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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Nokia Belle Refresh

Two days ago I installed Nokia Belle Refresh (aka Feature Pack 1 or FP1) onto my Nokia N8. Let's just say that I was pleasantly impressed right from the first moment the OS booted up and I started using my phone again with the new software.

The UI was more responsive than ever, feeling very fast, snappy, and all-around good. The default Belle wallpapers were applied, with 4 homescreens being active out of the box (and two more can be added). The new widgets added are a welcome adition, my favourites being the ones I can control the functionality of my phone with, like Profiles, quick buttons for Bluetooth, Silent, Offline Mode, 3G on/off, Wifi on/off, as well as the mobile data tracker. Also, the clock widget got more styles, as well as the music player widget got a smaller version, which clutters up less space.

Apart from widgets, there are more things worth mentioning about Belle FP1. First and foremost, the music player on S^3 up to Belle was lacking a basic functionality. You could search for individual tracks sorted by track name (Songs) or by Albums which were sorted via artists themselves. Downside is that you couldn't search via Artist only. Belle FP1 fixed that. You can now sort via Artist, Albums, Songs, Playlist or Genre. The equalizer functionality is still rudimentary, since we only get access to the built-in presets, but that functionality can be expanded via a small app from the Nokia Store.

Application installations went fine, without any problems encountered. All installs completed smoothly, from the Nokia Store and from my own memory card. Apps run more smoothly (at least for my eye they do), and the OS is all around better optimized.

In the changelog there's mention of a new version of the built-in browser, with added speed, functionality and features, but I don't use the built-in browser, so I won't review it. There are plenty of reviews out there that are better than mine, and contain more technical data that to some of you may or may not make sense. This review is just a quick little hands-on of my experience.

One thing to note for the N8 is, for example, the lack of features added to the Camera app, which is the N8's go-to thing. The Camera app seems the same, feels the same, and it's a shame that we didn't get manual shutter control. It would have been bliss. But maybe there's a technical or mechanical obstacle preventing us from having that.

Multitasking seems ok, given the phone specs: Blob (the Blogger client I am using), Music Player, FolderPlay, Opera Mini and Gravity all running at the same time, while the phone is connected to a Bluetooth stereo headset. The phone works fine, no sudden restarts, no low memory messages, and not so much lag (even tho there sometimes is a little).

All in all, Belle FP1 is a welcome addition, and I really hope that there will be a FP2, and that it will get released for the N8 as well. For starters, since inception, Symbian^3 came a long way, and I hope there are still improvements coming, they are welcome additions.

And yes, this review was written on the Nokia N8, with Belle FP1, with all of the above applications running, while listening to music via Bluetooth.

- David aka. Tassadar over and out.

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