During its earnings call this week, Nokia officially declared that the 808 PureView would be its last Symbian-powered smartphone. This isn’t really news – when Nokia made the switch to Windows Phone, we all assumed it was the end of Symbian. However, this is the first time Nokia has actually confirmed it.
Of course, to those of us who ‘grew up’ with Symbian devices and in the Symbian enthusiast community, it was quite a nostalgic announcement. Sascha at PCMag took the opportunity to list out his top 10 Symbian phones of all time, so I figured I’d put mine together, as well. I owned or used pretty much every Symbian device after the 6620, so I’ve got a pretty good bank of experience to lean on.
1. N95-3 – the N95-3 is the 2nd best Symbian device of all time, to be honest, but its inclusion of U.S. 3G support earned it a special place in my heart. I still have mine, and though there’s a few issues with the display crystals, it still works like a champ. Sometimes, I even pop my SIM in there for a weekend of ‘good old times’.
2. N79 – this was easily one of the most underrated Nseries ever. It basically had the guts of the N95, but in an extremely small, slender, and sexy body. Nokia also released it in a couple of configurations, one of which included a Bluetooth heart rate monitor that you could pair with a special version of SportsTracker. Good lord, I loved this little phone.
3. N73 – the N73 was one of the first ‘real’ camera phones, with a 3.2 megapixel autofocus camera and a sliding back cover that would automatically launch the camera when you opened it. I searched high and low to finally find a white/mocha color combo, and that phone captured a large part of my life.
4. E90 – I was always captivated with the Communicator series, but they were never within my grasp. When I did some contract work for the S60 Ambassadors program, my boss at the time gave me an E90, and I loved it. I actually built an entire presentation on it once, when I was travelling for work and my laptop died. I ended up selling it on eBay, and I wish I’d kept it around.
5. E71 – The E71 was a tank of a phone, and nearly brought Nokia back, if it had launched in the U.S. a bit earlier. It took all the popular features of BlackBerries (which were insanely popular at the time) and made them all improved. My wife carried the E71 for a long while, and she beat the snot out of it, it still runs like a champ.
6. 6620 – Possibly one of the ugliest Symbian phones ever, this was my first. It boggled my mind that I could get email on my phone, and I could toss a movie on my phone and play it back anytime, anywhere. I was lucky enough to receive one of these as a gift a few years ago, just for old time’s sake. It was also one of the first mass-market Symbian devices in the U.S. when AT&T launched it.
7. N86 8MP – In my opinion, this was the last true Nseries device, before Nokia started launching touchscreen Symbian devices and ruined it all. Killer camera, unique dual-slider, excellent T9 keypad, and brilliant design. The N86 8P was everything that Nokia had ever promised for the Nseries lineup.
8. N82 – True story – I actually live-streamed my wedding (in 2007) with 4 N82’s, the Nokia DT-22 tripod, and a ClearWire modem and Linksys router, using the now defunct Flixwagon service. The N82 was the ultimate camera phone crammed into a small candybar form factor. The presence of an active lens cover and a full Xenon flash made the N82 replace many an owner’s point-and-shoot cameras.
9. N93/N93i – The N93/N93i were the first true camcorder phones, and came out when Nokia (and others) were still experimenting with form factors, before everything became a sheet of glass. This unique phone had a twisting display that allowed you to hold it like a traditional camcorder, and even had optical zoom – a first for cellphones. It was also the reason that the Nokia DT-22 tripod was created, which is reason enough for it to be on this list.
10. N-Gage QD – the first real gaming phone, the original N-Gage launched Nokia’s first attempt at a mobile gaming service, similar to Xbox Live. The original N-Gage had some really terrible design decisions, but the N-Gage QD solved most of those. It was also a really awesome smartphone. I used to use it in college in conjunction with an app called ControlFreak that connected to my PC running Winamp. I would slip my laptop under the couch during parties, and use the N-Gage QD as a portable DJ station. Awesome stuff for the mid-2000s (pre-iPhone).**Note: I purposefully left any touchscreen devices off this list, such as the N8 or the 808 PureView. To be completely honest, going touchscreen was probably the worst thing that ever happened to Symbian. I understand that the UI is S60 (later S^3) and the core is Symbian, and that those are different, but let’s be honest – they’re essentially the same, to most consumers. Not a single one of the touchscreen Symbian devices did a thing to move the platform forward – they either actively deteriorated the platform or they simply served as a testing ground for features that would ultimately build up other platforms (PureView).