Skype Mobile (Beta) [updated]

Following this post about a new Skype Mobile (Beta), I couldn’t resist and installed the latest version of Skype Mobile on the Nokia N95.

Upon registering your mobile number on the Skype Mobile download page, an sms will arrive with a personalized download link. The application itself is about 360 kb, installs pretty quickly (I always use the phone’s internal memory – not the one provided on the microSD card) and it starts within seconds.

Here’s what it looks like:
(pls don’t be irritated by the German language selection)

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So far, so good.

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To edit a message, the S60 editor comes up (same as on SMS, OperaMini, etc.) and you can type your text.

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It even shows you the current credit – nice!

Multitasking apparently does not work that well, as it suddenly displayed the following error message and closed itself.


Could be due to the running screenshot application that was trying to capture the screen as a background process.

What I like about Skype Mobile:

  • huge fonts, clear interface
  • makes use of full screen
  • shows Skype Credit

What I don’t like about Skype Mobile:

  • application is still in beta state, albeit being released as version which implies that it’s close to a final release
  • only covers Skype
    (as opposed to Fring that just works like a charm and provides some more services, e.g. MSN, Twitter, GoogleTalk, etc.)
  • text input is in an extra window (apparently due to the S60 standard setup) – Fring really solved this in a much better way
  • upon starting the application, it tells you that it will charge you extra for incoming calls. Charge for incoming calls that are coming from another computer? Is this still VoIP? Not so on Fring!
  • conversations are only accessible through the list of events, not as different tabs
  • text from conversations (e.g. hyperlinks) isn’t accessible, not even for the copy & paste method (this btw also doesn’t work on Fring)

Let’s compare that with the Fring experience on the N95:

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Fring really is that All-In-One solution that a) just works out of the box, even as a background task and b) provides much more information on useful information (e.g. network, battery, different tabs for open chats).

Verdict: Skype Mobile (Beta) (for Nokia N95/S60!) should go back to the labs – and maybe also remain there, as Fring already does the job.

I don’t know how far Skype is involved in Fring’s business (investors?), or how closed Skype’s API is for Fring (now and in future), but I just don’t see any sense in this Skype Mobile application if Fring is so much more advanced and accepted by users. The only reason I’ve left it on the phone is because it shows the Skype Credit which Fring does not. Other than that, Skype Mobile gives me the impression that it was created for the typical Windows Mobile user who normally uses a pen and a QWERTY keyboard for text entry and navigation. And who will definately appriciate it if his future phone comes pre-loaded with Skype Mobile (at least – that’s what they had in mind, right?).

Also, I just appreciate how Fring is integrated into S60, showing all relevant background information from the host system (network, battery, etc.) and still provides it’s own navigation. Skype Mobile, on the other hand, is one of those stand-alone versions that you as a user will not want to minimize and close down as a background process. The service itself takes up system resources, and if if does not provide the same flexibility as other services, there’s no reason to keep this battery drainer running in the background.

Way forward: what I’d like to see is a combined eBay/Skype solution, similar to what Yahoo! created with it’s Yahoo! Go application. Something that adds value to an otherwise plain service. Currently, not all phones are capable of multitasking, and if battery drainage is still an issue, I think it’s much wiser to offer an All-In-One solution that either provides maximum connectivity (e.g. Fring) or one that integrates different web services (e.g. eBay) and transforms them for the mobile platfrom.

offline entertainment factor

How many applications currently found on Symbian S60, iPhone OS and Windows mobile phones do actually work offline?

Is there any chart online that compares these platforms towards the “offline entertainment factor”?


screenshots: some of the stuff you can do in offline mode on the Nokia E71 – listening to music, watching videos, writing e-mails (disclaimer: don’t be fooled by the 3G symbol :-)

Am asking because I think there are more and more applications nowadays that require a data connection (GPRS, UMTS, Wi-Fi) in order to work and at the same time we all know that a) data connections are not yet available everywhere and b) are sometimes quite expensive for some users.

So what’s possible in offline mode?

  • answering e-mails
  • compiling sms drafts
  • wordprocessing, spreadsheet analysis, ebooks (PDF)
  • multimedia entertainment (listening to some preloaded music, watching a video, (radio))
  • games
  • (unassisted) GPS
  • unplugging the headphones and teasing your seat neighbours with stupid ringtones :-)

Considering this offline factor and taking into account the range of applications the phone has to offer that will work without any online connection – how does your phone perform in this context?

JKE’s Nokia E71 review: (6) software

On to the last part of my extended Nokia E71 review!


It feels like there’s so much more to mention on this phone, especially if you regard it as your electronic workhose that not only has to deliver basic office functionality, but also manage your business and private life.

What I can tell so far is that it is a very valid candidate that could send my N95 into early retirement. IF only the camera was better on the E71, I’d immediately switch and try to find a cheap contract online that subsidizes the E71. But it isn’t. The camera module (& it’s Carl Zeiss lenses) is the No. 1 reason why I’ll keep my N95 for the time being and maybe switch to an N79 one day or, even better, wait for the upcoming E72 & E75 models.

If I was still stuck with my old Nokia 6230i though and wasn’t spoiled by the multimedia capabilities of the N95 (e.g. video editor on board), I’d probably take the E71 right on. Again, if you’re interested in taking photos in darker surroundings (~ in a restaurant for a business dinner), there are other, better camera phones than the E71. As for the Nokia range of phones, I’d recommend those with a Xenon flash anyways.

So what about the “business & private life” issue?

Continue reading “JKE’s Nokia E71 review: (6) software”

JKE’s Nokia E71 review: (5) the headset(s)

The Nokia E71 (business) phone I received from WomWorld/Nokia earlier this week also came shipped with an extra goodie: the Nokia BH-903 Bluetooth headset.

Nokia Bluetooth Stereo Headset BH-903: box, manual, charger, headset, earphone foam covers

As you can already see from the packaging, it’s meant to be part of the Nseries. N, as in eNtertainment. And that’s what it’s all about: adding value to your mobile audio entertainment.


The Nokia E71 Eseries phone does not really need an additional headset as it already comes with an adequate headset, the HS-47. So why would you want to add a high quality multimedia device to a business phone?

Because you can.

That is, if you’re already able to spend the proud sum of EUR 360,- on a business phone (E71), you may just as well be able to cough up another EUR 130,- for a true Bluetooth stereo headset that comes with up to 11h of playtime (150h standby), 32g weight, quick charge capability within 45 minutes, an extra radio, accepts the same charger as the E71 and offers different Bluetooth 2.0 profiles.

As mentioned in the previous part of this extended review, the E71-1 has a relatively high specific absorption rate (SAR) of 1,33 W/kg, with the antenna located at the bottom of the device. That’s why the use of an external headset makes sense to those who are afraid of any additional electromagnetic fields (Bluetooth = max 100mW, Rx/Tx unit is located inside the control unit and not on the earphones next to your ears).
And then of course you may want to have your hands free for other stuff: holding the phone onto your ears during longer conversations is just very annoying.

“OK – sounds like a good reason”, you may reply, “…but why can’t I just use the simple HS-47 headset that came shipped with the E71? And why not another, cheaper Bluetooth headset capable of the A2DP profile? Also, my company will prolly never pay for the extra headset….”

Four reasons why the BH-903 may just be what you’ve been looking for!

earphones on the BH-903 vs. HS-47

1. the shape of the earphones
What you see in the picture above are the earphones from (left) BH-903 and (right) HS-47. Can you spot the difference?

First, both devices may cover different frequency spectrums, but to most users, this dynamic range isn’t really important (as our hearing ability deteriorates with age, etc.). So, despite of such technical blabla, what do you see on the picture?

Right! There’s a special rubber around the (left) BH-903 earphone which makes it easier to fit these earphones into your ears and sit a bit tigther than the simple round ones.

I am using simple Sony MDR-E 818 LP on my N95 for this very reason, as these cheap EUR 10,- Sony earphones provide a similar comfort – even though they are just earphones, not a headset (no mic, no remote control unit, etc.).

As mentioned earlier, this difference is a BIG issue to ppl like me. If you’re as tall as I am (6’4″ // 1,92m), simple round earphones will at one point fall out of your ears and really spoil your mobile audio entertainment. So-called “in-ear” headphones (which apparently became popular with SonyEricsson phones) may be a solution to that, but when it comes to the old-fashioned/conventional earphones, a special rubber casing like the one above on the BH-903 headset makes a lot of sense.

Try it and you’ll spot the difference.

BH-903 remote control unit & earphones

2. distance betwen the left earphone and the microphone
The microphone is located on a small control unit, approx. 12cm away from the left right earphone. This control unit also contains a mute key on the side and an answer/end key on the front.

As opposed to other, previous Nokia headsets, Nokia really learned and improved their headsets by moving the microphone up from a position located on the chest to one at the height of the mouth – where it’s supposed to be. Have you ever seen ppl holding the microphone close to their mouth while talking handsfree on a mobile? Now that’s exactly why: because their microphone isn’t where it’s supposed to be. In a noisy environment (commuter train, downtown, etc.), this really is an issue – so with the mic now being closer to your mouth, you won’t need to hold it in your hands.

This is actually one of those reasons why I’ve always envied my SonyEricsson K800i friends who just had the better headset…

OLED (organic light emitting diode) menu display on the BH-903 headset: music playback, radio, telephone, settings; top row: Bluetooth + Battery charge indicators

3. Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR profiles
In short: Bluetooth is the wireless standard for short range radio connections between mobile phones, headsets, PDAs, laptops, etc; and profiles are different services that are added to a Bluetooth device. So for every wireless action (listening to music via the headset, sending the phonebook to the headset or to your car’s navi system, etc.) all Bluetooth devices need to support these profiles – but not all BT devices actually do that.

You wouldn’t really need a display on an external headset if it wasn’t for the extra options it has to offer. The terrific OLED display does not only inform you about the current radio station, but it also provides information on the following options:

(a) Phone Book Access Profile (PBAP): choose a number to dial right from the remote control via the menu without even removing the phone from your pocket. Nice!

(b) Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP): if you own a A2DP-capable phone (like the E71 or the N95), this means you can listen to the music from the phone on the headset.

(c) Audio Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP): If your mp3 collection on the phone is ID3 tagged, you’ll will be able to read the filenames/ID3 tags of the currently played track on the display.

Frankfurt’s only good radio station “Radio X” via the BH-903

4. iPod touchpad
Yep, to raise the volume, just move your fingers clockwise on the touchpad. Don’t we already know this kind of volume control from the iPods and current Nokia (Nseries) phones? Neat!

Four plausible reasons why the BH-903 isn’t just another headset out of the many, many you can get for your phone from authorized retailers as well as from eBay China & Co..
130,- EUR are a lot of money for such a device, but if you’re really serious about wireless stereo audio entertainment on Nokia phones, you’ll probably quickly realize that there aren’t so many alternatives on the market. An alternative may be the SonyEricsson HBH-DS-970 headset although some folks complain that it isn’t really 100% compatible to the Nokia range of phones. Also, there are other – cheaper – Bluetooth headsets from Nokia that also just do the job. The BH-903 though (which, as far as I am informed, also is the most expensive one) does this job extremely good and provides the necessary information through a smart OLED display at the right location (hanging on your neck – and not somewhere on your ears).

I, the N95 user, am actually still looking for a decent & wired headset compatible with the N95 (angled 3,5mm jack without any special adapters, shaped earphones, mic close to the mouth) and have tested and bought three different headsets for my N95 from Nokia when the one that came shipped with the N95 failed after 4-5 months in use (due to a cheap battery inside the remote control unit).

I wonder why Nokia produces so many different headsets and doesnt keep them on the market for long. Why can’t they just produce one good wired and one good wireless solution? The BH-903 is one of those “(very) good wireless” solutions, but for wired headsets, a simple headset like the HS-43 should come with better earphones. Also, a headset shouldn’t be that expensive, at least not those that come with in-ear /earphones. Take the BH-903 earphones, add another 3,5mm jack and I’m your next customer. I’d be willing to pay up to 49,- EUR for such a solution.

P.S.: More images from the BH-903 on my flickr set.

JKE’s Nokia E71 review: (4) the fine print

The E71 is a business phone.

Having said that, it is also suited for those users who actually have to cough up some savings and are looking for a decent mobile workhorse. As opposed to an iPhone (no tactile feedback) or another QWERTY-equipped Windows Mobile phone, the E71 comes with the perfect mixture of (a) usability, (b) design, (c) built quality and (d) connectivity.

However, it still has some flaws that need to be mentioned here and may partly be changed by upcoming firmware upgrades.


Coming from a Nokia N95, I am of course already spoiled in terms of multimedia functionality. And this although I am one of those users who prefer the business functions over to the multimedia capability. I primarily use my N95 for reading e-mails on the train, listening to some music and taking a few snapshots from time to time (even in macro mode, which is quite decent on the N95). Reasons enough to allow a direct comparison of the E71 with my N95. But mind you – the following observations aren’t meant to be a comparison alone!

Continue reading “JKE’s Nokia E71 review: (4) the fine print”

JKE’s Nokia E71 review: (1) mobile blogging

“I just hope it doesn’t arrive when I’m around”, she said. “…coz you’d spend more time with it than with me”.


Donna of WomWorld/Nokia contacted me the other day, asking if I’d be interested in testing the Nokia E71 business phone as a blogger. What a rhetorical question…


[disclaimer: this post is REALLY long! You’ve been warned! :-)]

Continue reading “JKE’s Nokia E71 review: (1) mobile blogging”


…WONDERING!!!!!!!!! where the **** it has been:


The parcel.

The parcel containing a Nokia E71 and BH-903 the kind folks from WOM World/Nokia have given me for a short testing period….

..only to realize after 2 weeks of onychophagy uncertainty that the landlord (who lives downstaires in the basement) already received and opened the parcel a week ago – assuming it’s the phone he ordered some time ago.


AOB: TwitterKeys are so ?? …