GLOBAL – We’ve got our hands on one of the latest Symbian Belle phones and the smallest smartphone in the world – the Nokia 700. We’ve loaded it up everything you’d expect to find on a smartphone and have put it through its paces. Here’s our hands on experience with Symbian Belle, with lots of screenshots thrown in for good measure.
After turning on the phone for the first time and taking a glimpse of the new Symbian Belle OS, it’s an obvious leap forward from Symbian Anna. The larger widgets are a noticeable improvement, as is the smoothness of the OS. Running our finger from left to right to change homescreens gives no lag whatsoever in its response.
Looking at the front of the screen, the top section has been thinned and all the indicators, such as battery, signal, and time all appear on the right hand side, leaving the operator name to the left. The bottom on-screen keys have done away with words and are now simple icons. Menu, telephone and options.
The menu structure is almost the same as we’d find on Symbian Anna, with its rounded-but-square icons. It’s flatter, though, with no submenus by default. You can add your own, of course, if you prefer that way of working with your phone. What has been added to Symbian Belle, though, is the search function within the menu. Press the search icon (represented by a magnifying glass) and start to type in what it is you’re looking for. This is really great if you’ve downloaded heaps of apps or games and want an easy and fast way to find them again.
We’ve been using a prototype Nokia N9 for a while now and one feature we enjoy about that phone is the swipe action. While Symbian Belle doesn’t support swipe in the same way, it does have something similar. Sort of. At the top of any page – not inside running apps, though – you can swipe your finger down from the top of the screen to open the notification menu. This gives you immediate access to the connection settings and any messages or phone calls you may have received.
We know that Symbian Belle features six homescreens, but by default there are only four in view. So we maximise these by pressing the options key on any one of the homescreens and selecting Add another homescreen, which we do twice.
We’ve populated one of the screens with the two different clock types to show different sizes and styles. Another screen gets occupied with some favourite contacts and a personal email account, resulting in an entire screen dedicated to personal life. The next screen is the same but for work colleagues and work emails.
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The new email widget has been hugely improved, from a visual and functional perspective. The email client is the same as we’ve already seen on Symbian Anna, but the widget is larger, clearer and restyled. Set in a nice white and blue frame, the emails now show with clear indications of where the email has come from, what the subject line is and when it was sent. And because it’s larger, there’s now room for three email previews, rather than the two we’ve seen before.
With six screens to choose from, there’s really no need for a single screen to actually call home. However, I do like to set one screen as the primary screen. Set up with a clock, a calendar, various shortcuts and the toggle-able WiFi and NFC widgets make up my main screen. The toggle switches are a real improvement over previous widgets. These make turning inbuilt functions on and off really fast and simple. Just press the homescreen widget and it’s done. No more navigating through phone menus.
What other screenshots would you like to see on the Symbian Belle phones? We’ll look back at all your answers and bring you more screenshots at a later date.