Some of us care that Nokia is taking Symbian away

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.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer on

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.

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