Choosing a new phone: Where to from the Nokia N80?

3 minute read

Its that time in the life of my phone contract when I start to think about what phone to upgrade to. In the past I would start looking at whatever new Nokia phones and pick the ones that had all or most of the features I want.

These are the features I wanted for my last upgrade, roughly a 2 years ago:

  1. Ability to write custom applications
  2. WiFi
  3. 3G HSDPA
  4. MegaPixel camera as a minimum
  5. Memory Card
  6. Video Calling

With the N80, I got all these features with the exception of HSDPA and perhaps the ability to create custom application. Yes you can create your own applications, but you now have to contend with platform security and certificates where as on previous Nokia phones this was not an issue. Anyone who has tried to install freeware on an OS 9 Nokia, will know what I’m talking about. You will have to sign the application yourself, which is beyond the average user. Programming the phone is still a nice to have though since em>I may/em> want to, at some point or another, write a symbian app.

My list for my next phone is similar to the one above, with the following additions:

  1. GPS
  2. Enterprise Email Integration
  3. Minimum of 16 million colours
  4. A responsive OS
  5. No moving parts

4 and 5 above were as a result of my frustration with the N80.

I narrowed my selection down to the Nokia E71, Blackberry Bold and the Apple iPhone. a href=”http://asifhamza.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/nokiae71wiki.jpg”>img style=”border-width: 0;” src=”/assets/nokiae71wiki-thumb.jpg” alt=”NokiaE71wiki” width=”244” height=”243” border=”0” />/a> a href=”http://asifhamza.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/blackberry-bold-orange-romania.jpg”>img style=”border-width: 0;” src=”/assets/blackberry-bold-orange-romania-thumb.jpg” alt=”Blackberry_bold_orange_romania” width=”184” height=”244” border=”0” />/a> a href=”http://asifhamza.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/iphone.jpg”>img style=”border-width: 0;” src=”/assets/iphone-thumb.jpg” alt=”iphone” width=”244” height=”236” border=”0” />/a>

With all the hype surrounding the iPhone, it seemed an attractive prospect, but with no forward camera it lacked support for Video Calling. I’ve come to rely on this feature more than I thought I would. Also, feedback  from iPhone users, it seems there’s not support for basic features such as copy and paste, MMS and sending of business cards. Most of these deficiencies are probably solvable with a firmware update but they don’t seem to be high up on Apple’s priority list. I also did not like the fact the battery is not removable.

That left the Bold and the E71. The Bold has a much better screen resolution than the E71, and I was sorely tempted to go with it,  but in the end I decided to stick with Nokia. Especially after reading a href=”http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2008/08/22.html”>Joel Spolsky’s review of the E71/a>.  Nokia also has a lot more applications available than Blackberry.

The E71 is quite simply, the best Nokia I’ve owned. I love the feature which show’s the contacts as you type on the home screen. Another plus for me (and one I have not seen mentioned on any review site) is the fact that a reboot is not necessary to change from 2G only mode to 3G only mode. I keep the phone in 2G mode to conserve battery life and switch to 3G when I need the higher speeds or when making a video call.

Speaking of battery life, if you been using  the any N-series Nokia, you will love the 5 day battery life of the E71. This is with the Mail for Exchange checking my corporate mail every 30 minutes. Your mileage may vary of course.

The screen resolution is a dream. I downloaded a href=”http://www.mobitubia.com/”>mobitubia/a> to view youtube videos over my WiFi connection and I must say, there’s no going back to the N80 now. The quality is surprisingly good for a small screen. Why or why did Nokia not include a native youtube viewer in the same way Apple does?

Nokia has also released their entire Carbide development environment as freeware. Previously, only the limited express version was free. Now you can get the Developer, Professional and OEM editions free as well. This brings features such as on-device debugging to the masses. See the Forum Nokia website for more details. On the whole, I happy with my choice. Nokia have made great strides in improving the responsiveness of the user interface. My N80 feels clunky in comparison. Hopefully the responsiveness stays the same as I add more applications.