Last week, Nokia invited us to play with their latest update to their Symbian OS, Symbian Belle. They also used the opportunity to introduce the first smartphones to be sold with Belle out-of-the-box as well as a demonstration of NFC on their phones and other Nokia products with NFC.
The Symbian Belle interface is snappier than its previous version, Anna. It also helps that the units themselves, the 700 and the 701, utilize 1GHz CPUs, unlike previous units which use sub-gigahertz processors. The lagging an stuttering issues on Anna are long gone on Belle. Another thing that is noticeable is that screen is much cleaner as well. To be honest, it feels very much like the Android home screen. Although this is only skin deep. Playing with Belle, you notice that does feel very Android-y feels close to Symbian Anna.
Belle also features widgets that can be enabled on the home screen by tapping and holding the screen. This enables you to switch features On and Off such as the WiFi and NFC easily.
All Anna apps on the Ovi store are supported in Belle so you still get all your apps. They should also run smoother and snappier due to the streamlined code of Belle and the upgraded hardware on the new Nokia phones.
Both the Nokia 700 and 701 include NFC or Near Field Communication. Think of NFC as really close RF ID where you essentially need to tap the device for both devices to communicate. This was demonstrated with the Nokia Play 360 speaker. The Play 360 also has a NFC chip embedded at the top. When the NFC chips of both the Play 360 and the Nokia phone are active, you just have to tap the phone on the speaker and each will recognize one another and the speaker will automatically play the music that is currently playing on the phone. Another application of NFC is the Google Wallet concept where your phone essentially becomes your digital wallet with all your financial information on it such as your credit cards.
You can just tap your Google Wallet-enabled phone on a kiosk on a store that supports Google Wallet and the transaction is automatically credited to your credit or debit card.
The Nokia 700 and 701 phones should be available around October. Unfortunately, Mike Smith, Product Manager of Nokia couldn’t give us any specifics on the price, he did say that the 700 should be between PhP15,000 to PhP20,000 while the 701 should be between PhP20,000 to PhP25,000. We’ll have to see if these prices hold up when they finally arrive.
During the event, we also spotted the Meego-powered N9. Currently being sold in Europe, it is the last Nokia phone to have the Meego OS as Nokia transitions to Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS. We got a brief hands on with the N9 and the as with most Nokia phones, the build quality is very robust and solidly built. Again, the Meego OS feels similar to Android with its look and feel, although the lock screen feels like the lock screen of Windows 8 Developers Preview. It does feel very different to the Meego OS on the Asus X101H that we played with.
We were excited to hear that the N9 will also be arriving to our shores shortly after the release of the 700 and 701. Unfortunately, there is no word on its price. On the other hand, judging from other smartphones in its category, we can expect the price of the N9 to hover around the PhP30,000 price range.
- Nokia 700
- Display: 3.2 inches
- Camera: 5 MP full focus with LED flash and HD video recording
- Dimensions: 110 x 50.7 x 9.7 mm (L x W x T)
- Weight: 96 g
- Memory: 2 GB internal memory, MicroSD memory card support up to 32 GB
- Battery: Nokia Battery BP-5Z, 1080 mAh
- Colors: Cool Grey, Silver/White, Coral Red, Peacock Blue, Purple
- Talk time: (GSM/WCDMA) Up to 7.3 h/ up to 4.7 h
- Standby time: (GSM/WCDMA) Up to 465 h/ up to 450 h
- Music playback: Up to 47 h
- Video playback: Up to 6.9 h
- Nokia 701
- Display: 3.5 inches
- Camera: 8 MP full focus with dual LED flash, front camera and HD video recording
- Dimensions: 117.3 x 56.8 x 11 mm (L x W x T)
- Weight:131 g
- Memory: 8 GB internal memory, MicroSD memory card support up to 32 GB
- Battery: Nokia Battery BL-5k, 1300 mAh
- Colors: Steel dark, Silver light, Amethyst violet, White
- Talk time: (GSM/WCDMA) Up to 17 h / up to 6.8 h
- Standby time: (GSM/WCDMA) Up to 504 h / up to 551h
- Music playback: Up to 71 h
- Video playback: Up to 8.9 h
Nokia Product Manager, Mike Smith, talks about Symbian Belle and the new 700 and 701 smartphones
Nokia Product Manager, Mike Smith, demonstrates Symbian Belle
The Nokia Play 360 speaker can also be used with non-Nokia and non-NFC enabled phones