Monday, July 16, 2007

The Nokia N95 and ultra convergence

Ultra convergence, as exemplified in the Nokia N95, is a topic I've commented on in the past, and not always in a positive way. Read on for some thoughts on the recent v12 firmware upgrade and a link to a very relevant essay...

The story so far: the Nokia N95 gets released, with v10 firmware and, while everyone applauds the sheer wonderfulness of the hardware, there are problems. The battery life is very disappointing, there are a number of serious camera bugs, GPS lock took an eternity, the limited RAM impinges on almost everything you try and do, from zooming into an image to using Web, I could go on.

The result was that I used the N95 for a short while and then got frustrated, switching to a less complicated smartphone, the E70 (which itself has had a bit of a chequered firmware history, but that's another story!)

Ah. A month later, v11 firmware appears on Nokia Software Updater and I upgraded in and instant and tried using it day-to-day. Not bad, RAM use seemed better, crashes were less frequent, but the GPS was still very slow and some camera bugs remained. The N95 got shelved once again, while I played with the E90 (something of a Nseries to Eseries theme seems to be developing here....)

Another month goes by and v12 appears. With Assisted GPS, with the N95 using a data connection to bring down the time taken to find the satellites, to great success. And even RAM usage seems a lot better, with terrific image zooming and Web use with almost no memory limits. And the camera 'sharpness' bug was finally fixed, hoorah.

Unfortunately, new bugs have crept in. There's now a hugely annoying missing-keypress bug, in which one in every couple of dozen keypresses gets err... 'missed' by the OS. And doing 'Search by category' inside Nokia Maps causes the phone to restart. Just as bad, I was using the camera last night to take some video at my daughter's school open day and, ten minutes after finishing shooting, the N95 was still very warm, symptomatic of some software process inside the device that's still running flat out, with the battery seemingly having gone from full to one bar inside half an hour, I've seen this sort of behaviour before on my old N93. Removing and reinserting the battery seemed to do the trick, with the phone obviously now returning to normal temperature and even showing three bars of battery left now that the rogue processor load wasn't present.

So, reluctantly, for the third time I've had to set the N95 aside, yet again for an Eseries device(!), this time the E61i.

Which is the one I picked in this week's hardware consensus article, if only because it's a one piece design that's virtually bulletproof and none of its features are so cutting edge (read N95-alike) that they're still immature.

You'll remember that I bemoaned the complexity of modern smartphones (and yes, even the new iPhone reportedly crashes quite a bit) in 'The way of the modern world', six months ago, in which I tried to rationalise the way that modern devices are now so complex that they can't be expected to work perfectly 100% of the time. Although at the time I was referring to the N93 as my main example, the same essay holds true today for the Nokia N95.

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