Nokia N8 Firmware Update Part 4


Update 1 : It took some time but it is finally here! As at 25.09.2012

Back to the original post

(Nokia Belle Refresh updates comes in 2 mode – OTA or Nokia Suite. Nokia Suite update comes in a bigger file size. and Image source: http://worldofphones.net)

It has been almost 20 months since I got hold on Nokia’s 2010-2011 flagship smartphone – the Nokia N8 and over that 20 months, the smartphone have undergone 3 major firmware updates – the last update early this year (Nokia Belle) was major and that brought it somehow closer to other current smartphone in the market.

In the same duration of time, my Nokia N8 has power problems that had to be fixed twice this year (perhaps this is not the right gadget to play HD games – it is putting a lot of strain on the power related components). And when Nokia decided to ditch their battle-hardened Symbian OS for newbie Windows Phone OS last year, we did not really anticipate further upgrades to Symbian^3 OS that powered my Nokia N8 (I was anticipating a change to Android phone instead) but then they did – with Nokia Belle update which most thought would be the last major update before Nokia moves on to Windows Phone on a larger scale (even with Accenture still handling the development & support for Symbian).

And now it seems N8 is going to get another firmware update codenamed “Nokia Belle Refresh” which I think which will close some of the gaps and bugs in the earlier Nokia Belle update (this I think would be the last OS update for Symbian powered devices before Nokia focus it’s full attention on Windows Phone powered phones).

The Nokia Belle Refresh change log from My Nokia Blog:-

  • Nokia Belle 111.040.1511
  • Browser updated to 8.3 – Full HTML5 support, Offline services
  • Nokia Maps Suite 3.09 – Use voice search for Maps & Drive, See photos on Map, Multipoint routing, Explore nearby places from Homescreen, Public transportation integrated with line information & departure times
  • Nokia Social updated to 1.5 – Automatic linking to Facebook and Twitter, New Homescreen widgets, Improved performance, Renewed app layout
  • N8 Specific imaging apps – Bi Screen, Colorize IT, PlayTo, Gallery Widget (photo wall)
  • QT4.8
  • Ovi services renamed to Nokia services
  • Improved Music Player – Refreshed “Now Playing” view, Lists are tabbed for easy access, and are swiped between
    new Artist view, Play & Pause from pull down status bar (Status only, not toggles)
  • New Widgets – Clock, analogue big, Clock, Mechanic, Clock, Text, Calendar, Agenda view, RSS Widget, Bookmark, Contact individual (social upgrades), Contact, group (group support upgrade), Music player – Medium, Weather now, Weather forecast, My location, Social widget, Facebook, Summary, Facebook, Twitter, Mobile Data Counter, Search, Email – New arrival, Gallery, Notes, Email – Detailed, Toggles (2G/3g, Offline, silent, BT, Cellular)

And apparently the update also includes a fix for flash video support (something that has irritated me for sometime now – flv files simply does not play well on N8). The update also has an all new web browser which seemed promising (but then again with the excellent Opera Mobile around, I am not sure whether this new browser will make any difference).

The existing Nokia Belle to be fair, has been impressive todate – it handles most of the multi-tasks well with a free (even with N8’s heavily watered down processing power) and well updated Ovi Maps which can be downloaded for free and without the need for any mobile data on the go and improved GUI wise, it can stand it’s own against Android powered phone. Nokia N8 already had a good design to start with (with anodised aluminium monocoque case, Gorilla Glass, AMOLED screen and yes, the 12MP camera with Carl Zeiss lens) and with Nokia Belle update, it just got better. But somehow, somewhere something was lacking with Symbian which may explains the move to Windows Phone (it’s app store was not the issue).

Tech2 reports:-

Symbian was definitely a powerful platform on its own. With the advent of other operating systems, it did lose a lot of steam, but it’s still chugging on with these updates.

One of the main problems was the limited app store, but besides that, the interface, the media and everything else was pretty promising. Symbian wasn’t too optimised though, and it did face a similar fate as Samsung’s Bada operating system.

As compared to frontrunners Google and Apple, it didn’t really impress that much and Nokia itself started looking at Windows Phone as its future premier operating system.

This latest firmware is yet to be rolled out in Malaysia so let’s keep the fingers crossed and hope that my ageing Nokia N8 does not go too outdated by the time new iPhone 5 comes out. Nokia N8 is still a damn good phone.

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Nokia N8 Firmware Update Part 3


(Countdown – 315 days to “doomsday”)

Read Part 1 here
Read Part 2 here

(Any new updates to smart phone firmware with new features, themes and UI is always welcomed. Image source)

This probably will be the “last” Symbian^3 OS update before Nokia goes all out on Windows Phone 7

I managed to update my N8 to the latest Nokia firmware – Nokia Belle yesterday but to do that, one needs the latest Nokia Suite (FOTA – firmware update over the air was not possible).

The update was about 287MB plus (some reported 311MB) and it was smooth – no major hiccups noted. However one must remember – as usual, some of the previous settings and applications will be wiped out when the phone ports over to the new firmware. You need to reinstall and maintain them again even though the update backups messages and contact details before it installs and restores them back once done (the usual full backup/wipe/restore cycle).

With Nokia Belle update, the some of the prominent changes is that there are now six home screens with live widgets in different sizes and a drop down menu for notifications.

All About Symbian reports:-

  • A major reworking of the user interface, with an emphasis on ease of use, updated design language and flatter navigation hierarchy. Specific items are detailed below.
  • Better use [a new memory management scheme] of the 256MB of RAM in all Symbian^3/Anna devices. In practice this will mean no occasional ‘Memory full’ errors and (hopefully) foolproof execution of even the largest ‘HD’ games. Applications which are running will, on the whole, stay running, whatever else you start up. Overall performance is better, in terms of UI responsiveness and multitasking.
  • Qt 4.7.4 is baked in from day one, meaning far fewer installation problems for Qt apps and faster (and more silent) installs in general.
  • Full NFC functionality (on the Nokia C7, at least, which has the necessary chip!), including: tap and share (share images, videos and contacts), tap and pair (pair Bluetooth accessories through a simple tap), tap and access (read tags to find information) and tap to play (unlock new levels on NFC-enabled games).
  • Improvements in screen real estate, with slimmer top status bar and optional (in some apps) bottom toolbar, meaning that all phones will have a larger useful display area.
  • Home screen widgets will now come in up to five different sizes (1×1, 2×1, 4×1, 2×2, 4×4) and allow a greater degree of interactivity. In addition to dragging widgets around a home screen in ‘Edit’ mode, you can now also drag from one home screen to another. Widget re-positioning when moving from portrait to landscape mode remains intelligent, with some tweaks for the new variety in widget sizes.
  • New drop-down menu, Android style, to access notifications, connectivity toggles (including a welcome one for ‘Mobile data’, which previously required an involved trip into ‘Settings’) and system status information from most places in the UI.
  • The Symbian home screen system now supports up to six pages (previously the limit was three for most phones and five for the smaller-screened E6).
  • A rewritten application launcher with default ‘flat’ structure, i.e. all applications are presented in one big scrolling grid of icons, though as I explained here, it’s easy enough to make new folders, including one called ‘trash’ (or similar), somewhere to put all the apps you don’t think you’ll even need – this significantly reduces the amount of vertical scrolling needed. There’s an option to switch the icons to alphabetic order, or to quick match/search the list, but happily your original order is also remembered so that you can switch back at any time. Newly installed applications are now marked with a red asterisk until they’ve been opened for the first time.
  • An application can be ‘added to the home screen’ from the main app menu, by long pressing its icon.
  • The bottom softkeys and (optional) bottom toolbar are replaced with a single toolbar comprising up to four icons (Back/Exit, Custom 1, Custom 2, and Menu). This, for most applications, in theory, gives the UI a flatter hierarchy, with less use of menus and with more direct interaction.
  • Improvements to the lock screen, which will now have information about missed calls, messages and emails. The lock screen also now supports a transparency effect, showing the underlying home screen wallpaper.
  • Update to Web, with numerous optimisations and easy access to multiple windows through a permanent toolbar icon. Like desktop browsers, Web keeps track of your ‘Most visited pages’ and this can be set as your ‘homepage’ if needed. A long press and drag on web page text now pops up a ‘Copy’ option, for copying text to the system clipboard.
  • Update to Music Player, with a ‘floating track list’ in the album art ‘cover flow’ view.
  • Updates to several other Symbian stalwart applications. Calendar gets an overall facelift and Notes now brings up a white (and AMOLED-unfriendly…) editing screen.
  • Update to Camera, showing the new, streamlined UI that featured in the Beta Labs N8 Camera update. Although functionality is the same, far fewer taps are needed to get to the majority of settings and functions. Note also that the ‘Close-up’ mode for the N8 video capture (i.e. with continuous auto-focus) is also included, so no need to install that as well.

Yes, Nokia Belle has 6 home screens – wow but what’s the point? Even under Symbian Anna, I only used 1 home screen (out of the available 3), so having an additional 3 under Belle does not make a big difference. I still need only 1 home screen but under Belle, it now allows me to add widgets to home screen, so it makes more sense to have more home screens – it is easy to navigate with a touch of the finger.

And one of the best things that Belle update brings is the pull down menu for notifications from any home screen. It is easier to block unwanted data connection and switch on Wi-Fi with an easy Wi-Fi widget. It is easier to manage the mobile data connection (which was a pain in the past – mobile data running without notice). Now I can completely block it and need not worry about the unnecessary high mobile internet charges.

The clock is now sports a more Android alike design and fonts are smaller and more efficient – meaning less scrolling now. I am not sure if this is part of the Belle tweak but I found photos takes now in N8 clearer and sharper. Still playing around with the changes and widgets but one thing I am missing now is the ability to open running applications and closing them with press of a button. That feature seems missing from Belle – you need to navigate through apps menu and find the one that is running and manually close. There should be an easier way to do this in Belle.

The new Belle firmware update suppose to bring in business apps from Microsoft, including Exchange ActiveSync, Sharepoint, OneNote, PowerPoint Broadcaster and Lync but I have not checked on these yet (FAQ states that it will be available in the next few weeks). Under previous firmware Anna, one glaring flaw that I noticed was the shorter duration of battery – a minor update later seemed to have addressed this. Under Belle, I hope power management remains efficient but that needs some closing monitoring for the next few days.

For now, I am quite satisfied with Belle – it addressed some of the shortcomings in Anna and somehow brings N8 in par with some of the latest smart phones in the market. Of course, with any major update of any firmware, things are not so perfect – there are users reports on the net that may warrant Nokia to release further tweaks to Belle (and I hope this get done soon). In the meantime, checkout Belle FAQ for some clarifications on Belle update.

P.s. the revamped Nokia Tune in Belle – aka Nokia Tune Dubstep Edition is damn cool!

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Nokia N8 Firmware Update


Nokia N8 rocks but updates has been rather slow in Malaysia

(Software updates are essential for smooth running of the hardware and improve user experience. Image source here)

PR1.1 firmware has been deployed in other regions since January 2011 but only yesterday I was able to update the firmware from PR1.0 to PR1.1 (my previous attempts shows message “no update available” when rest of the world was already playing with PR1.1). Update was fast and done without hiccups.

Read here for the detailed change log for PR1.1 but the one that would be useful for me are:-

  • Quickoffice 6.4.166, with free editing licence on the N8, and improved zooming functions
  • Dialler now works in landscape mode

Can’t wait for next firmware scheduled this year – PR2.0

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Playing with Nokia N8