Review: SPB Mobile Shell 3.5 for Symbian S60 5th Edition
SPB Software was one of the first places I used to visit for optimizing my Windows Mobile device and turning it into the device I wanted. Spb Software has come a long way over the last couple of years and now has software for all the major smartphone platforms, including Symbian. One of the foundational applications that I used on all of my Windows Mobile devices prior to HTC’s TouchFLO UI (and sometimes even in place of this) was SPB Mobile Shell. I was very pleased to receive the news last week that SPB Mobile Shell 3.5 was coming to Symbian S60 5th Edition and is now available for $29.95.
If you are familiar with SPB Mobile Shell on Windows Mobile then you know how much customization and functionality is in this application so I figured it was a bit easier to show this off with a video so I have the YouTube video I created below to walk you through the software. I also included an image gallery below of several screenshots, but there is even more than that available and I recommend you at least give the free trial a chance if you are at all interested in customizing the main user interface of your S60 5th Edition device. I personally tested it out on a Nokia N97 mini.
Installation and initial setup
The install file is quite large at about 7 MB, but since it is a user interface for the device I installed it right into the internal memory location on the N97 mini. It ran perfectly and I never experienced any lockups or freezes, even though I was testing a pre-release candidate.
You can install and then launch SPB Mobile Shell and then just start using it with the default settings. I imagine some people may do this, but the reason to use an application like this is to fully customize the user experience to your personal tastes and I doubt there are any two exact same SPB Mobile Shell setups across the spectrum of users.
As you can see in my video above, there is a ton of customizable functionality in SPB Mobile Shell and the software gives you a fresh device while we wait for Symbian^3. Here is a list of the widgets that are included with SPB Mobile Shell 3.5:
- Shortcut to apps
- Photo Contact
- Wireless Control Switches
- Phone profile
- Analog clock
- Digital clock
- Picture frame
- Bluetooth/WiFi/Flight mode
- Emails/SMS & MMS/Missed call
- Weather, 5 day forecast and current weather conditions
- SPB Menu
- Photo contacts
- Smart search
- Call log
- Contacts carousel
- Home screen backgrounds
There are two main components of SPB Mobile Shell, including Professional Home and Lifestyle Home and you can easily switch between the two by simply flicking upwards or downwards on the display. This works if you have both enabled, but you can also just choose to use one if you never use the other. Each of these components is customizable to your liking and gives you access to many types of glanceable information and the ability to launch utilities and applications quickly.
Using SPB Mobile Shell 3.5
SPB Mobile Shell is a UI built on top of the S60 5th Edition interface and you can always switch back to the Symbian UI if you desire, but I think after you customize your device you will stick with Mobile Shell 3.5.
SPB Mobile Shell 3.5 supports OpenGL and provides a 3D carousel of your contacts, which is pretty slick and some nice eye candy. Even though the functionality can be overwhelming at times, keep in mind the software is focused on multiple homescreens, widgets, photo contacts/speed dial, and an application launcher. At times you can get lost down in the menus, but I found out on my Windows Mobile devices that you eventually gain a full understanding of the application and setup and then have a tough time trying anything else when your device is customized and optimized for you.
SPB Mobile Shell 3.5 is a wonderful way to customize your Symbian S60 5th Edition device. As we see some people complain about the user interface of Symbian it seems that this application can address many of those concerns and give you a fresh device without having to buy a new device. You may find the setup a bit overwhelming at first, but as you use it and set it up it really turns out to be a straight forward utility that is quite pleasing to use.
SPB Mobile Shell 3.5 is fast and responsive to touch and I am using it now as my main user interface on the N97 mini. We do not see a lot of these types of user interface utilities on Symbian so I was pleased to see SPB Software bring over just about everything that they have developed on the Windows Mobile platform.