, WMobile and iPh (2, Interesting)

tbradshaw (569563) | more than 6 years ago | (#16899020)

Right on. I would imagine that the faster processor alone would have been an amazing improvement in user experience.

Re:Nokia, Motorola, Sony, Samsung, WMobile and iPh (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#16899154)

I don't know if you have noticed, but most of the Motorola phones released around the same time as the V3 (i refuse to call mine a RAZR) had nearly identical interfaces. Hence, they didn't sacrifice the interface for from-factor. They made a kick ass form-factor and put the same interface they had already built and ready-to-go.

Even the internals of the phone (having played around with p2kman and PST) are similar.

Re:Nokia, Motorola, Sony, Samsung, WMobile and iPh (2, Insightful)

tbradshaw (569563) | more than 6 years ago | (#16899772)

I did notice that exact situation. They all blow. It's still an example of an extremely poor interface. The fact that they put an existing crappy solution shoe-horned into a sweet form factor further illustrates the case.

"Slapped together" doesn't necessary mean "from scratch" or even "for the specific purpose."

Re:Nokia, Motorola, Sony, Samsung, WMobile and iPh (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898532)

In fact the best interface i ever came across wast the Siemens M35*'s. And it featured a stupid piezoelectric (iirc the tecnology, anyway same of the cheap alarm clocks) sound generator. Programmable melody (not so easy composer interface but easier than the cubase (!) integrated in some later siemens), so I had a loud and clear sounding tone which beats all the crappy low rate multichannel mid players of the following generation phones i tried. Pity it's bulky.

Re:Nokia, Motorola, Sony, Samsung, WMobile and iPh (1)

KZigurs (638781) | more than 6 years ago | (#16900332)

Moto RAZR? Have you actually tried to use it or are you just speaking from the marketing pictures? No, really???

1) RAZR (pebl, k1, whatever... any recent moto it seems with the positive exception of E770, they all are the same shit) is not a smartphone. far from it. It don't even attempts. That would be fine, actually - not everything has to be one.

2) It actually couldn't be called a phone ether - you are expected to be able to call from a phone, not fight with the interface. On the other hand it probably is doing something good - teaching the great American nation about the virtues of the patience (while waiting on your phone, what a progress).

3) Oh, and for the sake of it - re qualify to be a j2me software engineer. You will gain a lotta new insights into reasons why motorola sucks that are a bit too technical (in example their KVM implementation... oh my) for general /. crowd.

Story posted to slashdot under the year 1969? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#16897802)

sorry its completely OT, but I had no other way of trying to work this one out.

i was looking for some adware related info from a while back, and I came across this story:

http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/11/12/184 4239 [slashdot.org]

what i couldnt work out was why a new article had zero replies - till i checked the date.

31st December, 1969?!? Zonk, are you feeling okay? or is this some crazy slashdot bug?

Re:Story posted to slashdot under the year 1969? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#16898132)

They're probably using Unix time (32-bit counter of the number of seconds since 00:00 GMT 1/1/1970). If that field in the database got zeroed out by mistake and you're in the western hemisphere, you'll see the article as having been posted sometime on 12/31/1969.

Too functional? (1)

digitalderbs (718388) | more than 6 years ago | (#16897816)

Although the addition of Sybian maybe be a good idea [wikipedia.org], I can't help but wonder if the added functionality will impede the use of the phone. [NSFW]

100% of sales to network operators? (2, Insightful)

grimJester (890090) | more than 6 years ago | (#16897858)

I don't know what to make of that. Obviously there are phones sold to end users by companies that, you know, sell phones. Vertical integration / vertical monopolies are, at least internationally, the exception rather than the rule.

nokia series 40/samsung (1)

pendruo (973351) | more than 6 years ago | (#16897868)

I'm always reading the same biased opinions here in slashdot about the usability of mobile phones. I agree with symbian being pretty nasty to use, slow and ugly. The models equipped with symbian tend to be high end models, just get a series 40 nokia or a samsung and shut up already.

Re:nokia series 40/samsung (1)

tjansen (2845) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898212)

Have you tried any of Nokia's S60v3 models (N73, N80..)? They are much faster than the old ones, and IMHO the UI looks quite nice.

Re:nokia series 40/samsung (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16901628)

The UI looks nice thanks to SVG being used for everything in the interface now rather than bitmaps, but frankly the same usability problems remain. The trouble is that S60v3 was a huge jump sideways to support all the powerful new OS-level features, but didn't improve much in the actual applications themselves besides the sheen. It's a developer enabling release rather than a big plus for end users in my opinion. Hopefully the later v3 feature packs will bring usability and real application improvements that are enabled by all the new OS features.

Re:nokia series 40/samsung (1)

jas203 (942742) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898724)

I'm always reading the same biased opinions here in slashdot about the usability of mobile phones.
Spot on!

I agree with symbian being pretty nasty to use, slow and ugly
Nasty to use? Ugly? Those sound very much like comments on the UI. Symbian doesn't do the UI, just the base OS. For UIs see S60 and UIQ.

And while in some peoples opinion Symbian may be slower than propriety phone OSs (which with my experience of some v9 based phones is not the case), it is because it is a complete multi-threading, real-time OS providing an open platform!

Re:nokia series 40/samsung (1)

pendruo (973351) | more than 6 years ago | (#16900172)

All right, I was referring to series 60 because that's the symbian I've tried. Anyway the sony ones using uiq didn't look any better in my opinion. Altough they're getting better with time they just can't compare to samsung. I know it is an open platform and that it multithreads but we're talking about usability here. With all those millions spent by nokia I would spect something better, in particular faster. And there seems to be people that finds these phones useful but without a touchscreen I find them pretty useless, unless you want to impress some friends showing them your snes emulator. That's were sony got it right(px00) and nokia did not.

Re:nokia series 40/samsung (1)

jas203 (942742) | more than 7 years ago | (#16900972)

I haven't used a "unsmart" phone for a while, so I cannot say how they perform compared to the smartphones I've been using for the past few years. They've always seemed pretty useable to me (I must be used to them), but they could be much more intuitive (I know my gf wouldn't have a clue how to use it).

I am assuming (and hope) the UI guys are taking a long hard look at usability for smartphones as they continue to get "smarter"

WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#16897882)

Are Americans again so out of the mobile phone business? Have the people at CNet ever really compared new Nokia "multimedia computers"? There's nothing so much different between S60 2nd and 3rd edition. 3rd Ed is a little improvement, only.

What bothers me about the N-Gage... (1)

Channard (693317) | more than 6 years ago | (#16897908)

.. wasn't so much the sidetalking thing, but that someone at Nokia thought that the way forward with the N-Gage QD was to fix the sidetalking feature but remove two appealing features. So the new N-Gage QD did let you talk into it like a normal phone, but you could no longer play MP3s or even listen to game sounds in stereo. The former is a fixture on virtually every phone that costs more than fifty quid. Now if that same person is still making design decisions at Nokia, that's definitely not a good thing.

Symbian phones are the BEST! (4, Interesting)

GekkePrutser (548776) | more than 6 years ago | (#16897922)

Nokia's Series 60 phones are much better than this article is claiming. I have used them since the first generation (Nokia 3650) and never looked back. I currently own a Nokia E60 and use most of its features, including automatic email retrieving through WiFi, VoIP (it automatically logs on to my SIP provider when I'm home), and even navigation (TomTom), although for that I prefer my Windows PocketPC for its speedier CPU and big touchscreen. The new and improved user interface in the 3rd generation Symbian is also beautiful and much handier than its predecessors.

It's just stupid to say that these phones are bad because they try to do too much. Of course, they do a lot, and if you want a phone to simply call, then just get another phone! Even Nokia makes simple phones for both consumers (3220) and business users (6230i). I have used them both and hated them, they feel so awfully dumb after using a Symbian. Just simple features of Copy & Paste, or the excellent call log feature of the Series 60 phone makes it worthwhile.

These phones have their market, the same market that has embraced the blackberry when everyone was saying it was a chunky overpriced device. Nokia is the biggest mobile phone manufacturer in the world and it only stands to reason that they have a wide range of phones with something for everyone.

Re:Symbian phones are the BEST! (2, Interesting)

Xenna (37238) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898370)

That's why I like the Nokia Communicator line of phones. When closed they are pretty basic phones that work like the simplest Nokia's of old. When open you get all the power (and complexity) of Symbian S80, a big screen and a pretty usable keyboard. I started out with a 9110 and after a short detour to a phone/pda combo I'm very glad to be back.

I heard that Nokia plans on running S60 on future communicators. I'm looking forward to getting one after my current 9300.


Re:Symbian phones are the BEST! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#16898496)

Nokia's Series 60 phones are much better than this article is claiming.

I have to agree that the article is bogus, at least from my experience. I've used quite a few Nokia phones (lately switching from an N71 to the N73) and the user interfaces are a lot easier to navigate than most other "simple" phones that I've used. Sure, they are more complex, but that is only because they perform more tasks.

I like the N73, but if anything I wish it had MORE features (like openGL-ES acceleration, a faster processor, and more storage). It certainly isn't perfect, but it comes a lot closer than any of the competition. The only real negative for me has been the price, but I would rather have quality at a price than not have the option for quality at all.

they suck horribly (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 6 years ago | (#16900354)

I have a N80 right now.

The main UI is okay, although very slow. The settings are completely incomprehensible. Sometimes you go to an item and it says "this setting is set in prefs > blah > blah > blah", instead of taking you there. Worse yet, the specified path doesn't even exist, it's incorrect.

Oh, and the battery lasts me two days, even if I don't use WiFi or UMTS. My W810i went 7. And the phone crashed on me in the middle of my last call. And it takes like 40 seconds to boot back up.

They're terrible. Every time I use a new Series 60 Nokia, I hope it's okay, and it's not.

No news under the sun. Innovation is expensive. (5, Insightful)

Iloinen Lohikrme (880747) | more than 6 years ago | (#16897926)

This article is no news. Since after the half of the 90's there has been a constant complaining about phones getting new features and them becoming harder to use. This is just one complaint more.

What I don't understand why the article writer wants to paint so grim image of where Nokia is going. Nokia is a very big firm with biggest selection of mobile phones. They have more advanced models that are the cutting in the edge and then they have simple basic models. They also have a very short product life cycle. What this means is that Nokia can try new things with their cutting edge models and if they succeed, trasfer the innovations down the line to other phone models, and if they fail, they just try again and again until they succeed. This is what the article author should have remembered. Nokia is not like other mobile phone companies, they don't play with just one card, they have massive collection of phones and if few phones flop, that doesn't matter because they still have a big collection of phones that work.

It should also be noted that this isn't the first time when a mobile phone is not a mobile phone but something else. I can remember the end of the 90's and my Ericsson R380e which was by the words of Ericsson not a mobile phone but a terminal. Actually that phone has been the best phone that I have ever owned. It's just sad that Ericsson didn't follow with the design but moved to a more bulky design, the P-series.

On a different note, Nokia's management doesn't have any other direction to go than make mobile phone more than a mobile phone. If they would just stop and say that these features are all that users will ever want, eventually chinese no name manufactures and computer companies would get them. There is only one path to Nokia and that is to make mobile phone more than a phone.

Treo (1)

diamondsw (685967) | more than 6 years ago | (#16897962)

(This is going to sound like an ad - so be it, I love the thing)

The only device I've seen that really makes is all work easily is the Palm OS-based Treos. Their phone functionality is excellent, the proven Palm interface continues to work well for the PIM tasks (and it's integrated very well into the phone and internet features), and you can extend its functionality with the interface scaling and still making sense.

The phone itself has no compromises. The PIM apps that support it are refined over a decade. Adding functionality is simple and straightforward.

Now, Palm OS has its warts - stability first and foremost (a phone should NOT crash - period), memory management a second. However, if you want a no-compromise smartphone, a Palm-based Treo is the way to go.

Re:Treo (1)

Pascal Sartoretti (454385) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898092)

The only device I've seen that really makes is all work easily is the Palm OS-based Treos.

I fully agree. After more than 2 years with my Treo 600, I switched to a SonyEricsson M600i. Very nice, small, classy, UMTS, UIQ 3, it has all the features you could wish for. Guess what? After one month I gave up and went back to my good old Treo because, contrarily to the M600i:
  • it works
  • it works fast
  • if it crashes (about once a month and not once a week), at least it boots in 10 seconds and not one minute
PalmOS may be technically outdated, but you can't beat it for quickly entering a "to do" or a meeting. My next phone is going to be a Treo 680: yes, it is only a better Treo 600 (smaller, faster, etc.), it is not revolutionary, but at least it will work :-)

Re:Treo (1)

Xenna (37238) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898420)

Of course not. The Nokia Communicators are the best phone/pda combo's, hands down. Treo's are outdated. You can't put one loose in your pocket for fear of scratching the screen. The keyboards suck. When the battery runs flat you lose your data.

A Communicator is a phone when closed and a pda when open and the memory is permanent.

http://nokia.com/phones/9300i [nokia.com]


Re:Treo (1)

Pascal Sartoretti (454385) | more than 6 years ago | (#16900284)

The Nokia Communicators are the best phone/pda combo's, hands down. You can't put one loose in your pocket for fear of scratching the screen

At least, you can put a Treo in a regular pocket. Try this with your brick...

Treo's are outdated.

I don't care, as long as it does the job.

Re:Treo (1)

Xenna (37238) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902636)

You're probably confusing the 9300 with the 9500.
The 9300 is a lot smaller than a 9500 and smaller than a treo (it's a bit thicker though).
It fits in all my pockets so far (except for the small change pocket in my jeans).


Re:Treo (1)

diamondsw (685967) | more than 7 years ago | (#16900890)

Treo's also use non-volatile flash - a dead battery means nothing more than that - memory is permanent. Keyboard is fine for my hands, with good button feel (purely subjective, of course). Had a 650 for two years, have yet to get a scratch anywhere.

The Palm OS is outdated - no argument there, and I believe I said as much. However, it also has by far the most refined user experience, and THAT is the topic - what is holding back most smartphones is their functionality is all but unusable.

TFA misses the point (5, Insightful)

_marshall (71584) | more than 6 years ago | (#16897974)

Disclaimer: I used to work for Nokia, and I own a N73 and it is a great phone IMO.

The article is pretty short, and it's main criticism is the fact that Nokia's flagship smart-phones (or as they say "multimedia computers") have too many features and aren't good at "one" thing. First, let's look at the market.

Phones are marketed to all different types of demographics, age groups, technological needs, price points, etc. Nokia, being one of the (if not _the_) biggest phone manufacturers on the planet, has a huge selection of phones that appeal to all kinds of different needs. There are the cheapo phones that make calls, send text and that's it. There's the mid-range that have some memory, include an MP3 player, and maybe have a decent camera too. Then there's the high-end ("N series") which are generally meant for high-end business users and tech-heads like your's truly. To claim that Nokia, as a company, is slipping into Gizmondo territory is either ignorant or wishful thinking.

TFA also makes claims about making calls and sending text messages with the new S60v3 being too difficult, yet provides no argument for "how?" or "why?". Using the N73 let me show you how "unintuitive" it is to make a phone call:

1) Type in the number
2) Press the green button on the left

As you can see, this is real rocket science not intended for every day cell phone users =). Ok, now let's take a look at writing a text message:

1) On S60v3 devices there is a small row of quick buttons on the Standby; one looks like an envelope with the caption "New text msg". Click that button.
2) In the To field you can type a number manually or just hop over to your contacts by Options >Add Recipient
3) type your message
4) Options>Send

Admittedly, writing a text message is a slightly more lengthy process than making a phone call, but you're typing on a numpad, so that is to be expected IMO. I think at the end of the day, it all boils down to what your needs are. If you want a simple user interface without feature bloat, don't buy a cell phone with a full blown operating system! There are plenty of *great* phones from Nokia that have simplistic user interfaces and do certain things very well. See the Nokia 6233 [gsmarena.com] or Nokia 6131 [gsmarena.com] for great examples of Nokia midrange phones that are highly functional (without feature bloat) and also extremely easy to use.

Re:TFA misses the point (1)

WarwickRyan (780794) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898508)

Disclaimer: I own a Nokia N91, and don't work for Nokia.

The phone is generally nice - it's big, but has 4gb of space for the inbuilt mediaplayer. Which is also nice.

The problem with Symbian isn't the complexity - it's the complete lack of logical organisation.

You can do some cool things with it. For example, you can customise the functionality of the two face buttons. These allow you to instantly jump to a specific function from the 'desktop' (the main default screen which shows ya agenda items, time etc). Excellent usability idea.

However, to actually configure them, you have to navigate the telephone's settings menu. Then go into the 'Security' submenu. Yes, security. To change the settings of your main screen.

So, great phone, but please don't let the SAP developers design the OS.

Re:TFA misses the point (2)

jas203 (942742) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898770)

Symbian doesn't mandate the organisation you are complaining about, they produce the base OS. For a phone a UI is built on top of Symbian, normally you'll see Symbian based phones operating S60 or UIQ. In this case it is the UI that is "lacking organisation", not the OS.

Re:TFA misses the point (1)

InterBigs (780612) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898702)

When typing a text message, you can also just enter the first letters of your contact name in the To: field and press the center key, it will then autocomplete the name (or present you with a list of matches). My 6681 is the fastest phone for texting I've ever had. I love the Series 60 platform, it totally fits me. However, I wouldn't recommend it to my grandfather or even my girlfriend ;)

Re:TFA misses the point (1)

XMyth (266414) | more than 6 years ago | (#16900072)

Also note that you can just hit the green call button to send a text message...Options -> Send isn't necessary...not on my 6620 at least.

Re:TFA misses the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#16899014)

Actually the basic features work the same way in almost every Nokia phone. So having tons of featurs really doesn't make using the phone any harder if you just use the basic features.

And one question. Do you want buy and carry around a MP3 player, GPS navigator, calendar/PDA, portable video player, camera and a mobile phone or just a mobile phone/multimedia computer? A mobile phone/multimedia computer with all those features might not be great at everything it does, but it beats carrying around seven different devices just in case you need them.

Author is talking out the wrong hole (1)

jfanning (35979) | more than 6 years ago | (#16897994)

If people can't handle a S60 phone they should get a S40 based model instead. Its not like they are being forced to buy them. That makes about as much sense as saying that Apple forced you to buy that iPod.

I don't understand why there is always this whinging about phones on Slashdot. All companies make models ranging in capability from the plain old B&W screen ones to the full "multimedia devices". If you can't get the low end models from your operator then maybe you should switch to another one or buy the phone you want at full retail. Jeez, get over it already!

Keep It Simple, Stupid (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898012)

"Does too many things" is different from "too complicated to use". Until the Mac, computers were both. After the Mac, they've been accepted as at least sometimes simple enough to use, even though they do way more things than they ever did when they were "too complicated".

We need an iPhone ASAP. Did Xerox PARC demonstrate a mobile "phone" UI in the magic 1970s that Jobs somehow missed?

New Apple phone product details leaked? (1)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 6 years ago | (#16900138)

I'm not a mac guy. So I'm not up on the latest mac rumors. But the following it 100% real.

I was sitting in a cafe quietly eating my food and this guy was sitting at the table behind me talking with a female friend. He was saying that he tests products for mac and is waiting till early 2007 to buy the new mac phone. He said the thing is really cool for several reasons. He said it has no buttons only a touch LCD screen. When you hold it a certain way it acts like a cell phone. When you type the numbers on the lcd screen the screen shoots this pulse of warmth under your fingertip so you have this sensation of touching a real button. When you rotate it the screen changes to an iPod music player. Rotate it again and it turns into a PDA. I can't remember if the 4th side had a unique functionality to it.

I've been dying to see if anybody's heard of this device. It definately has the "wow" factor that is typical of Apple products.

Everyone Uses Their Phone Like Me, Right? (1)

CrankyFool (680025) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898030)

These complaints -- these phones are too complex, they're not lifestyle enough, they should be pretty and focus on phone calls -- look to me like they're based in the assumption that everyone uses their phone like the authors do. This is clearly not the case.

I've got a relatively early Nokia Symbian phone -- 7610. I've been enjoying using it for about two years now. I like that I can track mileage and manage my calendar on it -- it's critical to my success as a manager (yes, manager. I know, I know, four-letter word).

I'm looking to switch now to the Nokia E70 because of its full keyboard, because I'm working for a company where all your mail is piped into your Blackberry (and the E70 claims to be able to pretend to be a Blackberry), and I want to be able to manage my email and calendar on my phone and have this information pushed to my desktop and other people in the enterprise.

Look, I don't mind simple, elegant phones. The razr is one of the prettiest phones I've ever seen, and if I just wanted to make phone calls, it'd probably be the one I'd consider (but probably not get -- Nokia's traditional/series 40 menus feel much saner to me than Motorola's, and I hate clamshells). These complicated Symbian devices are *NOT* a good fit for people who are in the market for something they can use to make phone calls. I suspect that's one of the reasons why Nokia's starting to refer to them as mobile computers. But they're a great fit for someone like me, who doesn't want to drag his laptop everywhere he goes, and who doesn't want a separate PDA.

Re:Everyone Uses Their Phone Like Me, Right? (1)

doctor proteus (1028902) | more than 7 years ago | (#16900426)

Exactly. Basically if you want a pseudo blackberry phone which does email well then the S60 series is the way to go. I have just got the E70 and it is simply amazing. The screen is clear and dense enough that web browsing is a charm - a far cry from my experiences of WAP 5 years ago! Now I can do online banking on the move, look up topics on wikipedia whilst in lectures, put bids on ebay, etc... all using public hotspots.

Granted the interface is slow and fairly cumbersome, plus vodafone is taking a while to release the new firmware, but I have found myself doing some rather remarkable things with the E70. For example, I was installing ubuntu on my desktop and knew that I needed to use ndiswrapper for the wireless card, my laptop is in another halls sniffing wifi so I used my phone to download the new version and the drivers. A quick swap of the SD card and I saved myself a major hassle of finding someones windows computer.

It goes to show that we shouldn't treat the S60 as a phone, and more like a PC. If you don't like it, don't get it.

Write your own interface (1)

bitspotter (455598) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898096)

Just curious - are these interface problems something that enterprising Python hackers might be able to fix by writing their own [nokia.com]?

Re:Write your own interface (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#16898378)

No. The Symbian OS API is the same on every phone, but every manufacturer implements a GUI of their own. You can't replace the GUI from an user application. The great idea was that every manufacturer would get a distinctive look & feel, while porting applications to each platform would require only minor GUI changes. Of course this is not the case in the real world.

The major problem with Nokia and Symbian is that the Symbian "C++" dialect has grown beyond retardation. It was designed back when C++ compilers were broken and memory was scarce on mobile devices. Symbian is archaic enough to assume that all software has to be able to run in ROM, which has introduced all kinds of resource & memory use weirdness. You can make an ex-Symbian programmer explode by repeating the "TDesC" mantra a few times.

Also, there are no nice and clean C++ exceptions in Symbian, you've got to manually write your exception cleanup stack using ugly macros. Due to lack of exceptions, RAII is an unknown concept in the Symbian world. You're not allowed to do any initialization in a class constructor. Instead, you have to call the initialization method of a newly created instance.

In a perfect world, where the documentation that Nokia has provided to you is up-to-date, the firmware isn't full of bugs, and the Symbian "C++" has more in common with modern C++ than just the name, there just might be more useful (and open source) software available for mobile phones.

Back to the original topic. I suppose that using the Symbian API is less painful with Python, even if it's just a heap of leaky abstractions. I've done Symbian programming only in "C++" and I'm never going back.

Re:Write your own interface (2, Informative)

jas203 (942742) | more than 6 years ago | (#16899194)

I've posted a few comments in this thread already....mostly clearing up mis-conceptions.

Also, there are no nice and clean C++ exceptions in Symbian, you've got to manually write your exception cleanup stack using ugly macros.
Pre-v9: Correct
Post-v9: Incorrect - infact Symbian "leaves" are now done in terms of C++ exceptions! (try it out yourself using intrumentation)

Symbian is archaic enough to assume that all software has to be able to run in ROM, which has introduced all kinds of resource & memory use weirdness.
Wha..? I don't understand? Surely you should be praising it for this fact as it is clever enough to not have to load into RAM code that is on ROM (I believe it is called execute-in-place)! Certainly apps installed after you've purchase a phone don't go into ROM.....
Oh, I see, you're talking about the Pre-v9 limitation of no static data in dlls. Post-v9 dlls can have static data btw.

You can make an ex-Symbian programmer explode by repeating the "TDesC" mantra a few times.
What is it? Symbian's foresight in encapsulating size with data from the ground up means that buffer-overflow attacks against OS executables that result in arbitary-code execution are incredibly rare (if not completely non-existant) ;)
(Although I should also note that the "Active Object paradigm" also helps in this area)

I've done Symbian programming only in "C++" and I'm never going back.
How come?

Seriously, I appreciate programming in C++ for a Linux app is different to programming a Symbian app, but surely any programmer should be able to program in different environments. There seems to be a general mis-conception that Symbian forces you to do it in its own "wacky" way, but that is simply not the case. You have your standard primitives of process, threads, semaphores, etc. One can easily wrap up C-strings into TPtrC's etc. And you don't "got to manually write your exception cleanup stack", you can handle it your own way. And since v9 onward, a lot of the truely frustrating limitations (i.e. static data, exceptions, etc.) have been eliminated.

The facilities provided in Symbian are there to help the programmer write good, tight, robust code.
* You can do multi-tasking with threads (context switches?), or you can use Active Objects (no context switches).
* You can use C-style arrays/strings (stack overflow?) or you can use descriptors (stack overflow will panic your app).
* To handle cleanup on an exception, you can put all your objects on the stack (how much space is on the stack?) or you can put them on the heap and used the CleanupStack (much more resource friendly).

I personally like the Symbian "style", and I think learning to do it properly (rather than just dismiss the unusual as broken) has made me a better programmer.

p.s. I think the reason for all these misconceptions is due to a lack of abundant example code of a significant size and of a high quality.

Re:Write your own interface (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#16899896)

I can appreciate Symbian's effort involved in trying to eliminate raw string errors, but trying to figure out how to convert my HBufC into a TDes8 (or worse, a const char* to a HBufC16) is like reading the Bible without the Rosetta Stone. No matter what, you're going to come away from the experience seriously warped.

how much space is on the stack?

Very, very little. You can blow the stack easily with a few recursive calls. The heap is the only real way to go except for very short-lived variables.

What's nice about the CleanupStack is that it actually destroys all objects pushed from the point of the exception to the point where you catch it (almost too frequently in the main function). So you don't get a ton of leaked memory when you leave.

Still, the limitations the OS puts on you through its programming paradigm is pretty harsh. It starts with a ridiculous indentation convention then builds until you can't stand writing Symbian code anymore. There are lots of ex-Symbian programmers, but I don't meet many future ones.

(The coding style regarding variable naming is one of the best that I've seen and is the one thing I've taken away from my experience with Symbian. So I can't say it was all bad.)

Re:Write your own interface (1)

jas203 (942742) | more than 7 years ago | (#16900906)

but trying to figure out how to convert my HBufC into a TDes8
some psuedo C++ to keep things quick
TPtr8 ps = HBufC8::Des(); // TPtr8 is derived from TDes8
TPtr16 pw = HBufC16::Des();
TPtr8 ps(pw.Ptr(), pw.Size(), pw.MaxSize()); // maybe cast the pointer

or worse, a const char* to a HBufC16
In this case I'm assuming a standard C string (although there is TPtrC constructor that will take a length too).
TPtrC8 ps("This is my example");
HBufC16* hw = HBufC16::New(ps.Length());
CnvUtfConverter::ConvertToUnicodeFromUtf8(hw, ps); // Could have used Utf7 here if needed.
Those were from the top of my head (it wouldn't compile anyway though :). I personally don't think descriptors are too hard to work with once you've grasp the concept that they are "containers" for strings/data rather than strings/data themselves.

Very, very little. You can blow the stack easily with a few recursive calls.
Yes, that was my point :)

It starts with a ridiculous indentation convention then builds until you can't stand writing Symbian code anymore
You don't have to follow the indentation convention Symbian follows surely, or do you mean it gets to you when reading the header files, example code, etc?

Well, we aren't all going to like the same things. With the amount of ill informed "Symbian bashing" on the Internet, it is nice to be presented with an fair argument by someone who has used it in earnest.

What's the problem? (1)

tjansen (2845) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898114)

I am a happy user of a S60-based Nokia N80. It's true that the phone is a bit more complicated than non-S60 phones I had before, and the battery hardly lasts for 48 hours (I just connect it to the power adapter every night - problem solved). But on the other hand, those other phones simply lacked features. The most important smartphone feature for me is the music player. On my previous phone, an S60-based SX1, I used Oggplay, but I never bothered to download it on the N80, because the N80s built-in player is really good. I also love the phone's KHTML-based web browser, which is really usable. Either with UMTS (a bit expensive unfortunately) or using a WLAN connection. And Nokia's podcasting application is very nice: I don't even have to connect my telephone to my computer in order to get new podcasts. When I am at home my phone can connect to the internet via WLAN and download my subscribed podcasts automatically. Plus there are thousand of nice little things that the non-smartphones usually can't do. For example they don't allow you to cut&paste. Or to take your own MP3s as ringtone.

Are there any alternatives? Well, of course I could buy a cheaper phone for less money. But then I had to buy and carry around a separate music player. I don't even have enough pockets in my pants to carry both. And a separate music player is combersome when somebody calls you. I also had no web browser, unless I would also buy a PDA (and PIE really sucks compared to Nokia's browser) or carry a notebook.

I simply don't understand their problem. After all nobody forces them to buy a smartphone instead of some cheap 100 EUR phone, if all they want to do is make calls and write text messages.

Have you tried the competition? (1)

PNutts (199112) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898146)

I manage wireless e-mail for a small number of people (200). Our preferred carrier is Cingular and due to the wireless software we use, our options for devices are limited. We have a few Palms, but settled on the Windows CE platform. People that have a PDA-phone for wireless e-mail are instructed to *not* use the phone and instead use a company issued cell phone. Yup. Two devices. I would call PDA-phones bricks but that would be an insult to bricks everywhere. Our recommendation for the Cingular 8100 running WM5 is to soft reset the device every morning just so you have a chance to send/receive data. Nice.

Enter the Nokia e62. Wow! This thing is a real phone, and by the way, can also do wireless e-mail. It may be the single device that we deploy for phone and e-mail that we've been looking for. Yes, it is more complex to use than previous models because of the additional functionality, but people will only use what they need to use and I don't see the learning curve being higher than other PDA phones.

A better comparison would be to compare these new Nokia's to the similar products from the competitors, not to the earlier Nokias that are "just" phones.

Where are all the Linux phones (1)

BroadbandBradley (237267) | more than 6 years ago | (#16898150)

I Love my A780 from Motorola. I think any device that has so many functions has some type of learning cure. Every time new things come out people complain about how hard they are to use and slowly but surely things get worked out. The A780 has an external keypad and is much like a simple phone when closed. Open it up to the touchscreen and you can do everything else. text to speech and voice dialing could use some tweaking but it's still cool to grab the phone in it's holster press the voice command button and say "check time" or "check missed calls" and have the phone talk to me without having to take my eyes off the road. The A1200, the sucessor to the A780 has the same functions without the external keypad...Why Why Why Motorola did you do that?

Someday it'd be nice to use Qtopia apps and such as there isn't much available for native Linux phone apps that run on Motorola EZX platform but it does support Java apps fairly well.

Once high speed connectivity at a low price or free with a cell plan becomes available, I think providers won't have the phones so locked down and you'll get more choices for what you can do or install just like a regular PC. Get support for penguin liberation front application repository on a cell phone and I don't think there'd be anything left you couldn't do.

anyhow, when I lost my Nokia 6620 and got my Motorola A780, I missed having the Symbian OS interface until I learned the new one and now I like it better. If change throws you that bad it must be a sign of old age ;-)

Interesting Topic (1)

aaronmarks (873211) | more than 6 years ago | (#16899602)

As a long time Nokia fan, I just switched this week to the HTC TyTN (Cingular 8525) which is (and I'm sorry to say) a much better phone. My 4 phones were a Nokia 6230, 6682, 9300, and then E62. I went from S40 to S60 to S80 and then back to S60v3, but none of them really were able to fill the needs of what I wanted in a phone. Everyone values different things in their phones; some want a handset that will just make phone calls whereas some want a handset that will do everything, but pretty much everyone requires 3 things from a phone:

  1. Great reception and sound quality
  2. Quick navigation through menus w/ an interface that just "makes sense"
  3. The right form factor with the right features for what type of phone the user desires

The sad thing is that Nokia used to have all of these issues figured out, and were probably the best. Lately though they have fallen behind in the last 2. The last phone that I had, which is currently Nokia's flagship, the E62 seriously lacked a fast enough processor to handle what Nokia/Symbian's OS was asking it to perform. Just trying to write a text message to someone would take 2x as long as on my 6682 which was not only S60v1 phone vs the new S60v3, but it lacked a QWERTY keyboard. Just clicking ont he address book on the E62 would take 5 seconds sometimes to load.

With the last issue, Nokia is soooooo close. Although I liked the form factor of the E62, it was lacking many of the features tha twold be expected for that type of phone. There are many examples that I can think of, but most of them center around it's compatibility with Microsoft Exchange. The E62 is supposed to be the first Nokia phone to commercially support Microsoft Exchange 2003's Direct Push technology, but compared to setting this up on a Windows Mobile phone, you have to jump through some serious hoops. The E62 lacks a useful and easy to use certificate system and since certificates can't be installed over email, bluetooth, sms, or even placed as a file on the device; they have to be set as an MIME type on a Webserver and then downloaded through the built in web browser as a *.der files that is in base64. In order to make this work I had to do a ton of certificate conversions using OpenSSL, but in the end the certificate worked with the phone. Once I upgraded to Exchange 2007 and Outlook 2007 though it was a completely different story. Outlook 2007 requires that you use the Exchange 2007 certificate generator when using "Outlook Anywhere" (RPC over HTTPS), if you require it to check the SSL certificate for the principal name (i.e. msstd:contoso.microsoft.com). If you use alternate DNS names in your Root cert which Outlook 2007 requires or else it will give error messages, then Outlook 2007 will work fine, but the cert is then incompatible with the Nokia phones. I tried Certificates with alternate DNS names on both the Nokia 9300 and Nokia E62, and neither actually used the certificate (you would always be prompted that you were visiting an unauthorized site when you would go to OWA). How is a phone that is supposed to be a corporate focused phone supposed to work, if it can't even read a wide variety of SSL certificates? BTW, my HTC TyTN, Cingular 8125, and Cingular 2125 all had no problem reading the certificate (all Windows Mobile 5 phones).

In the end the Window Mobile 5 phones now beat the Nokia phones in pretty much every category. The only category that most would question would be stability, but I would counter that by saying that my Nokia 6682 and Nokia E62 crashed all the time (definitely more than my WM5 phones). I really hope that the Symbian OS gets some huge improvements very soon, because otherwise they may lose any chance they have at gaining back previous respect they may have had. I think that if the Symbian OS focused more on open source features like better IMAP support, fast and easy to use menu's, and solid compatiblity/stability that they would then have a winner.

Sadly... This article is true. (1)

8127972 (73495) | more than 7 years ago | (#16900452)

Our workplace got a bunch of E62's and the users couldn't swap them for Blackberries fast enough. Nothing worked as advertised, was too complicated and slow. They're basically "bloatware" which is sad seeing that they had the lead in the phone market until recently.

Nokia E70 (1)

ry4an (1568) | more than 7 years ago | (#16900970)

I've got a Nokia E70 (Symbian 3rd Ed.), and I find it spectacular. I've owned S40 Nokias and Motorolas previously.

N91 Sux0r (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16902132)

I own an N91, and I live in Germany. The number of times I've been tempted to drive 7 hours so I could stand on Norwegian soil and punch a bonified Norwegian in the face, on behalf of Nokia, is too many to count. Yes, I could have bought a different phone that worked better. The problem is, I bought the Nokia N91 expecting it to work as advertised, or at least reasonably close.

For the writer who claims his interface is simple, consider this. I want to return a call to someone who called me. I press the "Talk" button, the phone asks me if I want to dial the number I just pressed "Talk" on. If I press "Select" it asks me if I want to call, save, or message the number. If I then select "call" it asks if I want to make a video or normal call. If I select "normal" it then confirms I want to call the given number. Worse yet, it can be assumed that if I'm in the call menu, as opposed to the message menu, I intend to make a normal phone call. None of the options to get me to a normal phone call are the default, so I always have to scroll to it.

There is also the fact that many of the menu options have absolutely no description in the manuals (online or otherwise). Or the options that require the user to enter the same exact setting in two (or more) menus in order for the phone to recognize them. The countless options that you can "modify" where the only modification option is "exit"... The battery that doesn't last 10% of the advertised time, or the PC software that doesn't install properly (or uninstall for that matter)...

Nokia does get major points for allowing you to update your firmware at home, on your own PC. Seriously. If only they'd tell you what they fixed (admit there was a fault?)... They could also mention what the latest firmware version was before you wasted your time downloading and installing it... Sure it is just 15 min to download and install, but if the firmware was the same version you already had, you just reset your phone to the factory settings for nothing, and now can spend 2 hours resetting all of the elements that it doesn't backup when you do a full backup.

Nokia has a great marketing department. If only they'd let the engineers see some of the marketing literature a day or two before a phone gets released.

Nokia = rubish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16902854)

They used to make good mobile phones, but that was 5 years ago. Now their products suck. I bought N70 and this is the worst phone I've ever had. The cheap plastics were already scratched after one week of use. After one month paint of the middle control button was already off. I also have to mention that the phone tend to open in the pocket, and since there is no lock feature for the sliding thing I make unwanted calls all the time. Moreover, the symbian OS often crashes. One day it just stop logging my calls and this feature didn't work until I took it to service centre. I used nokia for 4 years because of the quality and since they quality is terrible now, they just lost one customer. The N70 is the last Nokia mobile phone I've bought.
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