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That’s it. I am going to sell my 6 month old Nokia E72 QWERTZ phone.

Yes, it’s just a phone and “why should I read the following rant on Nokia”, you may be wondering. Here is why:

1. Flexibility

I mentioned it earlier that I had bought a 2G iPhone some month ago, with a broken screen and drained battery from eBay for 65,- EUR, which I managed to repair and have since been using. The iPhone may be a crippled piece of hardware and Nokia may have the best hardware on their phones (also in terms of durability), but there is just so much more I can do with this old iPhone from 2007 that I can’t do with any of my four Nokias (6230, 6230i, N95 & E72).

The iPhone (or an HTC Desire with Android OS) is my logical extension to the computer. Evernote, to name just one application, runs on the iPhone but doesn’t (natively) run on the E72. I am using Evernote to keep track of my notes, so I’ll need to have this run on a phone.

Flexibility is a matter of software support, not only hardware.

Consequently, the iPhone won. I am using it on a daily basis while the E72 slept in my drawers since February 2010. Time to sell it and sum up everything with this blog post.

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iPhone 2G vs. Nokia E72

2. Good at basic stuff

If you’re just looking for a simple mobile phone with sms, Nokia phones are good. There’s a reason why the 1xxx range of Nokias has been so popular around the world – not only in emerging markets. It is also why Nokia keeps on reinventing this series with the recent announcement of their C1 & C2 (dual sim, eventually!) phones. Even the simple QWERTY phone with Bluetooth we’ve been asking for via Eriks postNokia’s C3 – is a good phone.

For simple stuff like voice calls or sms, Nokia phones are good. Even as a mobile Twitter device (Gravity) it rocks! …but for anything else than that, you’re probably better off buying a phone from one of their competitors.

3. SOFTWARE!

This is 2010 and thanks to the iPhone and the undeniable revolution it brought to the market, any smartphone without “cool” software and a usable app store just sucks.

It’s not just the missing Evernote on the E72, or other missing applications. You know many ppl have been asking Nokia and their devs to port successful applications from competitors to the different operating systems in use on Nokia phones. No, with software I mean everything:

  • confusing, often changing user interfaces & menu structures
  • different operating systems (plus too many different phones at the same time, but that’s another – hardware – issue)
  • support of their developers (slowly evolving though)
  • unstable firmwares on their phones, always takes at least 12 month on a new phone to become stable
  • Nokia website – not optimised for use with mobile phones
  • Ovi.com (see 5.)
  • essential stuff like Sports Tracker. It took a spin-off from Nokia to get this cool software a bit closer to where it should be.
  • Ovi Maps – not yet available for all phones (who are capable of displaying these maps)
  • the successful Twitter client Gravity being one of the very few REALLY GOOD apps on a Nokia smartphone
  • Global login on all Nokia sites and products. It still doesn’t work the way it should be (one ID & pwd).
  • Ovi app wizard. Over at Apple, “apps” that provide nothing else but an RSS feed are meanwhile classified as “spam apps” – and removed from their app store. Are the “apps” built using this app wizard a way for Nokia to bloat their Ovi store stats?

Please, Nokia, software is SUCH an important issue. You’re so good at hardware – why can’t you apply the same diligence to your software products and all related processes?

Also, I’ve realized that I’ve spent considerably more time trying to fix various software issues on my Nokia phones than on the iPhone. I actually do not have the time for such things, and also don’t want to fix my phone all the time and pull information from all over the internet on why application x does not work with firmware y or mobile z. This is really annoying.

There may of course be historical and political reasons for all of this (I know Symbian from when it was still EPOC16 on a Palm Series 3), but then: does this really matter today? Make it work! And don’t make we waste time on it.

4. The mobile office.

Any smartphone that seriously tries to be good at providing some form of mobile office should have

  1. a kick-ass e-mail client
  2. a superb browser
  3. Office suite and/or viewer for various attachments

My E72 came with such an office suite which did the job for me, but the e-mail client and – the E72 is a business phone – the browser just suck.

Nokia, seeing your customers and loyal fans complaining on Nokia Forums and on blogs about the performance of the e-mail client and browser is a NO NO. EI EI!

Cooperate with Yahoo!, install Gmail as default e-mail clients, ship your phones with the Opera Mini browser – do whatever it takes to fix this because a business phone with such an average e-mail client and browser just won’t be enough for us – your customers.

Or else team up with Android.

The e-mail client on my 1G iPod Touch (30,-€ @ eBay) actually made me buy the 2G iPhone in February this year. And this although I had just invested ~270,- € on the Nokia E72 in december 2009.

5. Ovi.com

Ovi – Finnish for “the door”should be a door to combined Nokia services. But – yes, you guessed it right – it still isn’t.

The Ovi client on phones sucks, sometimes can’t be deinstalled and has a very particularly BAD user interface. It may work with Nokia’s touchscreen phones, but for all other phones it just sucks.

I can’t explain all faults on Ovi, there is just so much wrong with it. I also can’t see what changed from MOSH (which by itself already was a bad joke). This piece of software – as an app on the phone  – just makes me want to hit someone with a Nokia 2110. It’s very frustrating. Very.

The most annoying Ovi bug, imo: You’re on Ovi.com on your computer. Ok, found a nice app, have a link to it sent to you via sms. Check your mobile, the link on that sms opens the web browser – so far, so good. But THEN the Ovi client decides to chip in and re-open it inside the client. This is very annoying, especially for those who are paying a lot of money for data traffic. Can’t this hook be implemened in the OS? => “All http://store.ovi.mobi links to open in Ovi client by default”. (my N95 runs on FW v35.x which was only recently released).

See the App Store on the iPhone? It may not be perfect, but hey – I’VE SPENT MONEY ON THE APPLE APP STORE. Something I would probably never be doing on Ovi App Store. And I guess I am not the only one.

On the other hand, it has to be mentioned that I somehow like the web version of Ovi.com. There may still be a lot of details that do not make sense to me on their website, but truth be told that their app store may be opened by anyone AND that it doesn’t open any client software like iTunes or only shows a crippled version of the market like Android.

Also, the Nokia Ovi Suite has greatly improved since it was launched, succeeding their PC Suite. Nokia is slowly getting there + iTunes is worse, I think.

This whole experience around buying software and interacting with Nokia via Ovi.com and its offered services – that’s the FIRST thing I would try to improve on as Nokia.

6. Strategy

As a serious customer, I am not looking for a fun phone with lots of games, but instead a durable workhorse that will guarantee persistence.

Nokia is in a process of change, they’ve realized that revenue is made on emerging markets and that most of their top-level phones actually can’t really compete with competitors on all levels. A great camera, long battery standby time and smart design (“use with one thumb”) are very good – buy they won’t drive the masses to Nokia stores. The E72 was supposed to be a good successor to the very successful E71. Well, is it really?

Heck, they don’t even seem to have a strategy for emerging markets and still consider Africa and the Middle East as one market! Crazy.

Or their Bicycle Charger Kit which will be released to the market later on this year. You can read my thoughts on this in the comments at Julianas AfriGadget post.

On the iPhone, I can port my apps from the 2G to the 3G, 3GS and probably also to the iPhone 4 (even though some apps, like the new iMovie seem to be limited to the iPhone 4 for hardware reasons). Will this also be possible with apps I’ve bought for the Symbian 9.3 S60 FP2 platform (e.g. the E72)? Will I also be able to use them on future Nokia phones?

The Nokia E72 may be great phone with good hardware, but it currently comes with only average software (except for Gravity) and looks like a dead end street to me. It also doesn’t help that Nokia is very innovative in their Beta Labs, ships new phones with free navigation (thx, Nokia) and a full range of accessories you’ll have to pay extra on competitors.

Nokia has missed to communicate a clear strategy to its customers. Maybe they should pitch us, tell us why their phones are better than the rest. And prove it with cool software that teams up with the already awesome hardware. Right now, I can’t see a reason for the purchase of their phones. There is no persistence in the software side of their products, and my patience with and passion for Nokia products is gone.

What will you do about it, Nokia?

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The Nokia E72, QWERTZ keyboard (DE), 6 month old, mint condition, fully equipped, with Gravity licence, OtterBox Commuter Case. 250,- EUR and it’s yours.

UPDATE: SOLD!

I really have to stop blogging about phones…

I know the following is a rather unorthodox comparison between a business and an entertainment device, BUT! – as much I condemn Apple’s business policies, walled gardens and hardware restrictions – I am more productive with a 1G iPod Touch from 2007 than with my new Nokia E72 from late 2009.

Having said that, this blog post could stop here. I still feel an urge to explain my switch to this archenemy though, so pls allow the following introduction:

I recently bought a broken 1G iPod Touch from eBay, fixed it, put in a new battery, installed the latest firmware (no jailbreak so far, btw) and started using it. And….oh, what a joy it is!

Browsing, e-mailing, searching for gadgets via the eBay app, using dropbox to share files between my computers, checking my bank account, using an UnP player to access files on my NAS, a nice Facebook app, various Twitter clients, interesting ham radio apps with decoding capabilities, games games games, a water level, VNC access…..and an app store with access to 140k+ apps.

And all of this from a three year old multimedia player that comes with a fixed battery, no real multitasking capabilities, no camera and a proprietary dock connector. So how come I am rejoicing on this device like a small child?

Because it delivers. And because it’s dead simple to use. The user interface is so intuitive, everything just works, I actually don’t have to *think* while using this device. And yet it’s just a multimedia player. Amazing.

The Nokia E72? Well, it is a great phone – it really is a great phone – but it sure lacks this comfort I’ve now experienced with the iPod.

I am also using a last.fm client on my E72, I can also use it to access the Twonky Server on my NAS, there also is a new Facebook app for the E71 & E72, there also is a really, really great Twitter client for the E72 which I still like best btw (Gravity is just perfect), and it also comes with an E-mail client that’s easy to set up. And I am very sure that it will take some time until I find another phone with a camera that’s better than my old Nokia N95 which is idling in the drawers here.

However, the Firmware on the E72 keeps on crashing, the browser is very cumbersome (I am not a great fan of the Symbia S60 browser) and the E-mail client isn’t as comfy as the one on iPhone OS 3.1.3. And I don’t even want to repeat myself on Nokia’s lame app store.

In short: I used to hate touch screen phones, I now like them.

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I bought this iPod Touch as an introduction to the OS, because it was very cheap and because I will give it to someone special soon. I also bought a used 2G iPhone – with a broken screen, which is yet to arrive see update here and here. Spare parts like display unit & new battery are already here. Which means that I’ll be using the E72 and a 2G iPhone over the next few weeks to see which phone performs better. As I said, an unorthodox comparison because the iPhone certainly won’t be as fast as the E72. Both devices will have to compete for the space in my pocket though.

For all of you out there who have been using iPod Touch and iPhones in the past: yes, you were right, I was wrong. The user experience really is the important part. Everything else like removable batteries, a better camera, built quality – who cares about those details? Geeks like me maybe. And you can clearly see where this stupidity ends up.

12 years of using Nokia phones. Got my first mobile contract in 1998 on a D2 (now: Vodafone) line. 5110, 7110, 8210, 6210, 6310, 6310i, 6230, 6230i, N95 E71, E72. Like M said, we were Nokia 4 life.

However, when it comes to the hardware inside the phone, I am very much pro Nokia. Why? Because a Nokia phone can be disassembled and reassembled within 4 minutes. Try that with an Apple device… which of course weren’t built for being opened by end users. From an engineering point of view, disassembling Apple devices is really interesting. Ah well, Bwana Kikuyumoja is slowly starting to understand the way the cookie crumbles in the Apple Universe…

So why a 2G and not a 3GS? Because
a) too expensive
b) I have a working phone – the E72 also has a compass, GPS and so on
c) I am waiting for a chance to get my hands on the Nexus One
d) I am expecting other – interesting – phones with Android in 2010 & 2011 and will save on those.

[UPDATE:] Updated the Nokia E72 to its latest firmware but still prefer using the iPhone 2G. The phone just does the job for me. Amazing. Ok, I’d prefer using a 3G with better connection speeds and GPS, but I’d have to sell my phone collection in order to afford a better phone.

Reasoning from above is still valid: Nokia = great hardware but lousy software. You know I am not alone with this assumption. Actually, what I’d love to have is Nokia / SonyEricsson hardware, coupled with the openess of Android and the Apple iPhone OS user interface. That would be great…

OtterBox Commuter, ftw!

I know I’ve already mentioned this on my Posterous blog earlier today, but the truth is: I’ve never been so excited about a gadget/ an accessory since maybe when I unpacked my Leatherman Wave some years ago.

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I was looking for a decent cover for my Nokia E72 as the leather pouch it comes shipped with isn’t that great. It opens to the side and is very tight, so you’d have to push the phone inside (with some force) and pull it out (with even more force). Not that smart.

Another reason – and explanation why I went for a cover instead of another pouch/sheath – is that the E72 is rather thin, maybe too thin for a phone. It lacks a rubber back, like the one on the E63 for instance. So any potential cover would have to ensure that the phone gets a better grip on the back side.

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I then checked the market and bought a cheap (3€) silicone cover. The one that came delivered wasn’t good at all – the silicone was too stubborn and didn’t even cover all the edges (as pictured above). Such a cheap quality. I threw it away after taking these pictures.

So I kept on looking and stumbled upon this OtterBox Commuter Case. There are almost only positive reviews on the cover online, the people behind OtterBox seem to be innovative and responsive to customer input (they are on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) – and such a cover costs around 29 €.

Now, I can probably get two used Nokia 1208 phones for the price of such a cover, and it took me some time to think about this investment. Why should I invest 29 € on a cover that will only add weight to my phone? And it’s a lot of money for “just a cover”

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I am so glad I just bought it in the end. The cover instantly worked for me – it’s such a pleasure to handle the phone now (almost as thick as an E63 now, yay! :-). The OtterBox Commuter really is the BEST phone cover I’ve ever bought for a phone so far, makes so much sense on this particular Nokia phone and I am sure I’ll also never again waste any money on cheaper alternatives that just won’t work.

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It also came shipped with a screen protector (sticker), a little card and a cleaning cloth which will help you apply the sticker onto the display. Amazing. I am yet to see something like that (the card) on other – also professional – screen protectors. Sooo… yes, I can only highly recommend the OtterBox Commuter Case to other E72 users.

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Creakia E72

A comment on CJs latest review of the Nokia E72 reminded me of something I had also observed on my phone: “a tiny creak in the lower bar below the spacebar”. A noise that irritates the user and shouldn’t be on a brand new phone.

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Since I had already opened it up the other day, I knew where the noise came from and consequently fixed it by adding a piece cut from double-sided adhesive pads as seen in the following pictures.

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(behind the keypad – too much play even though there’s a silicone gasket already in place…)

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It’s simple, it’s cheap, it wins!