Why do I enjoy using Nokia S60 devices and what could Nokia do better?

Nokia logoIf you read through my introduction post you will know a bit about my device history and why I wanted to kick off this site. I was recently asked what appeals to me with S60 and put together a rather lengthy email response that I decided I should share with you all too so you know more about my perspective and thinking on S60 and Nokia devices. So after adding a bit more commentary here are some of my thoughts around the S60 platform.


First, here are several reasons I enjoy Nokia S60 devices (in no particular order of importance), especially the Eseries and Nseries:

(1) Outstanding RF reception: On just about every Nokia S60 device I have tried in the last few years I have never had a dropped call and always see the best signal strength when compared to my other operating system devices.)

(2) Outsanding phone call quality: Calls always sound crisp and clear on my Nokia devices.

(3) Rock solid hardware: Nokia can make some slick devices with my E71 serving as a perfect example of phone that is tough to put down with its sleek metal design and construction. Did you see Rafe’s article where his went through the water for about 10 minutes and still works like a champ? I also have a solid Nokia N85 that improves on the N95 quality. Now, this being said, there are a few S60 devices that have issues and I have to think many of the issues are manufacturing related rather than designed to have issues. In today’s mobile market Nokia needs to keep up on quality control to keep their name in good standing for quality devices.

(4) Media creation: I don’t think there is a mobile OS today that can match the still and digital photo capturing capabilities of the Nseries devices.

(5) Integrated and 3rd party apps: In this area S60 is much like Windows Mobile with some great integrated utilities (Podcasting, QuickOffice, and Nokia Maps come to mind) and a huge developer community with awesome applications. BTW, the default S60 web browser is a very good default browser, especially the visual history. RoadSync is also a must have for Exchange syncing.

(6) VoIP support: When traveling overseas it sure has been handy to use VoIP services from my phone to call home. Nokia is the leader in supporting VoIP on handsets.

(7) Choice in form factors: Again, like WM, Nokia lets you choose a device in candy bar, QWERTY, slider, flip, etc. form factors so there isn’t a one-design-fits all mentality.

(8) Stable operating system: I load a TON of 3rd party applications on my S60 devices and after using about 10 different models over the last 6 months I can honestly say that I have not had my devices reset on my even once! There is no reset button that I know of on S60 and if you do have an issue you pop out the battery. The thing is, even for a power user like myself, the dang OS just works without me worry about a reset or failure during a call.

(9) Services: Nokia has some great services (Nokia Maps, Nokia Email, & Share Online for example) with even more coming soon. Like what we will see from Microsoft soon, services integrated into the OS and handset can be what sets devices and companies apart in the future and gives users a connected experience.

(10) OTA updates: Nokia’s latest devices support OTA firmware updates and these work like a champ without even erasing any of your data. These also work across the carriers, but still have issues with regions at times.

(11) Customization: I LOVE the fact that I can completely control and customize my menu folder structure and application shortcuts. This gives me the ability to optimize my menu system to my own personal tastes and I can’t believe I forgot to put this one in here in the first place. BlackBerry and Android also gives you this kind of folder management, but forget it with the iPhone and Windows Mobile. I can also customize themes and background images with my S60 devices and really personalize the device.


Now, I think every OS has its issues too and here are some things that bug me about Nokia and S60:

(1) PIM apps suck: Sorry to be so blunt here, but Nokia needs major work on the Calendar, Contacts, and Tasks programs. The E71 has a better calendar, but they really need to come out with something better soon.

(2) Current email and messaging client: The new Nokia Email service is nice and looks/works great, but the default Messaging application looks horrible and just barely gets the job done. Nokia also needs to implement threaded text messaging NOW so I can keep track of what my teen daughters are saying to me when they are out and about.

(3) Application storefront: Nokia’s Download utility is lame and inconsistent from device to device and from region to region. Why can’t the leader in smartphones come out with an amazing on-device application store? Let’s hope there is an Ovi Store or something coming this year from Nokia.

(4) Embracing social media: This one is really in the court of 3rd party developers, but with Nokia’s focus on their devices connecting people I think Nokia may have some influence here. With Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites taking off in popularity why can’t we have really good Twitter and Facebook applications for S60 on the devices? The iPhone is only 18 months old and there are something like 10 different Twitter applications.


15 Comments to Why do I enjoy using Nokia S60 devices and what could Nokia do better?

January 28, 2009

I totally agree, if there 2 camps as far as smart phones are concerned. Put in in terms of functionality , I)Content Creation (shooting video, photos on your device) and II)Content Consumption, (watching, listening to audio, watching videos, web surfing, on your device). Nokia is part I. They still have room to grow with consumption which the iPhone completely dominates hands down. However their broad spectrum of handsets and endless firmware updates for each device is a nightmare for developers, contrary to the IPhone where there is only one standard. As android starts to be adopted by other parties they may run into this problem as well.

January 28, 2009

Content providers have seen the hype and rushed into adopting the iPhone platform which was easy to do = only two devices with identical media capabilities. Nokia’s wide range of devices, of different sizes and shapes may be more difficult to adopt. Sites like ZDNet.com will show an iPhone optimized page to the iPhone and a plain text page to an N95 although the N95 can, if needed, handle the PC version of the site, flash included. Then the same ZDNet will post a blog about how iPhone generated traffic to their site is significantly higher than any other smartphones … Go figure. Is Nokia to be blamed for having a wide range of products or the media providers for being blind to a huge market?

As for capturing the social media, all this “social *” thing makes me seek. Whoever coined the term should be shot or stoned to death (with bricked iPhones)

Christopher Spera
January 28, 2009

I also agree that you’ve probably hit this on the head. The biggest reason I carry a smartphone is for PIM data and e-mail. I want my calendar, contacts and e-mail with me, and if I can’t set a meeting on the device, then I have an issue, especially if I am out and about/in meetings a lot on any given day. This was my biggest problem with the iPhone, despite its Exchange integration.

I’m not sure if I completely agree with @tate’s content creation/consumption paradigm, but he’s definitely on to something. We need to remember that the right kind of smartphone needs to have some degree of balance between both consumer and business paradigms so that people can truly carry 1 device that satisfies both kinds of needs. Given where things are today, I don’t know if that device exists yet (despite what ANYONE or any COMPANY) says.

January 28, 2009

As much as I can agree about the social media aspect, I think it needs to be more than just repeating what other mobiles have done (app-centered) or even PC-like; it needs to be social media that responds to mobility, context if you will. Nokia is positioned for it, and that kinda energy – seen via Beta Labs and many developers – is something that keeps me around…

…well, that and the fact that I use my Nokia device to run my website 😉

shelley bevacqua
January 28, 2009

I am confused!!! I am a new phone addict. Ever since May 2008- I bought the Lg Vu, then the next day I discovered the HTC Diamond…I bought the Samsung Eternity in Nov 2008 because HTC’s screen was small and Windows Mobile was hard to navigate.
Then I thought I wanted the Nokia 5800 until Nokia
announced the N97. I am so impressed with technology!! I even invested $12000 in NOK stock an
$xx in Nvidia stock. But, now I want the Palm Pre!!
But you may change my mind because of your loyalty to Nokia. Pre is so cute and seems to have some revolutionary concepts. Do you get many female phone
obsessed bloggers?? I too have three kids-boys- and they seem to notice when I have new phone or digital camera.(SHHHHH!!!)

Nick C
January 28, 2009

I agree with your sentiments. At the end of the day a mobile phone has to work as a phone first. For business, there is nothing more frustrating with dropped calls, poor voice quality, etc – things that scream poor implementation of basics. My E71 is dead reliable and I have confidence it will perfrom well anywhere (well almost anywhere) in the world. Good voice and data performance. Cons – why can’t they make contacts better????. It’s an Outlook world – it needs to sync seamlessly while maintaining all fucntionality. And i still can’t get wifi to work on home network – not so big a deal with unlimited data, but…. Overall, very happy. I wish you well on your new venture. Hopefully you pick up where eseries.org left off. Cheers, Nick

Brad Barbaza
January 28, 2009

I agree with you guys on the Pros. My wife just got an iPhone over the weekend, and while it’s fun to play with, I kept looking for a “Settings” button on each page to tweak this or that. No dice. Perfect phone for her, but not me.

Anyway, I have a few Cons:
Regarding the US Market:
1) Firmware updates are slow to the US and often never come at all (E71s purchased at Best Buy, Amazon or Newegg have not had a single update).
2) Little things like how adding a new Contact brings up a list of fields that pertain to European addresses. We do City, then State, then Zip Code.
3) NAM devices and firmwares shouldn’t include software and services only available in Europe. (MyNokia for example).

4) PC Software that has it’s own calendar and contact book I can edit from. Windows Address Book has always been buggy with me and I don’t feel like spending a lot of money for Outlook just so I can have a copy of my Calendar. The E71 doesn’t restore the Calendar when doing a restore from backup, so I’m forced to sync with Google… :(
5. Will someone please make a decent weather app that shows hour by hour and live radar, preferably based on my GPS location? The iPhone has Accuweather and TWC for free. I’m a general contractor and I NEED to view the satellite data, etc.

I’m sorry that my comments are so E71 based, but it’s the only Nokia I’ve had other than an internet tablet.

Danilo Alpapara, Jr.
January 29, 2009

I love Nokia phones. I have been battling the use of WinMo devices especially if I can find alternative programs that run on S60. While most of my colleagues use either WinMo or Palm OS, I stick with Nokia’s S60 devices that is even a cause for amusement by my colleagues. Nokia is a highly appreciated brand as evidenced by its worldwide sales but S60 is underrated (by lay people, at least). My E90 does my calendar, organizes my files, primarily used for on-the-fly web browsing for urgent searches, IM, ebook reading, etc.
I think that I have really maximixed the use of this phone since it lessened my use of the laptop.

Matthew Miller
January 29, 2009

Great feedback Brad! I completely agree that Nokia needs to actively support their NAM devices if they want to make some real headway here. It is almost a chicken and egg thing too since it will require some development effort and if the market doesn’t support it then it is difficult to justify the costs to be active here.

There is an Accuweather Widget that works quite well and gives you hourly weather info. I just downloaded and installed it on the 5800 from the Download! area. It also gives you live radar and GPS location functionality. I’m not sure if you can put it/find it on other devices, but I am now off to search for it to put it on my E71 too.

Matthew Miller
January 29, 2009

You can find Accuweather here, http://dailymobile.se/forum/symbian-s60v3-applications/(s60v3-application)-accuweather-widget/

Unfortunately, this version doesn’t look like it has GPS support like the one on the 5800

Bas Heetebrij
January 30, 2009

Great post Matt. I myself have an E71 and confirm that it is a great phone.
I have Voip set up on it with Voipbuster. Here is a manual of how to configure the phone for it to work – after you get an account with VOIP buster. I had used Skype through fring, but there is NO way you can compare the quality. I don’t know what it is due to, but the voip calls natively from the handset with voipbuster sound GREAT.

As for PIM… I could live with the E-series interface as long as they have Category support. That is so long overdue.

As for the must-have app for any person into social networks and media creation: Shozu. Works like a charm and gets your content up in the cloud with one click!

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[…] Download! utility drivesme crazy, some ofmy favorite S60 applications, and what motivates me touse Nokia and S60 deviceson a daily basis. Come visit and participate in the active […]

[…] Download! utility drives me crazy, some of my favorite S60 applications, and what motivates me to use Nokia and S60 devices on a daily basis. Come visit and participate in the active […]

[…] Download! utility drives me crazy, some of my favorite S60 applications, and what motivates me to use Nokia and S60 devices on a daily basis. Come visit and participate in the active […]

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