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Spillikins №131. New Nokia Classification and Models from RIM and Motorola
Unfortunately, August is indeed a silly season as nothing happens, but there is still some news to discuss. My road trips continue in Asia, where I will start from the Philippines. Send me a text message if you want to meet in Hong Kong.
Symbian still remains the key OS for Nokia as it can help sell considerable amounts of smartphones. We have to welcome new entry level models. Nokia 500 returns us to the past and the beginning of the company's road – brand name and three digits without hyphens and letters. The bigger the first digit the higher the model is positioned in the line-up, but there are some questions here, because Nokia 500 will cost 150 Euros. Series 700 starts at 200 Euros. Series 900 will have either to start from 300 Euros or more or the Nokia will have to rethink its pricing for this line-up.
I liked the entry on the official Nokia blog, which explained why names like N8-01, C7-00, C1-01, and C1-00 are not successful. Why this awful naming system was not criticized from the very outset? It is difficult to remember the looks of a particular phone, especially if we speak about budget solutions.
Let's go back to Nokia 500, which is the main model to be sold in big numbers according to the manufacturer itself. For the first time Symbian has a 1 GHz processor on board. Unfortunately, there is an outdated ARM11 architecture and the video accelerator is missing as well.
1 GHz processors are typical of Android solutions, but cost much more. Nokia will get an advantage for this model, but it will be lost soon when Android moves from 600-800 MHz to 1 GHz at the beginning of 2012. In any case it is not fair to have a head-to-head comparison of 1GHz processors in Symbian^3 and Android. To my mind Nokia 500 offers good value for money and will sell, but figures will be below Nokia expectations. The problem is that Symbian is not treated as a proper OS and everybody will prefer Android.
Nokia 500 uses Symbian Anna, which is a minor update of Symbian^3. Unfortunately the amount of RAM is not enough for appropriate operation. It is an update for Nokia C5-03. It also has a 5 MP camera without the autofocus and flash and is offered for the same 150 Euros. The new handset has an updated Symbian and a more powerful processor. It also features snap-up panels and looks like Nokia X6.
I like that the screen is a copy of X6. It is capacitive and has traditional for Nokia resolution of 640х360 and the physical size is 3.2". The screen is not enough if you cannot run many 3D games (I was not successful with Angry Birds, but it may be a problem of the prototype) as the phone lacks required power. So far the reaction of fans on web sites was reserved, but it is not the right indicator. Here we have a decent offer for the mass market and it will generate considerable sales.
I would like to remind you that at Blackberry World this May RIM unveiled Blackberry 9900/9930, which is labelled Bold3. I like the model as it has one of the best QWERTY keypads. It's a pity that the company failed to launch it earlier as the similar Nokia E6 appeared before and stole the show with the lower price.
Such delays against the background of permanent RIM criticism influenced the company a lot. In 2012 it plans to show new models on QNX used in their first tablet. Before that all gadgets will be based on the seventh version of Blackberry OS. For end users there are no dramatic improvements in this version, while claims in the press release that JIT offers 40% faster browsing will not translate into different user experience. In comparison with iOS or even Android this incarnation of Blackberry OS has no advantages apart from the proprietary services. Nobody knows what will happen with QNX, but I am sceptical about impressive results for the first models.
Among new offerings we have BlackBerry Torch 9850/9860, surprisingly devoid of the hardware keypad. It has only a 3.7" touchscreen. Single core 1.2 GHz processor is accompanied by 768 MB of RAM, 4 GB of internal memory and a 5 MP camera with HD recording capabilities (no more than 720p). I think these parameters are pretty average and the absence of the hardware keypad turns this model into another touchscreen phone on the market dominated by iPhone and Android handsets. This alternative approach is unlikely to become popular.
Torch 9810 is an update of a previous Torch, which got more internal memory (8 GB instead of 4 GB), a 1.2 GHz processor and a higher resolution (640x480) of a 3.2" screen. Under the hood we have Blackberry OS 7. The model will appear on selected markets at the end of August and will cost 20% more than the previous Torch. This decision is pretty questionable, as the model had to be priced on par with the previous Torch, but RIM opted otherwise.
After this unveiling I was left with mixed and uneasy feelings. First RIM added an already announced Bold 9900/9930 to claim they showed five models. Secondly it looks like a clumsy PR attempt, when the company tries to prove everything is going fine, while it is definitely not the case.
Motorola was out of the limelight recently and the interest in Europe is waning accordingly. You can view the company as a moderately serious player only on selected markets, first of all in the US, where it is still going strong. Nevertheless, even at home Motorola is sliding down. It still launches models for Asia, for example XT316 will appear in China with other markets to follow later on. It is a touchscreen Android smartphone with the QWERTY keypad. In Europe it will be sold as Fire and in Latin America it will be dubbed Spice Key. Its technical characteristics are rather simple - a 2.8" QVGA screen, HSDPA support, a 3 MP camera, a 3.5 mm jack together with 512 MB of inbuilt memory and memory cards on board. RAM is only 256 MB. On top of that the phone comes equipped with the entry level MSM7227-1 processor of 600 MHz. The main bright spot is the announced price of around $210-220.
In the same series we will see XT531 (or Fire XT in Europe). This handset is more upscale, so its processor has 800 MHz, an HVGA screen features 3.5", while a 5 MP camera is coupled with the second camera for video calls. Sales will start in September for the price of about $240, which is quite a lot for a budget model.
Unfortunately, such models may help Motorola on selected markets, but they are not enough to push the whole company forward. At the moment we are seeing a slow death of Motorola, which is happening with less fight than the similar process in Sony Ericsson. Both manufacturers are moving in the same direction. It's a pity.
Users of Symbian^3 smartphones have just received the Anna update, which offers minor improvements, but online you can already come across the next version codenamed Belle to be released in 2012. Symbian developers borrowed from Android a status bar and statuses switch together with other interface elements. Surprisingly, but it took Nokia so long to achieve this. I am curious if programmers finally manage to implement one touch language switch in Belle or this task is too difficult for Nokia.
You can get a sneak preview of Belle in action. It is an early firmware, but it gives an overall impression about the OS. It is something new for Symbian, but it is too old for the market in 2012.
P.S. Have a nice week and good luck!
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Published 10 August 2011
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