Where do you go to from Symbian?


The time has come to gradually switch.

Setting the stage

I already got fed up with the browser performance on Symbian, but when sites like gsmarena.com started acting up even in Opera Mini, I knew the time has come.
Then of course there’s the actual closing of Nokia Store which won’t receive application updates starting from 1st January 2014..

So what should you do? Go with Nokia, on Windows Phone? Go with the vast choice of hardware of Android? Or the vast store of Apple?

The contenders

We’ll, for me Apple doesn’t have an app for everything that I use. So it’s no question I’ll switch over to Mac/iOS.

Windows Phone seems pretty limited, though Nokia did try to add some Symbian-ish and N9-esques features to it. It’s also the only platform with a camera comparable with 808’s and with Xenon flash. But.. I already have a good camera, why buy a second one:D? Remember, ‘gradually’ switch..

The story is complicated with Android though. The platform looks more geek-friendly than the others. But I happen to have had about two years working with it professionally and I came to hate it and got bored with it. I even have a Nexus 7 that lags as hell after one year so I won’t put that boring, lagging (to me!) thing on the device I switch to!

Another thing about Android is that only high end phones matter, otherwise updates are inexistent and the performance is generally miserable. But high-ends come with 5 inch screens and they usually are more than 70mm in width.. The only Droid worth it for me would have been Xperia Z1 mini, but that isn’t out yet. and Z1’s Camera is not that impressive either.

Time is now to look at other, exotic, platforms.
Firefox OS comes with slow hardware. Tizen is still vaporware.

Then there’s Jolla!

Jolla just launched, with beta software, and it looks as a successor, in spirit at least, of Nokia’s N9’s swipe’n’linux combo.


A New hope

Jolla looks like the exact territory I would like to explore next.
Is an open platform with root access out of the box just like Maemo / Meego Harmattan were, which allowed it to have a such tremendous community.
It is button-less, Swipe-enabled, just like the N9 of late Nokia.
It has better specs than N9 and the hope of expansibility at the horizon, through the Other Half.
Even better, it has support for Android applications through the Alien Dalvik VM!

This is when it clicked

So I was browsing a long thread on Maemo Talk forums, where early adopters which got their pre-ordered Jolla played with it, answered questions, complained about bugs – the usual discussions around a fresh product in beta. Most of the bugs were about the Android support and some people said that this was working better on BlackBerry‘s OS 10.

Then it dawned to me.. Could it be.. BB10 my next phone? So I quickly fired up the gsmarena review from the beginning of the year and my operator’s site to check the price on contract.

The compromise


So I got the Z10! what follows is probably a sort of buyer’s remorse description of the choice I made.

First is the price: the Z10 is from the beginning of 2013, while the Jolla phone is just out – which, coupled with the operator subsidizing made the Z10 almost free for my existing monthly subscription price.

Then the specs: while Jolla has a larger screen, it is also wider. Both have some dual-core Snapdragon inside, but Z10 has more RAM (2Gb).

And last but not least, while I was making this decision, Jolla was to be available ‘soon’ to the rest of the world, so I didn’t even know if this would be December, or March 2014..

So how’s the Blackberry OS 10 do you ask?

Short BB10/Z10 review


The device is very swipey and fluid. I can easily hold it in hand (but I may have large hands), it’s just the size of an HTC One S for example, but with sharper corners. The screen is unfortunately backlit, but you can get the Z30 with AMOLED if size is not a problem for you.
It actually has some always-on clock available when charging in ‘night mode’, but the LCD makes it puke-y, compared with 808’s AMOLED sleeping screen..

The native applications are based on a QML 2.0 library named Cascades which itself includes some swipes: from top for settings, from left for app’s categories/sections..
It may be what Symbian Carla or Donna could have been if the bet on Qt would have been executed by Nokia..

The browser is also webkit based, but much more snappy than the Belle one (and even getting more html5test.com points than mobile Safari or Chrome!). Very few sites need user agent switching (actually only some smugmug.com hosted album needed that) but there’s a webview-based browser in the store with that option. The browser also features reading mode for text-full pages and private browsing, for when you need it.
Here’s the current score on compliance: http://html5test.com/compare/browser/bb-10.2.html

The email is.. well.. BlackBerry’s core business, works like a charm, with calendar and task synchronization.
The thing with BBOS 10 is that this is actually the first OS that is 100% usable without BES (Enterprise Services) or a Blackberry data plan (the OS 7 and the ones before were pretty much crippled without it). However, there are some drawbacks, if I understand correctly. An BB 7 or earlier device could have real push notifications sent through GSM towers (not through your data plan) for new mail or messages. A BBOS 10 device needs a BES10 server component and most enterprises don’t and won’t install that.
So basically this is a Blackberry device without the Blackberry powers I heard about, but more.. how can I put it.. I-phoney? (you know, when being all the time connected means ‘push notifications’ that somebody twisted the term.. and won the market:p)

Gradually switching

So here’s my plan to keep my beloved Nokia 808 Pureview for at least another one year:
Since there is not one phone that would fulfill my needs, I will use two phones.

The setup

I keep my Nokia 808 for telephony. And camera. And recordings. And offline maps.
(For emailing a photo, I snap the devices together.. you should see people’s face when I do that!)

I use the Z10 for email, facebook, twitter and general browsing.
(I may install some Android apps if the service is not meant for accessing through the browser (e.g. Flipboard was in the BB World store so why not))

What this means is that my 808 is back to 4-5-more days of battery life:D
But I do have to charge the Z10 nightly.

808 over Z10


Camera. With Xenon flash and large sensor.
Rich recording for concerts and gigs.
Buttons for telephony. Answer and reject.
Haptic feedback through all interface (Z10 doesn’t even have this for keyboard..)
Side unlock slider with flashlight.
Camera button.
ClearBlack AMOLED with Gorilla glass.
FM Radio with FM transmitter
Alarm rings even when powered off.

Mass-storage mode can boot your computer in Linux.
Maps. Offline.
Sleeping screen. All time.
Opera Mini (that I couldn’t run on Z10 from Android.. It’s the browser that counted 7 GB saved (1.6 from a total of 8.6) in one year of continuous Mini usage)
Homescreen widgets
Screen saver
Smart dialing

In common

NFC, Z10 can receive photos from 808, but also send (Android Beam doesn’t do the latter)
MicroSD card
MicroHDMI port
Removable battery cover.
One has Miracast, the other Mirrorlink
Z10 headset works on 808 with answer button/dictaphone after plugging it through an OMTP/CTIA converter.
Notification light

True multi-tasking microkernel (QNX and Symbian)
Qt/QML development environment – I even saw CutePress and FastTube in the BB World. (Z10 still supports AS3 apps from Playbook days)
Landscape mode all-over (except for home screen)
Search available on all screens, searches through everything.
DLNA media sharing
Pull-down menu (more toggles coming in next BB 10.2 update)

Z10 over 808

No buttons. Swipe-up for multi-tasking.
Twice the screen resolution in both directions (1280 x 768)
LTE and faster 3.5G speeds
Bluetooth 4.0 LE
Camera: Closer macro shots, built-in HDR and Scalado’s “time warp” (now Nokia’s).
Hot-swappable MicroSD card
Gyroscope sensor.
Infrastructure Wifi Hotspot and 5Ghz Wifi (a/n).

Modern browser backed up by faster hardware (dual core, 2Gb RAM)
Full Flash Player 11.x in the browser.
A handful of more up-to-date apps (yes, BB World is not full with apps either)
Email with CalDAV/CardDAV support and (ahem) push notifications when always connected
Decent Facebook client out of the box (made by Blackberry, mind you)
Android 4.x support for when BB World fails.
Better keyboard (the screen is just as tall, but wider, at 4.2″ and 16:10 aspect ratio) with multiple input languages at once.


So this was my choice after taking a look at the devices available on the market, watching some prices and making some compromises in the way (and of course, applying some personal preconceptions and other criteria such as size).

It is not perfect, I would have loved to just upgrade to a Symbian 909 with Carla and waiting for an upgrade to Donna, but heck, I’m not that lucky.

How about you? Where do you go to from Symbian?


3 Comments to “Where do you go to from Symbian?”

  1. This is a year and a half old post but I still want to leave a comment as just like you I had to go from an 808 to something else and I ended up with the newborn Jolla. Let’s not talk imaging, sound, battery life, maps or display quality or more, the 808 just ruled it all. I have this Jolla because I’m not so into “MicroGoogApple” ecosystems. I use a linux computer and a linux phone, and it’s ok. I will buy myself a Sony RX100 and that will be better than a camera phone. What is your daily driver now?

    • Hi Maximilian,
      I still use the 808 as phone/camera and offline maps. It’s getting soon in its fourth year:)
      And still have a BlackBerry as a browser/email. Only that, seeing that I won’t use it as a phone, I went ‘phablet’ mode with a Passport.
      I looked again at Jolla but I was already hoping they would release a sequel.. it’s still on my list of phones to have..

    • I have the same problem as you, still, in 2016. There should be a quad core 909, 64 megapixels, 2 GB RAM, Symbian Donna. Oh, well…

      Kind regards from a fellow Symbianeer

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