The first impression Belle Refresh left me was a big disappointment. And in some aspects it is. This is supposed to be the last big update for the N8 generation so I was expecting more. And by more I mean more FP2 features. But it didn’t happen. Now that I got over that initial WTF moment it’s time to take a look under the hood to see what are the performance improvements that arrives with this new update.
First of all let’s tackle the browser. Updated to version 8.3 the browser brings some subtle but worth noting user interface updates. Besides the back and forward buttons we have the windows and a favorites buttons that make your life a bit easier when navigating the web. The favorites button opens up a three tabs panel with most visited, bookmarks and history. It’s good thing that all bookmarks and favorites are in the same place. The usual web browser menu, a reminiscence of S60v5, is now gone and you can do basically the same operations as before from the context menu.
Another improvement, and this is a big one, is the browser rendering speed. It’s a big improvement over the old version with zooming in and out being now way smoother than before. You can even zoom in and out as the page loads and it works pretty well. Unlike before when you used to get lots of lag even after the page was fully loaded, now you won’t see anymore if those lags. So, the updated browser gets a big thumbs up. If you compare this version to the S60v5, you can’t tell the current one is an evolution of that old version.
Between all the clock widgets that were included in this update, there are others that were really needed and welcomed by us all. The first is the Data Counter widget that comes with a small app too and tells you how much mobile data you’ve consumed. You just need to set your monthly limit and the day your limit gets reset. You can also choose to disable the mobile data when the limit is hit to avoid extra costs.
The second much needed widget is Mail,New arrival. This one can replace the big old half homescreen mail widget with a shortcut that shows you a badge notification when you have new mail. I would have liked to see the new mail notification in the system pull-down area and on the lockscreen, just like the notifications for new messages and missed calls. It’s not very ergonomic to unlock you phone whenever you want to check if you have new mail.
The third widget that is worth mentioning is the Contacts widget that can now show a group on the homescreen and not just your favorite contacts. In the old Belle if you would have added the Contacts, favorites to your homescreen three times, you would have got the same contacts in all widgets. Now, if you define 3 different groups you can have three different widgets, one for each group. A big improvement over the old approach.
Also, worth mentioning are the toggle widgets fro 3G, Mobile Data, Offline mode and Silent mode.
Belle Refresh also includes the latest QT version, 4.8. The new version seems to have boosted the speed of the apps written in this language. Apps seem to scroll smoother and the touch input has been optimized for swiping gestures. Without needing to update the existing apps they run smoother and accidental scrolling when you intended to swipe happens a lot less now.
But the Belle Refresh update didn’t just improve things, it also broke some apps. That was expected from third party apps that had compatibility issues, but I wasn’t expecting that to happen to the Microsoft Office suite. The new update rendered OneNote useless. Synchronization was gone and I wasn’t able to login to my account again for one simple reason: I could not type in my username and password. When I touched the input fields the keyboard did not pop up. Maybe a hard reset will fix it, but at the moment I am don’t want to lose all my user data because of this issue. Maybe Microsoft will issue an update, but it’s unbelievable that Nokia’s new best buddy didn’t do it’s homework to properly test the office suite with the latest Belle update.
Even though not all expectations were met with this new update, it’s clearly an improvement over the original Belle, but I hope this is not the end of the line as far as updates are concerned for the first generation of Symbian^3 devices.
Six months have passed since the Nokia N8 has been my main phone and now it’s time to take a look back and see how it has serverd me these past months. This post is not only about the N8, it’s also about the evolution of Nokia Store during that period and about what will be coming to the N8 in the near future.
When I got the N8 back in December 2011 it was equiped with Symbian Anna. The phone was fast and reliable with Anna, but I was eagerly waiting for the announced Belle update that eventually came in February. The Nokia Store app repository was growing at the time and more and more Qt apps, some of great quality and others of questionable one were emerging in the Store. Some apps were just released and later evolved into mature apps, reliable apps.
Bill Detwiler at TechRepublic disassembled Nokia Lumia 900 to have a peek at it’s hardware. They posted series of photo’s taken while disassambly.
Have a look at their full gallery at http://go.nokiatips.in/Hj7ofq
They also compared it with Galaxy Nexus and iPhone 4S and said
The Lumia 900 may lack of a dual-core processor and have a lower resolution screen and less storage capacity than the Galaxy Nexus and iPhone 4S, but it’s definitely the best Windows Phone 7 device I’ve tested. And even with its less-than-cutting edge hardware, I found the Lumia’s overall performance on par with the other two phones.
They are correct, hardware specs wise, they may lead, but Lumia 900 has sufficient specs to run Windows Phone smoothly or any other app, then burdening more on customers just for higher specs is senseless.
You can also read their full review at http://go.nokiatips.in/HQcDGn
So what do you think about Lumia 900? Don’t forget to comment your thoughts. And join the conversation on Twitter @NokiaTips 🙂
Back in January 2011 I did pretty big Symbian^3 review as it was a big step up the evolution ladder for Symbian. Today I want to do the same kind of review to Belle, because it is more of a revolution than an evolution of Symbian.
Why am I calling it a revolution? Because Nokia finally got rid of many of the perks that were holding Symbian back. The bottom toolbar can now host 4 buttons instead of the traditional Menu and Back buttons, while Qt apps can have even more. That means the menus got simplified all over the OS and you can now do more with less taps.
Symbian just got a new pull-down status bar a-la Android, which is a good thing. The new status bar is not as tall as the old one was and leaves more room for applications. Considering that Qt applications use the same status bar, you can not hardly tell the difference between a Qt app and a native app.
Besides showing notifications for new messages, missed calls, missed reminders, mobile network and WiFi network, the new status area has 4 non configurable shortcuts for turning on and off mobile data, WiFi, Bluetooth and silent mode.
The unlock screen appears when the phone is locked and you press the menu or unlock key, and shows you the time and your missed events, like messages, calls and the upcoming calendar events. Of course the phone can be locked using the knob too(if your model has one). The unlock screen now supports background images, and uses the one from the last visited homescreen.
A work of art and a beauty to behold. That is how I will label the Nokia N9. I have had a trial unit courtesy of Nokia Connects for a few days. The unit I have is Blue.
Those are the exact words of “The Brand Evangelist”. He is Jesse by name and he is a mobile enthusiast. He has handled quite a number of mobile phones in the past.
What prompted me to trial this device is what I have heard about Swipe being addictive. After using it for a few days, I can tell you how addicted i have been to Swipe. I tend to Swipe each time on my Nokia N8 too.
On Messaging, here is what Jesse concluded:
I find the Messaging integration of the Nokia N9 very fascinating. The design of the sms UI and the speed with which the OS responds makes me want to keep texting. The touch keypads are well spaced and very responsive also.
Using Skype, Facebook and Gtalk chat feels like you are chatting using an iPhone. It is fast and clean.
On the Nokia N9’s native Browser, this is what Jesse says:
The native browser is HTML5 enabled. If you sign in to Twitter, you will get the mobile web app version of twitter.
Ofcourse you can navigate to Jesse’s blog as there are more to uncover. 🙂
In addition to Jesse’s wonderful write up, here’s “a bit extra” courtesy of Nokia Conversations featuring the Nokia N9.
If you are following us on Twitter @NokiaTips , you maybe aware of our new series of #KnowYourNokia . In case you are unaware, we host interactive #KnowYourNokia session on Twitter at our official twitter qccount @NokiaTips on a particular handset (and maybe on general topics in future) and we share tips, facts and some information about the topic of our #KnowYourNokia. The interesting thing so far has been that our dear followers have more tips to share with us. 🙂 As this session is at particular time, many of you may have missed that session so we thought to provide a recap of that session.
Last time, on 29th Jan, topic for #KnowYourNokia session was one the most favorite device, Nokia N8. We received huge response from our followers. Unfortunately, because of time limit, we have to close it but followers had lot more to share and that made us start another session / part 2 on second day. There were lots of facts about Nokia N8 that we came to know after this session. Here, we are summarizing our last #KnowYourNokia Session.