The homescreen consists of three panels onto which you can place various widgets and shortcuts. It’s not as customisable as some rivals, with the widgets often being too small to be of much use, and there’s no provision for folders to store related apps in one place. Swipe your finger across the screen to move from one panel to the next and, rather than tracking your finger as it moves, the interface stays motionless until you’ve finished swiping (I think I’ve been watching too much Dora The Explorer). This lack of visual feedback is a perfect example of the way the whole interface doesn’t live up to rivals. All that said, you can generally just about get the homescreen set up so you can quickly access all your favourite features quite quickly and easily.
Unlike previous Symbian versions, SMS messages are now conveniently arranged in conversations, though the old-style date order is still available. Once through the very cumbersome email setup, you also have a reasonably competent email client that supports all the usual POP3 (hotmail), IMAP (gmail) and Exchange options. It can handle multiple accounts and it’s easy to switch between the two, though there’s no option to show both at once.
What really lets the general messaging side down though, is the incredibly poor choice of text input options. As mentioned above, by default, there’s no qwerty keyboard option in landscape mode, with you instead having to use a T9 key layout. Qwerty is available in landscape mode but even then it’s not a very nice typing experience due to a peculiar layout. Also annoying is the way the typing screen always fills the entirety of the screen, never allowing you to see what’s behind it until you exit. The very impressive one finger, swipe-based keyboard, Swype, is available for download, which improves things greatly but isn’t my preferred way to type and certainly shouldn’t be a necessity as it currently is.
The web browser is another feature that fundamentally gets the job done quite well, showing web pages accurately and providing the usual touch-interface niceties of pinch-to-zoom and inertial scrolling. It also has some useful extras like the ability to find a word on a page. However, the same general interface complaints that plague the rest of the handset apply, with specifics like the cumbersome preview-based history interface causing a lot of frustration. Also, Flash video isn’t supported.
Nokia’s OVI Maps is on hand to provide sat nav and mapping duties. The interface isn’t great, with it not being the most driver-friendly (not that you should be interacting with it while driving, of course) and the style is particularly inconsistent. However, the fact that the maps are stored on the device, rather than needing to be downloaded as on Google Maps, means you never need to worry about getting a data connection to find out where you’re going.