Nokia bringing “Anna” updates to older phones

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Nokia started a rollout of new firmwares to a range of S60 v3.2 (3rd Edition FP2) and S60 v5 (Symbian^1) devices yesterday which will bring a range of new features to these phones.

The main update is a new Web Browser, the same as will/is shipping in the Anna update for Symbian^3 phones.  This is much faster than the previous browser, and even in the short time I’ve had access to it, it does seem a much faster and better browser.

Additionally, Ovi Maps has been updated.  For S60 v3.2 devices, the latest version available is v3.04, but that does bring a range of new features such as WiFi and Cell ID positioning to help speed up the initial GPS fix.  For S60 v5 devices, this means v3.06, which also brings the ability to update the maps direct from the device (although the latest maps released by Nokia are still from back in February 2011; it would be nice to see Nokia moving to a quarterly map update schedule).

It should be pointed out that for some of the devices, the Maps update has been available from the Software Update tool built into the phone, and in this scenario, the main firmware update does not seem to include the Maps update.  If you have such a device, you have already got the latest Maps, and the new firmware does not modify that.

Finally, there is support for emoticons within Messages.  If you type characters such as : ) it will automatically turn it into a graphical emoticon.  Otherwise, you can select to insert an emoticon from the keyboard menu.

So, which devices will this be rolling out to?  Nokia have said:

S60 v3.2:

S60 v5:

My understanding is that the Nokia 5230, C6-00, E5, E52 and E72 all started to receive the firmware update from yesterday, with the other devices following over the next few weeks.

If you have a Symbian^1 phone, you can also download the Nokia Evolve theme from the Ovi Store (here), which will give the built in apps the same style of icons as the upcoming Anna update for Symbian^3 devices.

One word of warning though; it seems that this firmware update has a bug on all devices with homescreen widgets which will cause the very useful “Coming Next” widget to break and display an error message.  Nokia are aware of this (basically any attempt to access the Calendar from a Web Runtime Widget returns a blank response), and have indicated it will need a further firmware update for all devices to fix, so if your busy schedule relies upon the “Coming Next” widget, you might want to think long and hard before applying this update.

Overall, I’ve found a combination of the latest Ovi Maps, the latest Anna browser, and the Evolve icons does bring a good refresh to existing Symbian phones, and should extend their life a little further; it’s definitely nice to see Nokia releasing these software updates to elder phones; oh, and if you are a fan of Gravity (the all round best Social Networking client for Symbian) you’ll be glad to know the latest Alpha has an Anna-style application icon to match the rest of the icons.


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Nokia announce Nokia Situations

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Although not as full featured as Tasker or Locale (both for Android devices), Nokia Situations enhances the built in Profile management with the ability to create custom profiles, and choose when these profiles are selected.  The screenshot above shows some of the range of options you can use to trigger the change in profile, and I’m especially pleased to see Network support, and not just GPS location, allowing location based changes without needing the phone to constantly use drain the battery by keeping the GPS running.

Although currently a Nokia Beta Labs product, it’s likely we will see this either integrated into future devices, or the app being made available in the Ovi Store to allow a wider coverage.

Nokia have also created 4 versions of this, which is also good to see.  Firstly, there’s the Symbian^3 version (Nokia N8), an S60 5th Edition for phones with homescreen widgets (Nokia N97, Nokia N97 Mini, Nokia C6-00), remaining S60 5th Edition phones (such as the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic), and even a S60 3rd Edition FP2 (Nokia E72, Nokia E5); it’s good that Nokia are remembering they are still releasing new phones with S60 3rd Edition installed.

If you are interested in this application, head over to Nokia Beta Labs for more information.


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play.com now accept Nokia C6 orders

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Although play.com announced that they were accepting pre-orders for the Nokia C6 Black variant (at £269.99), they have now also listed the Nokia C6 White as available to order.  Although the White variant is listed as “Temporarily out of stock”, it’s possible to purchase it now, and they will deliver it once it comes into stock (for completeness the Black variant seems to not be available for order at the moment).

Even better, they are selling the Nokia C6 White at only £249.99, a saving of £50 over the retail price of £299.99.  This buys you a SIM free phone with a great range of features, and if you compare that to the Nokia N97 Mini, which launched at a much higher price, this appears to be a bit of a bargain… If you are worried about the size of the device, especially as it has a QWERTY keyboard built in, it’s only 1.3mm thicker than the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic…

If fact, a quick search shows that Mobile Fun have the Nokia C6 Black at the same £249.99 (and available for pre-order as stock is expected later this week / early next week), so you should be able to get either colour for around £250…

If you are interested in the Nokia C6 White, then head off to the play.com website to place your order, or head to Mobile Fun for the Nokia C6 Black instead.


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Looking for a cheap smartphone…?

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

3 logo

3UK have updated their selection of refurbished handsets that are available for purchase.  The current range includes (of note):

  • Nokia 5800 XpressMusic
  • Nokia 5230 (although announced, it was not available on the website at the time of writing)
  • Nokia E71
  • HTC Hero

In my opinion these are all good phones (although in different ways), and if you don’t need the latest greatest device, but are looking for something cheap, then you might well want to consider one of these devices.  Although they are generally available with a new contract, some are available on PAYG, such as:

These are also very good value options for someone who has a simpler phone today and is looking for something a bit more special.  Don’t forget you really need an Internet connection to get the most out of these phones, especially the HTC Hero.


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3UK news on iPads and Nokia E72

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

The iPad is coming to the UK on Friday.  Earlier this week we covered the iPad SIM Only deals from Vodafone (here), and today’s we’re looking at 3UK‘s similar offering:

  • £7.50 per month (1 month rolling contract), 1GB of data per month, no calls
  • £15 per month (1 month rolling contract), 10GB of data per month, no calls

Now, let’s just compare those to Vodafone for a second; to get 1GB of data, Vodafone will charge £10 per month, whereas as 3UK are charging £7.50 per month; it’s clear to see which one is better there.

Equally, for £15 per month, 3UK are offering 10GB of data, whereas Vodafone are only offering 3GB of data; in fact, taking this comparison a stage further; the maximum data you can buy from Vodafone is 5GB per month at £25 per month, whereas 3UK will give you 10GB of data for just £15 per month.

Something tells me this £15 per month 3UK option is going to be quite popular…

Of course, not everyone can afford the 3G version; if you select the Wi-Fi only version, then it’s well worth considering the 3UK MiFi option, which will allow you to connect a number of devices to a 3G connection at the same time, and still offers similar options:

  • Purchase the device for £54.99 (includes 1GB of data), and then you can purchase 5GB of data per month for £15 per month (1 month rolling contract).
  • Purchase the device for £49.99 on PAYG, and then you can purchase 3GB of data for £15 or 5GB of data for £25.

Given that the PAYG data rates are higher than the iPad rates, it’s well worth considering whether or not the savings that can be made with the cheaper data actually offset the higher upfront purchase cost of the iPad 3G, or whether the benefit of the 3UK MiFi and it’s ability to connect multiple devices is more important.

Finally, and on a completely different topic, 3UK informed me this week that the Nokia E72 is now available from 3UK on contract (in both Black and White).  As a result of this change, the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic is no longer available, although refurbished handsets are still currently on sale.  The Nokia E72 is a very nice QWERTY device and well worth a look, especially with the free SatNav that Nokia are offering as part of their Ovi Maps strategy.


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Nokia releases v3.04 Ovi Maps

Friday, May 21st, 2010

After a few months in beta, Nokia have now released Ovi Maps v3.04, which adds better positioning with the use of Wi-Fi and Cell ID positioning directly into the product.  They’ve also improved the graphics handling to make everything that bit smoother.  Something that has been added since the beta phase is that they are also providing Qype user reviews (similar to the User Reviews available in Google Maps).  It’s nice to see continued innovation from Nokia on their SatNav product, although it would also be nicer if they could provide better information over what version of maps are installed, and to notify you when new maps are released.

Finally, if you haven’t already bought a Nokia phone recently, and are in the market, you’ll be glad to know that for some models, Nokia are now including a car holder and a car charger in the box (Nokia N97, Nokia N97 Mini, Nokia 6710 Navigator, Nokia X6), whilst others will at least have the car holder without the charger (Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, Nokia 5230, Nokia E52, Nokia E72).  Obviously these accessories will only exist in the latest SIM free stock from Nokia, whereas most UK stock will already be sat on the shelf, or be via the network operator (who will have bought stock in advance), so don’t be surprised if your new purchase doesn’t come with these; in which case, head to somewhere like Mobile Fun and pick up accessories from them.


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3UK launch new site and new tariffs

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

3 logo

INQ £15 Texter 18month contract

Yesterday 3UK launched an updated website.  Although this new site has received mixed comments with some people liking it, and others not, there are a couple of things to be said about it.  Firstly, 3UK have kept all the information you need handy, such as coverage checkers.  Secondly, and this won’t be obvious from the site, but internally within the company there were champions requesting (and ultimately succeeding) that the website was not Flash based (and with it the potential to not allow direct links to product pages).  Overall, I’ve had a few visits to the website, and I’m happy with the redesign.

However…

At the same time, 3UK have removed the Mix and Match tariffs and removed the Texter tariffs (and the old Internet Texter tariffs). Now, there is 3 choices:

  • SIM Only remains, offering a 1 month rolling contract for those who already have a phone, or are happy to buy PAYG phones to use with the service.
  • Internet Talker tariffs, all 24 month contracts, all include “unlimited” 500MB Internet, and the standard range of free facilities (Skype, Windows Live Messenger, Twitter) and “unlimited” 3000 3UK3UK minutes per month.  4 tariffs are available, called 100, 300, 500 and 900, which denotes the number of cross network minutes or texts per month available.
  • For an additional £3 or £5 per month (depending on tariff), there are 4 Internet Texter tariffs, which offer the same 100, 300, 500 or 900 cross network minutes per month, but also come with “unlimited” Internet (*), and “unlimited” 3000 texts.

(*) It seems there is an inconsistency on the 3UK website; although both the Internet Texter and Internet Talker tariffs have a headline of “unlimited internet”, when you look at the detail the Internet Texter tariffs are shown as “unlimited internet”, whereas the Internet Talker tariff are shown as “500MB data”.  This either means 3UK has dropped it’s “unlimited” cap from 1Gb to 500MB, or there is a difference between these 2 tariffs of an additional 500MB.  Either way, some clarify is definitely required over how much internet is or isn’t included with these tariffs, and equally why has the limit dropped…

So, if you were after something like a Nokia 6700 Slide, to get it with 300 cross network minutes (24 month contract) will cost you:

  • Internet Talker 300: £10 per month
  • Handset: £6 per month

therefore a total of £16 per month.  To add those “unlimited” 3000 texts as well would cost an additional £5 per month, so the Handset with the Internet Texter 300 tariff would be £21 per month.

On one hand, I have to offer 3UK the greatest support for taking the initiative and including Internet access with every tariff (apart from SIM only), and that can be as little as £10 per month (it looks like this was the plan 3UK were talking to me about a month or so back), however, on the other hand, making all contracts 24 months may backfire for the many people who don’t want to be tied in for that long. I’m also not happy with the lack of clarity over what “unlimited” internet means, and why it’s now dropped from the old 1GB limit to the new 500MB limit (in fact, you’ll actually get your first warning at 400MB, whereas with the old limits your first warning was when you hit 1GB, and you could actually keep going for some while before being charged).

Having said all that; looking at the Internet Talker 300 tariff, it means you could have a Nokia 5800 XpressMusic for £10 per month (24 month contract) a Nokia E71 (Refurbished) for £13 per month (24 month contract), or if you fancy Android an HTC Hero for £19 per month (24 month contract, 2 months Spotify Premium) or even the HTC Desire for £20 per month (24 month contract, 2 months Spotify Premium); that’s an impressive range of handsets at impressive prices as long as you can accept the 24 month contract, and are happy with the 500MB per month data limit.

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that the majority of the prices I have quoted regarding these new tariffs are the online prices, which have an online exclusive £2 per month reduction over store prices, so to get many of these deals, you will have to visit the 3Store as opposed to going to your local High Street.


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Nokia Firmware updates

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

In the last week or so, Nokia has released a fair few firmware updates.  As always, these updates generally only apply initially to the EURO generic models, and UK and UK mobile network operator specific firmwares will follow (with the latter taking the longest).  Some highlights of these firmware updates include:

Although the majority of these devices are S60 5th Edition or S60 3rd Edition FP2, there are a few S60 3rd Edition FP1 devices in there too, although we do wonder if this may be their last firmware update (technically there’s no reason why Nokia couldn’t continue producing new firmwares integrating updated software applications, but I do think they will start to dry up for FP1 devices soon).

Many of these particular firmwares do seem quite major updates, and should be worth the pain and hassle of applying to your device, although do remember it’s best to take a full backup of all your data before you start.


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Nokia announce 3 new devices

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Having already covered the Nokia C6 a couple of times, there’s not a lot to say about this device, except it does appear to be a very interesting proposition…

Featuring the S60 5th Edition touchscreen, including the N97-style homescreen widgets, this device combines the feature spec of the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, adds a sliding QWERTY keyboard, upgrades the camera to 5 megapixel, and does so without adding too much extra weight or volume.  This device, as I have already said, it likely to sell very well, especially as Nokia are looking at a €220 SIM free price (that’s about £200), so we can expect it less than that on PAYG, and I would expect as little as free on 18-month contracts.

I could repeat all the specs of this device, but it’s best to head to the Nokia PDF Datasheet for the best information (here).

Even better, the phone is due to be actually available in Q2; showing Nokia has finally moved towards reducing the time between announcement and availability, which is a good move.  Of course, as it features a GPS, that means free navigation software too. One thing to be aware of; although it will launch in Black and White, in time there will be additional colours, such as Blue.

Nokia also released the Nokia C3 (below), which is a S40 QWERTY device.  This will have a SIM free price of €90 (£80)

Although being S40, this phone features email, chat, information on the homescreen (posting and status updates).  Looking at the spec, it seems to rival the INQ Chat 3G, so this should be a popular device too for those wanting QWERTY, but with the Nokia badge. This will also be available in Q2.  Again, more information on the spec is available direct from Nokia here.

Finally, Nokia announced the Nokia E5, which will not be out until Q3, and will most likely replace the Nokia E63 (which makes sense as the Nokia E63 is S60 3rd Edition FP1, whereas the Nokia E5 is S60 3rd Edition FP2).

This, again, is  QWERTY device, and will feature a GPS with free navigation (a step up from the Nokia E63), and increase the camera to 5megapixels too.  At €180 (£160) SIM free, again, this is competitively priced to be even more popular than the Nokia E63.  Given this will be aimed more at the business market (although I would expect certain UK networks to pick it up and release it for everyone), the extra delay between now and release is unlikely to be a big issue.

I’m really impressed by these phones, I’m not going to rush out and buy them all, but for the mid-market they are aimed at, these devices will sell really well.  My only criticism is that the C-Series now has an S40, a S60 3rd Edition and a S60 5th Edition device, making it difficult to associate one OS with a range, but that’s not so different from the old 4 number range, which covered all 3 OSes as well.  For those who are looking for a top spec flagship phone, these aren’t it, and that should be announced in the coming months…


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Nokia release beta update to Ovi Maps

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Nokia Maps 3.0 with Ovi

Nokia have released, via the Nokia Beta Labs, an update to the Free Ovi Maps solution, now at v3.04.  The new features are:

  • Improved positioning speed and accuracy
  • Map zooming with faster speed
  • Improved search for cities with zoom out to city level

This is good to see, and if you want to try it out (remember it’s a beta version, so may not be perfect), then head over to the Nokia Beta Labs to download this new version.  If you think your device (whether S60 3rd Edition FP2 or S60 5th Edition) is not supported, it’s worth trying one of the other similar models (within the same OS group); eg if you are using a Nokia N86 or Nokia E75, then try the 3rd Edition FP2 version even though your model is not explicitly listed; strangely some people seem to have had success with this method, and others not, so it’s not clear whether or not other devices of the same OS (other than the original 10 or so Nokia announced) can access this software or not.

One word of warning; if you are using a Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, you need at least v31 firmware, which is still not available for some Orange models and all 3UK Nokia 5800 XpressMusic devices, and this despite 3UK giving assurances last month that they were working at fast as possible to get this update out to their users.

Now, about all those of us with S60 3rd Edition FP1 devices; Nokia released a statement (via a Q&A session) about supporting existing and elder devices with the Free Ovi Maps service.  They said they were working to extend the compatibility to other current devices (although I believe they meant FP2 devices), and from now on, all GPS enabled devices will be supported with Free Ovi Maps, but could not give any timelines or guarantees over elder devices; although a ray of hope was that their exact comment was “We can’t say when it will be available”, which seems to imply there is still a chance it will happen.

What I can say is that the Beta of v3.04 isn’t available in an FP1 version, so it’s fair to say it’s going to be a while longer before it comes out, if it ever does…


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