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I guess my next phone is not going to be a Nokia

I wrote a few times before about my experience with my Nokia E61 phone. WIth the iPhone 3G coming to Italy, and the E71 being announced, I started to think whether to change my phone, and which one to get.

The first issue would be, do I want to keep going with Nokia or not? Nokia is being felt as “great’ in the Free Software world, although there has been some trouble with Ari Jaaksi’s words lately but I’m very much disliking their policies related to phones.

The first problem is something I wrote before about, and it’s their SDK policies. Not only the S60v3 SDK is not usable under Linux, but also the most complete SDKs are just overpriced.

Yes, I know Apple’s SDK isn’t much better, but this is just one issue I have with Nokia.

The other big issue with Nokia is that even the most basic annoyances you might have with the phone’s software will never get fixed in your phone’s software release. For instance, E61 has a pretty useless home screen, it shows you the next appointments in the calendar and a single TODO item. With the huge screen real estate in the phone, it’s kinda pointless to have just these things in there.

The problem has being partly solved in the E61i version, which has the same exact screen size, but has a more interesting home screen, which includes the number of new unread email messages, and the presence of Wireless LAN connections. I don’t think that to implement the new home screen you need any new hardware the E61i has and the E61 doesn’t. But Nokia is not going to update the firmware of E61 with that, as it’s a service release of the OS.

The problem is that there are tons of little annoyances in Nokia’s Symbian, but to get those fixed your only choice is for you to buy a new phone. Which would be just a waste of money. They really should start updating the OS for old models too, not just for the last version they released of every model.

Now, as I was saying the other day talking with DanielW on the Amarok developers’ channel, unfortunately the most open platform currently in use and with a decent price tag is Windows Mobile. Actually, Windows Mobile phones do look nice, but I need to sync with OSX at the moment (Address Book beats Kontact a million times, for now, once KDE gets a decent address book application, then I’ll have KDE as main sync I suppose), and I heard so many bad things about Windows Mobile (and one I seen with my eyes, my brother-in-law was receiving a photo of my nephew with his Windows Mobile PDA via bluetooth, it ended up stuck, he tried shutting it off, it didn’t work, he removed the battery and put it back, and it reset itself entirely…).

Sadly, there isn’t so much choice here. I want a smartphone, as I grew used to have email support while I’m on the go, for job and other things; also, being able to browse some e-shops when I’m at an actual shop, to check for prices did save me quite a bit of money before. There are only three choices for smartphones out there: Symbian OS, Windows Mobile and iPhone. The first, as I said, is a huge pain in the ass as it is almost never updated; the second is just not something I’d be glad to be using, so at the moment my best choice is the third.

Now of course before I can actually get an iPhone there are a few things I need to clear. First TIM has to announce it. I’ll never become a Vodafone customer in my life, they are just thieves. And TIM has to announce a decent dataplan as I need it. As an alternative they can just not simlock it, I’ll be glad to pay for a decent voice plan to give my mother and keep the iPhone with my current carrier (H3G) which has a very nice dataplan.

But for sure, the only way for my next phone to be Nokia would be for me to work for Nokia and having the tools to actually update its firmware to fix the bloody annoyances it gives me, like not being able to search for contacts by nickname when looking up the destination of an SMS, or showing the birthdays in the calendar view (and the homescreen) for those contacts having one set.

Comments 5
  1. Yeah it sux knowing your phone’s hardware is just fine but you never gonna get new software unless you buy new phone. They really don’t want you to stick with it for more than 2 years.Sometimes some missing stuff can be supplied by 3rd party software at least, even for the home screen, recently I seen something as “python widgets” etc. Now there are even more possibilities because they’ve found a way how to hack on the firmware, removed write protection in c: etc…

  2. Frankly, I don’t believe iPhone will have such good firmware updates. I believe that the annoyances you will have with iPhone won’t be fixed until the next model.Unless, of course, it ends up being very moddable. I mean, unless downloaded iPhone software has enough rights to change “deeper” things. And I’m not sure if this is going to happen or not.I’m not a fanboy of any manufacturer. I currently have a Sony-Ericsson K750i, which is not a smartphone but gets the job done for me (and fits in my pocket and also under my budget). All annoyances I have with this phone will die with it. There has been one firmware upgrade since I bought this phone, and this upgrade haven’t fixed anything.Fortunately, for me, I found some nice hacks that patches many annoyances of this phone. Of course, completely non-official and non-supported.But my point is: whatever is the phone, I wouldn’t bet that things will get fixed without buying another one. That’s what happens when you have closed-source firmware: you’re tied to whatever the manufacturer wants.Sometimes I wonder how is the OpenMoko project status? That’s a phone designed to have open hardware and open software. That, IMHO, might be the real solution.

  3. IIRC Apple announced they’ll update the firmware of IPhone first generation to 2.0. And similarly happened to AppleTV that moved from 1.0 to 1.1 to 2.0 without extra charges.Also, Apple’s policies on updates isn’t usually that bad. First of all they still leave a last update for the previous generation operating system when they launch the new one, backporting some of the basic fixes and features implemented in the last one to th previous one.

  4. OpenMoko is currently the best bet, sadly it doesn’t have UMTS so it is somehow limited in fuctionality for this side of the world but hopefully it will work nicely (now if I could manage to get an umts module and stick it inside the phone…)

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