Nokia: From Hero to Zero

Pre: This post is two days late.. ><

Nokia. The Finnish brand that used to rule the world; the brand that absolutely gave consumers confidence over the others. I could clearly remember myself using Nokia phones all the way from 2003 till this year.

My zeroth phone, or one shared with my brother, was a green Nokia 3310.

Couldn’t find a green one :/

It was seriously the coolest phone that time; it doesn’t break no matter how you attack it, and the combination of Snake II and Space Impact provided endless entertainment. Power that with a 1-week battery (impossible in the 3G-based world today) and you have yourself a winner.

Then, I purchased the Nokia 6230 in 2005.

The 6230 – one of my favourite

The Nokia 6230 was the first Series 40v2 phone, with an extra center button compared to the first generation. The phone was exceedingly fast – going through the UI was the fastest of any phone I’ve seen up till today, and I remember it playing FIFA 04 in overdrive mode (the soccer players in the game were running too fast). It was also, as far as I remember, the second S40 phone to feature video recording, after its predecessor, Nokia 6220. It even includes external storage via MMC. The Nokia 6230 was, in my opinion, one of the best feature phones in the market during that time.

Then 2007 came, and my phone was stolen. That sucked. And thus, I purchased my first smartphone, the Nokia 6670 running on Symbian OS 7.0s (or Series 60v2).

The Nokia 6670

It was the business version of the Nokia 7610, I thought; aside from the looks (the 7610 being more cool-looking), the specifications are exactly the same, including the 1-megapixel camera, which was truly in its own territory during that time. I loved the phone and the OS; I was able to find a rich selection of application to install, including additional camera effects, a graphing calculator, many games (like Worms World Party!) and much more. It was truly a smartphone during that time due to its rich selection of apps. Nothing could stand in Nokia’s way, and the iPhone that time did not have an app store.

Then.. The phone broke mid-2008, due to my ‘careless care’. And thus I transitioned from a powerful smartphone to a 3310-esque phone, the Nokia 1110.

Nokia 1110

While completely losing my smartphone system, at least I gained a 1-week battery. Of course, Nokia’s build quality was still sturdy, it feels really rock solid in my hand. But I remember Snake Xenzia lagging on my phone – once my score exceeds 1000, the snake begins moving slower than maximum speed.

And before I started my University late 2009, after careful considerations and reviews of various phones, I purchased the Nokia 5800 – the first Nokia touch screen phone running Symbian OS 9.4 (Series 60v5).

The Nokia 5800

Nokia was already late into the touchscreen market – it was already dominated by feature phones from Samsung and LG, and obviously, the iPhone (3G). Nokia probably did a clever job introducing their first touch phone in the midrange segment, because this phone is really.. full of faults.

Tapping a selection in a list menu requires two taps instead of one; the resistive touch was not sensitive enough; the home screen leaves a large blank space for the users to completely not utilize in a touch-centric phone. I didn’t regret getting this phone though; as a Symbian lover, I was able to bear with all the UI inconsistencies of the touch version of Symbian. It feels as if the developers of Symbian, instead of innovating a touch-friendly interface of Symbian, simply forced their way through enabling touch usage on the current, outdated Symbian interface. Their flagship soon after, the N97, was an epic fail that didn’t fix anything (and was in fact, slower than the Nokia 5800 due to memory issues).

The app selection in Symbian was also smaller – it was difficult to obtain apps, and they are often of poor quality. By the time I started to actually try to maximize the 5800’s potential as a smartphone, the iPhone app store and the Android Market was dominating the scene. Somehow, Nokia didn’t do a good enough job to attract more good developers to develop for its platform (they certainly have the numbers, but not the quality). For example, I really enjoyed my time with CameraFX, a camera app that adds a multitude of effects to the camera of the older Symbian versions, but a good camera effects app for the Nokia 5800 (and other Symbian 9.4 devices) cannot be found.

Don’t get me wrong, Symbian is a good OS. It does really well at what it can do (from my personal experience), even more than iOS and Android, but it didn’t develop. It gave its competitiors too much time to outshine it, and now it’s left to ruin. The new Symbian^3 didn’t help; it was already too late into the competition, fixing bugs and inconsistencies that should be fixed over a year ago. And at the moment of introducing Symbian^3, Nokia seems to have abandoned 90% of its development on S60v5, the platform with a LOT of users still. Nokia failed to create a favourable environment amidst the competition for developers and users alike to stay.

And that’s why, at the end of this story, my next phone, after owning (counts) 5 Nokia phones through 8 years, is going to run on the Android OS. I’m somewhat excited at the joint Nokia-Microsoft venture, and Nokia’s hardware still rocks as of now, but I can’t wait until Q4 of 2011 for Nokia to deliver a phone that has the hardware of N8 (a phone released a year ago), only running on Windows Phone 7. Nokia’s still playing catch up, and at this rate they can’t win me over anymore.

Goodbye Nokia, hello Android.

On a side note, after announcing that they are going to let Symbian die, now they say they will support it up to 2016. Good move for existing users (which are not much anyway), but they might as well not waste the money and focus more on the development of future phones.


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