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SPB MobileShell for Symbian review



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Thanks to it spending many years being a very stylus-focussed and not finger-friendly operating system, Windows Mobile has spawned all manner of more intuitive, easy-to-use front-end interfaces from third parties. One of the most successful of these is MobileShell, made by SPB. Now SPB has turned its attention to another OS that is looking rather long in the tooth, Symbian. With countless touchscreen phones finding themselves hamstrung by this rather clunky operating system, MobileShell could be well worth its not inconsiderable £26.95 asking price.

SPB MobileShell for Symbian has been developed to work with Symbian S60 v5 and upwards. We were shown a demo of it working on a Samsung i8910 HD and for our testing loaded it onto a Nokia 5530 XpressMusic and a Nokia N97.

What MobileShell brings to the table is a completely new front-end which, like Android and iPhoneOS, has multiple home screens (up to five in this case) that you can scroll through horizontally. On to these you can arrange a variety of shortcuts and widgets giving you quick access to most of the phone's key features. In particular the widgets consist of a weather viewer, a digital clock, a calendar, a task viewer, an analogue clock, and a picture viewer while dedicated shortcuts for adjusting the backlight, switching phone profiles, changing wireless settings, accessing the dialler/messages/recent calls/contacts apps are also available. You can also just drop a shortcut to any program onto the desktop though the icons aren't optimised to fit in with the colour scheme like the dedicated ones.

Some of the dedicated shortcuts also open small programs, saving you going into the default Symbian interface to make a few small adjustments. These include: the wireless settings that open up a further set of 'switches' enabling you to quickly turn on or off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi or switch to Flight mode; the clock app that brings up a slick interface for adjusting the time and adding alarms; and the brightness app that shows a grid of six brightness levels for you to choose from. All the various shortcuts and widgets can be arranged in whatever way you like and there are two profiles – professional and lifestyle layout – so you can quickly change between having your email and calendar on the homepage, say, to having Facebook and Twitter.

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May 27, 2010, 6:08 pm


The vid says Klipsch Image X5. Doh!


May 27, 2010, 6:53 pm

It looks nice. But I wonder if it can perform on my Nokia 5800, which is already struggling just keeping the stock home screen running.

Well I think I will follow your advice and put the money towards a new handset... and it won't be from the Finnish factory.


May 27, 2010, 6:54 pm

Does this have access to the OVI store?



May 27, 2010, 7:02 pm

@HDRE: Yup, well spotted. We're sorting it now.

@Jesper: Good question. The 5530 XpressMusic that I tested on uses the same processor and operating system as the 5800 and it ran Mobile Shell fine.

@Zishan: Mobile Shell is just like an app. It sits on top of the rest of the interface but is just a first layer. Once you click through to a program or sub-menu, you'll find the standard Symbian interface. As such, if your phone supports access to OVI, then so should Mobile Shell.


May 27, 2010, 7:54 pm

Just installed it. I guess it is kind of a demo since I haven't paid for it yet (I did get it from their side). It runs fine on the 5800.

I must admit it is pretty nice. But since it does from time to time revert back to the old Symbian look, it gets a little confusing to use, when the buttons jump around.

But I wonder if they are going to extend the functionality (maybe even add a proper keyboard). And skin the remaining menus. If that was their plan, and I would get free updates when they did, I might actually consider buying it.


May 27, 2010, 8:18 pm

I wouldn't say its a UI shell, but a 3rd party homescreen. It is possible on S60/Symbian phones to have external homescreens. You can see it on Orange phones. All the native apps still have the S60 UI look and feel.

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