Alvin Wong aims at the Nokia 701, hits Belle
Anything that Alvin Wong writes is ok with me, having produced a number of lengthy and insightful articles in the past. Here he sets out to review the Nokia 701 (which I reviewed myself a while back) but ends up having a few well justified gushes and rants about Symbian Belle, this being his first encounter with the new version of the OS.
On the hardware:
It’s wonderfully understated and elegant, and I love how it fits in my hand and how it slides effortlessly in my pocket with nary a bulge. It’s wonderfully understated and elegantIt’s hard to describe its charm in words but this is seriously one device you need to see and hold in your hand. It’s a beautiful, gorgeous piece of work covered in a generous amount of metal and glass. Build quality is top-notch as usual for Nokia – the only chink in the armour is the front button cluster which feels a bit flimsy. This device definitely feels much more expensive than it really is, which is always a good thing!
Belle is, without any degree of exaggeration whatsoever, the biggest single upgrade to the Symbian platform since S60v3 was released back in 2006. It improves on pretty much every aspect of the Symbian user experience and alters the user interface in several major ways. The homescreen system is vastly improved, there’s a new Android-style notification drawer with power toggles for various connectivity options, the menu layout has changed dramatically and there’s a system-wide icon toolbar that replaces the old 3-button toolbar and 2-softkey malarkey that was in Symbian Anna and earlier.It improves on pretty much every aspect of the Symbian user experienceTabs in apps are also larger and you can now swipe to get from one tab to the other. With the Belle upgrade, Symbian is an entirely new beast and best of all, it’s managed not to annoy me too badly. I’ve reviewed a number of Symbian Anna devices like the X7 and the E7 and I always felt like I’d stepped into a time warp using those devices, but I’m happy to report that Symbian now feels like a thoroughly modern platform as opposed to being your father’s smartphone OS. It’s delicious.
I haven’t mentioned the new notifications drawer yet because I wanted to save the best rant for last. I’ve always considered notifications in Symbian Anna to be a complete mess, and I was really expecting Nokia (Symbian) Belle to finally right the wrongs and bring a workable notifications system to Symbian. But the notifications drawer in Nokia (Symbian) Belle is an absolute waste. It’s a quiet, lonely place where no one goes; it’s a bare, cold, barren desert filled with no activity and no life at all. The only reason why you’d pull the status bar down is to access the (admittedly handy) toggles for Bluetooth, WiFi, mobile data and silent mode; in fact, it seems like Nokia tried to make the notifications drawer less empty by having entries in it for the connectivity options which you already know the status of.
A good read, as always.
Published by Steve Litchfield at 13:27 UTC, March 2nd