Goodbye fellow Nokia fans, it’s time for me to move on

Dieter and the folks here in the Smartphone Experts family let me launch Nokia Experts back in January 2009 as a way to share my passion for Nokia and its products and complete the full circle of mobile operating systems for the Smartphone Experts body of sites. Since then I have posted 794 posts and enjoyed sharing my enthusiasm with readers and the wonderful folks at Nokia. However, it is time for me to focus on my work on ZDNet at The Mobile Gadgeteer and Smartphones & Cell Phones blogs, on helping my employees in my day job develop professionally, and on spending time with my family and my daughters as they prepare to enter college and start their own lives.

Back in 2009 Nokia had a major lead in the smartphone market and seemed untouchable, but over the last couple of years we have seen how a large company without a clear focus can lose its way and market share. Back when my buddy Ricky Cadden shut down Symbian-Guru I thought of joining him and have had my own ups and downs over the past year. One thing that kept me going here more than the devices was the people of Nokia and those writing about Nokia and I appreciate their friendship over the years and hope we can continue those relationships for years to come.

I am extremely excited to see the Windows Phone OS running on Nokia hardware and while it may not have a major impact on Nokia’s market share I think it is the right move for them at this time. I do still enjoy Symbian and will keep a few devices around to continue using, but my primary smartphone love right now is Windows Phone and I cannot find much motivation to write about Nokia here on this site. Don’t worry though I will include Nokia coverage more on my ZDNet blog so I may not be focused on it here, but will still cover the company and the devices. Nokia’s Windows Phone devices will be well covered by the great folks at WPCentral and I hope to contribute some articles there and across some other Smartphone Experts sites since I enjoy using devices from every smartphone platform.

Thank you again to all of you readers for you support, questions, and die hard attitude. There were not many of us in the United States who discovered and heavily used Nokia’s Symbian and Maemo devices, but I hope I helped some of you out over the past couple of years.

Nokia commits to 2011 Windows Phone amid expected poor financials

It comes as no surprise that Nokia’s 2nd quarter financial results are poor since they are in the middle of a huge smartphone operating system strategy change. We saw a similar type of situation happen when Microsoft transitioned from Windows Mobile to Windows Phone 7, but Nokia is still doing much better than Microsoft did through that time. Nokia still sold 88.5 million mobile devices (16.7 million of them were smartphones) so those that enjoy using Nokia devices still seem to be buying them.

Stephen Elop said that a Windows Phone device will be coming out from Nokia in 2011 and that excites me. I love the new Windows Phone operating system and think it better than iOS and Android for me. I won’t predict that Windows Phone will resurrect Nokia’s sales numbers, but they will have a positive impact. Hopefully the Nokia brand will introduce Windows Phone to more people because I just think people need to try it first to see how great it is. At this time people seem to avoid it because it is from Microsoft and they have existing feelings about the old Microsoft mobile operating systems.

Nokia is still making very good Symbian smartphones and those of us who still actually like Symbian are finding some great devices in the N8, E7, and E6.

Is N8 Anna update coming end of August? I took action to get it now

I read that Nokia was slapping those loyal customers who have went out and purchased the N8 and other Symbian^3 devices early in the face by shipping new N8 and C7 devices with Anna preloaded. Without question, they should have first provided the update to existing owners and this whole Anna update story is disappointing to me. I also read that Anna for the N8 was leaked and available so I decided to risk it rather than wait for Nokia since my N8 was just sitting around useless anyways and now I have Anna on my N8 performing well so far.

This will void your warranty, risk bricking your device, etc. so I do not recommend any readers take these steps and just wait for Nokia to officially release it. That said, my wife’s blue Nokia N8 constantly locks up and is a piece of crap so I am going to update hers using these steps after I test it out on my orange one for a few more days. So far everything seems to be working just fine. There were a couple of Chinese apps on the N8 that I just uninstalled and so far so good. These steps are not too bad actually and didn’t require any DOS commands or anything like goofing around with my N900 did.

Any readers try this update and if so, how did it go for you?

UPDATE: Here is a page describing a new ROM version with the split screen/context sensitive keyboard and other improvements. I am going to put this one on my N8 now.

First impressions of the Nokia E6; my T-Mobile SIM is staying in it most of the time

I have liked the Nokia Nseries devices over the years for their media creation experiences, but it was always the Eseries that earned a spot in my pocket and long term use of my SIM card due to their workhorse functionality. The Nokia E61 was the first front facing QWERTY keyboard Nokia Eseries I bought and I enjoyed using it. However, when the E71 came out in that ultra-sleek form factor and design I jumped all over it and picked up one of them.

I wasn’t as impressed with the E72, but the E73 Mode won me back and up until now I consider that my ultimate Nokia front facing QWERTY device. After spending a couple of weeks with my new Nokia E6 I have to say that I find little reason to pull out my T-Mobile SIM card and think this device may just have all that I need in a beautiful form factor and it trumps all other front facing QWERTY Nokia devices.

I also think it easily beats the BlackBerry QWERTY devices as I have said many times because it has dedicated keys for commonly used things such as @, ?, period, and comma that alone make it more functional for me.

The hardware of the Nokia E6 is just about what I wanted with a 640×480 pixel resolution display that rivals the iPhone 4 retina display with a density of 326 pixels per inch (the iPhone 4 is the same). It is only a 2.46 inch display though, which causes some issues with apps (Slacker Radio is offset and doesn’t fill the display). I like the solid metal back plate, huge 1500 mAh battery that matches my other Eseries devices, 8 megapixel camera, touchscreen display, slider/lock switch, and microSD card expandability. There is a lot more to the hardware I will cover in a full review.

Overall, I am pleased with the software, primarily that the E6 comes with Anna loaded out of the box. I still have issues with Nokia’s email solution and Gmail wasn’t working right at first and is still lazy about updating properly. Mail for Exchange works well though and I can now respond to meeting invites. I like the new home screen layout with 3 customizable widgets on the right and three common ones always on the left for time/date and quick alarm access, quick profile switcher, and notifications area. Including JoikuSpot out of the box has been helpful for keeping me connected during my vacation.

I am find a LOT to like with the E6, but also some things that need work. I still thik it is a fabulous Eseries QWERTY and a testament to that is the fact that my SIM has been in it most of these past two weeks. Stay tuned for more thoughts in a week or so.

While I am on vacation this week I still wanted to give you a few of my first thoughts on the device and show you some photos of it. For more in-depth analysis on the Nokia E6 take a look at these great articles:


Synchronica to acquire Nokia’s operator-branded messaging business

Nokia Messaging has been a bit of a confusing service in the past, which is why I created the Nokia Messaging reference guide a couple of years ago. I have been disappointed in the current Nokia Email app and lack of full support for Gmail so when I heard today that Synchronica acquired Nokia’s operator-branded messaging business my hopes were raised that some attention would be given to making the experience better.

With this acquisition Synchronica will gain the opportunity to service more than six million active end users just in North America. Approximately 250 employees, externals, and contractors are planned to transfer from Nokia to Synchronica.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of July 2011.

Nokia USA online store now closed

I saw recently that the overseas online Nokia stores were closing, but figured the US one would stay open given that just a small number of carriers sell Nokia smartphones. However, if you go visit the Nokia USA store website you will find that it is now CLOSED. After the crazy Nokia N8 experiences I had, I have to say good riddance. You were much better off finding phones at Amazon, Newegg, Dell, and through other online retailers anyway.

This is what is posted on the Nokia USA site:

The Nokia US Online Store has been closed from June 30, 2011. Below you will find information on where to purchase a new Nokia product and/or compatible accessory and information on where to find support for your current online order from the Nokia Store.

The site lists the various questions and answers you may have regarding current orders, promotions, and service issues.

Nokia Shorts 2011 N8 film maker winner announced

It is clear that the Nokia N8 is the best cameraphone available and should hold onto that title even though T-Mobile is promoting the new myTouch 4G Slide as having the best camera on a smartphone. I use my N8 quite a bit to capture video of my daughters’ sports and other events, but need to learn how to do better so I can hang with folks that turn out videos like these taken for the Nokia Shorts 2011 video contest.

Thousands of videos were submitted and judged over a four month period and JW Griffiths, from Great Britain, was selected as the winner with his Splitscreen: A Love Story movie (embedded below). He earned a $10,000 USD prize.

Splitscreen: A Love Story from JW Griffiths on Vimeo.

Seven others were selected as finalists and all of these can be viewed on the Nokia Shorts 2011 website. These include the following videos:

1. ‘Pearls of Wisdom ‘
Jason Van Genderen – Australia
A unique, short documentary featuring ‘pearls of wisdom’ from homeless and displaced people

2. ‘The Adventures of a Cardboard Box’
Temujin Doran – UK
The escapades of one boy and his cardboard box – his own gateway to a million, fantasy adventures

3. ‘Dirt’
Joseph Marcantonio – UK
A post-apocalyptic cowboy film

4. ‘The Rider’
Josh Brooks – USA
A classic story with a twist set in the hills of Montana

5. ‘Thunk in Public’
Ryan Maples – USA
A comedy short on unfiltered thoughts, leading to awkward situations

6. Homecoming
Teemu Nikki – Finland
Humourous film featuring key props including salmon, knife and a pair of gloves

7. Daniel
Aurora Fearnley – UK
A drama fantasy about one person coming to terms with a special, mystery gift

These are great to view for motivation to capture even better movies myself. Do you capture video with your Nokia N8?

Mr. Elop shows off Nokia’s Sea Ray Windows Phone device

OK, I’ll admit I was a bit harsh on the Nokia N9 and maybe it is due to my frustration with the lack of a simple Anna update on my existing devices. How can they show something as slick as the N9 and MeeGo and not even provide the update to existing loyal customers? Anyway, I was thinking early today I would likely buy a Nokia N9 (and I still might), but when I saw the same form factor running Windows Phone as the Sea Ray I became much more excited about Nokia.

I understand that the meeting was an internal meeting and someone, either accidentally or purposely, leaked out the video where Mr. Elop showed off this slick Windows Phone device. There are still a ton of questions about the device (processor, camera, Nokia Maps, etc.) and I am sure there is a lot of work to do, but the fact that it looks to be just about the same as the N9 is promising.

Both the N9 and this Sea Ray device show me that Nokia continues to create nice hardware and I look forward to both MeeGo and Windows Phone devices. Shoot, I am still buying Symbian devices since I like what Nokia has to offer. After seeing the N9 and playing more with my Nokia E7, I also came to realize it isn’t that important to have thousands of 3rd party apps when the operating system itself provides nearly all the functionality that you really use on a daily basis.

Nokia announces the N9 as first MeeGo device, US not part of the launch

We have heard rumors of a MeeGo device coming from Nokia for some time and late last night Nokia announced the Nokia N9 MeeGo device. As much as I like Nokia products, I don’t know why they want to again have four operating systems to support with Symbian, Series 40, Windows Phone, and MeeGo. I think MeeGo will just end up being another hobby device, like the N900, and according to FoneArena the US is not a launch country so we may not even see it here until 2012.

Their press release states it will ship later this year and honestly I would rather just see Nokia devote these resources to Windows Phone or even improving Symbian rather than spending time on a phone that will appeal only to the most die hard Nokia fan who doesn’t care about smartphones being part of a complete ecosystem.

The N9 specifications include the following:

  • 1 GHz Arm Cortex A8 OMAP3630 processor
  • MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan operating system
  • Penta-band 3G radio (Yeah Nokia, why can’t anyone else do this?) at just 14.4 Mbps
  • 8 megapixel Carl Zeiss camera with dual LED flash
  • Front facing camera for video calls
  • 3.9 inch AMOLED display at 854×480 pixel resolution
  • NFC chip
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
  • A-GPS
  • 1450 mAh battery
  • Dimenions of 116.45 x 61.2 x 7.6 mm and 135 grams

It looks to have specs matching current devices, except for the processor and slower wireless cellular radio and in six months won’t stand out in the crowd at all. There are no buttons on the front and everything is controlled by the touchscreen interface. The N9 will come in Magenta, Cyan, and Black and the design does look beautiful with the curved Gorilla glass.

Check out some Nokia N9 resource sites for more information:

Anna update scheduled for existing devices in August

It will be just about a year after the release of the Nokia N8 when we will be getting the update that was talked about during the release. According to a post on Nokia Conversations, Anna will ship on new N8, C7, and C6-01s that are bought starting in July while the E6 and X7 already have it loaded. As you know, my Nokia Astound also has Anna and I love it! I also have my own Nokia E6 coming this week that has Anna preloaded so by the time it comes to existing devices I may no longer even have those devices.

Speaking of existing devices, I had to pass my orange Nokia N8 on to my wife since her blue one is a lemon and hangs and shuts down on her all the time. You do not want a wife with a goofy phone that you recommended and since I prefer the E7 to the N8 myself I have no problem passing it along to her.

Hopefully, Nokia can keep this August date at least since I told my wife when we bought her blue N8 back in February that Swype in portrait would be coming very soon and these update delays are killing my reputation.

Nokia N8 Guide

Nokia E73 Mode Guide
Nokia N900 Guide