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Nokia at 3GSM navigation, video and again, navigation

As far as I understand, the exhibition in Barcelona is of some importance to Nokia after all, though not nearly important to make it take all the aces for 2008 out of its sleeve. Of course, they demoed Touch, rolled out a couple of nothing-out-of-the-ordinary handsets, but where are the gadgets for tech freaks? Where did updated E-series devices, or even more music and imaging-savvy than ever N-Series behemoths and others go? None had made it to 3GSM. And thats a pity. For starters, lets see what Eldar Murtazin has to say about the most anticipated showcase of Nokias.

S60 Touch

The abilities of the S60 Touch and upcoming devices were demoed at Nokias booth not with real prototypes, but rather on a tablet specially brought for these purposes, sort of a proving ground, as thats how new software is tested in most cases. With this OS, Nokia is really focusing on delivering the user experience similar to that of todays phones. Thats the foremost thing the developers are setting out to achieve no revolutions, and no need to try to get a hang of your phone all over again. The other task is even more ambitious they want to design the OS in the way that regardless of what control the user has pressed, a reaction from the phone should ensue immediately for example, tapping the profile name while idling, will get you into the Profile menu; similarly, pressing the clock will bring up the Time function. Very straightforward and intuitive.

The impending products will support both finger - (for example you can tap and hold on the display, and then drag windows around), and stylus-based navigation; the user will be able to take his/her pick. There is no onscreen keyboard as of yet, so using hardware keys is inevitable, but, its only a matter of time untill it will get implemented. They already have handwriting recognition in, with over 15 languages supported, but, this is nothing new, as this technology has already stood the test of time on some other Nokia-branded phones.

The key aspects of the touch-sensitive interface includes easier navigation through gallery, and list,s by dragging your finger back and forth, to get to the desired item or index letter.

On balance, the development process of the S60 Touch hasnt gone beyond experiments as of yet, but it will morph into an interesting branch down the road. Given what they said at the demonstration, no commercial products will be available earlier than late 2008 at best.

Nokia N96

I have certain doubts whether this particular announcement can generate any hype at all first snaps picturing the N96 popped up on the Web, even before the New Year, and, dare I note, those were not fakes or photoshoped images, on the contrary, they featured exactly the same thing they have just rolled out at the booth. Honestly, I dont quite catch the meaning of this handset naturally, they can tweak and tune the Nokia N95 for as long as they want, but we would really like this smartphone to pick up some new smarts along with its higher index. By the way, if we are compare it with something, it should be the N95 8Gb, rather than the N95, as for the most part, the newcomer doesnt differ from the former, all subtle details aside.

  • The first thing you run into, is the N96s revamped design, it seems someone over at Nokia has fallen really hard for the N81 (presence of a similarly looking senior solution should boost its sales, which have been looking quite strange thus far). The same controls on the front fascia, the same streamlined footprint, and glossy panels that you will have to wipe clean after every call. The form-factor employed here is pretty much on par for the course as far as the N95 family is concerned: dual slider with music controls hiding on top. I dont know about you, but in my opinion, the N95 8Gb looks way better and is so much easier to handle; basically, looking at the N96 I feel an urge to point out that it has taken only the best things from the N81 fingerprint-prone casing, various creaks, squeaks and other things. But lets not be all that gloomy, and hope that Nokias new video flagship will be built as well as the N95 8Gb.
  • Almost forgot to mention that the N96 comes bundled with a folding stand, which is a part of the cameras framing. Probably, it is the accessory that makes for the best possible video experience. While it is a good thing, I guess the N96 really lacks adequate software for movie conversion out of the box, a potent preinstalled TCPMP-esque player, as well as a YouTube clip player, DivX codec and an array of other things that make the life of someone trying to watch another episode of Lost in taxi or underground so much easier.
  • The inbuilt storage has been beefed up to 16Gb, firing back at Apples recent announcements. In my opinion, this is a decent memory size for a music-minded phone, although, and you will probably agree with me here, the more the better. Curiously, the microSD memory expansion slot hasnt gone anywhere, allowing for even more content stored in the N96 at any given time.
  • The handset comes bundled with a DVB-H Class C enabled TV-tuner, meaning that the N96 can double as a mini TV. Im curious whether this model will arrive in Russia with this capability onboard? It is not a random question, as the fact of the matter is that the Russian market has never seen a Nokia-branded device supporting this feature so far.
  • By the way, the N96 is runs S60 3rd edition FP2
  • Obviously, the N96 still knows what the following things mean: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth with A2DP, AGPS (photos can come with coordinates of the place they we took at), GSM/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 Mhz and WCDMA/HSDPA 900/2100 Mhz connectivity.
  • The phone also sports RDS-enabled radio, 3.5 mm audio jack, plus comes boxed with a pair of headphones and remote, identical to those packaged with the N81. They look pretty, but cant allow the phones full potential to manifest itself.
  • The handset fully supports OVI, and, this way, N-Gage as well, and probably the N96 will serve as a proving ground for the companys gaming and music services, which seems to be a fairly good guess in regards to why this handset has materialized at all.

I suppose no further ado is needed, this handset is supposedly a flagship Exactly, supposedly I have nothing against it, actually, it looks good, packs a lot of features under its hood, and carries a top-notch display, but if only it had the S60 Touch onboard or N91-grade sound quality If the N96 packed in all of these features, it would have a different name, obviously. And for the time being, it is an 800-dollar device, that tech buffs may get interested in, plus it gives a slight hope that the dated N95 8Gb and N95 will have their prices cut shortly.

Technical specifications of the Nokia N96:

  • Connectivity - GSM/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 MHz and WCDMA/HSDPA 900/2100 MHz
  • OS: S60 3rd Edition FP 2
  • Display 2.8 QVGA, 16M colors
  • 16 GB of onboard memory
  • microSD memory expansion slot
  • Media player (MPEG-4/SP and MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, RealVideo, Windows Media (WMV9), Flash Lite 3.0, MP3, AAC, eAAC, eAAC+, WMA)
  • 5-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss lens, VGA video recording, 30 fps (double LED flash kicks in when video shooting too)
  • Wi-Fi (802.11b/g), EDR-enabled Bluetooth 2.0 (A2DP profile)
  • Integrated GPS-receiver with A-GPS
  • DVB-H Class C
  • microUSB-port
  • TV-out
  • FM-radio with RDS
  • Battery - 950 mAh
  • Talk time up to 150 minutes (3G) or 220 minutes (GSM)
  • Standby time up to 200 hours (3G) or 220 hours (GSM)
  • Music time up to 5 hours (video), 14 hours (audio) and 4 hours (TV)
  • Dimensions 103x55x18 mm
  • Weight - 125 g

Nokia N78

Frankly speaking, I liked this one better a conventional candy-bar with an unsophisticated, yet stylish design. Im slightly worried about its cramped and rice grain-like buttons, which resemble the Sony Ericsson W880 in a way; however the N78 is bigger, so its keypad should be a breeze to handle. As you can see, it looks much like the hyped N73, and, in some ways, continues the traditions of the 7x-series affordable (SRP 350 Euro) and brimming with features. The N78 supports all OVI services (music, games, etc, the same routine), packs in WiFi, FM-radio, 3 Mpix camera with Carl Zeiss lens, and, similarly to the N96, it runs the Series 60 3rd FP2. Another feature of note is its FM-transmitter, which will beam your tunes to a car audio syste, or home stereo wirelessly, and, it seems soon it will be a must-have for every multimedia-ready offering. On top of that, the new N78 comes bundled with AGPS, which makes it a very interesting device altogether as for me, I consider it as one of the markets most balanced offerings, and, perhaps in terms of price/quality ratio, it will be among the best solutions out there. The phone is set to launch in Q2 2008; it is hard to think of any rival for the N78 probably the G900 from Sony Ericsson, but it doesnt sport GPS, but comes with a superior camera.

Technical specifications of the Nokia N78:

  • Connectivity - GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 MHz and WCDMA/HSDPA 900/2100 MHz
  • OS - S60 3rd Edition FP 2
  • Display 2.4 QVGA, 16M colors
  • 70 Mb of inbuilt memory
  • microSD memory expansion slot
  • Music player (MP3, AAC, eAAC, eAAC+, WMA)
  • 3.2-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss lens (digital zoom up to 20x)
  • Wi-Fi (802.11b/g), EDR-enabled Bluetooth 2.0 (A2DP profile), USB 2.0
  • Support for A-GPS
  • DVB-H Class C
  • FM-radio
  • FM-transmitter
  • Battery: 1200 mAh
  • Dimensions 113x49x15.1 mm
  • Weight 101.8 g

Nokia 6210 Navigator

This device comes in to update the relatively popular Nokia 6110 it is housed in the same form-factor, yet has its looks altered a tad. It now features an e-compass, although, I suppose they wouldve been better off implementing it in ruggedized devices, which are frequently used by travelers. They have also introduced a new app for navigation, now it is Maps 2.0 the review on it is already in the works. Generally speaking, thats pretty much it, as the rest of the 6120s hyped abilities are pure marketing tricks. Im not really fond of this phone, especially given its suggested price of 300 Euro. The 6210s release is slotted for May. And yes, I still like the Nokia N78 better.

Technical specifications of the Nokia 6210 Navigator:

  • Connectivity: WCDMA900/2100 (or 850/2100; 850/1900) HSDPA, GSM/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900
  • OS: S60 3rd Edition
  • Dimensions: 103x49x14,9 mm
  • Weight: 117 g.
  • Display: 2.4-inch, TFT, 240x320 pixels with ambient light sensor and 16M colors
  • Camera: 3.2 Mpix with video recording and LED flash;
  • Navigation: bundled GPS module, compass, support for A-GPS, Nokia Maps 2.0 software, SIM-less navigation;
  • Music: Video Radio and stereo FM-radio
  • Memory: around 120 Mb of inbuilt storage, can be beefed up with microSD memory cards
  • Bluetooth v2.0, includes A2DP/AVRCP profiles
  • Sockets: 2.5 mm audio jack, microUSB

Nokia 6220 Classic

And, the last announced Nokias device the 6220 Classic, which is in fact the update of the 6120 Classic that had debuted at 3GSM 2007. The new feature pack is something worth talking about 5 Megapixel camera, with geo-tracking, AGPS, and, enhanced call quality in noisy environments. Interestingly, the design of the most Classic smartphone doesnt live up to its name just like the N96 and the N78, it has taken some cues from the N81 (glossy plates). The 6220 Classics RSP is 325 Euro, the phone is to become available in Q3 2008. All in all, it is sort of a device for calls with an advanced imaging department for those who dont want to shell out for the truckload of features found in the N96 or the N78s Wi-Fi. And, it is very likely that this phone Im talking about will go on to become a true bestseller in its class (though the thing is, I have no way of knowing that today).

Technical specifications of the Nokia 6220 classic:

  • Connectivity - GSM/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 MHz and WCDMA/HSDPA 900/2100 MHz
  • OS - S60 3rd Edition FP 2
  • Display 2.2 QVGA, 16M colors
  • 120 Mb of inbuilt memory
  • microSD memory expansion slot (up to 8Gb)
  • Music player (MP3, AAC, eAAC, eAAC+, WMA)
  • FM-radio with RDS
  • 5-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss lens (digital zoom up to 20x), autofocus, Xenon flash, VGA video recording at up to 30 FPS
  • EDR-enabled Bluetooth 2.0 (A2DP profile)
  • GPS-receiver (support for A-GPS)
  • TV-out
  • FM-transmitter
  • Battery: 900 mAh
  • Dimensions 108x47x15 mm
  • Weight 90 g

In summary, whats the bottom line? All the devices that Nokia has rolled out run FP2, come with AGPS, and, almost all of them can handle OVI, but the main focus is on navigation, imaging and video. It is very likely that Nokia closely follows the products delivered by the competition. Plus, another thing of note is that the companys CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, said that Nokia had no plans for Windows Mobile devices, meaning that most resources are going to be allocated to the S60 Touch and the next exhibition in Barcelona will probably surprise us with a whole boat of marvels.

P.S. I cant overlook a strange thing that happened with me this year normally, these are flagship solutions that get a great deal of my attention, but in 2008 mid-tier models seemed to be better buys. By mid-tier I mean the N78, SEs G900 and the Motorola Z6w with its WiFi module. As far as I know, no big announcements are scheduled for Tuesday, so lets see what Wednesday will bring.

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com); Sergey Kuzmin (skuzmin@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Oleg Kononosov (oleg.kononosov@mobile-review.com)

Published — 13 February 2008

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com

 

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