Nokia E7 Griefs Shed A Light On Some Important Symbian Glitches

Over the past 4 years and more than 40 review and trial phones that have passed  in my hands, there are barely a few experiences I can count as terrible. One of the most recent ones though occurred just a couple of weeks ago and it made me see things in a different perspective. See, my luck had it that I received a faulty Nokia E7 unit, which had software glitches from the first time I turned it on and then hardware issues as well. While this was bound to happen, as there will always be that one unit that runs away from quality control in production plants, it isn’t the problems that arose that annoyed me, but the fact that Symbian’s only way of fixing them was Restoring and starting from scratch.

Here is a recount of my adventures with the Nokia E7 and the glitches I started noticing as I went along battling it to get it to a working state.

When I first got the Nokia E7, I inserted my SIM, turned it on and set up my WiFi access point as I’d much rather use bandwidth connection over WiFi especially that there are some data intensive steps when you get a new phone.

With WiFi set as my main priority in both Destinations and Web, I couldn’t get the Ovi Store or Ovi Maps to sign me in. I eventually noticed that my operator’s data access point was set incorrectly, corrected it and tried again to no avail. It seems that although WiFi was a priority, Ovi still needed access to my data connection, but unfortunately rectifying the setting mistake after having tried to sign in just once wouldn’t work. I did a first Restore of the E7, and when it restarted, I made sure the access point was correct before trying to set up my Ovi account even once. Success!

Except that didn’t really last. I continued installing some applications and setting up my preferences, but I still felt that things weren’t really smooth. A couple of hours later, I took an image to test the EDoF camera then opened the Gallery to view it only to be greeted by a black screen, no images, no folders, nothing. Restarting the phone didn’t solve that, nor did Restore number 2. Enter Restore number 3 where I chose to Restore and erase all data.

Four hours after getting the E7 and fiddling with it to make it work, I was back to square zero. Fantastic. However, everything worked properly, and I took my time setting up the device step by step, with long pauses to let it grasp every new change.

Obviously that didn’t last either as I noticed some battery and keyboard lighting issues with my review unit. Obviously, this was the breaking point of the faulty unit and five days later, it was sent home and replaced with a new one that has been working flawlessly. Insert sigh of relief.

What pushes my buttons is that this sort of user experience is unforgivable out of the box in this day and age. And yes, this wasn’t a prototype unit but a full packaged retail unit. Two days after starting to use the E7, I hated it passionately and it wasn’t even my own money on the line. If I had purchased that unit, no matter what follow-up customer service I’d have got, I’m pretty sure I would think long before buying any Nokia device again. I realize I might have gotten the dud of the lot, however the software issues are real and opened my eyes to these Symbian issues:

  • Why does the Ovi Store access point have to be set in the Web browser? Talk about confusing noobs! And while we’re at it, why is that the case with every widget? I know the technical reason, trust me, but it’s just plain retarded for average users.
  • Why does the Ovi Account set up phase require access to my data connection when I have my SIM card inserted in the device but not when I don’t, even though in both cases it eventually ends up fetching the data via the prioritized WiFi?
  • Why does Ovi setup fail when my data access point is wrong, even though it is supposed to use WiFi as its access point?
  • Why isn’t there a proper Error message to tell me that the data connection is failing and to check my settings? It took me hours of running around the Settings to figure out that the “m” was missing from “” in my data access point setting! Yet, all Ovi Store and Ovi Maps were giving me were a spinning wheel or some cryptic failed to connect error, while I was sure it was using WiFi.
  • Why doesn’t a correction of the setting after a wrong connection make things work? Why did I need a reset and to make sure things were right before even opening my Ovi account setup once?
  • What is this problem with the Photos browser freezing on a black screen when there’s a corrupt image? I had run into this on my N8, but I eventually found the culprit and deleted it from my computer via Mass Storage. I ran into the same issue with the E7, but I didn’t have enough patience to look for the culprit so I restored and erased all data. I wonder what regular users will do when they run into this. Will they think their Symbian phone is faulty? Will they understand it might be ONE corrupt image damaging everything? Will they even think of restoring and erasing data? How many will have the intelligence to go look for that corrupt image and delete it via mass storage from their computer (because the built-in file manager will tell you it can’t be deleted)?

Now, Symbian might be moving into an End-Of-Life phase, as Nokia switches to Windows Phone, but they still project to sell 150 Million Symbian units. Do they plan on achieving that while just making Symbian more beautiful, or do they plan on fixing some of these brainless issues to ensure that those 150 Million customers have a decent experience if something goes wrong?