Rants Of A Frustrated Smartphone User

Okay I’m really fed up, in fact I’ve been seriously frustrated for a while now and no matter where I turn, or what I try, to coin the Rolling Stones (AKA: Strolling Bones), ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’!

I’ve been trying hard to make it work for a long time now but really can’t keep throwing money at new systems in the hope that something will satisfy all my needs, but that is what I appear to be doing.

So I started my real smartphone journey with the wonderful N900 (I tried a Windows 6 HTC phone before that but soon reverted to an old fashioned Nokia as I found it frustrating on the whole), and ever since then, I have been trying to find something that could leave me feeling content on a similar level.

Nokia N900: Setting the standard

Nokia N900: Setting the standard

As great as the N900 was/is, the lack of support from Nokia and the now underpowered processor coupled with the fact my USB charge port developed a fault leaves this impossible as an option for me to use although I still do use it occasionally and it’s my back up tethered 3G modem if the main internet goes down.   The Maemo community were the only reason why I used the N900 as long as I did (2yrs) for my main phone and I would like to thank them greatly for that!

My follow up device the N9 was/is super, but for some reason would not pick up reception where we live (where the N900 always picked up 1-2 bars, the N9 struggled to get 1 bar), making it unfortunately also unusable unless I was travelling.

Nokia N9: Stillborn but even now still an icon

Nokia N9: Stillborn but even now still an icon

Due to a lack of reception I was forced to get a UMA enabled Android device (HTC), which aside from being able to make/receive calls, left me pretty uninspired.

Following this I tried the Symbian based Nokia E7 to fill in for the lack of physical keyboard on the N9 and also improved reception (which took me by surprise considering it’s made of aluminium vs. polycarbonate).  This was good but the lack of autofocus/macro in camera mode, the missing sd card slot and fm transmitter left me lusting after the N8.

The N8 was a keeper to some extent and had everything I needed from a hardware perspective but fell down with it’s seriously limited RAM and again the lack of ongoing software support.  I really really tried to make the N8 work for me because like the N900, I loved it so much and things like the camera and TV-out functions were simply fantastic.  The problem which I could not ignore was that the dreaded ‘crucial memory’ message started grating more and more and inevitably triggered a search for something more stable.

Nokia N8: Close but no cigar

Nokia N8: Close but no cigar

It was with some reluctance at first I decided it was time to at least to give a Lumia a chance for the benefit of remaining objective in my opinions and in vain hope that it might prove the antagonists wrong.  The Lumia 620 looked the best match for me (sd card support, replaceable battery, perfect size, reasonably priced) and on the whole it has been a very nice experience – certainly from a software POV, there is a lot of what I need and more.  The memory management is streets ahead of Symbian, the apps themselves are really well designed and the phone chugs along without batting an eyelid – perfect for someone looking for a smartphone that works as it should with minimum learning curve.  But. where all the Lumia range fall down for me though is missing features which I had grown to rely on from previous Nokia phones such as TV/HDMI out, FM transmitter, notifications center, live multi-tasking, USB otg.  On a side note, I do get the feeling that M$ are really holding Nokia back here from making not just a good phone but a great phone and it frustrates me hugely as I am left wanting more and considering other options I would never normally consider.

Lumia 620: Nice UX, but lacking in key features

Lumia 620: Nice fluid UX, but lacking in key features

So it really pains me to say this, but I have finally decided to give an Iphone a shot… I really didn’t want to but felt that maybe it could offer at least a better balance of the features I had grown to expect.   It does do TV-out but is slightly limited in that it cannot ‘mirror’ like the old Nokia phones unless jail broken.   But I cannot deny that all the apps I need are there and that is strangely a relief.   On balance, I prefer the Lumia 620 (in terms of  size and feel) and what WP8 offers, but I cannot deny that the Iphone also ‘just works’ and does its intended job very well with a few extras thrown in.   Even though the Iphone does work, it feels stagnant – the OS is seriously static and basic (read: boring) – after the magic of Maemo/MeeGo and even Symbian Belle.   I feel guilty even using the Iphone and when I do use it I don’t feel inspired at all.  Considering Apple is one of the biggest Tech companies in the world, I am gobsmacked at how little the OS has changed since conception.  One of the biggest complaints I have with the Iphone is that Apple have gone for a nice aesthetic without much consideration for ergonomics, which to me make it quite uncomfortable to use unlike the rounded Lumia 620 which sits really nicely in the hand.

iPhone 4s: Dull, static UX combined with awkward ergonomics

iPhone 4s: Dull, static UX combined with awkward ergonomics

So I guess what I am trying to say is I am very frustrated at the moment – every smartphone I have tried since my N900 became unusable has been missing some feature whether hardware or software and that’s one of the biggest reasons I am such an avid fan/follower of Jolla.

For me Jolla could be the answer to all my problems – I know I’m not very easy to please but I hope that their open methods of communication with the people who count will result in something at least close enough to match all of our needs.

Jolla: The answer to my prayers ?

Jolla: The answer to my prayers ?

So far, Jolla have proved me right and with every new piece of information we get on their developments, I feel confident in my decision to back Jolla as I have done for the past year.

The ‘other half’ leaves the hardware implementation completely open and virtually limitless and gives me confidence that my needs here can and will be satisfied.

The software implementation is also perfect for my needs and this is already publicly documented and obvious for all to see – anyone who doesn’t think Sailfish is an out-and-out awesome OS, and a perfect evolution of Maemo or MeeGo needs a reality check.  The app issues (which plagued my experiences with some of the Nokia phones) should also be less of an issue with the inbuilt Android compatibility layer and my hope is that we will get some serious commitment to make sure all the most crucial apps are accounted for on release or shortly after.

With all that said, I believe Jolla will be the first company to give us the perfect balance of features combining unlimited hardware capabilities with – likewise – a very solid software feature set.   Given how long I have been waiting for something like this to come along I cannot hope to get the new Jolla phone in my hands quick enough!

Sail On…

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  1. The N900 really was something else. It’s sometimes hard to explain to people who never used it, but it really redefined what to expect of your smartphone. I’ll always treasure mine as a raw piece of true awesomeness.

    I’m hoping Jolla can bring that back, although I’ll probably not going to be purchasing the first device, as I’m still waiting for a qwerty version.

    • The N900 was magic and definitely redefined the smartphone as we knew it. It’s just a huge shame there wasn’t any kind of continuation or a true successor.

      But I really feel that Jolla will capture at least some of this ‘magic’ and anyone who believes in Jolla should register at least with the 0 Euro option as there is no obligation should you change your mind.

      By registering your interest you are sending a message to Jolla that you believe in – at the very least their ideology – which is definitely closer to the N900 than anything else on the market, especially if we can get a QWERTY other half. :-)

  2. …fantastic analysis congratulations !!
    I also have high hopes for Jolla phone since more or less i experience the same feelings….only one thing worries me….that “other half” options indeed many are essential to live the full sailfish os experience ..which means the cost for all us users reach sky limits….!!
    for ex. you need a specific “other half” for more memory….another one for bigger battery….or maybe one with camera tweeks…..in other words maybe there is a marketing trick behind :-) …. but still i pre-ordered and i do hope that we will be happy and satisfied by the end of 2013.

  3. Any chance of a bit more ranting on behalf of a physical QWERTY à la E7, in a hopefully very soon upcoming Jolla phone??

    I know of / have heard of an ever increasing number of a v e r a g e users who find a touch only significantly lacking, for a multitude of very practical reasons. The least of which is not the lack of OS/touch input responsivness. These (with ALL due respect) may not be obivous to someone developing the phone in the age group of < 35. Or should I say under 40 but are all the more important as time goes by.

    I can relate to most of the issues brought up by the writer and counter some by pointing out what could have been acheived with the E7 with a (much) more powerful processor, and a further developed Symbian OS. (Wondering btw if Snowden's revelations have anything to do with why a non-US OS never made it across the pond…). And the obivous other alternative being the commonly available (which it wasn't) 950.

    Either way since neither of these are a reailty how about … (drumroll) Sailfish on a Nokia 1020 WITH a slide out QWERTY OR just a hugely awesome Jolla Phone w/ keypad??

    P.S. Still can't help wondering what could be done w/ symbian and who owns it now…

    • The E7 would have been great given a better processor/RAM/N8’s camera/SD card support/FM transmitter etc – the fact is Nokia left those important features out even though the latter 3 were present on the smaller N8.

      Of course we all lusted after the N950 and on a number of occasions I myself was tempted by 600Euro + handsets on Fleabay and signed petitions to try and get it publicly released.

      The point is what’s done is done – Nokia didn’t have those features on the E7 out of the box, nor did they continue Symbian development. The N950 turned into a mythical handset that was never going to be released or supported.

      Nokia have already gone on record to say they will not be releasing a QWERTY Lumia as they feel they are outmoded, which I find odd considering they still release ASHA QWERTY phones!?

      So the only people we can pin hopes on now are Jolla or the outside chance that Nokia might partner up on the Sailfish alliance and produce a follow-up to the N9 but running Jolla’s Sailfish. Either way, Jolla have my vote all the way, all day long.

  4. I know the feeling. I am on my second N900, which is planned to be in service until the Jolla device arrives. Between the two N900s I have been giving Android a chance, damn frustrating – the biggest positive was the Memonic client, which I miss quite a lot and am looking forward to be reunited with on the Jolla device.

  5. Yes the N900 rocked. Why Nokia, why??. JOLLA WE NEED A SLIDE OUT KEYBOARD TO REALLY PUT THE ICING ON THE SAILFISH CAKE. Hope ur listening…

  6. Weird, reception on my N9 has been better than almost every other ph. I’ve owned, many which are the same that you list.

    • It is weird, because it still picked up full reception everywhere else but like-for-like where I work there is a spot where I can get 1 bar or so, however, the N9 struggled more than the N900 or symbian belle devices and more often than not didn’t get any signal at all where the others were getting anywhere between 0-2 bars.

      I tried all kinds of things to get it to be more consistent as I really wanted it to work but unfortunately couldn’t find a way.

  7. N900 <3 I still use mine.

    For me it is more than just a smartphone. It is a miniature computer on your pocket, which can be used as a phone when needed.

  8. Still using my n900 bacouse there is no qwertz-linux-phone in the world.
    Without a hw-keyboard, the jollaphone is only a half usable…

  9. I also still use my N900 everyday, never could get myself to buying any Android phone, while N9 is lacking replaceable battery, SD Card slot and 64GB version was just way too expensive for my taste.

    What I’m worried about on the Jolla phone is that all this hype about Android compatibility leads to lack of support for native app development.
    Since release of the SDK, there has been NO new information around about devweloper programs. Device availability is coming close and still developers don’t know e.g. which screen resolution they should optimise their apps for.

    Android compatibility sounds nice, and it can be a help for a lot of “small” apps that would never come out on a niche OS, but first of all I want the apps and functionality working NATIVELY.
    BTW I don’t need 700 000 apps, I don’t know many apps that I would use that are not available e.g. for N9 or even N900.
    I just hope there will not be LESS native apps because it’s easier to just sell the Android apps…

  10. N9 was best phone i’ve seen. I broke mine and if it wasn’t for the Jolla coming i would have bought another but i’ve decided to put down €100 and just carry my Nexus 7 until it’s released. Iphone would be my last choice. I’d rather havea good Android device

  11. Still using my n900 since 2009. Bought n9 16gb at launch and found memory was way too small, gave it to my dad 2 weeks later. Got n9 64gb which was better, after 1 year found myself considering iphone replacement. Strange feeling, then i realised it was because the n9 was closer to iphone than it was to n900. Got the n900 out treated it to some new high capacity batteries, updated firmwater to cssu thumb flavour and been using it ever since. There is nothing close to n900!. Almost ordered new n900 on several occasions, just so i can continue if this one fails. Jolla is my only hope, qwerty is must for me, maemo ui and gadgets seem more versatily, customisable and unique, meego seems closer to ios homescreens. And above all my n900 is not a phone its really a computer! I too have preordered, but i will still keep considering a new n900…

  12. you forget the greatest nokia phone, Nokia 808 Pureview Pro!!! which is a piece of most innovative hardware in mobile technology!

  13. I am still using n900, and still I can do everything which I can do with other new and expensive devices. However since the support for n900 has been finished, I am thinking of buying a new phone. As far as I look, there are no smartphones which has an fm transmitter :)

  14. I even miss the flick switch on the side of the n900! With that, I never had to run a lock screen. Now I’m on an android monstrosity… and the unlock button is always getting hit while in my pocket. To add to that, there are several parts of the screen that bypass the lock… so I sometimes find some random app running when I pull it from my pocket.

    In short, I am in total agreement with this article. The n900 had so many little features that are no where else to be found…. and I am really hoping that the Jolla phone will fill that void in my life. It has to have a nice qwerty other-half though… I am so tired of loosing half my huge screen and having to tap it out on glass.

    • While a few were new with a contract, a lot were second hand or greatly reduced in price. Oh and a lot are sold now.

      I justify it by needing to remain objective for this blog – I don’t like it when people have opinions on something before even trying. Also, I haven’t found ‘the one’ yet which is why I keep trying something different in hope that it would have all the answers. ;-)

      • Will you also support the UEdge? Gorgeous solid metal case, sapphire screen and an OS which can be upgraded at least over the three years of promised support. Although I’m down for the 100 pre-order, I fear that the Jolla device will offer very little which is a) genuinely new, b) genuinely useful (I don’t need 10,000 game apps but having Pages, Numbers and Keynote on iOS/iCloud is v useful) and c) genuinely classy (it’s plastic and the Other Half will – correct me if I’m wrong – only ever change the appearance). I’m tempted by UEdge (especially if it converted into a keyboard once the device is connected to a screen – but that’s another story).

  15. I am still using my N900. The micro USB-connector/charger has literally disconnected from the phone circuit board (the metal plug came off with the charger connector), but I found a site that sold table chargers for the BJ-5 battery it has, so I ordered that and a replacement battery. I have to shut down the phone to switch battery, but it still keeps on rocking. :)
    For what I know about the alternates, I prefer to stay with the N900. Not long anymore to get the new Jolla-phone, then my N900 can finally retire (I hope).

  16. Pingback: N900: Resuscitated, Rejuvenated, Reborn | Latest Jolla Sailfish News