Symbian had been Nokia’s OS of choice for years and it powered some great phones. However, with the explosion of touchscreen smartphones it has been slow to catch up. With Symbian^3, as used on this phone, things have improved but the overall experience is still cluttered and confusing.
Like most alternatives, you’re presented with a number of homescreens onto which you can place shortcuts to apps, or add widgets. However, you can’t simply drag apps around willy nilly but must instead go through a whole host of menus to first add a shortcut widget then define the four shortcuts to go in that widget. What’s more, the widgets themselves, which also include things like quick email readers and social network feeds, can only be of a certain – too short – size and shape.
Even when setup to your liking, there’s a further oddity in that when you swipe across a homescreen to move to the next one, rather than smoothly following the motion of your finger, it waits until you’ve finished moving and then swaps the homescreens. It’s claimed this is an intentional usability decision as it means you don’t accidentally move your homescreens – bunkem! Anyone who has used an Android, Windows Phone or iPhone will tell you that such a thing never happens and that having the screen actually reflect what you’re doing is preferable.
Further annoyances include the additional tap of the Applications folder required to access the majority of the phone’s apps from the main menu, when other platforms put them closer to your fingertips. Anything you’ve downloaded or that doesn’t come under the basic list of messaging, web, music and such like is squirreled away in this folder. Oh, you can add shortcuts to these apps on the homepage but the whole system just feels utterly backward and more than once we were left so frustrated setting the thing up we discarded it on the sofa to return to later when the rage had dissipated.
It’s a similar story when it comes to some of the specifics. Contacts, for instance, can’t be populated by simply logging into an email account and once presented they don’t include social network pictures and profile information. In fact, social networking in general is a bit of a bind to get to grips with.
The web browser gets the basics done by successfully displaying full web pages but the interface is again appalling, and there’s no Flash video support. Thankfully you can download an alternative in the shape of Opera Mini from the Ovi app store, but in this day and age you really shouldn’t have to download an app to get such a basic level of usability.
The app store itself is also something of a minefield. The selection is somewhat sporadic and still doesn’t come anywhere near to rivaling that of Android of iOS – there simply isn’t the same level of choice. It’s getting better but it’s certainly not enough to save this phone.