The changing face of Symbian - 2009's big contenders

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If you like touchscreen phones, you should be excited; the two biggest phone makers have announced not one, not two, but THREE mobile phones: the svelte Nokia 5800, the powerful Nokia N97, and from Sweden, the awesome Sony Ericsson Idou.


Nokia's early attempts at a touchscreen phone


Many people are under the incorrect impression that the Nokia 5800 is the first touchscreen phone to wear the Nokia label. It isn't. Quite the opposite, in fact, there have been several touch-based phones to wear the Nokia brand. Starting at the 7700, the world has seen a few Nokia mobile phones that are controlled by you prodding and poking the screen.


They all had reasonably big (for their time) screens, but unfortunately, they shared something else: they were irredeemably awful. Only one of those mobile phones, the 6708, showed a modicum potential, but that was made solely to be sold in China, and thus, it wasn't meant for us in these sceptred isles. The mobile phones WE got were, and I use this phrase with much feeling, total, and complete toss.


However, those unpleasant recollections have all been removed by the debut of a pair of new Nokia mobile phones, both of which have touch-sensitive displays, and both of which are so much more alluring...


Nokia 5800 - music and video


The first phone up is a totally new member of Nokia's Xpress family of music mobile phones, the stunning Nokia 5800. This phone is very obviously made for music and video; you can tell by the separate XpressMusic touch-key that brings up a list of links to music, videos, the web, and more. Then, of course, the Nokia 5800 has a 3.2 inch touch-sensitive display, to actually play with those different media content.


Basically, the Nokia 5800 was designed to be a teeny portable jukebox and movie player, and as music phones go, this is just about the prettiest. The Nokia 5800 has also got a 3 megapixel camera, HSDPA data connection and GPS, making it a wonderful all-rounder, in addition to being a superb media box. Oh, and it has a strap to fasten on a fake guitar plectrum. That's pretty cool, that. Despite all those features, the Nokia 5800 is very definitely a mid-range device; it's not, nor was it ever meant to be, a full-on top-end monster. That position goes to a separate device...


Nokia N97 - touch and type


With the Nokia 5800 all set to deliver touch-based mobile phones to the mid-range market, that opens up a massive gap at the very top-end of the product range; well, there IS a touchscreen mobile phone on its way to fill that gap: the utterly awesome Nokia N97. This takes the same Symbian S60 Touch operating system and packages it inside the body of a proper, full-on smartphone. So it has a massive, 3.5 inch screen, a kick out QWERTY keyboard, and the camera's been upgraded to 5 megapixels.

The Nokia N97 is, as should be glaringly obvious, destined to be the new flagship Nseries mobile phone, and it really is as powerful as the rumours had us believe, with HSDPA, sat-nav, digital compass, and integrated Flash, meaning you have an internet experience that tops any other mobile phones! Put simply the Nokia N97 is simply incredible.


Sony Ericsson Idou - knocking Nokia for six?


Announced at the Mobile World Congress, the Sony Ericsson Idou takes the same Symbian OS seen in the Nokia 5800 (which is a good comparison, as both are keyboard-less), but refines it, adding a bespoke Sony Ericsson interface on top. It's much more optimised for finger control than either of the Nokias, and because of that, the Sony Ericsson Idou takes the crown in terms of usability. In terms of features, it may not have the QWERTY keyboard you get with the Nokia N97, but with a massive screen, and a much slimmer body, that's not an issue. Oh, and of course, it matches its features (except for built-in memory), but the Sony Ericsson Idou has one killer feature that beats the N97 hands down: the camera. The Idou is the first phone announced for the UK that features an enormous 12 megapixel camera. It may lack the keyboard and built-in memory of the Nokia N97, but it's still the better phone. It's so good that many are predicting it may well be the phone of the year!



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