Some of us care that Nokia is taking Symbian away

Some of us care that Nokia is taking Symbian away

Summary: Nokia is in a time of major transition with its phones and unfortunately one of the early casualties is Symbian phones in the U.S. Some of us enjoyed using these devices and for foreign travel and phone calls you still can't beat Nokia.


Rachel posted yesterday on the news that Nokia is dropping Symbian and Series 40 phones from the North American market. While most people likely won't care there are still a few of us who loved to use these Nokia smartphones and feature phones because they still have a lot to offer and had innovations not seen on smartphones today.

I am working on a Nokia E6 review for ZDNet and also own several other Nokia smartphones, including the Nokia N8, Nokia E71, Nokia N86, and more. I don't think it was the technology that prevented these devices from selling here in the U.S., but the carrier market and unfamiliar user interface that people were unwilling to try. People outside the U.S. have been using Nokia Symbian devices for years and the UI is familiar to them. I too have been using Symbian for quite some time and find the UI to be very customizable and powerful. It does have many levels and there is a lot to it, but it gets the job done just as well as other phones. Here are some innovations in devices like the Nokia N8 that we still don't see in the latest and greatest smartphones available:

  • Penta-band 3G radio: Nokia's Symbian^3 devices all support five bands for 3G data so you can use a phone on T-Mobile or AT&T in the U.S. and get 3G data. These are truly world phones and would be great devices for covering the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. I don't understand why no other manufacturer has yet been able to offer this capability.
  • Cameras that rival stand-alone cameras: As good as cameras like the myTouch 4G Slide are, they still can't touch ones like the 12 megapixel one with Carl Zeiss optics and a large optical sensor found on the Nokia N8. The camera quality is one reason I cannot wait to get my hands on a Nokia Windows Phone 7 device where I will get the best UI on some amazing hardware.
  • USB on-the-go: I know this is a geeky thing, but with a simply cable, that comes in the box with your Nokia phone, you can plug in a USB thumb drive and transfer data back and forth with ease.

Nokia was also early to launch HDMI out, Bluetooth 3.0, and more. Nokia phones may be focused on media and data, but they also still ROCK in terms of reception and call quality. If you need to make lots of phone calls, you still can't go wrong with a good Nokia phone. I also won't travel to other countries without a Nokia smartphone because I can get amazing Ovi Maps all over the world WITHOUT needing to have a data connection for FREE.

I just recently stopped writing the Nokia Experts site as I wanted to focus all of my writing efforts here on ZDNet and since Windows Phone is the future of Nokia's smartphone strategy the Smartphone Experts family of sites didn't need another Windows Phone site with the excellent WPCentral one already available.

Nokia never seemed to get much support form U.S. carriers, although T-Mobile did a fair job of supporting some recent smartphones with the E73 Mode and Nokia Astound. I have seen quite a few local teens carrying, and liking, the Nokia Nuron with touchscreen interface and cheap $10 data plan. It is sad to hear we won't be able to buy these great smartphones in the U.S., but I usually bought mine from online vendors so now may just have to pay a bit more to get them imported. Then again, I don't really think Symbian has much longer to live in the new Nokia environment and that does make me sad.

Topics: Nokia, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones, Telcos

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  • Anybody who has owned a Nokia N95, E71, etc.

    knows what Symbian can do.
    Using a Samsung Galaxy S is great but, I miss my N95.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate!
  • Features are not OS Dependent

    The same innovation that you highlighted with Symbian can easily be transitioned to another platform. If anything, the move away from Symbian allows Nokia the ability to focus more on innovation and less on low level operating systems.
    Your Non Advocate
    • RE: Some of us care that Nokia is taking Symbian away

      Sadly, they have a new cheif and that isn't his primary goal. His primary goal is market share and profit. Why spend extra to put a 12mp camera in the phone when everyone else is putting 8mp cameras in. that is his philosophy. Also, by choosing MSWP, he and nokia has had to adhere to the requirements that MS sets for windows phones. the only bright spot I see is that they (nokia) has gotten MS to change some of the requirements, but it appears that MS isn't abandoning some of the restrictions, which prevent the addition of micro SD slots in Windows Phones. Or at least micro SD slots that are user accessible. Also, Nokia's latest offerings are shipping without the cables that they used to ship with, meaning that us consumers will now have to "buy" what used to be included in the purchase price of the phone. This is one of the reasons I hate Apple and it looks like Nokia is heading down that road! I suppose all these moves will be good for Nokia's stock holders, but for those of us that used to like nokia, I suspect it won't be so good for us.
      • Goals of a company


        The best way to achieve market share and profit with a commodity product is through differentiation and market segmentation. Why put a 12mp camera when everyone is putting in an 8mp camera? For the same reason that BMW puts in wood trim.

        Also, by choosing MSWP, Nokia may have to adhere to the requirements that will fit the platform, but it does free Nokia up from supporting their own fragmented operating system(s). And, remember Nokia has several Symbians - not all versions of Symbian are binary compatible. Being free of supporting these systems allows Nokia to innovate on the hardware.
        Your Non Advocate
      • RE: Some of us care that Nokia is taking Symbian away

        12 MP camera was fine, but when all your phone (and company) has is a 12 MP camera, every customer looks like they only care about cameras. Spring announcement by Elop that Nokia would move to Windows Phone OS (not offer Symbian/Meego and WP and see which one more customers wanted) was the death knell of Nokia. Not sure Windows Phone will even come close to iPhone or Android unless Google Android gets shelved because of law suits (i.e. if Android stops evolving maybe WP can catch up).
      • RE: Some of us care that Nokia is taking Symbian away

        @mgrubb@... "His primary goal is market share and profit."

        LOL! What should his primary goal be, if not that? Nokia has been bleeding money and market share, and Symbian and Meego were largely responsible for that. 3+ billion dollars wasted on both, and nobody aside from a few internet geeks wanted either OS. They're antiquated and have no developer support to speak.

        Nokia better hope Elop is mostly concerned about market share and profits. It's what will save the company.
  • RE: Some of us care that Nokia is taking Symbian away

    I think I'm either choosing a Samsung Galaxy S2 or a Nokia N9 with Windows Phone OS. (Of course they may not name it "N9".) But Nokia better get moving!
  • RE: Some of us care that Nokia is taking Symbian away

    For what it's worth, I care. Nokia quit getting much press about the time that iPhone came on the scene. Even zdnet did not have a Nokia/Symiban section under the mobile dropdown for a long time (even when Nokia/Symbian was still pretty relevant). It fell off to many people's radar. Nokia CEO Elop either designed Nokia strategy for Symbian to tank this quickly or he is an idiot. You figure out which one. In my opinion it could have been handled MUCH better.
  • RE: Some of us care that Nokia is taking Symbian away

    I live in Belgium and I have been using Nokia cellphones from the start back in the early nineties. Never ever had a problem with them. They are robust and work perfectly. I really hope the quality will stay whatever the OS is.
  • RE: Some of us care that Nokia is taking Symbian away

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