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Choosing for the Nokia N97

Mobile phones

2009 is indeed without a doubt the year of the smartphone. From that viewpoint, I'm really an early adopter since I have a smartphone since 2007. In retrospect, my current Nokia N80 has been the most fun mobile device ever. It has consolidated my MP3 player, my GPS, my internet communications device, my PDA and of course my mobile. But technology moves forward. Initially, smartphones were designed with the business user in mind. But then came the iPhone; and changed all that. Big touchscreens for everyone (thank you Apple). My initial idea was to acquire a second-hand N96 device, and wait a year for Android to mature. But an idiot changed my plans, and I decided to wait for the next Nokia device, the N97.

The N97 is important : Nokia produces mobile phones for everyone, and controls 40% of the market. The N97 is their top line model, and therefore a direct competitor for the iPhone. Nokia has released the 5800 Expressmusic as their first touchscreen mobile, and it has been a smashing success. The N97 is Nokia's aim at a new N95 success story and their new flagship device. Nokia decided to continue with Symbian as the operating system for their smartphone line, with some additions for touchscreen support. They probably did this to provide a solid base and a broad range of applications for the N97. However, the result is S60v5, and has some strange and sometimes confusing behavior, like single/double tap in lists. I applaud the stability of the operating system, but I'm quite sure that the N97 will be my last Symbian powered mobile.

If you take a look at the competition, the Nokia N97 has some serious opponents. The iPhone off course, with its glorious eye candy, and many available applications. Whether you like it or not, the iPhone has become the mass standard for smartphones. Unfortunately, as with many Apple products, the hardware is pretty impressive, but the resulting functionalities are pretty limited. My new mobile must support a GPS (and I'm talking about voice guided satnav, Apple, not about a map software which pulls data from the internet), and that pretty much ruled out the iPhone.

Android is the new kid on the block, and a very interesting one. Crafted in the dungeons of Google, this open and attractive operating system is the new standard for HTC mobiles. Unfortunately, Android software still is limited (but growing with a fast pace), and it fell out the list of candidates for the same reason as Apple, because of the absence of GPS software.
The Palm Pre came late to my attention : it looks like Palm really took the good things from the iPhone and even went a step beyond that. This resulted in a gorgeous looking interface, which got quickly copied by HTC in their Sense UI interface for the Android.

In a next blog post, I'll explain my experiences of one week of playtime with the N97.

Enterprise mobile calendar

Mobile phones

Mobile people as we are, we find ourselves pushing more and more functionality to our mobile phone. Take a look at my own Nokia N80 : it is my mobile, PDA, MP3 player, PIM and GPS (and probably some stuff I forget right now). As versatile my phone is, there is still one functionality I miss in it, and that is not the little device its fault : enterprise calendar. It's very handy when you decide to go to work later, that you know what meetings are planned that day. That way, you can give the people involved a notice you won't make it, or at least will show up later.

There are plenty applications around that do this trick for you, at least if you have the chance (?) of working with Outlook at work. At our place, we're the victim of the GUI nightmare called Lotus Notes. And there seems no application that does the syncing with Symbian, and if there is one, little chance I can get it installed on my desktop at work. So I needed an extra man in the middle, and that is Google Calendar.

CalSyncS60 is a Symbian application that syncs your Google calendar automagically with your Symbian one, either by 3G or by entering the hotspot of your choice. That leaves me only with the task of getting my Lotus calendar into Google. No chance with Domino 6.5 (the export function gives very weird results), but in later releases, this should be possible. There is ATM no option left but manually entering my enterprise calendar into Google calendar (I'm not a meeting animal, so this isn't such a daunting task anyway).

Cell phone radiation levels

Mobile phones

According to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, specific absorption rate (or SAR) is "a way of measuring the quantity of radiofrequency energy that is absorbed by the body." For a phone to pass FCC certification, that phone's maximum SAR level must be less than 1.6W/kg . In Europe, the level is capped at 2W/kg while Canada allows a maximum of 1.6W/kg.
CNet has a list of the radiation level of different phones, ordered by manufacturer. My Nokia N80 has a SAR value of 0.86, which leaves it around the middle average. Best (minimum) SAR values of current phones are around 0.16 W/kg.

The evolution of mobile phones

Mobile phones

e2save features a nice flash slideshow of the evolution of mobile phones in the last 20 years, and provides a sneak peek into the future.

My Location

Mobile phones

The new version of Google Maps for Mobile phones now has primitive GPS capabilities : dubbed as My Location, GM uses cell tower identification to provide you with your approximate location information. 100% accuracy can not be guaranteed : Google ensures about a correct location with an uncertainty of 1 to 2 km, which is quite a lot.

I installed this on my Nokia N80, and it locates indeed my current position 1.6 km too far to the east. But it gives you a rough idea where you're located, and is a nice addition in the case you forgot your GPS receiver. Warning : not all phones are supported !

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