Five reasons why the Motorola Defy sucks (not really)

Yes, I know – five blog posts about a phone within two weeks may be too much for most readers, but some people have asked me how I like my new mobile phone – the Motorola DEFY – so I went on and compiled a review on it. In German, for

jke defy

Don’t speak German? Then read on….

The part where you’ll lose your readers is probably where you start talking about how good product xyz is. There are 163 reviews on about this particular phone at the moment, and almost all reviews describe how great this phone is. So I went on and tried to focus on the disadvantages of the Motorola Defy – which I think are important facts when you’re about to invest some money in a new phone.

It’s an incomplete list, things (especially some software issues) are subject to change, we’re talking about a Motorola Defy in mid February 2011. Also, I started as an Android n00b (when I got this phone a week ago).

1. The micro-USB port is at the side of the devices, so you’ll have troubles finding a suitable docking station. I’ve built my own, but the device still acts up when inserted into the docking station, even with the latest (unofficial) software. Plus the port is covered by a piece of plastics which needs to be removed (and is fixed to the body of the phone) – thus: a docking station will always have to provide enough room for this flap. It’s still better than the flaps on the Nokia phones I’ve reviewed in the past and of course helps protect the phone from water and dust.

defy port

2. There’s no specialised accessory available as of yet except for the usual suspects such as car chargers, (passive) car mounts, display and body covers. No docking station, no headphones, no spare parts. And this although the phone has sold quite well over the last few months. Where are all these Chinese manufacturers when you need them? Or could this be related to the nasty docking station issue I’ve experienced on my Defy (phone switches into flight mode, starts media player)? Or is that just a “media dock”-mode? Hmm.

defy car mount
Moto DEFY car mount menu (very nice!)

defy media dock
Moto DEFY media dock menu (before it started acting up…?!).

defy headset
opened Motorola DEFY headset (hint: iPhone headsets do work)
tip = L // 2nd ring = R // 3rd ring = M- // sleeve = M+

3. The ear speaker problem a lot of (not all, but many) Moto Defys came with is due to low quality speakers and should have been avoided by quality management. Especially since the rest of the phone is top-notch Motorola quality. The Sony K770 (mobile phone) is said to be a resource for alternative speakers….

4. The camera. I believe that the camera module inside the phone is capable of doing much more than what we see as end results. The picture quality is far away from the likes of Nokia N95, N82 or even N8 (it’s just a simple 5mpx module after all) and when I installed new firmware on the phone, I realized how much better this camera can be. Really, an upgrade of the camera software should be recommended to Motorola.

2011-02-17 04-18-41 353

2011-02-17 17-12-23 586
How about these two totally unrelated macro sample shots? (taken with the phone on Android 2.2)

5. Motorola currently ships this phone with Android 2.1. I am using a retail version which means any upgrade of the internal firmware isn’t possible over-the-air (OTA), but instead only via a Motorola software on my computer. So I upgraded it from version 2.2.1 to 2.5.1 (both within Android 2.1) and still had some nasty bugs on it like folder names that disappeared after rebooting the phone, or missing lock screens after pressing the main button. Also, I wasn’t using Motorola’s own Android skin “Motoblur”, so I can’t remark on that one. Anyways, after experiencing all these bugs, I decided to flash it with a leaked BLURless ROM from Orange Poland (!) to Android 2.2. What you actually do is a full wipe of all user data on the phone, install the new ROM, do another full wipe and remove some Orange default settings. It’s an automated process that will certainly kill any warranty on the phone, so you should only do it if you know what to do. I didn’t, but I tried it nevertheless and was really surprised:

Motorola Defy + Android 2.2 – Motoblur = AWESOME!

Don’t get me wrong, this preliminary BETA via Orange Poland still has some bugs, but Motorola would be well advised to change their policy on this Motoblur thing and have it removed, or only make it available upon request. Or keep it for business customers who need a closed environment. Not because Motoblur is bad – it isn’t – but because the development and adjustment of Motoblur slows down the entire process for future Android releases on the phone. Seriously, you can not ship a brand new phone (released to the market in Nov. 2010) with Android 2.1 while the competition already has 2.3 and while I can get 2.2 on any cheaper 100€ Android device (ZTE, Huawei, etc.).

Else, I think the Motorola Defy is a great phone and is unique enough to remain on the market (even with Android 2.1!) for a very long time.

Another detail I eventually also realized: you’ll need to register a credit card with Google to buy software on their Android market. On Apple iTunes, there are vouchers available for purchase in our local supermarket. So it’s not only the great UI, simplicity of the iPhone or good apps that made the Apple iPhone dominate the market, but also this ecosystem called iTunes (compared to other like Android market) that contributed to the success of the iPhone. You’ll read about such things and think: “yeah, of course…”, but then when you are charged extra fees on your CC because it was used on Google checkout (US <=> Germany), you’ll quickly understand that some things are smarter with iTunes for a very good reason. This, however, isn’t related to the phone, but to all Android devices.

So…. does the Motorola Defy suck? – NO, of course not.

4 days on Android

old vs. new

There’s something about Apple’s iPhone that just won’t go away. I think it’s this “one button to rule them all” philosophy – the home button – that will make things a bit easier for the user.

When you’re already used to an iPhone, it’s hard to switch to any other mobile OS, especially if this includes letting go of a beloved app and a service that made things a bit easier for me:

  1. the app to control my bank account (currently no Android app available)
  2. no push notifications for Android 2.1 & Twitter app

I may be repeating myself here, but such a basic and important service like Twitter push notifications (forget about Facebook) not being available on my Android device is really sad. The only alternative to this is the use of an automatic sync (~ every 15 min.) via TweetDeck, Hootsuite & Co..

Else, my first 4 days on an Android device were less hectic. I received the phone, installed the latest available update (it’s still on Android 2.1!) and downloaded a plethora of interesting apps. Apps that I can even share with the rest of the world via Appbrain. Wow!

You know it’s a bit irritating when you’re already using Google Chrome, have a Gmail account, sync everything via this account and then you are wondering where your bookmarks are. Not synced! Why? No browser on Android supports this. Yes, there’s an extra app for this + I am a LastPass/Xmarks Pro user, so solutions are available, but still – this chaos at Google reminds me of Nokia’s Ovi.

Unfortunately, the Moto Defy also still has some open software issues and tends to “forget” a few settings after each reboot. I will also need to optimize energy consumption on it – my Symbian approach of closing apps which are not in use does not really work with Android.

As for the iOS vs. Android discussions:

  • Need games? => iOS
  • Need your (Google) tasks & calendar on a home screen? => Android
  • You’re fine with iTunes? => iOS
  • Want to backup your phone to a Dropbox account? => Android

To be honest, I am still at this point where I think that an iPhone is the better phone for most consumers – even though I’ve seen a lot of iPhone users who’d even be ok with a simple Nokia S40 phone (as they only need telephony and SMS).

Hello Moto DEFY! How dey body?

So I did it.

Motorola Defy JKE

I bought this Motorola DEFY mobile phone today. It’s my first Android device and I am still to find out if I can get along with its operating system, the available apps and the user interface. I’ve picked this model (and not the HTC Desire / HTC Desire HD / Samsung S / Nexus S, etc.) for the following reasons:

  1. It is dustproof and water & scratch resistant. There are various videos on YouTube that document how this phone still works after (and while) being submerged in water and other fluids. Try this with an iPhone :-)
  2. It was recommended to me by my mate Adrian who has 10 (!) of these and uses them for a scientific (geologic) project. Of course, if I could afford it, I would probably also long for a Nexus S (like Adrian) because of the availability of a pure and fresh Android 2.3+. The Motorola DEFY currently runs on Android 2.1 with its own (lame) skin MOTOBLUR. Android 2.2 still needs to be rolled out in this region for this phone, and it is uncertain whether it will ever make it to 2.3. Of course there are unofficial releases, but Motorola only allows signed bootloaders. F*** Y**, Motorola. Not good. Android is open. You’re not. Why?
  3. It was also recommended to me by fellow blogger @bobbes who’s a Linux guy and showed me his DEFY earlier last week.
  4. It is affordable and has a very good price-performance ratio. This is an average device with an average camera. My old Nokia N95 (ex 2007) has a better camera. I’ve paid 265 EUR (this is a refurbished/like-new piece of hardware!).
  5. Android! Because I needed a change. As a Win/Linux user, iTunes is a pain in the ass. Else, I still love my iPhone on iOS 3.1.2. The iPhone is very slow on the browser, though, and urgently required an upgrade. I am not really sure if Android will make me as happy as iOS did, but I’ll never know unless I try.
  6. 480×854 pixel screen size. For an operating system, where app compatibility also depends on the pixel resolution of the target device, this is a welcome screen resolution.
  7. I’ve always kept & treated my phones & gadgets in a good way, never had a broken screen so far, but it just feels good to know that any sweat on the display (holding the phone next to your ear) will not result in a water damage. Given how fragile these phones are on the inside, this DEFY hopefully defies all water attacks :-)
  8. It’s smaller than my iPhone, faster and will presumably also run a bit longer. This argument about exchangable batteries….in all honesty, I think no one really needs that in reality. And for those moments you really need it, you won’t have a fully charged spare battery in your pocket. I usually carry a bag with chargers and spare batteries for all my phones in my laptop bag. During all these years, I’ve only used them twice. Once in Kenya, and once in Germany on the train (only to realize that the cheap MadeInChina spare batteries drained too fast).
  9. It has a good GPS chipset. My iPhone Classic doesn’t have GPS. My Nokia N95 has GPS, albeit a very weak one that needs to be hardware hacked one day (extending the antenna, that is).
  10. It has a microSD card. This alone is reason enough to drop the iPhone (where I used Dropbox for non-multimedia files).
  11. It has two microphones that “intelligently amplify your voice and filter out background noise”. This is supposed to be a modern standard (worked fine on my E72), but my iPhone Classic didn’t have this and I sometimes missed it. I don’t like to use my iPhone as a telephone, prefer Nokias when it comes to pure telephone functionality because of the improved acoustics. Estonimoja (with his beloved 6210) and Mentalacrobatic(s) (with his love for the 6230) will certrainly agree on this.
  12. As a hardware guy, I checked Youtube for “disassembly defy” and found this video. Going by the main PCB and the plastic cover, this phone is very similar to good Nokia phones. You’ll notice the difference while opening up iPhones or HTCs – which are much more fragile and consist of many small cables and parts directly printed on these copper cables. This obviously is a business decision and sometimes the cause for failures (that you won’t have with such single-board phones, imo). In other words: good built quality needs to be based on something.
  13. This being an iP67 phone, my assumption is that it will continue to live despite any stupid Motorola bootloader policies. In other words: while this phone has something that makes it unique (the water/dust proof thing), other current Android devices may only be short lived and soon dropped by many users for the prospect of using better hardware. I think this Motorola Defy will stay with us for a long time, similar to the Siemens ME45 or the recent Nokia 3720.

What I miss is a docking station, and/or the USB socket at the bottom of the device. I’ll have to open the flap that covers the USB port (on the left side of the device, see pics), which is a bit annoying. The iPhone (or the HTC Desire) clearly wins here. Obviously, there’s no perfect phone out there.

Oh, and you can buy this mobile phone holder (yeah, simu holdaaaaa!! :-):


…. which will probably attract Enduro-fanatics like Bwana Whiteafrican or Bwana Mzeecedric who need tough gear for their motorbikes.

This mobile phone holder for bicyles and motorbikes is available via – the above image is (C) by them. The guy who runs builds these holders one by one, they are all hand made and can be adjusted to any specific requirements. Love it! In fact, seeing this pic finally nailed it for me. I can’t imagine using an iPhone in an Otterbox case (which are awesome, see their review from my Nokia E72) on such a holder. But the DEFY? Of course!

Anyways. I know the DEFY won’t be the ultimate phone, and probably also not be my last one. If it proves to be as reliable & versatile as the iPhone Classic, I’ll be more than glad.

UPDATE: After receiving this phone, checking out Android, installing a lot of apps and slowly understanding what makes Android so special, I realized that the simplified car menu (see bikertech image above for an example) that gives you access to basic functionality is VERY nice and convenient.

glowing keyboard stickers

The problem

The keyboard and the screen are THE two important user interfaces between humans and their computers. Whenever I buy new hardware, I try to include these two parameters in my list of important criteria – especially since both my active machines do not come with a backlit keyboard (which is really sad).

So unless you’re the proud owner of an Apple MacBook (Pro) or Dell Latitude notebook with a backlit (!) keyboard, you’ve probably asked yourself why your notebook doesn’t come with a backlit keyboard, or how you could change that.

As far as I know, only these two manufacturers (Apple and Dell – but maybe also MSI and some Sony models) offer backlit keyboards on their laptops/notebooks, and there’s no comfortable way of installing a backlit keyboard unless you’re into some hardware hacking and/or have access to a light emitting foil and transparent keys.

The alternatives


My HP Elitebook 6930p comes with an illuminated keyboard, which is a little LED light that pops out on top of the display (bezel) – very similar to what you may already know from IBM ThinkPads, but slightly better (because it doesn’t blind the eyes like the ThinkPad light on many new Lenovo ThinkPads & has an extra hardware button).

It’s ok and works, but not really a 100% satisfying solution. A backlit keyboard would be the better alternative.

On my Asus eee PC 1000HG, there’s no such light. Also, the keyboard on this netbook PC is rather thin, so any hardware modding would require extra space – and an LED that pops out from the bezel would probably only add another irritating light source (I’ve tried to hack one onto my netbook, but failed in doing so and had to realize that only a commercial solution would deliver sufficient results).


So I bought these external (USB) & flexible lights which kind of do the job for the time being, but also add another bulky gadget. Plus: the USB version blocks a USB port.


You can see from the picture that the 2nd external solution is clipped to the display bezel and delivers a very bright light.

Both these external keyboard lights can be adjusted, but luminance can’t be set and they are actually wayyyyyy to bright. Not nice.

So I kept on looking for a better alternative and stumbled upon these “glowing fluorescent keyboard stickers” (which you may already see in action on the pictures above) from this dealer on eBay:


At ~ 6,- EUR for a set of stickers, I couldn’t resist and ordered these directly from the US (~ 10 days from the USA to Germany).

Now, these stickers DO NOT GLOW and AREN’T FLUORESCENT, but – as the dealer writes on his website:

“Glowing characters pick up any source of light coming in/ through ( such as light from your own monitor, laptop, or even USB light etc, etc) – allowing keyboard characters to brighten up immediately by reflecting the light, yet, stickers are not the source of light themselves. It is just the same effect* as a road signs reflection, or strips on uniform worn by construction workers or police.”

I think this best explains how these stickers work and why you won’t see glowing stickers on the following snapshot of the keyboard:


The main difference, and a reason why I’ll stick to these stickers on the keyboard for now, is that the letters are bigger and much more visible in darkness. So even though they aren’t glowing in the dark – like a clock dial – they do add some value and an improvement to this rather darker netbook keyboard with its tiny lettering.

I didn’t fix the stickers on the F-keys (top row) – and if you look at the pictures above of the attached stickers on my netbook, you’ll realize that this top row with its Function keys isn’t really readible in any kind of darkness. With netbook keyboards already being too small for the average user, I don’t understand why the lettering also is this poor.

Other than that, the flat surface of the stickers also adds some sort of chiclet touch to the keyboard (flat & single keys on modern Apple/ Sony/ MSI/ Asus/ Acer etc. keyboards). And while there’s a BIOS update available for the Asus eee PC 1000H that allows the use of a chiclet keyboard as found on the Asus eee PC 1000HE, there’s no such luck for 1000HG owners like me. So unless there’s a much better hardware mod for backlit keyboards available in future (Hello Chinese copy masters, inventors of cheap touchpad covers – how come you never ventured into this?), I’ll probably have to stick to these not glowing, not fluorescent but somehow OK’ish stickers.

(* it’s not the same effect, maybe similar effect. The same effect would require these stickers to be much more expensive because the technology used on good road signs is high-tech. This is the material used on these stickers, and the company that produces these adhesives also produces the retro-reflectors on traffic signs…)

HP Extended Life Battery AJ359AA

It’s strange to see how my blog has turned into a tech-blog, where I am often documenting my love for gadgets. After almost 5 years of blogging, I think it’s safe to assume that I am geek who loves to bring his gadgets to perfection* – only to quickly realize that there no such thing as “a single truth” or even “the perfect computer”.

One of those attempts at improving my IT hardware is the recent purchase of the extended battery pack for my HP 6930p laptop.

This particular machine…..well….*sigh*…. is very peculiar, and not what I expected when I bought it (2nd hand) a year ago. The issues I am having with this computer are the following:

  • The WXGA+ display has good colours, but it drains the battery like any other CCFL screen. Too much, I think, while the competitors already come with modern LED screens. Plus, it is only really bright when screen brightness is set to a maximum (ambient light sensor turned off). Not good.
  • The internal EV-DO/UMTS modem (HP un2400) may be able to work with many different global mobile networks due to the fact that it dynamically loads its firmware on each start, but this also means that it’s a pain to get this working within GNU/Linux. Also, it may only be activated while the main battery is inserted. WTH?
  • Faulty display lock – as mentioned earlier (which I’ve meanwhile fixed myself to some extent).
  • Thermal design. My laptop actually never overheats, but I’d love to see fan intake being on the side instead of at the bottom. I think I’d only see this with an IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad though.
  • Battery runtime. As mentioned above, I get about 2-3 hrs on the standard 6-cell battery with about 60% screen brightness and one wireless adapter (Wifi OR WWAN) activated. The HDD is also optimized via HDDScan + some other tweaks to save on battery power. I should, however, mention that my laptop has a dedicated ATI graphics card and no internal Intel gfx solution (my previous notebook was an HP nx8220 with 15,4″ display, 8cell battery but also ATI gfx card and had a standard battery runtime of about 3.5-4hrs).

I think when it comes to power saving, the best method is to use an operating system that was optimized to run on this laptop and consequently comes with a good power management. With a standard Ubuntu 9.10 installation, you won’t find this comfort for different reasons. I *think* it’s against this background that the default setting on a Ubuntu installation is to quickly dim the screen while the computer is idle because the screen often consumes the most energy next to the HDD and the (often obsolete) DVD drive. Win7 adopted a similar approach and now comes with an improved power management which I am yet to explore and compare to my previous WinXP experience.

Last week, I found this really cheap offer (30,- instead of ~ 120,- EUR) for an HP AJ359AA 8-cell extended battery pack that directly connects to the bottom of this laptop and is also compatible with the docking station I am using at my home office:


The extended battery pack may cover some parts of the vent / fan intake, but this really doesn’t make any difference for the machine.


With both batteries connected, the laptop now weighs 2.867 gr – which may sound quite a lot for a 14,1″ laptop, but it doesn’t feel too heavy and also due to the good materials used on this HP, there’s no flex on any parts. Single weight is about 446gr for the 2nd battery. (+ ~ 500 gr for the power supply AND it’s heavy power cord !).

HP power supplies actually deserve their own blog post. Seriously. These bricks also come with thick & bulky power cords in most regions which may be required by law but also suck tremendously. Plus they don’t have an active LED like most other competitors and are very sensitive to irregular power sources. The Kensington power supplies aren’t an alternative, btw.


It’s not as bulky as it may look like from the pictures.


HP also eventually included an indicator on the battery for the charging state – good! You’ll also find this on DELL laptops from 2004, though… what took them so long?


The lifted bottom in the back not only adds a convenient angle for typing – it also improves handling of the computer while balancing it on your knees. Also, for those who aren’t using their computer on a docking station, this also eliminates any heating problems with the fan intake on the bottom as it lifts the computer up and provides a better circulation of air.


One important detail is that the laptop uses the energy coming from the extended battery pack first – and then switches to the primary battery. Smart!

My preliminary verdict: for only 30,- EUR, this was a very smart purchase as it not only improves overall battery runtime, but also adds handling comfort and an improved heat management. For any owner of an HP laptop, this is a highly recommended add-on (not only for those who require that extra battery runtime).

I am sure you’ll get about 10-12h out of these two batteries with an LED screen and SSD drive. But then, even the cheaper Acer Timeline consumer notebooks will achieve that… (that is: I am not sure if my next notebook will be a business machine when I get a similar or even better performance with cheaper consumer hardware).

*perfection: I am always looking for the BEST laptop that will provide a perfect keyboard, a bright LED screen with great contrast, at least 3 USB ports, an iluminated keyboard, good weight below 2,5kg, 12,1″ – 14,1″ screen size and standard battery runtime of at least 5hrs. Sounds like a MacBook (Pro) to me, or an IBM T410s. Hmm…. still too expensive atm. My gf does not understand why I am so picky on this, but she’s also never been in charge of IT in a government institutions in Kenya where productivity depends on a perfect mixture of hard- and software. Or in other words: I choose my hardware for a scenario which would also enable me to use it in an internet café in Nairobi as well as taking it to Lake Turkana – or a conference in Europe.

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.