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SPB MobileShell for Symbian - SPB MobileShell for Symbian

By Edward Chester


Our Score


Review Price free/subscription

Along the bottom of the screen are four icons that, from left to right, open a 3D carousel, a favourite apps launcher, your contacts, and homescreen settings. The 3D carousel is a classic example of the sorts of interface mistakes made by not just these small software developers but the very makers of these phones. It presents you with (surprise, surprise) a carousel of the home screens and lets you spin them around to get to the one you want. It's of no benefit whatsoever.

Thankfully you can swap this to a grid layout instead - alike to the Leap interface on the HTC Desire - which is slightly more useful. As for the homescreen settings, you can change the number of home screens (with settings for both 'professional' and 'lifestyle' layouts) and choose whether the contacts and app launcher shortcuts show you 'favourites' or 'last used,' among other options.

In essence, MobileShell is just a fancy looking app launcher. Go beyond the homescreen and everything is standard Symbian with all the positives and negatives that entails. Nevertheless, it has a much nicer look and feel than the standard homescreen of Symbian and in having multiple homescreens adds a significant amount of functionality as well. You can switch to the standard homepage at the touch of a button, or have MobileShell only launch when you want so installing it isn't a be all and end all decision.

Both our 5530 XpressMusic and the N97 test phones ran MobileShell comfortably, providing a fast and smooth experience. The fluidity of movement when panning the homescreens left and right puts the standard Symbian interface to shame. Functionally it also provides a huge boost to both these handsets as neither has a multifaceted desktop arrangement. In contrast, phones like the Samsung i8910 HD and Sony Ericsson Vivaz do have some sort of multi-desktop arrangement so the case for MobileShell is less clear cut. However, in our experience the homescreens of these devices aren't very easy to use and aren't as configurable as MobileShell so you'd still benefit.

If you've invested in a top-end touchscreen Symbian-based handset and find its interface frustrating, you'll appreciate the additional usability that MobileShell provides. That said, £26.95 is definitely too expensive to our minds. Considering you can buy a full fledged sat-nav app for that much, spending that amount on software which doesn't add anything fundamental to the device is stretching it. Were the price to get closer to £10 we'd outright recommend this software but as it stands we'd be inclined to put the money towards a handset upgrade in the future.


SPB's MobileShell for Symbian provides a nice upgrade to the dour touch-screen interface that Symbian provides. Its multi-faceted desktop arrangement puts far more functionality in easy reach than standard Symbian and it looks significantly slicker as well. It is however too expensive at £26.95 and we'd prefer to see this drop to nearer £10 before it's an outright recommendation.

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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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