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Nokia’s smart phone offering has been not so much off the boil as distinctly lukewarm for the last few years with a series of capable handsets that offer some decent specs, but fall behind the competition for usability and, well, fun. Unfortunately, that looks unlikely to change with the Nokia C7. While it includes brick …

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Linux

C'mon Nokia! Change the game!

And whilst you're at it let's have Meego punted into centre stage eh? Between phonezilla and chipzilla you'd think there would be something worth selling by now!

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FAIL

As good as an iPhone 4?

The iPhone 4 got a score of 75%, and so did this phone.

Therefore this Nokia-with-a-horrible-OS is as good as an iPhone 4?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: As good as an iPhone 4?

The iPhone 4 would have scored more highly but for the grip-of-death issue, which this Nokia doesn't suffer from, I believe.

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Fixable versus built-in faults

Well, iPhone 4 was a near perfect execution, but with a fundamental design flaw that really couldn't be overlooked by any balanced reviewer. 75% is a fair reflection of this. With an adequate antenna design, it should have been a 90%+ product (I'd drop a few percent for the poorer ergonomics compared to the 3GS). Unfortunately, as a hardware flaw--- and a design flaw at that--- the phones are stuck with the problem. Yes, a silicone bumper fixes it, but it does dent Apple's reputation for being utter perfectionists.

The Nokia Symbian3 phones are the opposite - near flawless hardware design and execution, masked by a very dated user experience. 75% is a fair reflection of this too.. With a more modern and streamlined UI and shell, this would be a 90%+ product too.

The difference between them is that Nokia have an opportunity to fix their problem, and very importantly, to fix it for the people who have already bought these phones. They have promised a fully new UI in mid-2011 to coincide with (and copy the look and feel of) their MeeGo phones, but before that, in February, a new browser and other feature improvements are due.

Delivery has been a problem for Nokia before, though, so let's wait and see...

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Anonymous Coward

@Kristian Walsh

Agree with everything you say really, except...

"Yes, a silicone bumper fixes it, but it does dent Apple's reputation for being utter perfectionists."

But doesn't the above fix the problem. ie WITH a bumper/case it is a 90%+ phone? What has being a perfectionist got to do with reducing the rating?

Mine certainly feels like/is the best phone I've ever had?

Oh yeah... and waiting for Nokia to fix *ANY* software issue could leave you in the cold for a long long time. My N95 8gb certainly never worked properly, even with the couple of updates Nokia supplied.

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Silver badge

A reviewer has to take it as they find it, not try to fix its faults

True, the bumper fixes the problem, but I'd expect the reviewer to review a product the way it arrives, not with optional additions In Apple's case, they didn't supply the part with the phone, so it would be misleading to review the phone with that part fitted.

If we allowed this kind of thing, we'd quickly get to the stupid situation of saying things like : "Sure Symbian3 is clunky, but we replaced its UI with this shell, making the phone much better than X, Y, or Z" - well, yes, but the average customer doesn't get that fancy addition.

It's like saying that a particular car's engine lacks power, but never mind, we can ad a nitrous oxide kit to it; or the ride is overly hard, but never mind, we can change the springs, and then rating the vehicle with those modifications as being the most powerful and comfortable in its class.

Apple's brand value is based on their obsessive attention to detail - you buy an Apple product, the idea goes, and you can be assured that every little detail has been considered. Releasing a mobile phone with a badly designed antenna somewhat tarnishes this image, but the rest of the product was so good, that it didn't matter for most. It probably is the best smartphone/portable-media-device on the market, and as long as you don't experience the signal issues, it's near perfect. It is however, very far from being the best *phone* on the market, hence the low review score.

On Nokia's history of updates; yes it has been appalling, but they have at least admitted this, and are changing it. Some of the blame also has to be laid at their customers, the network operators, who often modified the phone software, introduced bugs, then didn't approve new, better, firmware for the phones. Symbian^3 has a better design that reduces the amount of screwup an operator can introduce, and allows firmware updates underneath the operator garbage.

Here's the test: Nokia have promised two major and one minor update for S^3 phones before Autumn, with the first, minor, expected sometime around this week and the first major on in February. I want to see how they execute on this, before passing judgment.

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@ Fixable vs built in faults

"The Nokia Symbian3 phones are the opposite - near flawless hardware design and execution, masked by a very dated user experience"

Near flawless hardware design? Really? I recently got a Nokia N8, and I suggest you Google for "N8 restarting problem". Basically I had the phone less than a week and every once in a while it would reboot itself. Then it was a few times a day. The other weekend it did it 15 times in one hour before I managed to call my provider and demand a replacement.

2nd one came, same story last weekend. My new phone came today, after much arguing I was able to choose a new make and model for no charge, so I got the HTC Desire HD.

Sorry Nokia, you had your chance, but this ranks so much worse than the iPhone grip problem, at least that IS fixable. This has put me off Nokia for a long time and I was a big fan, but the N8 is meant to be their BEST phone, so I shudder to think what the rest are like.

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@Anon

"Near flawless hardware design? Really? I recently got a Nokia N8, and I suggest you Google for "N8 restarting problem". Basically I had the phone less than a week and every once in a while it would reboot itself. "

That sounds like a software problem, not a hardware one.

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Could be software

After all, Nokia totally screwed N96 owners with firmware 30.x, which introduced rebooting whenever you're using the GPS, something that didn't happen with previous firmwares.

Of course, since the firmware can't be downgraded, and Nokia abandoned the N96 one year after the release and never did a fixed firmware, it is as bad as a hardware problem. Bad enough it made me give up Nokia for good.

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Isn't it the GUI not the OS you should be moaning about?

I have the Nokia N8 and think it's great. Out of the box, it is a bit, well clunky, but that's the GUI, not the OS.

I've also downloaded the SPB GUI app and it transforms the phone. Literally transforms it.

Up to 5 homescreens, individually movable widgets, far smoother scrolling. It is like having a totally different phone.

If a third party can deliver such a stunning interface, why can't Nokia?

At about £25 it's an expensive app, but worth it.

It shouldn't though, require an app...

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The title is required

SPB does look gorgeous and works well...for a while.

Every time I've given it a test run, within a couple of days, some background process has gotten into a loop (or something) and sucked my battery dry in a matter of a few hours.

That's on a 5230 with Symbian 60 5th.

Is SPB more stable on S^3?

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SPB

I've been running SPB for about a month on the S^3 Nokia N8.

Absolutely no problems. Beautiful and far more usable UI, additional functionality, smoother operation and no problems with battery life whatsoever.

I could have had the iPhone or any flavour Android but chose the N8.

The SPB UI completes the top notch hardware.

If SPB can do it, why can't Nokia?

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FAIL

Symbian bashing?

I mean, seriously, WTF?

I thought this is a tech site, not a fashion site.

No other mobile OS is nearly as feature complete (SyncML, BT-OBEX, Imap-Idle ...) and yet all you can say about it is "ugly and clunky"?

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I have to agree with this sentiment.

I'm a happy owner of an E71 and find it does everything I want (email, web browsing and posting on sites, texting, voice calls, alarm clock, and the odd youtube clip, I'm sure I've forgotten something too) with the minimum of fuss and a decent battery life that puts other smart phones in the shade.

I'm sure there are things that Android and Apple phones do that it can't but I've not come across any.

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Silver badge

But function and beauty are not mutually exclusive

There's no reason why Nokia cannot put a beautiful user interface onto their phones. They have the design talent, the new phones have the horsepower, and now, thanks to competition from Apple particularly, they finally have the incentive.

Nokia's MeeGo UI is under an Apple-like cloak of secrecy, which is encouraging: it shows a change in thinking, where the UI is now valued just as much as a new RF design would be.

I have an N8, and I love it, because there's almost nothing you cannot do with it. But I want a more attractive user interface too.

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But I want a more attractive user interface too.

Go to the Ovi store and search for SPB Mobile Shell for the N8.

It's available for a free trial before you buy.

You will be stunned by the transformation.

The UI finally matches the hardware.

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I agree

I know what you mean, Syren.

I've got a N95 8G, N97 and N8. Though the first and last phones are the better and the last one the best, I find the GUI perfectly fine.

I've played with iPhones and found that while the glitzy bits are nice, the hardware is quite ordinary when compared to the N8, for instance.

There is some bling on the iPhone3/4 that looks nice, but this doesn't make it a good phone. It makes it a nice UI.

An upgrade, if done well, to the GUI for the Nokia's would be nice, but I don't find myself hampered by the UI to be honest. I do find myself hampered by the iPhone (and others, for that matter) having such ordinary specs (eg. ordinary camera, flash is either not present or just plain ordinary, no HDMI output, no USB on the go, no FM transmitter).

The current review seem quite okay, until they start to make iPhone comparisons.

Each time I put my N8 on the desk and people compare it to the iPhone (4 included) the only thing they come away with is that 'it's got more bling/glitz' and there are some apps which are not half bad. The browser is REALLY crap and, as I've said, the hardware is generally pretty ordinary when stacked up next to the N8 - hell, the iPhone4 can't even do proper (3G) video conferencing.

In summary, the iPhone has major limitations in its hardware which are (for some people) covered up by the Paris Hilton factor - lots of glitz but not much else.

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Happy

Symbian^3

Didnt want a droid or a money pit phone so went for an N8 fully aware of whats been written about the OS. Knowing the hardware itself is top drawer is not a bad place to start when looking for a reliable phone.

Re the connectivity pop ups, personally, I quite like knowing what my phone is doing data wise, and dont feel it encroaches on the experience at all.

My conclusion so far is that if you like playing with settings, S^3 is all good. Im looking forward to the Q1 update to see what that brings, but its not half as terrible as many reviews seem to make out. (already had a minor update a few days ago that makes the whole phone feel snappier).

Same as anything new to you SW wise, within a few days of using it, things become much easier / understandable once you know where to look.

Why no mention of the built in FM Transmitter? thats a very useful feature if your in the car a lot & no accessory required.

Opera Mobile / Mini for web browsing obviously, although the symbian version is flash enabled for the youtubes iplayer requirements.

Nokia are getting there again, their internal failings and odd management structure are well documented but once that starts getting fixed & its looking like it, I dont think I'll be going back to SE any time soon.

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Alert

As good as an iPhone 4

Certainly a sod of a lot cheaper than an iPhone 4 and that has to have an impact on the rating!

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Alternative to the standard QWERTY keyboard

Anyone with a Symbian touch screen phone should download the Swype app from the OVI Store. This literally revolutionises texting and emailing with it's great usability. That alone would push up the score another 5% and I don't get why it's not standard on all Nokia touchscreen phones.

I have an N8 for personal use and an iPhone for work. The N8 is at times frustrating when compared to the simplicity of the UI of the iPhone, but the iPhone can't touch the N8 for call quality, sound and dropped call ratio. If Nokia were to update the 'it's a lot of hard-work', the N8 would be a true gem. Roll on February, or when we get the proposed changes.

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Silver badge

You forgot to mention...

That the N8 camera is leagues ahead of the iPhone.

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Anonymous Coward

Two problems hardly mentioned...

The low 640x360 screen resolution will suck for web browsing, and the paltry 680MHz ARM11 is a pathetic attempt... you can see the shockingly bad browser scores at Anandtech, Forgiveable on a lower end phone, but the mid range C7 should have a Cortex A8 chip in it, and the N8 should have one at close to 1GHz.

In my eyes these phones can be amazing anywhere else, but while using last decade's processors it's not worth it. God even my N900 managed to pack a 600MHz A8 over a year ago.

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You could put those faster processors in

And reduce the battery life considerably. Take your choice - I would prefer decent battery life to a faster browser - remember this thing goes for two days - over twice as long as some other Smarties. Same with the LCD.

That said, I am sure Nokia will bring out phones with faster CPU and GPU's, once the power management is fully optimised, but even then they wont need the same horsepower as the Androids of this world, or even the iPhone.

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Happy

I am drooling at the thought of the N9 when it comes out.

That's all, just felt the need to share that. You can carry on now.

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Glad a reviewer is

acknowledging the really good higher-end Nokia call (and phone functions) quality. Ever since my brother bought an iPhone, I can't hear what he's telling me on the phone!

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Faster Processors...?

You forget that Symbian is a largely purpose built, optimised from the ground up mobile OS. Developed when chips didn't have the horsepower they do now and memory was expensive.

As such it (still) doesn't require the speeds of other OSs and is both processor and power efficient.

It's their pretty dire UIs that I take Nokia to task over and they should be ashamed that a third party can skin the N8, make it smoother, give it greater functionality as well as that "wow" factor.

Their hardware is first rate, so why can't Nokia engineers make a matching UI?

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It's also one of the very few phones with NFC

Although Nokia doesn't shout about it, and a (promised) software upgrade is be necessary to turn it all on, the C7 is one of very few phones around at the moment with NFC hardware built in:

http://www.nearfieldcommunicationsworld.com/2010/10/11/34643/nokia-c7-to-support-nfc/

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I like my C7

I crank out code for mobiles for living. Currently my main phone is C7, even when I have N8 and Nexus One as choices. C7 trumps Nexus One on battery life and display usability when outside. N8 is a little bit bulkier, that's why I prefer C7.

Also, according to my six year old, C7 runs Angry Birds the best, better than iPod Touch 3G or Nexus One. My subjective feeling on general performance is that I don't see a difference between C7/N8 and Nexus One.

Apple devices achilles heel is the interoperability in non-Apple world. With Linux as my main dev OS, both Symbian and Android are nice to work with.

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