Symbian, N8, N900 Thoughts and Questions

October 11, 2010 @ 03:51 - Michael

Categories: GeekLifeTech

Tonight I was thinking, as I so often do, about mobile phones, how my current usage dictates what I buy and use, and how a different device, in one way or the other, can benefit or change my current experience of a mobile device. As many (if not all of you readers) may know, Nokia just announced many new devices, all running Symbian of some sort, most notably Symbian S^3, including the C6, E7, and N8. Each device tailored to a different usage style and audience and all with their major pros and cons based on each user. This has really gotten me thinking and dwelling on my current situation.

I initially got into Nokia devices with the AT&T branded E71x. While the E71 is an amazing device, the E71x is a horribly neutered version of that. I wanted a good smartphone though, which had a decent hardware QWERTY keyboard, wifi net capabilities, all while still not requiring a data plan to be relatively useful. The E71x was the device that best fit that profile, not to mention its extraordinarily good battery life and signal reception (especially for cell/3G). The one thing I could never really get used to was the small width of the keyboard. It was just too hard for me to be really accurate on it, though it was a large step ahead of T9. Which leads me to my next point.

My second (and current) Nokia device, the N900 with Maemo. This is definitely a different animal than the E series devices I have seen, used, and heard about, but that was a good part of the draw to it. Not to mention the hardware QWERTY, 32GB storage, camera, and form factor. From the first time I saw and started investigating the device, I've fallen in love and had to have it, lack of AT&T 3G not-withstanding. Sure, the device has a few drawbacks, one being the bleeding edge Maemo phone, lack of 3G, and software infancy, but I was prepared for it. The more and more I find myself relying on my phone, mainly due to the sheer flexibility and power of the N900, the more I find the drawbacks to be more detrimental. The biggest is probably lack of 3G, for more than the obvious speed reasons, though that is a large portion of it. I'm quite frequently on wifi so cell speed isn't huge for me, but it's nice to have, especially when uploading pics via @pixelpipe when not on wifi. The other issue is with the failure in technology in general to handle a large data stream while still allowing calls to come through. I've lost count of the number of calls that are ignored and texts that are delayed because of that issue. Moving along though, another big issue of mine is some of the stock software, like the phone app and calendar. Even my E71x has a more robust app for both. The phone app has a proper history with call timers, proper groups, and software priority. All places that the N900 falls short with. As for the calendar, you'd think a device such as this would have a proper calendar with subscription support, even if it is read-only, but alas, this doesn't even have that. Yes, I know the device and platform are open and there are other apps out there that might help with some of my problems, but that isn't the point. The point is the basics such as that should be covered in stock firmware. This brings me to some of the pros of the N900, the software available. Since the N900 is Maemo Linux, many Linux apps have been ported and/or just work with Maemo, leading to a very large application catalogue with infinite potential for new and exciting things to happen. I especially love this part of the N900 and a very big reason for this blog post.

TL;DR? Skip to here.

If you've made it this far, I'd appreciate your feedback on the following questions.

  1. How would you compare the N8 or E7 to the N900? I find it near impossible to give up hardware QWERTY, but if the pros are enough, I could do it.
  2. How does the available software on S^3 compare to that of the N900? In terms of games (not too important) to customization of applications being used for twitter, facebook, etc (I know about Gravity, what about others?)
  3. How does the battery life compare? I'm lucky to get a full day out of my N900, but I'm hearing of people easily getting nearly 2 days or more from their N8.
  4. Given what I've said here, if you're in the same boat or understand my POV, how do you think I'd feel with a real Symbian device vs Maemo for the points I've made (software catalogue, calendar and phone apps, battery life (I know it's more hardware dependant but Symbian is designed to extended battery life unlike Maemo which isn't as much))?
  5. Would it really be worth it to wait it out and go bleeding edge with the (rumored still) N9 and MeeGo or go to the tried and true Symbian platform for the stability and usefulness it offers?
  6. My company is finally ditching Exchange for Google Apps for Domains, so outside IPs can finally use our "exchange" capabilities, which means my device would get a lot of work related use as well. Would the E7 or N8 have enough differentiation between work and play/personal vs the N900 to be worth the switch?

Those are just a few questions I have. I'd really appreciate any and all feedback you may have. (No need to register on the site if you have twitter or facebook as both logins will work for commenting :) ). Thanks for taking the time to read all this drivel, and for the record, this entire post was drafted on my trusty N900.