Rediscovering Symbian

My Android phone died on me last week.

More accurately, it has been randomly deciding that the battery must be discharged by now and turning itself off. Having played around with the settings a bit, and even resorting to a factory reset, I have come to conclusion that the problem is probably a faulty battery.

Since I have a new phone on order, I am not particularly inclined to rush out and replace the battery for the current phone. So, as a stopgap, I have dug out my old Nokia N72.

Not having used a Symbian phone for a while, it took me a few moments to find where everything was but it was surprisingly easy to get used to the interface again. Part of this may be related to the that I moved some of the applications around to better fit my quirks when I was last using this phone. Configurability is good as good, though, and it’s also rather nice to find that I have a file manager by default rather than having to go and look for one.

The form-factor has also proved to be remarkably resilient. The N72 is a candy-bar phone with a sliding cover to protect the camera. Four years ago, this cover struck me as being a bit flimsy but, compared to the not-quite-tablet experience that the typical Android phone gives you, the N72 does feel remarkably well constructed. It’s not heavy, but it is solid, compact and lets you know that this is a phone that can take a bit of a battering without too much trouble.

And then there’s the battery life. I have been playing around with this phone for the best part of a week and am still nowhere near needing to plug it back into a charger. Not only is it quite relaxing to not have to be constantly monitoring the battery status but this also brings home just how much of a resource hog Android can be.

I have no plans to permanently abandon Android, but I will certainly be keeping this phone around in case of emergency. Having a phone that you can charge up after completely ignoring it for almost half a decade, and rely on it just working is really rather reassuring.

In their time, Nokia made some very good phones. Symbian is not perfect but I can’t help but feel that if the company’s management had put more resources into developing phones and less effort into Dilbertesque organisational silliness the smartphone landscape today would be both very different and a lot healthier.