Days in the life of S60 with a Nokia E51

So recently my sister got me a Nokia E51 (GSM Arena) for my birthday, replacing my Nokia 3110 classic. Well actually it was more of her asking me what phone I want and she gave me the money to buy it.

I’ve been eying the phone for quite a while particularly for the connectivity options (HSDPA, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi) and relatively reasonable price of B$398. Based on the comment count over at shimworld people are/were interested in this phone (I guess the focus is now on the Nokia E71 / E63. A bit over my typical device budget but I guess technology is just expensive, heh.

Most reviews online have mentioned the keypad is pretty good but I beg to differ, I’ve had issues with it, from not recognizing the next button pressed, but especially due to the placement of the backspace button. I vary the way I type on my phone, from the single handed method using my thumb to the 2 handed double thumb method. I found blind typing (I do not use dictionary) very hard, especially for words that utilize 2 letters from a single button, example food (f-o-o-d) which I would typically type by pressing 333,666,down,666. Notice I press the down button on the 4 way navigation keypad so that I can move on to typing the next ‘o’ without having to wait, but due to the placement of the backspace key, I tend to hit it, instead of the down button, leading to frustration. I’ve had to modify my typing habits by using the right button instead of the down button, but also due to the placement of the backspace key, when I do need to use it, I may end up hitting down / 2. Of course this is greatly reduced if I use to hands and if I stare at the phone thus forcing me to uni-task on typing. I think the button are cluttered around the navigation keypad and is a disadvantage for the chubby fingered like myself, you end up pressing the wrong buttons, leading to frustration. The typical complaint of the side rubber buttons (power, record, volume up and down) which are hard to press but that’s mentioned in all reviews and I knew about it but it is a concern.

The rest of my issues (so far) are with the S60 platform / Symbian OS that the E51 runs on, in comparison to my old Nokia 3110 with it’s S40 3rd Edition platform. The E51 runs S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 1 with the following firmware (as obtained by dialing *#0000#)

220.34.37
20-10-2008
RM-244
Nokia E51(14)

  • No message details for each SMS received: when I put my SIM card into the phone for some reason it did not have the DST SMS centre programmed into the SIM card or the phone couldn’t retrieve it from the SIM card. On a side not it retrieved Singapore’s M1’s SMS centre, as I used my old phone in Singapore and had to configure it as such. Anyway I thought to myself, it’s ok I’ll just go into an SMS I have received and check the message details and the SMS centre will be there. Sadly I was mistaken and I had to go into my old phone check a message there and get the details from that
  • Text functions (copy/cut/paste) not available in all text boxes/input fields: This one really surprised me and is pretty self-explanatory.*Update: 17/Dec/2008: I just realized pressing the * key brings up a menu with the copy/cut options
  • Active standby shortcuts contain a fixed number of applications: On my 3110c I could choose as many applications as I wanted to and the shortcuts could be scrolled left or right
  • No capitalise feature if in middle of word: If you want to capitalise a letter in the middle of the word and you press the case toggle button (#) it will change to all caps instead of (auto change to all caps)
  • No easy tone selection: Just say you want to change your ring tone, and in the ring tone selection it lists ALL the songs available in your memory card and all you can do is scroll up or down one at a time. That’s how the E51 does it. The 3110c had a great work around which was to use the gallery application (which was basically a file manager) and find the tone and in the menu selection there would be a “use tone as..” menu item, then you can select what type of tone to use it for, be it alarm, ring tone, etc. The E51’s file manager has no such thing and the gallery application is now a single list of all media (categorized by Images/Video/Tracks/Sound clips/etc) rather than in a folder hierarchy which makes things much harder to find.
  • Defaults to no alarm when creating meeting: I rather have an unwanted alarm go off than not having any alarm for a meeting, wouldn’t you?
  • Symbol order when pressing the 1 button is different: Why can’t it be consistent? I don’t want to know that to get an apostrophe (‘) on one phone is achieved by pressing the 1 button 5 times while on another phone it is 3 time. There should be consistency among a brand.
  • Cannot insert contact number/name into SMS message: You will have to open the contacts application copy the appropriate information, switch back to the SMS application and paste. Inefficient and troublesome

I am not sure how much of these issues are Nokia issues, S60 (and thus Nokia) issues, Symbian issues or just plain ole too-fussy-lil-me issues. Whichever way it is, they are issues that plague me once and a while and some that plague me day after day. In light to these issues I have to say the 3110c is superior to the E51 when it comes down to usability (but certainly not on functionality) on a day to day use. I have to say the E51 is too thin for taste and the 3110c has a pretty much perfect form factor and keypad, 2 things that will get me every time. Now if Nokia would make an E51 fit into a 3110c case that would be perfect!

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