Nokia has confirmed that the Nokia 808 PureView was the last Symbian phone it will ever make. Are we sad? Not a jot. But Symbian was once a great and majestic system, a smartphone OS that people actually used in the days when the terms “feature phone” and “camera phone” actually meant something.
As an ode to the doddery old fellow that is Symbian, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite Symbian phones ever made. Have great memories of an old Symbian workhorse? Let us know yours in the comments.
Nokia 9210 Communicator
Arriving before the days of the smartphone, the Nokia 9210 Communicator was really more of a PDA that could double-up as a phone. It could change, Transformer-like, from a 1980s Wall Street grade giant phone to a rather more elegant miniature laptop – which was held inside.
These were back in the days where convergence really came with a price – the Nokia 9210 Communicator is really two devices smushed together. But open the thing up and that Nokia Communicator magic is there. It had a “high-resolution” 640 x 200 pixel 4.5-inch screen, offering just one sixteenth the number of pixels you get with 2013’s top smartphones.
Madness, isn’t it… but have we really come that far? You could download apps for it – then known archaically as “applications” – heck it could even run Doom, and all the basics we take for granted today.
Desperately trying to cram PDA features into a phone shape, the Nokia 7650 was released in 2002. It was huge for a phone at the time, but was among the first phones to bring advanced features like MS Outlook integration to a device that still looked and felt like it was made primarily to make calls.
Nokia sold more than a million 7650s, and it was pitched as the company’s first integrated camera phone. It ran the Symbian series 60 platform, had a 2.1-inch 176 x 208 pixel screen a vertically-sliding keypad and – the height of fashion – a full VGA resolution camera. This thing was cutting edge back in 2002.
A few years down the line, Nokia has really learned how to trim-down its Symbian phones, leading to the super-popular N-series. Among the first in this range was the Nokia N80, a phone that became the design blueprint for top Nokias for years.
It hit the scene as phones were starting to feature many more pixels, letting them fit much more information on-screen. It had Wi-Fi, it had “super-fast” EDGE connectivity, a mind-boggling 220MHz CPU and 259dpi pixel density – not too shabby even by today’s standards.
Remembered by many as the classic Nokia smartphone, the Nokia N95 was the phone to own before the iPhone captured the phone market. It was only released a few months before the iPhone, in fact, but long after it arrived, the Nokia N95 was still top dog in the eyes of the hardcore crowd.
It was far better-specced than Apple's first iPhone. The Nokia N95 had HSDPA 3G mobile internet for one, as well as a decent 5-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi and the strong library of Symbian apps. The 2-megapixel, non-3G, App Store-less iPhone just didn’t seem as good. Heck, it wasn’t as good. Those were the days, eh?
A serious phone for serious people, at the time back in 2008, the Nokia E71 was one of the best phones for business people money could buy. A fantastic keyboard, ridiculously feature-packed, and with a gloriously strong-feeling metal body, it merged desirability and a sort of efficient studiousness.
It may not be what we generally look for in a smartphone these days, but the Nokia E71 was a phone that proved Nokia could still get an edge over BlackBerry at times.
A ridiculously successful phone, the semi-affordable Nokia 5800 was perhaps Nokia’s most successful stab at the iPhone's 2009 success. And that’s even though tech experts could see that it showed the first signs that both Symbian and Nokia weren’t moving with the times.
It had a resistive touchscreen, when the iPhone and many fresh-out-of-the-gate Androids used the now-standard capacitive type, and Symbian was creaky compared to those fresh meat phones. However, it was a cracking, highly accessible phone that was many people’s first experience with a smartphone. Drop us a line in the comments if you were among the Nokia 5800 crowd.
Nokia wasn’t the only company to produce great Symbian phones. Sony Ericsson and Samsung also had a crack at it. Our favourite of the bunch was the Samsung Omnia HD i8910, a precocious phone with some specs so impressive that they wouldn’t look out of place in a phone of today.
It had a gorgeous 3.7-inch AMOLED screen, an 8-megapixel camera and a fantastic internal video player. The Samsung Omnia HD i8910 also has the honour of being the first phone ever to be able to record 720p. It was the sort of device that had people saying “if only it ran Android”. Of course, that’s basically what the Samsung Galaxy S series became.
By the time the Nokia N8 arrived at Trusted towers, it was already too late for Nokia. Reviewing this flagship phone produced mixed feelings. Its camera was fantastic – the thing even had a rare-as-dinosaurs Xenon flash – it was colourful, the screen was stunning and the hardware design was fab for the time too.
However, we just couldn’t get over that even with the added gloss of the new Symbian^3 system, the Symbian software was past it. A new lick of paint couldn’t disguise how clunky the software had become compared to its rivals. It was the last true flaghship phone to feature the Symbian OS.
Let us know your Symbian memories in the comments.