Poll: How important is the possibility of upgrading the Nokia N8 to Symbian^4 to you?

| July 12, 2010 | 45 Replies

Click here to go directly to the poll

With Nokia’s first Symbian^3 handset on the visible horizon (approx 6 weeks to go) a hot topic right now is the possibility of upgrading the Nokia N8′s Symbian^3 to Symbian^4. It’s worth noting that as always, Nokia will support the N8 with free software updates that could bring new features and added functionality like it has with their other handsets. Damien Dinning has already mentioned the possibility of continuous autofocus during video recording AFTER the sales release handsets, i.e. future firmware updates. The N8′s web browser will also finally get a facelift and this will arrive outside of a firmware update.

Symbian’s blurb on S^3

The second open version of the Symbian platform. It extends Symbian^2 in many ways, including graphics support for advanced layering and effects, full HDMI support for a great television playback experience and improving data performance – ideal for streaming high definition audio and video.

On the application front, it doesn’t matter too much as both are Qt compatible. Apps made with Qt for Symbian^4 would work for Symbian^3 (as well as MeeGo devices)

S^4 Not due until H1 2011

On the experience side, the Nokia N8 has a reworked S^1 with a lot of the annoyances ironed out that should never have been there in the first place (e.g. now all Single tap) and should be much more streamlined than the abysmal S^1. Though the UI may be very familiar, the UX is something vastly improved. And there’s still much enhancement and tweaking to go as Nokia has delayed the N8 to ensure that the experience will be fluid and pleasing, having learnt from the mistakes with the N97 in released half baked goods. With that, we could assume that the majority of consumers and target audience for the Nokia N8 will be happy.

Some  consumers however (those used to high end) are looking not just for the latest and greatest, but longevity. 6 months down the line, will you still be as happy with the N8 as you were the first time? Love for my N97 died after 3 months, although love for N900 is still on going. That however is coupled by the more touched focus, powerful Maemo 5 and the awesome hardware inside that was keeping up with the times. Now this opens up another side topic as to whether the N8 has sufficient hardware (CPU/GPU/RAM) for the next 6 months (were it released in weeks after announcement, we could be more certain).

CPU/GPU/RAM – limiting factors?

On the CPU: the ARM 11 core is underclocked to 680MHz.  The default is apparently 750MHz which could be safely overclocked to 850MHz. Now we could argue that for S^3, CPU numbers isn’t all that important (and less so, comparison of CPU hardware with other devices on other platforms as Symbian is extremely optimized to run on less demanding hardware – hence democratization of the smartphone with MeeGo to push the hardware hungry devices.).

On the GPU: it’s suspected that the N8 has a class leading Broadcom BCM2727 GPU, which at the time was shown to pull in more triangles than any other competing phone.  This is important for Symbian^3 as it is a GPU accelerated UI, relying more on the GPU than the CPU.

RAM: 256MB. For multitasking, will this be enough? The N900 is a multitasking beast and that has “only” 256MB (though there is +768MB virtual RAM and is on Maemo). Some could argue again that Symbian is more flexible in coping on less RAM. Very early videos has shown the N8 running 15 apps simultaneously with no speed decrease. But what happens when more RAM hungry apps come out?

N8 and S^3 already looking good in videos

The myriad of video demoes are promising, with N8 running quickly and smoothly; but actual long use and with the final build is needed to generate a valid opinion on what consumers will eventually experience (as opposed to an extremely early proto and scathing it like you just bought it off the shelf)

The question is will the N8′s current hardware support Symbian^4? If it can, why can’t we have Symbian^4? These upgrades are often paralleled with iPhone and Android’s support of software updates on their older devices (though iOS4 is not supported for original iPhone and some features are missing on 3G, with even iOS3 already proving taxing for both).

Even if it doesn’t properly support S^4 to bring the same experience, should users still have the option to upgrade? It is after all, barely going to be 1 year apart when the first S^4 handset is available (and hardly 6 months if we only count from N8 release date and not announcement).

And if it doesn’t support S^4 should this be a deal breaker?

For the majority of N8s intended audience who most likely don’t even perform firmware updates – then no. For those wanting longevity through app support, then no. For those wanting the N8 for other reasons, i.e. the killer multimedia functions, an actually fantastic 12mp camera (proof in pictures and still to improve. Plus with xenon flash and 28mm wide angle!), 720p video with stereo recording, 5.1 surround sound with dolby digital, HDMI out to 720p, great 3D gaming, not to forget the lifetime free sat nav all at 370EUR minus subsidies/tax, then no.

Perhaps for those wanting that “new experience”, then yes. Maybe then, it should even be MeeGo your eyes should be set on. Or even some other non Nokia related OS.

Symbian’s blurb on S^4

Symbian^4 is expected in 2010. It will feature Direct UI – a complete makeover of the touch UI, Qt as the primary runtime and the majority of SHAI in place, making hardware adaptation easier than ever before.

Click to read more

Poll: How important is the possibility of upgrading the Nokia N8 to Symbian^4 to you?

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Category: Nokia, Nseries, Poll, Symbian

About the Author ()

Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at mynokiablog.com and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and  Facebook.com/mynokiablog. Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@)mynokiablog.com or email me directly on jay[at]mynokiablog.com
  • mrbean

    Good article and well organized info.
    Thanks Jay

  • N#O#R#U#L#E#S

    hardware limitations such as CPU AND RAM doesn’t permit to n8 to be upgradable to s4…s4 is completly different to the actual symple s3 os/interface…nokia say recently n8 shall not upgradable to s4.

    • Roger Johnson

      I’ve got a feeling, based on seeing your other posts on this site, that you’re just spreading nonsense. Prove everything you just said please. Where did Nokia say this (link to official Nokia statement, not just some random blog spreading rumours). Also let’s see a proper technical explanation of why N8 couldn’t run S^4.

      You see, I disagree with you. I think N8 would be capable of running S^4 based on what we know now. I don’t think you know anywhere near enough about S^4 or the N8 to say what you’ve just said.

    • Aymen

      No, this isn’t true, Symbian^4 don’t need a lot of ram and more powerfull processor, because Symbian^4 can work on the 100 euro devises, theses devises at 100 euro can’t have 512 RAM and more powerfull processor.
      Technically, the N8 can run perfectly Symbian^4, Symbian is very optimized and don’t need a very powerfull phone (like the needs of Android 2.2 or windows mobile 7), and Symbian^4 will need less ressources than Symbian^3 and will offer more amazing features and a new excellent UI that rival with Android and iOS, Symbian^4 will be the new “renaissance” of Symbian.
      Symbian Foundation said that the Symbian^3 is only an intermediate version, the major version with the big amount of new features and the full remaked UI will be Symbian^4, Symbian^4 is the major version of Symbian

      we hope that Nokia make decision to upgrade N8 to Symbian^4, this will be the most good news of N8 and for all Nokia fanboys

      P.S: Nokia, limit the publisher content for N8 in ovi store to Qt applications only, then all new applications developed for N8 will work with Symbian^4 or it will be very easy to port them to Symbian^4, and then you can upgrade N8 safely to Symbian^4

      please see the exapmle of Android updates and iOS updates

  • http://myexistence.inacurate.com/ Inacurate

    Since I am after another handset (N8+QWERTY) this isn’t an issue for me at the moment, however Nokia SHOULD be looking at their rivals here and asking themselves a very important question: What are they doing, that we aren’t?

    The answer, in the OS category anyway, is that their major competitor’s (Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android) are able to update the OS for almost all devices that can support it. Now granted, this is NO different than Nokia, however for Apple it is a huge design decision that works well for them.

    Nokia should learn a lot from this and really should have the past three years and already have made the design decision to be able to do the same, as it is a big advantage IMO.

    There is more to the story of course, that doesn’t make it easy for them, but nothing worth doing is ever easy…

    • Roger Johnson

      > Since I am after another handset (N8+QWERTY)

      Yes, yes, E7, coming soon (rumoured November)

  • win

    nokia wont upgrade N8 to symbian^4 b/c it will mean people losing all there data and apps b/c the break in compatibility, there will be 1000′s of unhappy ppl who do not know about compatibility who’ve lost paid apps and data that will longer sync to new stock apps

    • bob

      wrong, everything is made with qt now, which means it’ll run fine in s^3/4 and maemo(ugh i meant meego)

      • mja

        In fact N8 will still probably use a lot of non-Qt (Avkon) stuff that won’t work in S^4. Therefore ‘win’ is correct in that if you pay for Avkon apps they won’t work after the (possible) upgrade to S^4.

        • Aymen

          Nokia must limit the applications that will be published in ovi store for N8 only to Qt applications, then all applications developed for N8 Symbian^3 will work easly with N8 Symbian^4

    • Keith

      Nope, Nokia always warns you to back up things before the upgrade and because Symbian^4 is also based on Qt, all the apps will be compatible and you won’t lose anything at all.
      And I think the hardware of N8 is capable of running S^4 as it requires less power and the GPU in N8 would take much of load off of the CPU so you might still get great performance. However, if he upgrade isn’t available, it would be the end of the world coz the UI doesn’t appeal to me too much (from the video). And as long as Symbian^4 apps are compatible with S^3, all is good.

  • http://www.manda.com.ba Miloš Mandarić

    There are no hardware limitations. That’s BS. N8 won’t be upgradeable because of the same reasons N900 won’t be upgradeable(officially).

  • http://mynokiablog Dennis

    I know the truth is out there. The Nokia engineers know but I guess we will find out eventually. Does make it interesting and fun to discuss.

  • Aymen
  • bob

    This is one sticking point I have with Nokia, I know they are a hardware developer and planned obsolescence is an important part of their industrial design, but with barely a year separating S^3 from S^4. I’d be seriously ticked if they wouldn’t offer an upgrade, it’s one of the reasons I sold my N900.

    As I said it’s part of their operating procedure, but that really doesn’t fly when i throw down a minimum of 500$/€ for their phones

  • Sim

    You apple and android fanboys make me laugh; Say what you like, the N8 looks awesome. Stick to your crappy iphone or HTC , with mediocre camera and intuitive UI.

    Symbian is a well developed platform which will continue to improve over time. Unlike other phone users, Nokia owners are often mature and intelligent enough to read a user manual. More importantly however, they buy a phone to communicate, whether it be through voice or over the internet. Provided it does this well the N8 will be a success, regardless of software upgrades.

  • jb8967

    Nokia’s strength is also its weakness…the depth of its diverse portfolio of products. Its organization is designed around appealing to diverse consumer segments…often in a way that is project related and not ecosystem integrated. Unfortunately, this very diversity makes it too expensive for developers to service with an adequate ROI. Nokia needs to streamline its portfolio around certain parameters/limits when it comes to the User Interface…so that they can still target diverse consumers while maintaining a degree of consistency into which the development community can profitably divert resources.

    As for S^3 or S^4, I could care less. Just give a sustainably consistent User Interface that is intuitive, smooth, and attractive. As long as I can get updated applications that run well and as long as Nokia continues to support the OS…it is a moot point for me. What I will not accept is for Nokia to launch the N8 as part of its FLAGSHIP series and then obsolete the OS and its related hardware within 2 years. Sorry, this is a deal killer. Nokia needs to get out in front of this question and have OPK or Anssi Vanjoki (preferably the later) explain how Symbian^3 is not just a transitory OS. Unless it is transitory, in which case Nokia leadership should explain how the N8 is upgradeable and/or relevant. The N97 left a really bad impression. Fool me once…shame on you. But fool me twice?… ….No way.

  • mja

    What is not pointed out here is that creating widgets for S^4, i.e. widgets you can move freely like the clock in the demo, requires rewriting for S^3, even if written in Qt. That’s because (Nokia’s UI for) S^3 only has those fixed horizontal slots for widgets. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Aymen

      You can create widget with Nokia WRT (javascript…) not with Qt, all widget will work with Symbian^1, Symbian^3 and Symbian^4

  • Al Pavangkanan

    When is the last time Nokia offered a full OS upgrade on a phone?
    That’s right, never.
    Not gonna happen in the future either.

    • Andre

      Would you prefer your upgrades for free or pay a premium for them?
      There were SERIOUS licensing and technical issues preventing phones like the N95 getting upgrades to Feature pack 2 etc. It’s simply not possible for example to get a 5800 running S^3 smoothly. If similar hardware restrictions prove the case with S^4 there is nothing that can be done about it.

      • Juan

        I don´t think this is 100% true, but if it is then I don´t want more Symbian phones in my life. Symbian is the only OS out there that is not upgradeable, every other OS is, iOS, Android, WinMo, BB, webOS.
        Regarding the licensing problem is a Nokia issue, not a customer one, they can solved (hey, is not open source??), and about technical issues again is a Nokia problem, they cripple the hardware, put faster processors, put more memory and the technical issues are not anymore. Why anybody in this world want an N8 if its OS will be obsolete 6 months later?

        • Andre

          At the time when people were complaining about OS upgrades none of the Symbian releases were open source.
          The ONLY symbian release that has been open source is S^3, let me repeat for you, the ONLY.
          Nokia would have had to pay a fee for each and every OS upgrade they sent to consumers, money that would have been lost and for the most part simply not worth it from a business and financial perspective. Not only did Nokia have to contribute resources to develop Symbian back then, but they also had to pay to use it, pay to adapt it to hardware that would have required a great deal of time, effort and money to do and still roll it out to consumers for free?
          Not happening bud.
          With the current releases of the Symbian Foundation, the issues are more to do with HARDWARE and application compatibility. Those are the only issues prevented an upgrade AFAIK.
          You’d do well to know what you’re talking about before burning them for not offering OS updates.

          • Juan

            Let´s talk about the past, HTC, HP and even some branded Treos updated their WinMo OS, and WinMo is not free. I owned the N95 and the E71, if I cannot updated them was because Nokia faulty model that you explained, what I would like was to have the choice, Nokia wants 20 bucks or whatever to let me update, give me the choice.

            But focus on future, now Symbian is open source, hardware related is Nokia´s choice, I don´t care paying the N8 $50 dollars more for better processor/more memory, really don´t care, I will pay. Your apps statement is weak, we are now seeing how fast iPhone major apps are migrating to accomplish iOS4 needs, the same could happen with Symbian if developers care.

            Here you ask a question, my answer is if N8 is not upgradeable to S`4 I don´t want it, and don´t get me wrong, I like the N8 a lot, I like Symbian a lot too, but I don´t want to be fooled one more time by Nokia.

  • N#O#R#U#L#E#S

    1- S4 will be available on nokia summer 2011 devices
    2- symbian 4 smartphone for 2011 will be more powerfull (cortex cpu/ram min 512)

    so if 1 + 1 = 2…actual nokia n8 s3 with its limitated harware shall not be suitable for s4

    nokia always prefer to $ell new device$ with new os instead upgrading old devices and earn nothing..remember it…

    • Andre

      I’m registered on developer.symbian.org/, I’ve been keeping tabs on what’s going on with regards to the upcoming S^3 OS and future S^4 OS and I can categorically tell you that there are NO HARDWARE REQUIREMENTS specified ANYWHERE by the Symbian Foundation.

      I’d love to see where you got your info from.

    • Eric

      Nokia will create a Symbian^4 phones for only 100euro, how a phone cost 100 euro can have 512 Mo of RAM???!!!! Symbian is very optimized and it can work with only 256 Mo or less for 100 euro devices

  • N#O#R#U#L#E#S

    you’ll see..

    • Roger Johnson

      Noru, I’ve yet to see a post on this website from you that isn’t talking rubbish. You really don’t have a clue what you’re talking about when it comes to anything from Symbian or Nokia.

  • http://www.downloadzpark.com chandru

    omg s^4 is rocking i need this in n8 definetly. plzzzzzzzzzzz nokia satisfy us i love os better than hardware

  • John Wiegand-forson

    I dont think the hardware will be able to support symbian 4 in a years time plus what’s the motivation for Nokia don’t forget their are a business

    • bob

      the business isn’t so much about the hardware anymore(android has made that paradigm shift happen), it’s all about the software now

      sorta like what happened to the pc market back in the day

    • N#O#R#U#L#E#S


  • Andre

    Juan :

    Let´s talk about the past, HTC, HP and even some branded Treos updated their WinMo OS, and WinMo is not free. I owned the N95 and the E71, if I cannot updated them was because Nokia faulty model that you explained, what I would like was to have the choice, Nokia wants 20 bucks or whatever to let me update, give me the choice.

    But focus on future, now Symbian is open source, hardware related is Nokia´s choice, I don´t care paying the N8 $50 dollars more for better processor/more memory, really don´t care, I will pay. Your apps statement is weak, we are now seeing how fast iPhone major apps are migrating to accomplish iOS4 needs, the same could happen with Symbian if developers care.

    Here you ask a question, my answer is if N8 is not upgradeable to S`4 I don´t want it, and don´t get me wrong, I like the N8 a lot, I like Symbian a lot too, but I don´t want to be fooled one more time by Nokia.

    Look up the differences in hardware between current FP2 devices and FP1 devices. That difference in chipset is part of the reason there was no update. Another part of the reason was the licensing problem which as mentioned before is in the past.

    • Eric

      now Symbian is open source, no need a big fee licencing

  • I hate Apple

    Have you guys tried IOS4????? with multitasking and every thing..when i hold iphone in my hand i wanna throw my (5800 V.50)out of window….
    although i hate APPLE products.. but i cant wait till summer 2011 for nokia to make something “meego or symbian 4″… in summer 2011 im sure there will be a Kick A$$ IOS5… then what? you gonna wait till summer 2012 for nokia to make something better than IOS5???

  • http://www.downloadzpark.com chandru

    most users dnt like n8 without upgrading option

  • Sami

    Google and Apple have set the new standard of the mobile OS upgrades, all users hope to see their 500$ phone evolve with a major OS upgrade (like iOS and Android) and not to be outdate after 6 month or one year.
    I can buy only one phone every 2 years, and I don’t like to see my N8 (if I will buy it) to be outdated the next summer while the users of iPhone and Android phone see theirs phones evoluate to iOS 5 and Android 3.
    If Nokia will announce the possible upgrade of N8 to Symbian^4 I will buy it, otherwise I will buy an iPhone or Android phone at least they upgrate their 500$ phones to the new OS versions and I will not see it outdated only after one year

    • Juan

      Agree with Sami and was what I trying to say, I like the N8, I like Symbian, if Nokia announces a clearly upgrade path to S^4 I will buy it, if not the Samsung Galaxy will replace my mini.

      • Andre

        Don’t bet on samsung providing timely upgrades. The Behold owners learnt that the HARD way.

        • Juan

          If the Galaxy is a success will be rooted in not time, beyond that even with Samsung the update is more a reality than with Nokia.

          • Andre

            Samsung is using a chipset not used in any other android phones, if they don’t provide the drivers then you can root from now ’til next year, you won’t get upgrades.
            But if you want a Samsung then by all means.
            It’s a damn good looking phone (barring their crap-looking BADA-esque interface)

  • Juan

    Andre :Samsung is using a chipset not used in any other android phones, if they don’t provide the drivers then you can root from now ’til next year, you won’t get upgrades.But if you want a Samsung then by all means.It’s a damn good looking phone (barring their crap-looking BADA-esque interface)

    Andre, as said my sight is on the N8, I am happy with Nokia/Symbian, I have no complains about UI or whatever, Symbian is doing very well for what I need it for and think that the N8 could only make me more happier than my mini (I enjoy the mini, I have very few complains about it), BUT, as many posts here what I don´t want is invest on the N8 in October just to discover S^4 on March/April and have no chance to update my N8. As said, I enjoy my mini, but S^3 is what S^1 should had been on the beginning and now I am seeing all S^3 improvements far away from my mini and I don´t want to be fooled again.

  • n-user

    One thing I just wanted to say is if you are USERS you don’t care how much CPU Symbian or MeeGo will consume, you just want higher CPU numbers and that’s it. ;)

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