The Nokia C6-01 is the third Symbian^3-powered device we get to take a closer look at. We’ve been on and on about Nokia needing to catch up with Android and iOS. The new version of Symbian is certainly a step in the right direction.
Update, 24.08.2011: We installed Symbian Anna - check out our impressions of the new interface over here.
The Finnish software engineers finally realized that it’s a streamlined interface that people want and got rid of the whole tap-to-select-another-tap-to-confirm nonsense that made Symbian^1 so inconsistent.
Nokia C6-01 brings nothing new on the Symbian^3 scene and its UI features and looks are the same as Nokia N8 and C7. But we should do the tour again, because not everyone is interested in all the devices.
So, Symbian^3 is a definite improvement for Nokia but it’s obvious they couldn’t have gone for a complete overhaul like Microsoft. That would’ve meant losing a lot of functionality and is probably the reason why the Finns went the evolutionary, rather than the revolutionary way.
Here's a demo video of Symbian ^3 running on the Nokia C6-01.
Symbian^3 brings both visual and functionality changes. The homescreen is the most evident of those, its size now expanded to three panes worth of space. You are free to fill it up with widgets and reshuffle them as you see fit. If three panes are too much for you, you can delete the ones you don’t need.
You might notice that the homescreen panes start scrolling only after you have completed your swipe across the screen but that’s how it was designed to be and not some lag. Some of the widgets are side-scrollable and the phone waits to see if you want to use them or skip to the next screen. Nokia has plans to fix that, as we’ve heard.
Anyway, if you want immediate response you can scroll them by tapping the three dot symbol at the bottom of the screen.
The main menu structure is unchanged, retaining the hierarchical folder structure. This comes in contrast to Android, and mostly iOS, where you get a flat menu structure with all icons located on scrollable screens.
Now you are free to rearrange icons as you see fit so you might go for placing them all in the main folder and get a flat-ish menu system from Symbian^3 too. A list view mode is also available but that involves much more scrolling and that’s why we preferred to leave things in grid.
The task manager has also been changed and now shows screenshots of the running apps, instead of just icons. You also need only a single click to kill them this time.
The performance of the Symbian has also been taken up a notch with the ^3 version. The Nokia C6-01 feels snappy most of the time, with lags noticeable only when dealing with heavy apps or when there are a lot of apps running in the background.
And even though heavy multi-taskers will frown at the 256MB of RAM we didn’t get any “Out of memory” errors even when the camera and the web browser with two active tabs were running in background.
Unfortunately, the poor text input solution of Symbian^1 has been left unchanged by Symbian^3 and that’s probably our biggest grudge against the new OS (along with the web browser but we’ll come to that later).
We are talking about the virtual QWERTY, which takes you to a new screen to do your text input and gets you back when you’re done typing. That adds an extra step each time you need to do some typing. Not quite the simplicity we all want, is it?
Finally, we have to point out that Symbian^3 is less inclined to skimp on the eye-candy as opposed to its predecessors. There are icons bumping and revolving, menus being opened with a zoom in and out effects and the occasional fading in and out.
That’s again not quite up with the best, but considering that after some time too much effects become a nuisance we won’t be taking too many points away here.