the cable thingy for Nokia’s (E72) WH-601 headset

While searching for a little present for her, I came across this simple cable retractor – which inspired me to build my own.

As with most other headsets by Nokia, the WH-601 that came shipped with my E72 is a little bit stubborn as the cables seem to contain too much rubber. And while this may as well be intended by Nokia’s engineers (or because no one at their Chinese factories maybe never really thought about this), storing the headset in your pocket will ultimately frustrate you sooner or later. It unfolds inside the pocket – and this peculiar behaviour will not change over time with more frequent use. It’s a design fault, in my opinion.


One possible solution is such a cable thingy which can be bought in different shapes (there are even some with magnetic clips) or built on your own (hint hint, dear Kenyan jua kali workers: how about a version cut from car tires or flip flop sandals?). It just consists of some glued cardboard, wrapped in paper. It’s my first prototype and I may come up with a better solution – but for the moment, this will do:


Nokia headsets have always been an issue on my blog. This one comes with a nice (much better) remote control (than the one on my N95). However, the headphones suck so much because of their shape (which can be adjusted using silicone caps, at least) and because of the sound they deliver.

I made this JKE-version of a headset in September 2008 which still works and delivers beautiful sound using Sony headphones. The cables are a bit too short on this mod though, and the remote control on the WH-601 is nice, slimmer and thus more attractive. I will probably hack this new headset soon and solder my favourite Sony headphones to the pcb inside the remote control.

And for those of you who came here looking for geek pr0n, here’s a recent pic of my opened Nokia E72 – enjoy :-)


One may assume that the active parts (besides of the keypad, display, antenna, charger port, etc.) are all hidden underneath these metal cases only. Well…they are, and if you’ve ever opened a mobile phone yourself, you will know what they usually look like. So this is some fine piece of hardware engineering, I’d say. It’s ALL under these few covers. Also, the (multi-layered?!) pcb is of good quality. The only thing I don’t like from this first visual inspection (I had to open it because of dust under the display – yes, on a 4 weeks old phone. Nokia…) is that both microphones are directly soldered onto the pcb. The one above (visible on this pic within the gap on the left side next to the metal shields) is part of the noise reduction circuit. It’s also where most current E72 owners are crying out loud because it results in a noticeable light leakage on the keyboard. But uhm, well…. that’s the difference between a phone with many buttons (= QWERTY keyboard) and a touchscreen phone, I’d say. You can’t have it all.


Anyways, I am happily surprised by the built quality I’ve found on the E72 and how (previously) fragile parts seem to be well engineered this time. I know the E71 has a better back cover and (metal) middle frame, but it still is a lot of high-tech they’ve hidden underneath these few metal shields. If it wasn’t for the display, the keyboard and the battery, the E72 could just as well fit into a matchbox. Seriously. Great hardware.


Oh, and check out this massive pcb (the green part) that powers the camera flash and flashlight! Has about 1-2mm thickness.

It’s just great pleasure to see how things are engineered and that someone really thought about such design details and how they could reduce costs, materials and improve accessibility. Two screws and you can already remove the display, 4 more screws and it’s dissassembled.

Now I wish that someone at Nokia is smart enough to reconsider the materials used on their (cheaper) headsets, and that they really improve their OVI store + fill it up with Gravity-styled apps.

P.S.: Happy 2010 to all of you!

My Top 6 S60 apps

The reason why every new mobile phone will be compared to Apple’s iPhone – obviously a very succesful phone with a superb user interface albeit known disadvantages that even let this consulting company diagnose some Apple fanboyz with the Stockholm syndrome for their ignorance…. the reason why almost everyone out there likes the iPhone is because it comes with a HUGE market of “apps”: applications & games, something that’s not necessarily important, but will make you pull out the phone when you’re bored.

Not so on Nokia’s side. I am using Nokia phones since 1998 and have recently swapped my N95 for an E72 – Nokia’s successor to the very popular E71 with a QWERTY keyboard instead of the T9 keypad on traditional phones. I can’t find the link right now, but remember having read these days that Nokia will from now on concentrate on QWERTY phones on one hand, and on the other hand push touchscreen phones. Some, like the new N900 which runs on MAEMO, feature both methods, so this range will be very interesting in the next few years.


The E72 is based on Symbian S60, an operating system that has been around for quite some time now. And although it’s been quite popular in terms of sales, there are almost no interesting apps available for this platform.

Remember, we’re in December 2009 now, and the iPhone has been out for at least 2.5 years, with the Apple App Store being online since July 2008. Since then, over 2 billion (!) apps have been downloaded from their store.

The iPhone may be a crippled piece of monoculture for MacBook users, with a fixed battery, a very restrictive policy, no out-of-the-box functionality you’ll find on many other phones and a list of other flaws – but it STILL wins over most other phones – just because it comes with those apps. And also because it comes with a very usable browser.

Apps, which are dearly missed on Nokia’s S60 platform.

I may not be the perfect reference when it comes to testing different applications, but I can tell you that I’ve only kept six (6) additional applications on my E72 that I think are useful. There may be more – there certainly have to be more – but these six are the only ones that make sense to me for the moment:

1. Gravity

Scr000009There can’t be enough praise for this application. It’s the only – really GOOD – application for S60. A Twitter / / FaceBook / Google Reader client, a software that will allow me to feed my three active Twitter accounts directly from the phone, check some subscriptions on Google Reader or comment on my friend’s FaceBook status updates.

Nokia obviously knows this fact (they are busy promoting it on and other sites), but they had even failed to invite the developer (@janole, from Berlin/Germany) to their Nokia World 09 event which took place in Stuttgart this year. It’s not only a failure, but a disaster.

You can actually stop reading here because it won’t get better. In my not-so-humble-opinion on this, most – if not all – future applications for Nokia phones should be designed like Gravity. And remember that Gravity was designed & coded by one humble programmer only. Which goes to show what’s possible if you really want it. If interested, pls make sure not miss out this interesting interview with @janole. On this interview, Jan Ole also mentioned that any serious developer should get an iPhone or an iPod Touch to get some orientation on what a good user interface should look like. Hej Nokia, you won’t have to reinvent the wheel – just take the 100 best apps from Apple’s AppStore and port them to S60 (if possible). I know this approach has been discussed before on Nokia Forums, but I for one am still waiting for this …luxury.

A fully registred version of Gravity will cost you about 10 EUR – but it’s the best app you can buy for a Nokia S60 phone these days.

2. Fring

Scr000013Fring is a chat & VoIP client for your phone. You can use it to connect via Skype, MSN, Google Talk, Yahoo Msg, ICQ, AIM, Facebok, Twitter, & Co with your friends. It’s free, it works, it wins.

Fring is a nice app that I’ve tested right from the start two (?) years ago, it’s been constantly updated and will even work on a brand new phone like the E72. I don’t know how these guys are earning money with the provision of such a well-developed tool, but they have been around for some time now, are serious about what they do, respond to user requests and also cover many different operating systems.

It’s not that you’ll be seeing me chatting via my phone that often, but it’s great to have a mobile Skype version.

3. QR-Code Scanner

Scr000019Nokia BarCode / QR Code Scanner tool is a rather inconspicuous little tool, but of such great functionality to me that I’ve put a link to it on the stand-by screen of my phone.

While surfing the web, I sometimes see pages that I would like to instantly open via my phone. So I click on a barcode icon on the lower right corner of my Mozilla Memoryhog browser and – voilà – a QR-code window pops up with a link to that page, encoded via a nice little Mozilla FF plugin. I then only have to activate the scanner tool, scan the image and will instantly have the link or encoded text on my phone. Dead simple. And it works. I’d even pay for this app and the browser plugin if it wasn’t free.

4. YouTube client & Google Maps


I am not a YouTube kid, but since it enables me to stream videos to my phone, I’ve started appreciating this nifty application – provided free of charge by Google.

Something similar applies to Google Maps which I actually prefer over to Nokia Maps just because it’s faster. Nokia Maps 3.x may be better these days as it also comes with preloaded maps and an optimized application. However, Google Maps worked right from the start. There wasn’t any iteration of updated versions which would remove this or that bug like on Nokia Maps. Google Maps just worked right from the beginning.

I’ve also tested full-blown Navigator suites for Symbian S60, but why should I pay extra if I can have free navigation via Google Maps? I am on a 1 GB flat fee on the phone anyways… so I am back to using both Google Maps and Nokia Maps – whichever is more appropriate for each situation.

5. Spb TV

Scr000003Speaking of multimedia content, I’ve been searching for an application that will stream live TV to my phone. Something like Zattoo for the European market, but with an S60 client (which they unfortunately don’t have and which could be their killer application).

And again, as much as I am not a YouTube kid, I even do not like TV that much. But sometimes I do, and those moments I want to watch it on my tiny phone screen. Sorry, David Lynch!

So the only option I can think of is Spb (IP-)TV, a rather strange application for USD 14,95 with a lot of unknown stations from around the world. The screenshot above shows it playing BBC Arabic with picture-in-picture mode.

Now, I probably won’t understand what they are saying as only learned how to order a cold beer in modern standard Arabic, but there are other channels on this (still locked on the screenshot, now unlocked) application. Some are in German, most in English, some in French, Russian, etc. Interesting. I understand German, English and French, so there’s some choice for me. It may not be the best TV app for a phone, but it works, has a unique and smart interface and made it to my Top6 list of Nokia Symbian S60 applications. And besides – is there any other S60 TV app?

Exactly. There are no alternatives.

6. Internet Radio

Scr000022Came shipped as a pre-installed app on my N95, had to add it manually on the E72 though (use the one from the Nokia 6120 Navigator). Works brilliantly well, perfect user interface, perfect out-of-the-box experience, no unnecessary information for the user which would probably only confuse. Choose your desired (internet) radio station by name, location/country, language or genre. Unfortunately, Radio Okapi from the DRC isn’t included anymore, but they do have triple r from Australia (which I obviously like :-).

It would be very interesting to know WHY Nokia hasn’t included this wonderful application with all their phones (why not on Nokia’s E-Series?), but I guess that it’s because they want to push us users into purchasing music files via their online music store. Ah, marketing. Horrible.


Marketing may be one of the reasons why most applications for Nokia’s Symbian S60 still suck in 2009. Probably a mixture of greed and mismanagement that have led to this problematic situation where we see Nokia still producing great phones (c’mon, they are well engineered), but totally fucking it up on the AppStore side. is a really bad joke at the moment – the website is even more informative than their S60-based tool to access the Ovi store. It’s a chaos with mostly shitty applications, I’ve spend quite some time on, trying to find useful applications, only to quickly realize that I am much faster googling for anything of interest instead. may experience a relaunch in the coming month, but to imagine that they can pull anything positive with it right now is a dream that will not come true with the current version. Nokia is supposed to be the leader in the smartphone market – and their app store is anything but smart.

Scr000017Nokia’s app store or even individual stores on the interwebs – all of these initiatives are pretty much useless if we won’t see more applications like the few good ones above.

I don’t know which phone I’ll buy next, but I can tell you that I’ll put the availability of decent & cool applications as a top priority on my list of criterias for any upcoming phone. If Nokia can’t deliver, well then I’ll switch to Android or maybe even an iPhone and its OS (as much as I’d hate doing that).


Seriously, Nokia…


…what kind of crippled, 7″ long USB cable is this you’ve shipped with the new E72?

Sure it makes sense to have a smaller cable for the pocket, but please, it is so useless at this length. Very annoying.

Else, the phone looks like a great new toy. A bit different from the E71 which was almost all metal. Coming from an N95 though, anything in monoblock shape will be better for me.


So.. yes, I’ve eventually settled on a new phone after 29 (!) month. I know it will not have the same smart browser I’ll find on an iPhone, a HTC Hero, a Motorola Droid / Milestone or even Maemo-based Nokia N900, but it will give me real keys to press with tactile feedback, provide we with a known operating system and I’ll be able to shot snapshots @ 5mpx and multitask some applications. Now let see if it lives up to all expectations – the build quality already is a bit different from the E71 which I remember being a bit slimmer and much more even on the edges. Like when you move your thumb between the screen and the menu keys, you’ll notice a sharper edge.

What I’ve come to appreciate on the N95 is a good grip on the rubberised back cover. The E72 having a metal plate, it still seems to provide a better grip than the E71. The lock on the back cover isn’t as strong as on the E71 though, and I even had to bend the metal cover a bit to fit it better into its position. Not so nice on a brand new phone.


Whatever. It is mine, I’ll have to use it for the next 24 month and it will hopefully do a good job. The moment I unpacked it, I realized how really small it is. Annette even mentioned that it would be too small for my fingers, but it’s surprinsingly easy to hit the right keys.

You know I’ve been waiting for this phone I had never actually held in my hands before I bought it (because it wasn’t yet on the market), so I had to rely on the user generated opinions you’ll find online only. But something similar actually also applies to the N95, and since I am no TED fellow or something like that, there’s no swag aka free E71 coming my way… so a purchase like this one has to be well planned. I got mine via a 24-month contract as a subsidized phone. Since I am normally using a prepaid card only (with a 1GB data flat), the new SIM will remain – unused – on the old phone. 10,- EUR / month for the next 24 month = cheaper than buying a new phone for ~ 360,- EUR.

Talking about money, the “Kikuyu” in Kikuyumoja probably isn’t such a good idea. I’ve recently spend most of my savings on a new kitchen from IKEA, or let’s say..

from this:


to this:


Not that big, but it’s MINE and I’ve built it with my own hands. Very rewarding. :-)

Considering that my kitchen corner in Embu looked like this:



… the real difficulty is to find the right partner who will understand that even average kitchen corners will be superb when compared to the alternative. And mine in Embu even was a brand new one! I am mentioning this because my sis has an awesome kitchen with all extras. It’s these two worlds we’re living in that sometimes still make me think: yes, Germany, nice & comfy. But do I/we really need all these extras? Maybe one of the reasons why we’ve only now – at this advanced age (yeah!) – agreed to give up the single room appartment and move into a bigger one (from 25 sqm to 76sqm, actually).

Anyways. I haven’t been offline or on a blogging hiatus – just working on the new kitchen and renovating my new home.

As for the E72, it’s a great phone and I will certainly come back for another, more detailed review, even though I’ve also said that I actually don’t want to do a review this time. I am too much of a geek not to waste some precious time on a new gadget.

Waiting for the E72…

nokia-e72I am waiting for the Nokia E72 (phone) since it was first mentioned about a year ago (!) and then officially announced in June (July?) this year. It’s a successor to the very popular Nokia E71 which I had reviewed back then and features a nifty 5mpx cmos camera and a keyboard similar to the one currently found on the Nokia E63.

One of the best ways for staying up-to-date on product launches is Twitter Search. I’m scanning Twitter for E72 related news for quite some time now and I can tell you that many ppl are desperately waiting for the E72 to hit the market. I heard it will be October 6th or 12th…

The Nokia E63 itself is a very nice phone – I actually prefer its keyboard over to the initial E71 and so I am really glad that the E72 will not only have such a similar keyboard, but also come with a camera that will be able to compete with the really decent 5mpx cam on my Nokia N95.

My N95 is 27 months old now and – compared to other phones I’ve owned in the past – a bit worn out. The other day I also dropped it on the floor and it fortunately still does the job, only a few scratches on the (exchangable) cover. Back then I urgently wanted to get my hands on the N95, only to quickly realize that it has a “prototype” design and comes with other flaws I’ve mentioned on this blog in the past. Another problem with buying brandnew phones is that a stable firmware (~ the operating system on the phone) will probably only be released after a year. This isn’t a Nokia-only problem though, others like Apple have experienced similar issues.

The interesting part on this next purchase will be the question if I should get it like my N95 – with a 24month contract and a subsidized phone – or directly buy it without a contract and paying the full price.

The pre-order price for the phone currently is around EUR 360 and I am expecting this to change over the next coming weeks. Also, I think the current trend is that less phones are being subsidized these days and that mobile network operators and their resellers started leasing out phones, so you end up paying a hefty monthly fee + ~ EUR 15 for the phone. You’ll still find many customers asking for “a free phone” from their operator every two years (the way it has been in the past), but it is actually cheaper to get a prepaid card & buy the phone (unless of course you’re on a flat fee contract and using the phone a lot). I don’t call that much, but often check my mail via the phone, so “cheap internet access” is my main issue. I also like the browser on the iPhone, but then: I guess I am too stupid for Apple’s Monoculture and Operating System. The iPhone may have a great browser (the greatest?), but a non-removable battery, a lousy camera and no taskmanager (or is there?) are a no-go for me. Plus it is still too expensive in Europe.

I really can’t wait to get my hands on my own Nokia E72 because it will eventually enable me to return to the monoblock design. The 2-way sliders on the N95 are *interesting* but absolutely useless and it’s about time for me to upgrade from a T9 keypad to a full QWERTY (QWERTZ) keyboard.

The 2 best reviews so far are the one by Antoine of AllAboutSymbian AllAboutNokia (part 1,2,3,4,5 and his verdict) and Eldar’s piece on Mobile Review. These two reviews are also reason enough why I just want to own the phone and won’t do a review on it once it’s here.. :-)


Twitter is better with Gravity

If you own a recent Nokia phone with the Symbian S60 operating system (S60v3, S60v5) and are using the microblogging services Twitter or Laconia, you may be interested in using a new Twitter client for the phone:



Gravity v1.00 is the first fully-featured and native Twitter client for the S60 platform. It supports multiple accounts, Twitter Search, Laconica, TwitPic and wraps everything into a gorgeous looking interface.

  • Compatible with Twitter and Laconica
  • All functions available on your S60 phone: tweet, reply, DM, follow & unfollow, create favourites, search, auto-update and many more …
  • Tabbed view of your Timeline, Replies, Messages, Friends, …
  • Setup and use as many accounts as you want at the same time
  • Twitter-Search section with multiple search tabs and Twitter Trends
  • Post pictures via TwitPic
  • Open URLs from any Tweet
  • Kinetic scrolling on S60v5 ( Nokia 5800 and Nokia N97 )
  • Theme support on S60v3 ( fixed dark and bright theme )

The only downside to this software is that it may create too much traffic whereas the alternative – Twibble (which I’d also used since its first day as a public release) – seems to generate less traffic.

I’m on a 1GB flat for my phone, which means I can generate 1GB in traffic via the phone and only pay 9,90 EUR / month. I actually don’t need 1GB at the moment because we also have DSL here, but it makes sense if you happen to download more than 41 MB / month (9,90€ / 0,24€/MB = 41,25 MB) + it isn’t limited to a proxy server, special online pages or other crazy limitations. And DSL sometimes fails, so it’s a good fall back option.

Creating a sceenshot of Gravity is a bit complicated as the Shift (Pencil) key on the phone (which is used in combination with the middle joystick button) also triggers the input form for new tweets on Gravity:


The beautiful part is that you can really SCROLL between tweets like you would do on an iPhone – bila the touchscreen on my N95 though..


And another good part is that it’s now much easier to insert images on your tweets (Twibble also has this but isn’t as comfy to use).

Gravity comes with a 10day demo version and I instantly (!) registered it after using it for only 2 minutes. Now, you’d have to know for yourself if you’re willing to cough up ~ 10,- € (in Germany – sijui why they are adding VAT on for other countries) for an otherwise free and time consuming service such as Twitter, but then, again, there are other – much more useless – applications for the iPhone ppl are willing to spend money on and also: there are only a few really good applications for Symbian devices. Gravity is one of them.

You’ll also need to access the download page for the registered version via a normal computer as the phone’s internal S60 browser is having problems identifying the .sisx format. Jan, the developer behind Gravity, also mentioned that he’ll be working on some bugfixes now, so maybe there’s a way to include this as well (refers to the purchase of the software directly from a phone. Update routines are just flawless!).

Verdict: If you’ve been on Twibble before, you’ll LOVE Gravity. Highly recommended application.


UPDATE: After some recent updates (currently 1.1x), Gravity also has the following additional features:

  • Configurable Audio Alerts for Timeline/Replies/DM’s
  • Group support for creating custom tabs with user-defined filters (S60v3)
  • Post pictures to MobyPicture and TwitPic
  • Preview pictures from MobyPicture or TwitPic
  • Full-Screen mode on S60v3
  • Built-in auto-update function and beta access for testing the latest features

And while I think that Gravity is the best application I’ve ever bought for a phone, I’d like to add two remarks:

  • There should be a cheaper version of Gravity as not everyone out there is able to cough up 9,95 € on a mobile app – and sometimes it’s technical reasons as to why a prog like Gravity is only successful in developed countries: how would you pay for this app from e.g. Kenya (where there is money but no payment system such as Paypal?). And how about a sponsored (& localized) version with fixed banners? Would it make sense? And what would ppl be willing to spend on an app (in other countries than Germany)?
  • There should be a mobile WordPress editor that’s just as easy to use as Gravity. After all these years of using WordPress for blogs and mobile phones, I’ve often called for better mobile blog editors and tested quite a few on this blog. Twitter indeed already is some sort of microblogging, BUT! it would be great if there also was an easy-to-use editor tool on the phone which could provide true mobile blogging.