It was way back in September when I told you about the North American Calling All Innovators contest and how a Nokia Symbian^3 device would be coming to the US. Actually, the contest details stated that “Nokia will release a new device in the US which is compatible with apps developed for the N8 in early 2011.” While I thought it might be the N8, several people contacted me to say it was more likely the C7 with a lower price range. We then heard about a Nokia X7 device that looks similar to the N8. Pocketnow.com just posted a rumor that the X7 may be getting canceled.
Since we haven’t heard officially from Nokia yet, I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions yet on the Symbian^3 device that is supposed to be coming to AT&T in early 2011. There has actually been quite an enthusiastic response to developing with Qt and Nokia issued the following statement that extended the 10 million dollar prize contest:
Due to overwhelming response from developers adopting Qt and feedback from developers attending the Qt trainings around the world we have extended the deadline for the $10M Calling All Innovators contest to March 31, 2011.
I started working on development for Qt myself and was registered for one of the local events (other obligations prevented me from attending thought). I am trying to find the time to work on this some more, but am not sure I will be able to get any apps up in time for the contest. Are any of you readers developing for the contest?
The contest is still going on and there are LOTS of prizes for developers so even if this rumored X7 is canceled, it looks like AT&T will be getting some kind of Symbian^3 device this Spring.
I just posted on the North American Calling All Innovators contest and then started checking out the contest site in more detail. As I stated in that post I was wondering what device people would be using to download the applications to, but if you go to the Judges and Awards page you can see writing about New Device Tracking Period and New Device sales. What is this mysterious New Device? All the evidence suggests it is a Nokia N8. I think blue and orange Nokia N8 devices would perfectly match the blue and orange AT&T colors, don’t you?
More evidence of this is on the Rules page where the details state, “Qualifying apps must be designed, developed, fully compatible with, and published for, the Nokia N8…” Wow, doesn’t get much clearer than that, does it? I can’t imagine that Nokia is just counting on those of us who will be buying SIM-unlocked N8s and the evidence is mounting that AT&T will be picking up the N8.
OK, here is more evidence in the contest pages, “Nokia will release a new device (“New Device”) in the United States which is compatible with Apps developed for the N8, in early 2011 (“Release Date”).” Uh, OK, this HAS to be the N8 then.
As you all know I have been a bit pessimistic about Nokia and North America, but then wrote the post about not caring too much because I am a fanboy who is sticking with them anyway. It turns out that Nokia wasn’t just giving lip service to North America and is actually taking steps to reach out. They just announced the Calling All Innovators, North America contest in partnership with AT&T and are having a full Nokia Developer Day at CTIA in early October. I may just have to start developing apps so I can get a Nokia N8 developer pack too
This contest follows the very successful one that concluded at Nokia World 2010 and is designed for developers around the world to create apps for North American consumers. AT&T and Nokia will be the judges of the apps and each developer participating in the CTIA developer session, held in October, will receive a Nokia N8 developer pack from Nokia.
As stated by Purnima Kockikar, VP Forum Nokia:
The commitment from Nokia is a clear message that we are serious about the North American market. Developers have the tools, the support from AT&T and the marketing power of Nokia to get visibility for their apps. Additionally, developers can make their Qt-based app available in Ovi Store to Nokia customers globally reaching tens of millions of customers.
There are 17 categories for app submission and consumers will contribute to finalist selection with the number of downloads counting towards part of the winning criteria. Will AT&T be getting the Nokia N8 officially? It seems that we are going to need devices here to download these candidate apps and I can’t imagine Nokia wants us using the Nokia E71x to do so.
I know I am ruining my own chances at a fantastic offer, but wanted to let you all know about the cool Nokia Newegg.com promotion where you have the chance to pick up a Nokia N900 or E72 for just $1. There are special Newgg.com-Nokia banner ads with a yellow egg and the two devices, found on a couple of sites mentioned on the WOMWorld site, and when that egg flashes if you are the first to click through then you can get this deal. This is for North American Nokia fans only.
Feel free to click the egg above when it is flashing and if you do happen to stumble upon this over the next month please let us know. I understand there will be 20 such offers over the next month so some people are going to get a fantastic deal on one of these devices.
Steve Jobs held an Apple press conference today to talk about the iPhone 4 reception issues and said that everyone in the smartphone industry has a problem with reception and the iPhone 4 is a marvel of engineering. I don’t recall him specifically mentioning Nokia, which makes sense since my personal experiences with over 25 Nokia smartphones shows them to clearly have superior RF reception. Even though Nokia clearly shows where the antennas are in their manuals, I find I get excellent reception pretty much no matter how I hold my device.
Nokia followed up the press conference by issues their own statement regarding this issue:
Antenna design is a complex subject and has been a core competence at Nokia for decades, across hundreds of phone models. Nokia was the pioneer in internal antennas; the Nokia 8810, launched in 1998, was the first commercial phone with this feature.
Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying human behavior, including how people hold their phones for calls, music playing, web browsing and so on. As you would expect from a company focused on connecting people, we prioritize antenna performance over physical design if they are ever in conflict.
In general, antenna performance of a mobile device/phone may be affected with a tight grip, depending on how the device is held. That’s why Nokia designs our phones to ensure acceptable performance in all real life cases, for example when the phone is held in either hand. Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying how people hold their phones and allows for this in designs, for example by having antennas both at the top and bottom of the phone and by careful selection of materials and their use in the mechanical design.
Have you experienced the same solid reception on your Nokia smartphones?
There appear to be a ton of people pre-ordering the new Apple iPhone 4 today as both the Apple and AT&T online stores are having trouble processing orders. I started the process just to see what the monthly AT&T fees would be, but after the store locked up I gave up and still have no intention of buying one for myself. I already have an iPhone 3GS and rarely use it, especially since I have an iPad that I prefer to use with the large display. I am most likely getting a new Nokia E73 Mode and then have my eye on an orange or blue Nokia N8 to use with T-Mobile USA.
Several online mobile writers were given the chance to get some hands-on time with the Nokia N8 over the last couple of days so I wanted to share links to their reports for you to enjoy. I especially enjoyed the long 8 minute video that my pal Rafe recorded over on All About Symbian. Needless to say, I am VERY excited about the N8 and can’t wait for it to hit the streets.
- Rafe’s 8 minutes of Nokia N8
- Mark Guim’s hands-on and first impressions article
- Eric Zeman’s Phone Scoop post
- Sascha Segan’s PC World hands-on
- Harry McCracken’s Technologizer preview
- Noah Kravitz’s PhoneDog video preview
- Tnkgrl’s hands-on with the N8 post
- Mark Spoonauer’s Laptop Magazine first look
Anyone find any other hands-on previews from the last couple of days?
Unfortunately, I do not live in one of the areas where they were demoing the phone so I still have yet to see the N8 in person myself. It seems almost universal that people like the hardware. The Symbian folks also like the improvements in the OS, but acknowledge Symbian^3 doesn’t show major improvements over existing Symbian S60 5th or 3rd Editions. Then again, for those of us who like the existing Symbian interface this may be a good thing. For those comparing it to Android, iPhone, and webOS the interface looks to be a bit disappointing. If Symbian^3 on the N8 is better than what I have on the N97 mini or E73 Mode, then I will be a happy man since I don’t need or want my Nokia device to be an Android or iPhone smartphone.
One aspect of the upcoming Nokia N8 that has a lot of people concerned is the sealed up battery, similar to the way the iPhone is designed. If you take a look at this article you will see there doesn’t seem to be anything to worry about. Granted, you won’t be swapping batteries on the go easily like you can now, but at least you have the option to replace a dead battery. There already are 3rd party solutions for charging up your battery on the go and my main concern was being able to replace a battery after it lived out it’s useful life. I like the option of taking out a couple of screws to access and replace the battery and it looks like Nokia did a great job here with the industrial design.
I personally cannot wait for the Nokia N8 and think this may be one of the best Nokia devices ever.
I have not been very excited about any Nokia device for a few months, especially with the recent HTC Incredible, Nexus One, Palm Pre Plus, and other devices readily available here in the US. Today Nokia officially announced the Nokia N8 Symbian^3 device and I have to say I am planning to pick one up as soon as I can. One of the most compelling features is the unique 5-band WCDMA 3G support that we have not yet seen on ANY other smartphone to date. This means you can buy it and use it with either AT&T or T-Mobile here in the US and get 3G data speeds.
Another first for Nokia is a sealed internal battery locked inside the aluminum colored shell. This used to be one area where Nokia fans slammed the iPhone, but in all honesty even though I have spare batteries I rarely ever use them and find this to be a non-issue. On the other hand, the specs of the N8 show only a 1200 mAh battery so that may be an issue.
Other specifications of the Nokia N8 include:
- 3.5 inch 640×360 capacitive touchscreen display
- Symbian^3 OS with Qt 4.6.2 support
- Bluetooth 3.0
- 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
- HDMI port
- Internal 16GB memory and microSD card for up to 32GB more memory
- 12 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and Xenon flash and 720p capture capability
- Both a FM transmitter and a FM radio
- Integrated GPS with free Ovi Maps navigation
- 1200 mAh NON-REPLACEABLE battery (seems a bit low for this device)
- 5 colors in aluminum casing
- Dimensions: 4.47 x 2.32 x 0.51 inches and 4.76 ounces
Look at these specs and you will see things not seen on many other smartphones, including Bluetooth 3.0, 12 megapixel camera, FM transmitter, and 802.11 b/g/n WiFi. The display is not as high of resolution as I though it would be for a high end device, but it does support 16 million colors too.
Specifications are not everything though, as we have seen with past Nokia devices, but I think Symbian^3 will add in some user interface improvements. I saw it in action at CES this year and IMHO it looks much like Maemo 5 and Google Android while still having some familiar Nokia characteristics so I think we will find it quite appealing and functional. I am sure others here in the US will slam it, but that is nothing new and doesn’t surprise me. Is the iPhone with its very limited icon-based user interface really that efficient and optimal? I don’t personally think so and never use my iPhone as a phone anymore because it doesn’t give me enough functionality.
I personally want a blue or orange one, but understand they vary by country. I wish this was available in the next month or two and am not sure I can wait until Q3 of this year.
The Nokia E71/E71x was at the top of my top three Symbian devices of all time and had a form factor that couldn’t be beat. My wife actually has adopted the E71 as her primary smartphone and absolutely loves it. There were only a few issues I had with the E71/E71x and it seemed Nokia was going to fix most of those with the Nokia E72. I have been using an evaluation E72 for a couple of weeks and find that some of the things I wanted to see improved were improved, but the update wasn’t quite as good as I had hoped for. Then again, the device is very reasonably priced and is still a very compelling smartphone that should appeal to many of you.
Improvements from the E71/E71x to the E72
A couple of the pain points in the E71 were the 2.5mm headset jack, problematic 3.2 megapixel camera (mostly fixed with latest firmware update), lack of microUSB charging, and older S60 Feature operating system. The Nokia E72 has a standard 3.5mm headset jack, good 5 megapixel camera, microUSB charging, and S60 Feature Pack 2 and more as listed in the specifications below. So on paper, the E72 is clearly superior to the E71 and in actuality it is for the most part. However, the E71 was the sleekest, sexiest smartphone around and the E72 loses a bit of this with a slightly cheaper feel to it. It still feels good in your hand and is sexy, but there is something about the E71 that makes it feel better. There are other major improvements in the E72 (described below) that make it a much better device than the E71 so it is definitely an upgrade to consider if you liked the E71.
My biggest gripe now with the E72 is the display resolution and fonts. I have been spoiled by some fantastic high resolution displays on the N97 mini, N900, and Google Nexus One and now it is tough to go back to a device with a 320×240 QVGA display. I understand this is an operating system limitation so there wasn’t much Nokia could have done and kept it a S60 3rd Edition device. Sorry, I was misinformed and didn’t do enough research to know this is not a limitation.
In the box
The Nokia E72 comes in a fairly standard compact Nokia box along with a battery (BP-4L), A/C charger, USB cable, wired stereo headset, lanyard, pouch, User Guide, Quick Start Guide, and some other small pamphlets.
- Intel ARM 11 600 MHz processor (E71 had 369 MHz processor)
- Symbian OS 9.3 with S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2
- 250 MB of free user disk space
- 2.36 inch 320×240 pixel resolution QVGA display
- Optical trackball
- 5 megapixel camera
- microSD card slot with included 4GB card
- 802.11 b/g WiFi
- Bluetooth 2.0
- A-GPS receiver
- FM radio with RDS support
- 3.5 mm headset jack
- microUSB port for syncing and charging
- Front facing QWERTY keyboard
- BP-4L 1500 mAh battery
- Dimensions of 4.48 x 2.34 x 0.39 inches and 4.51 ounces
In terms of specifications, nothing at all is lost when moving from the E71 to the E72 and you actually gain quite a bit with the faster processor, better camera, about double the available onboard storage space, 3.5mm headset jack, and more. You also gain the optical trackpad and if you don’t like how it works you can always disable the touch part of it and use it as a standard trackball. The torch key is extremely handy for walking around in the dark (it turns the super bright flash into an LED flashlight) and the E72 also has an accelerometer. The better Nokia Messaging client is installed by default along with much better icons.
It was dark and rainy night back in June 2007 while my two oldest daughters and I huddled under umbrellas as the first people in line at the AT&T store waiting to buy the original iPhone. I had my Mac in the car so as soon as I bought the iPhone I went online to activate it and get it up and running. I still remember that first minute when I turned on the iPhone and how it radically changed everything I thought and experienced on smartphones to date. The iPhone just flew like wind with immediate response and reaction to my finger presses. I remember how easy it was to take a call and then switch between Bluetooth, speaker, and headset speakers. Then there was the drop dead way to transfer music and video content to the iPhone and enjoy it on airplane trips. The iPhone has only gotten better over the last two years and I enjoy most everything about my iPhone 3GS, except that it doesn’t work with 3G on T-Mobile. I had the pleasure of talking with and getting to know Rene Ritchie from The iPhone Blog to hear more about the iPhone since he lives it every single day. I posted some questions over on a TiPB forum to see what his readers had to say about the iPhone too. I’ll give my take on the iPhone 3GS and iPhone OS below, but also make sure to check out the TiPB full iPhone 3GS review too.
Hardware: iPhone 3GS
The original Apple iPhone was an elegant device with sleek aluminum back and the first capacitive multi-touch display we were ever treated too. The iPhone 3GS is only slightly different than that first iPhone with an oleophobic display and better 3 megapixel camera. The display on the iPhone 3GS (480×320 pixel resolution) was outstanding a year ago, but with new devices showing higher resolutions that look fantastic Apple needs to update to higher resolution soon. There is a single front button, volume button, ringer switch, and power button on the iPhone 3GS, which is much different from Nokia devices where we see buttons everywhere. I love the fact that Nokia is standardizing on microUSB connectors and wish Apple would adopt this standard, but they are standardizing on a fairly typical 30-pin iPhone connector.
The iPhone 3GS has an ARM Cortex-A8 processor similar to what we see in the Nokia N900 and it is very fast. The 3 megapixel camera takes surprisingly good photos, but is not as good as the 5 megapixel Carl Zeiss cameras we see on higher end Nokia devices. 32GB of internal flash memory is good to have, but the flexibility in also having a microSD card slot is something I would like to see in the future. The iPhone models also all have integrated non-removable batteries and thus you need to have some kind of external battery source for extended periods of use while you can simply just carry extra batteries with Nokia devices.
Software: iPhone OS
The Apple iPhone OS is based on Mac OS X and in the year after its initial release Apple literature stated it run a version of OS X. It is now referred to as the iPhone OS though to differentiate it from what we see on Mac computers. In the first year, there was no support for 3rd party applications and Apple emphasized that you could use “web applications”, web sites optimized for the iPhone, as a way to get added functionality on your device. After the first year they released the SDK and support for 3rd party applications, which has taken off and the Apple App Store is easily the dominant smartphone application store in the market. The iPhone OS is heavily focused on ease of use with support for accelerometers, multi-touch finger manipulation, and multi-tasking limited to only Apple’s own applications.