Straw poll time: "Symbian generations" - Touch vs non-touch

With Symbian firmly in its twilight years but still very much alive, I'd like to gather a little data, for all our interest, on the generations of Symbian-powered hardware still in active use. It's unlikely that everyone reading this owns a Nokia 808 PureView, but just how far back do you all go? Are there still readers actively using a d-pad driven Nokia N95? Any Nokia E90 users still? See below and add your tuppence worth! [UPDATED]

Retro montage

This is, in fact, the sort of thought that keeps me up at night - I think of some of the classic devices in my Symbian museum and wonder how many of them could still be used productively in 2013. I waxed somewhat lyrical about this recently:

I've often commented, when asked which smartphone fills my needs best, that I could pluck almost any device from my Symbian archive, stick in my SIM and refresh its podcasts/PIM info and I'd be off and running.

Here are some advantages of going 'retro':

  • no problems with pocketability
  • better feel in the hand when really mobile, less droppable
  • (probably) no problems with fragility
  • full use with gloves on(!)
  • no worries about it getting something really valuable lost or stolen (who'd nick a old Nokia in 2012 - a sad observation...)
  • a wider range of form factors, including sliders, candybar T9, candybar QWERTY, touch/T9 hybrid, full clamshell QWERTY, etc. - one form factor very definitely does not fit all!
  • The feel of buttons under your fingers - definite, mechanical, satisfying buttons...
  • the certainty that you can replace the battery (everything in the Symbian world prior to 2010 had a battery door/cover)
  • you already (probably) own the device in question, so you don't have to take out a second mortgage to pay for it...

The disadvantages are just as numerous, of course, from lack of compatibility with many 2012 apps and services to smaller screens and slower processors. But, staying in the 'retro' spirit, just how far could I go back?

My conclusion was that such use of a non-touch, older device was perfectly possible, with only a few caveats, though I did draw a line in sand at the point where Nokia started supplying free voice-guided satnav in firmware - anything before about the N95 and you'd be utterly reliant on Nokia's old Maps licensing servers.

All of this was just my opinion though, which is why I'm/we're after some data points to see if anyone else is still using such an 'older' device in real life. Classics like the E90 and E72, and even the N82, must surely have some active fans, still?

In the absence of a foolproof polling mechanism, plus hoping for some explanatory text and interesting testimony(!), let's keep this low tech.

If you don't currently use a Symbian-powered smartphone as your main device then I'm assuming you're simply here out of interest, in which case please ignore the question below - this poll is for people still on the platform.

Please comment below with your answer to the following question:

Do you still use a button/d-pad driven Symbian-powered smartphone as your main phone? 

[hint: if your smartphone has a touchscreen of any kind then the answer's automatically 'no' - unless it's a Nokia E6, in which case you're a valid edge case and you can answer how you like(!)]

If you've then got an extra few seconds to spare, why not let me know a little more detail, such as which Symbian device you do use right now, and (if it's an interesting choice) then maybe a line explaining why.

The Poll is now closed, in terms of stats, at least!


Depending on how you count, we had around 56 qualifying responses below, of which:

Now, there's obviously bias here, in that those still using older phones will have been drawn much more to this article and driven to vote, but the results (and peoples' comments) still make interesting reading.

Note also that the numbers don't quite add up, due to the complexities of individual situations (work/home phones, multiple backups, and so on). Plus that pesky E6, which resists classification here - watch out for more on the Nokia E6 shortly here on All About Symbian.

It does seem, as I suspected, that the advantages of button-driven phones (and associated advantages, such as long battery life) are still being appreciated amongst All About Symbian readers. One project I was going to tackle was living with a S60 3rd Edition device for a week and wondered which one to use. From the poll results below, we have a top 3 of:

  1. E71 - 5 votes
  2. E72 - 5 votes
  3. E90 - 3 votes

I have each here, but reckon I could live with the E72 best, since it has the most modern Nokia Maps implementation and the best camera. So, roll on a week with the E72 in 2013 - watch this space!

Thanks for everybody's input.

And in the meantime, recognise that there's more to smartphones than large touchscreens - some smart people choose very different plus points when deciding on a phone....

Published by Steve Litchfield at 7:06 UTC, March 28th

Section: Articles
Categories: Comment
Platforms: Series 60, Series 80, UIQ, General, S60 3rd Edition, UIQ 3, S60 5th Edition, Symbian^3