Advertisement Upfront: when next you are tempted to say, “But So-and-So phone does the same thing as that phone does“, please resist the tempation. Until you have…

Why I May Stick with Symbian to the Very End

nokia e7


Upfront: when next you are tempted to say, “But So-and-So phone does the same thing as that phone does“, please resist the tempation. Until you have actually used a device/platform in the same way as has been described by someone, you do not know whether or not things square out. The joke might just be on you.

There has been so much noise about Android and the devices that run on that platform. Of recent, Dayo and I have been opportuned to use two Android devices intensively – the Galaxy Tab and the HTC Desire HD.


On paper and at first appearance, it didn’t seem that there was any incompetence on the part of those devices. That was until we got working with them.

Attaching Files to Email
The Galaxy Tab could not attach a 19MB PDF file in an outgoing mail. It kept responding that the file size exceeded the maximum limit.


Odd, but the Desire HD handled the same file without any issues. Why the disparity in performance in two devices running Android v2.2?


Also, with tablets being pushed as netbook replacements for some categories of users, why such a silly limitation? Also, one would have expected the Desire HD to have that limitation, if at all, and not the Tab.

Need I say that the Nokia N8 – widely maligned as “underpowered and dated” – has had no problems with email attachements of any size that we have ever thrown at it?

Copying Text in Email
We received a mail and needed to copy some portion of it for pasting elsewhere. For the life of the two of us, the Galaxy Tab offered us no such option to copy the text we needed.

While the Desire HD allowed us to copy text in the text editing section, the option did not exist in the body of forwarded mails.

In one instance, I had to pop out my Symbian-powered Nokia N8 to retrieve the mail, copy the needed section and paste into the required website, then load the website on the Desire HD to complete the editing. Duh.

Excuse me, but why should we have two super-duper Android 2.2 devices in our hands and ever need to look for something else in order to be able to copy text from a forwarded email?

Yes; Android has copy-and-paste but certainly not in the superb way in which it is integrated on Symbian or even BlackBerry. We have not had one situation in which we could not copy text on a BlackBerry device.


Till date, no mobile platform meets my mobile computing needs like Symbian does. If I wanted a superb user interface without lots nof functionality or features, I’d give my cash for a WindowsPhone device. In my opinion, it is the best mobile UI out there for now. But if I want devices that do everything that I need, the logical platform is Symbian. In this regard, iOS doesn’t cut it for me. Android does not either. While BlackBerry (at least the Torch 9800) does, the unreliable BIS from our network providers simply mean its no good either.

PS: I keep wondering; BIS is a business-centric service. Why are our networks unable to provide the kind of reliability that business users need?


It is the versatility of Symbian that will see me upgrading to the Nokia E7 as soon as it hits our shores. The 4.0-inch display and QWERTY keyboard are strong attractions for me. And I am likely to continually give my vote to Symbian till other platforms meet up in terms of versatility, or till Symbian is certified dead.

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Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi's journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.

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This Post Has 43 Comments

  1. Again, the question must be asked, “how smart is your smartphone?” Honsetly, the Galaxy Tab is just a big disappointment.

  2. Symbian is the definition of ‘SMART’ Phone. It has been around for over a dacade an yet, still gets the job done. The UI may not be best in it’s class but will be fixed with updates. I saw some screenshots during Jo Harlow’s presentation at Nokia’s China event. Symbian will always be a better ‘do it all’ option.

  3. Nice write-up.

    I have been a Symbian fan ever-since GSM was launched in Nigeria, but i recently switch to using Blackberry and now my mind is on Android(HTC to be precise). I love colorful UI, that is why am opting for an Andriod.

  4. IOS, Android, RIM all have their edge. For an all round champ for me I still give it to Nokia’s symbian.

    Now that Airtel can give me 1gb for N3,000; (would have to check that out) huh! I might just get set for my QWERTY nokia E7 like Yomi. In case you’d be interested in my neat Blackberry Bold 2, you can hola. 🙂

    The unsteady BIS service is my greatest ache! Felt like dropping the darn phone is h2o yesterday 🙁 .

    Working with the duo of QWERTY & Touchscreen would be a users delight, and I’d get to use the famous twitter client #Gravity (I love twitter, am sorry).

  5. Galaxy Tab??? I’m disappointed! Guess my view about samsung ain’t wrong at all. #TeamOvi for life

  6. Just gave up my Symbian Nokia E5 for a BB – and if you ask me am I missing my E5 – of course I do. I sincerely can’t understand why these service providers can’t provide their supposedly BIS effectively…

  7. For similar reasons and more, I am still stock with devices from two certified dead platforms(UIQ 3 and WinMo). Bottom line is they still meet my needs!!!

  8. i remember,in one ofmy posts,i said i was goin to get an N8&ovim tab.Now i am scared,not with the n8 beating the galaxy tab in d area yomi talked about.if a smart phone can beat a tablet,why buy one.i may as well just stick with an N8&my laptop.thanks yomi for bringing out such an important observation.

  9. The inability to copy / paste effectively would be a dealbreaker for me as well. Absolutely, unless there is a thirdparty software workaround.

    Also, the attachment size limitation is not encouraging. There is enough memory, so why so?

    And I am happy my increasing temptation to jump on the blackberry bandwagon has finally been killed.

    What is the point of paying for BIS if it plagued by the same unpredictability seen with our data services?

    An apt analogy to the criticism often levelled against Symbian – when compared against other flashies Oses:

    You meet individuals that are well dressed, beautifully proportioned physically. A superficially pleasant personality – generally suave.

    On closer interaction, you see the true character: lying, dishonest, unreliable, and an on…

    It takes experiencing something / someone to have ‘experience’

    Like Yomi said, first-hand experience it the best eye-opener…

  10. There goes the saying that all that glitters is not gold. I used to be a sonyericsson freak until I tried out Nokia & yours truelly I got hooked & except for blackberry I have vowed to swim & sink with Nokia Symbian.

  11. Mark – Recharge your phone with N3,000. Dial *141*712*10# to activate the Airtel Smartphone plan of 1GB that’s valid for 30 days.

  12. you guys are really discouraging bout going for an android oo…guess i should stick with my symbian oo.. Till android is mature enough and readily available for the naija market..

  13. Good analysis. What this shows is that Samsung is not a good smartphone/tablet manufacturer when compared to HTC. HTC HAS a proven experience when it comes to churning Quality Smartphones, first with windows mobile and is arguably the best Android maker. This point is actually buttressed by the latest Windows phone 7 update. Only windows phones that are manufactured by Samsung have problems! Other manufacturers do not have problems to the same degree as Samsung.

    That said, I wouldn’t be quick to dismiss Android! They are one of the best OSES out there. I also believe that the implementation of Android by OEMs have a great say in the experience. Android is an OS in it’s infancy and still improving in updates. It will also be wrong to compare version 2.2 with the latest version of Symbian ^3! If you compare version 2.3 (Gingerbread; Android’s latest) with Symbian ^3, then you’ll be justified.

    Second point I’ll love to note, is that iOS can do all those stuff mentioned on the article! Copy and paste., Copy from website and attaching a large file. I decided to do this before posting my comment. I sent multiple files  of up to 18megabyte cumulative size and it went in a jiffy. I also sent a file of 10.5 megabyte size with no probs. If I had a 19mb file on my iOS device, I would’ve done same. And perhaps without any ado.

    All in all, I kind of preferred iOS  to the Symbian Ecosystem.

  14. Well,Iam not suprised but i must thank you for more eye opener.This is more reason why we must raise up to crush the campaign to give symbian a premature death by tagging it a burning platform just because the yankees hated it for reasons best known to only them.Imagine what symbian could do if given the chance to keep upgrading just like the other OSES.

  15. Same way that Symbian meets Yomi’s needs. iOS especially 4.2 meets my need. I can do all the copy/paste and attachments Yomi was talking about. But don’t do what I do if you can’t hack your iPhone like I do. I do not have most of the apple imposed limitations cos I have been installing open source apps from the Cydia store.

    Recently I installed Android on my iPhone dual booting with iOS. I wasn’t really impressed by the OS but I didn’t rush to criticize thinking it’s because I am using it through a hack.

    My major problem is that the same touchscreen is not responsive in Android 2.2 as it is in iOS 4.2.

    Still playing with it though, despite the poor battery life when running Android.

  16. IG, a friend if mine just bought the iphone4 running iOS4.2.1 and wants me to jail break it. Could you please give me the links to necessary websites that you used? If you could mail the programs you used to, I would be most grateful.

  17. Yomi, I quite agree with you on nearly all the points in this article.

    I gave out my nokia 5800 because of samsung wave but when the fancy wore out, I realised it was a very stupid move. Had to get myself a nokia c6 as replacement. This move, I have not regretted. See, I was brought up on symbian and have been satisfied with that platform for so long. It meets almost all my needs until the Blackberry came along with its superb copy & paste and social networking intergration. Bada os doesn’t just cut it for me. I am still studying the S.E. Xperia 10i (android) which I tend to love so much. The problem with andriods is that there are no two identical phones even though they have th same OS versions. Heavy customizations from makers make phone A completely different from phone B of the same OS version. This on the long run could be an advantage or a disadvantage for this platform.

  18. Symbian, my tested and trusted Friend.

    The other day, I copied a file from the BB Curve 3G default browser and i wanted to paste it into a 3rd party Dictionary, to my amusement – i couldn’t. I was like duhhh, I use to do this on my Nokia E61i in 2007 now. Pls tell me i missed something.

    Android is cool but sometimes when things are too ‘open’ it reduces standard. I still so much love pure Android, no skin.

  19. Same way that Symbian meets Yomi’s needs. iOS especially 4.2 meets my need. I can do all the copy/paste and attachments Yomi was talking about. But don’t do what I do if you can’t hack your iPhone like I do.

    That you have to hack it to get it to do thee things that you need speaks volumes 😉

    No way!

  20. LWKMD !! Sorry o!

    When I bought the Wave, I almost gave out my Nokia 5320XM [S60v3]. After using the Wave for 2-3 days, I had to retrieve the 5320XM, and demote the Wave as my pleasure phone [browsing, games, videos & music]. Henceforth, I’ll always have a Symbian phone around me. I currently have 2, but I’m about to get a fairly-used BB so I can explore the Berry Ecosystem.

  21. @madmn, I didn’t hack it to get those functionalities, they are there by default. I hacked it to remove the sole dependence on the app store for apps. That’s what I mean by the Steve Jobs imposed limitations.

    You can see that Afewgoodmen has also been doing the same without any hacks.

    @Spacyzuma, I use redsnow to Jailbreak my iPhone. The following link may guide you

    But make sure you read carefully and also confirm that there is an unlock for your baseband before proceeding. Don’t end up turning your iPhone into a glorified iPod like Yomi once did 🙂

  22. I met the guy today and had a chance to handle the iPhone4. I wont comment on handling it, but he got someone else to jailbreak it, and has even installed some apps from Cydia’s website.

    His problem now is that the phone is locked to 3 network of the UK. It has refused to recognize his MTN microSim. Any idea on where we can unlock it in Nigeria?

  23. @spacyzuma, let him install ultrasn0w using Cydia. It should unlock the baseband and let him use any sim.

  24. I was just having this conversation with a friend the other day. I was telling him how Symbian is the best smartphone OS there is. When it comes to a small memory footprint, advanced multitasking, small data footprint, and extended battery Life. Symbian was developed in the early 90s when memory were very expensive, mobile cpus, and battery where very expensive and when the smartphone segment still a niche for few phone geeks, definitely not as mainstream as we have it today. Hence a lot of optimizations were factor into the OS with this constraint put into consideration. This long term legacy of symbian proved to be a double edge sword, there were both its strongest points and also its weakest.

    I have been using a symbian phone since 2004 around when the Nokia 3650 came out. It was the successor to the 7650 device. I remembered being blown away by the share possibility and the fact that there was an app for everything from extending the physical limitation of the device (installing an app that allowed the phone do video recording, and even play mp3 files) to Mosquito repellent apps. It was a wonder device which I used as an ebook reader, dictionary, bible, call and voice recorder, the list was just endless. I went on to use numerous symbian devices many of them adding superlatives to my 3650 experience, better camera, faster cpu, more memory etc. But symbian had a limitation. It was developed in an age when internet was not mainstream and it struggled to embrace the new Technology.

    Email experience on symbian was nothing to write home about, then u had to rely on apps like profimail for a decent email experience. same thing with the browser. opera came to the rescue. As time went on and the trend started to shift. Symbian was developed when its core users were geeks and was in essence designed with them in mind. The UI was very clucky and u always need a manual (or an experience user) around to help u understand some aspect of the os. I remembered struggling with how to get the wireless settings to go through a proxy (connecting to wireless is always a pain on symbian – don’t know if this has changed with S^3 though)after struggling I swallowed my pride and turned to google, even then it still took me a while to figure it out.

    So while the legacy of symbian allowed for an OS with a very small memory footprint, capable of advanced multitasking, and gentle on battery life. It did prevent it from embracing relatively new trends (which were non existent or were not mainstream in the formative years of symbian) like Internet, social media, touch based interactions etc

    The iPhone came and changed the game, android followed and further raised the bar, sure this OS Lack some of the strong points of symbian for the obvious reason that they were developed with the situ on ground in consideration, memory is much cheaper, Internet is mainstream, social media is the norm, and touch interaction is the trend. It was easy for this OS because they were not held back by any legacy old ways.

    Going forward the future of computing is mobile, and in that future I do not see a place for symbian. I for one the app development ecosystem makes it a pain to develop for The UI is very clunky and dated. Some of this problems could have been fixed by Qt/QML and a New UI based on them. But Nokia never had the patience or confidence to see this through. As it is now. Symbian is dead. Its was my first ever computing device. And As I move to android (which am not really a fan of) I know that nothing would ever give me the thrill I felt when I had my first symbian device.

  25. @bigbrovar

    What a brilliant analysis! This should have been an article rather than a comment.

    @Yomi, I move that this post be removed from here and be made an article with title like “Nokia – Past, Present & Future” or simply a rejoinder to the current article.

    Anyone second this motion?

  26. @Deoladoctor
    I thirdtier d motion as dis would provide an expanded view on d past, present & d future prospect of symbian.

    Of course nobody will argue d fact dt nokia takes all d glory of d past in d smartphone industry, has a large share in d present, but d future, Who Knows?

    I’ve been a symbian addict for quite sometime now, however, I wouldn’t buy into d idea of an unbalanced, prejudiced comparison like d one given above by Mr Yomi (Sir, I’m sorry 4 my choice of words). Android operates on many platforms & u can’t just pick one or two 4rm those platforms and even a phone 4rm d platform chosen & then use it as a yardstick to determine d prowess & versatility of Android. For d fact dt d htc could do d job clearly nulify dt as a limitatn of android. Dt limitatn of d galaxy tab could be a deliberate action on d part of samsung so dt they will still have something to advertise their next edition.

    In fact dis has been d home grown attitude of Nokia since d time of their phone production; they enable one function in a particular brand and disable it in another brand dt u think is superior. I could remember those days whn some of my friends used to compare some high end sony ericsson phone(then) with just any nokia they see by chance & then begin to make d hype dt sony ericsson is d best, better graphics, good camera blablabla. I used to tell them “if it is not nokia, it can never b like nokia” & dt to pick a phone out of a whole and use dt single one to estimate d prowess of d whole is d most unjustify way of comparing. Thank God, today they’ve come to realise d truth in what I was saying then.

    Just like afewgoodmen said above abt d version of android u’re comparing. Is it justified to start comparing d prowess of Samsung Galaxy S(an android phone) with dt of symbian S60 v2 like Nokia N70?

    Moreover there are only two areas of comparison here; copy and paste & email attachment of large files which were seen as not a limitatn of android but of samsung galaxy tab. D Real Comparison shld be an all embodiment including Multimedia, user interface, email, social networking, ease of interaction, messaging and some PC like capabilities and d rest known to d gurus like Yomi and afewgoodmen. I rest my case.

  27. Interesting comments, Symbian will certainly shine till death at least in the hands of symbian geeks and Andriod really needs to watch that fragmentation.
    Looks like a jailbroken iPhone with a qwerty keyboard is the best gadget money can buy.

  28. @bigbrovar that was indeed a brilliant analysis. Couldn’t have done it better.

    I support that Your write-up/comment should be immortalized as Deoladoctor suggested above. And I’d love to welcome u to mobilityNigeria! Where have you been all this while?

  29. Nice writeup. I have been in love with Nokia (symbian) since I moved from SE K600 to Nokia 6600 in 2004/05 and has never failled M??????????. I recent jumped on the bandwagon of Blackberry. Been loving it until recently when I needed to record an important call and hopps no call recording app for ? then I started missing my alltime smartphone Nokia N95. Nokia (symbian) rocks.

  30. I was a Symbian loyalist for past 7 years, and Nokia still enjoys top position in Indian mobile phone market, I did not have problems with nokia until I started using Nokia 5800 express music and the N8 to which I migrated later, both these phones gave me enough firmware issues, a buggy OS is not what I seek from a flagship phone like N8. On ease of use for sharing stuff, using 3G, availability of apps Nokia N8 stands way behind from the Samsung Galaxy SII I own now. Browser speed, stability with flash is where N8 suffered in my opinion. I relate this experience because i had to download an urgent file from my email to send it again to my office id from N8 because my office email id does not receive email forwards from external id’s. I struggled badly to upload it back through the email client from phone and eventually left the effort somehow this came back as a deja vu experience to me with my Samsung Galaxy SII but i did not experience any hassles this time around.

    Nokia is not firm in scrapping Ovi services which is kinda crappy and it’s commitment to Symbian has now gone haywire with its hope now lying on Windows OS based Smartphones it intends to launch later this year or early next year.

    Symbian has its own pros but the cons are pushing it back too fast now, as an OS it needs more support from maybe a company other than Nokia to help Symbian stay afloat as an OS in the fast evolving smartphone market

  31. Having read this I believed it was very informative. I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this content together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

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