What Symbian features could you not live without?

| March 1, 2011 | 49 Replies


A lot has been made of Nokia’s recent decision to eschew their current smartphone ecosystem strategy in favor of a Microsoft based approach. Having done a detailed impressions post and published a list of my gripes with the current state of the Windows Phone software and ecosystem, I felt it’d be important to gauge the importance of certain features and capabilities currently found in Symbian devices and whether you could live without them. Things like 3rd party multitasking or Ovi are left out for the simple reason that they’re already being implemented, promised and/or have been shown to the public already.


Sound off in the poll below and be sure to comment on any that you feel I’ve left out.

[polldaddy poll=4642561]





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Category: Nokia

About the Author ()

So you've read something I've written. yay!! As you already know, my name is Andre and I'm currently a student based in Atlanta. Much like Jay, I pretty much blog here in my free time. Follow me on twitter @andre1989 or contact me directly at Andre(at)mynokiablog(dot)com. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or suggestions.
  • Duncan

    I voted all of above. I use all these feature regularly.

  • Smith

    It’s very simple. Until something comes along that matches what Symbian is capable of now (and nothing is actually close yet – seriously) then I will not be giving up Symbian at all.

    After all, where’s the sanity in downgrading?

  • JM

    Transfer files between pc and phones without software (zune, ovi suite, itunes…)

    Real copy paste between pc and phone.

    • chfyfx

      2nd that + hdmi

      • chfyfx

        + free nav

        • + the ability to use the OTG-Usb with wireless keyboards (works flawless with my Logitech, I use HDMI with this and get my own little mediabox)

          • Smith

            all the above = Symbian today πŸ˜‰

  • napier

    Copy/Paste from earlier comment:

    Full and true multitasking
    Mass storage capability
    Expandable memory via SD cards
    Full Bluetooth functionality
    SIP integration
    Proper file management system
    HDMI Out
    Ability to customize applications, shortcuts etc. into folders (goes with the File management thing)
    Ability to customize ringtone and wallpaper.
    PC independence. If I need some software on a PC to load music, videos etc, it’s a nonstarter
    Offline maps and navigation

    • Really not sure where the misconception that SD cards arent supported comes from. I’m using an 8gig card in mine that I used to have in my 5800. It’s not however, swappable.

      Also as for ringtones and wallpapers.

      MP3’s aren’t accessible but contact specific ringers are supported for certain.
      Wallpapers would see little utility given that they’re covered by the live-tiles anyway but more theme-ing options would be a definite plus

      • napier

        Yeah, I really don’t care for that tile look. I hope that’s something that can be made optional.

        • Can Symbian’s widgets be made optional?

          • napier

            They’re all optional aren’t they?

            • Then why would the situation be any different on WP7 πŸ™‚

              • rebelng

                because microsoft is an american company and the majority of americans are too dumb to use any other than default setings.

                • Ummm… wrong. The option is there but if the people are dumb is no excuse to omit it.

                  And to completely answer his question, they can be completely removed. Can’t imagine why you’d want to.

                  • ZiPA

                    Yea. Makes about as much sense as removing all the home screens from an N8.

                • Kryptoniankid17

                  REALLY? Very ignorant statement. Im an American and a long time symbian user.

      • momost

        Most of the wp7 phones doesn’t allow expendable memory.

      • ritchard

        No Mp3 for ringtone? WTF

        The Wallpaper Situation is another big problem of WP7. All these Phones looks the same. People want their own Pictures as Backgrounds since Windows 95 this will not change.

        As an Symbian User i take such things for granted and can not imagine to switch for such a dumb OS.

        • Rant

          Guess I’m that small group that never changes their background. I use the grass background on all my homescreens for my N8. Most backgrounds interfere with readability of text and such.

          • ritchard

            Ok why not. I use one Wallpaper for all 3 homescreens.

            You have a choice thats the point. Maybe i want my girl as backround or maybe just a black screen but i want to decide.

    • Rick

      + FM Transmitter

      • Valmon

        I concur! That is such a handy feature.

      • Rant

        YES! That’s one feature that is very nice to have.

  • outdated os

    not being forced into this geekosystems (sadly, this is the norm nowadays)

  • Chris

    – Manage files myself

    Call me weird but I love handling all my files by myself, I won’t get lost navigating around a dozen folders in more folders.

    – Phone not so dead without a data plan

    Offline maps, bluetooth file transfer mainly.. And I use my Nokia as a microSD card reader in a pinch, and use bluetooth file transfer it to just about any computer that has bluetooth (or cables if no bluetooth).

  • momost

    Darn it, replied to the wrong post. Also, removing the built in memory card would void your warranty.

  • As i have a cheap data plan, the ability to have maps loaded offline is important.

    Also the ability to copy files to and from my phone and navigate my phone – this may change having not developed for Windows Phone yet, but since i’ve started looking into Qt Development, this has been invaluable.

    Until yesterday, the FM transmitter was a can’t live without, and even if i don’t need it, i think it’s great that Nokia includes this feature in their phones.

  • he

    every adept person know how customise and reliable the UI is.

  • he

    File management is best esp XPLORE APP.
    Even the nearest competitor android is not on par with symbian.
    Ios,bb, os need miles way to go.

  • he

    lightest OS with min. Hardware requirement makes it best for good battery life.
    Android is drainage battery os.

  • Mendax

    Since we’re on the topic of Symbian, was there any follow-up to the speculation surrounding the processor speed bump (from 680 to ~730 MHz) that Symbian^3 device were to receive?

    Is there any chance it’s coming in PR2.0?

    • MJT

      Not happening because:

  • Pingback: More features from Nokia, Symbian and Ovi Suite coming to Windows Phone 7 : My Nokia Blog()

  • Emmanuel

    Out of specific OS features I cannot live with :
    – high radio performance
    – perfect data connection management (GSM, 3G, Wifi)
    – high voice quality
    – beeing able to drop files (music, sound, photos, videos) in the phone without using a specific software
    – 2 days battery life with a battery saver mode
    – and a good camera

    • Peter

      Most of those aren’t even OS features.

      Radio performance, high voice quality and camera are HW features.

      • EmmanuelM

        Would generally agree with you but don’t forget that radio protocols – GSM, UMTS, voice processing, sound cancellation and image processing all are made in software…

        Said differently my view is that WP 7 should include NOKIA telecom and voice processing software stack

  • Peter

    Let’s think about these a bit…

    1) Extensive LOCAL file management

    No – I could not live completely without this.

    I could live without this one, but I wouldn’t like it very much. I like to just drag-n-drop files to my phone when it’s connected to a computer and I also like to know where those files are. I think this should be implemented at least in some manner, maybe by opening a user partition in the file system.

    2) Ability to sideload applications

    Yes – I can handle without this.

    This has been a life-saver in Symbian because some applications just aren’t available in Ovi Store or aren’t available for your exact phone model even though it works flawlessly. But WP7 does not have this problem, all the handsets are using the same OS so it’s not needed for this purpose. Sideloading also enables software piracy, which is something that will put off some developers.

    3) Support for Flash and Flash Lite


    I don’t need flash for anything in my mobile browser except videos. But full flash support is coming to WP7 anyway, I hope they will make it possible to disable it.

    4) Very long battery life and standby times

    I don’t really see how this is a feature. My Nokia C7 is not particularly efficient in battery life and requires charging almost every night.

    5) Great customisation options (themes et al)


    For me, 99% of Symbian themes look like crap. But the 1% that I like, I use. Nokia should enable themes in their WP7 phones in some extent, like having at least some customation options (maybe a few texture/effect choices for the live tiles, custom BG). Even predefined options might do, but do give us some choice.

    6) The Symbian user experience

    Yes. Definitely yes.

    WP7 UI beats Symbian UI with a KO in the first round. I also love how the WP7 apps are made with same logic and appearance as the rest of the UI. Symbian apps don’t have any consistency in their executions, even Nokia’s own apps don’t!

    7) Video output


    I have used video output maybe twice ever, it’s not for everyday use. And DLNA support is coming to WP7 as a standard, so there will be video output option in Nokia WP7 phones anyway.

    8) Other

    I will put the wonderful video player Symbian has here. Very extensive codec support with subtitles.

    • I see you have a lot to say!!

      Thanks! Keep coming back.

    • Rant

      Love the poit you make about the UI consistency. One thing that always bothered me with Symbian/Nokia. Start up even a native app and get a completly different UI, I don’t want that!

  • Syed

    I can not live without seeing ‘memory full errors’ (sarcasm)
    I’m getting almost 5 errors a day on my nokia c7, it was 50+ on my older nokia 5800 and thats what makes me stick to nokia :p

  • nfbsk

    More like which feature out of s40 could I not live without… Maybe perhaps a proper countdown timer and stopwatch perhaps? Or maybe a better calendar? Quite embarrassing to have s60 lose some features just to gain a few more…

  • Emmanuel

    Ha forgot to mention… To be able to use my phone as a modem for my laptop computer…

  • soussef24

    I voted for a feature called “Symbian Itself”… This is the feature I can’t live without!

  • Rino

    This a transparency poll!, please teach nokia guys how make true poll (A: 25% = 100 votes, from 400 total votes)

  • Jorge Arturo

    File manager
    Full bluetooth
    Copy and paste
    Hot swapable sd cards
    OTA update
    being able to use the phone with any computer without the need to use extra software (zune manager)
    MP3 as ringtones
    Being able to install ANY SOFTWARE OR APP I want not just approved ones, and this without jailbreaking
    Add attachments to emails from the email app, any kind of files.
    Video Out, HDMI or VGA
    Maps Ovi like

    So far this are the ones I care the most

    • Peter

      These are either already there or will be for Nokia WP7 phone:

      Copy and paste
      OTA update
      Add attachments to emails from the email app, any kind of files.
      Video Out, HDMI or VGA
      Maps Ovi like

      These might come too, but you can also use the WP7 device manager for these:

      MP3 as ringtones
      File manager
      Being able to install ANY SOFTWARE OR APP I want not just approved ones, and this without jailbreaking

      Four things remain uncertain, but I would believe bluetooth support should come for Mango update.

      Full bluetooth
      Hot swapable sd cards
      OTG USB
      being able to use the phone with any computer without the need to use extra software (zune manager)

  • jakeZ

    I really hope Nokia is able to maintain many of these features through customizing wp7.
    The thought that we’ll lose many of these features just because Nokia coudln’t do an overhaul on their iconography and transitions is really sad. It’s still my belief that people moved away from Nokia handsets simply because the interface wasn’t ‘cool enough’.

  • Al Reynolds

    Ok, here’s my list. I think I will probably buy an E7 and hope it lasts for ever…

    Hardware essentials:

    Multi-touch capable touchscreen
    Hardware slide-out QWERTY keyboard
    Bluetooth compatible with Parrot car kit (headset, not A2DP)
    Camera (must geotag images)
    3.5mm headphone jack
    Battery must last one day with medium use

    OS/Interface essentials:

    Homescreen(s) with ability to show:
    – Email status for at least two IMAP mailboxes
    – Upcoming calendar events (maybe up to six)
    – Shortcuts to often-used applications
    – Usual date/time/network/signal/battery/voicemail information
    Calendar & contacts syncable to online server
    – currently use SyncML to mobical but open to alternatives
    – sync must happen automatically at least once per day
    – sync must be to online server not local machine
    – web interface to view online contacts/calendar
    Log (including data session information)
    Web browser including Flash
    Email client
    – up to three IMAP accounts with automated checking for new headers
    – don’t need push/Exchange but IMAP IDLE would be good
    – ability to move messages to other IMAP folders
    – ability to set a sent items folder on the IMAP server
    – HTML email reading/writing
    Music player with album art and gapless playback
    File manager
    Compressed file utility (ZIP probably)
    Access point management
    – so the best access point (WIFI/3G) is always selected automatically
    – all applications can use this facility
    Voice commands for dialling contacts and other OS features
    – ability to switch to Silent automatically when connected to car kit
    – silent profile must not send message alerts over A2DP
    Calling facilities
    – call waiting facility
    – call diversion facility
    – show call duration
    – call recording

    Software essentials:

    Ability to view/edit Office documents
    Ability to view PDF files
    Facebook application
    – maybe with notifications but not essential
    – ability to tag and upload to facebook after taking photos/videos
    Youtube application
    Iplayer compatibility
    Panoramic photo application (proper stitching not cropping)
    Sky mobile application with remote record programming and TV guide
    Internet radio with ability to point to own MP3 streaming server
    WiFi sharing application (all protocols not just HTTP)
    VOIP facility (Skype is ok but I prefer SipGate, happy to change)
    H.264 MP4 playback (I have lots of iPod videos)
    Ability to code my own apps and deploy on device without further cost

    GPS essentials:

    Maps application
    – with free turn-by-turn directions for driving and walking
    – useable without data charges abroad by downloading maps in advance
    – with points of interest (pubs, car parks, petrol stations etc.)
    – downloadable satellite view when required
    Tracker application
    – ability to regularly upload my position to a remote server
    – ability to remotely lock the phone and silently request phone position
    – prevents uninstallation of itself without code
    – web-based location viewer showing current location of phone
    Custom mapping application
    – ability to calibrate and view position on custom maps
    – ability to record and view tracks and waypoints
    – ability to view trip information
    – currently use SmartComGPS with OziExplorer maps but happy to change

    Other things which would be nice to have (but not deal-breakers):

    Squeezebox Server control application
    Angry Birds
    HDMI out for photo/video viewing
    At least 3.5″ screen
    On-device video/photo editing
    FM Radio
    RSS Reader
    Automatic podcast downloader
    Metal casing and scratch resistant glass
    Battery which would last more than one day
    Thousands of third-party apps available free or at low cost