Chapter 32 – Last Dance with Nokia

By June of 2011 I had rooted my Nexus One but was as yet unsuccessful in booting a custom ROM. My frustration with Android was at its peak — never mind hacking, basic usability was a big problem on each of my three devices running this strange new operating system. My MotoSpice was too slow and entering text on my Nexus One or S with any kind of accuracy or speed was too frustrating. Output was a revelation; web pages and videos were a joy to read and see. But input — specifically text — was becoming a deal-breaker.

If I was second-guessing my switch to Android I had no such regrets about my new carrier, Mobilicity. Yes, there was the small issue of having no signal at home, but the cheap and unlimited service that worked great everywhere else more than made up for that. And their selection of handsets couldn’t be beat — they were the only carrier in English-speaking Canada to sell the Nexus One, and the only one in North America to offer the MotoSpice. Then they trumped both, releasing a device that was both new and familiar at the same time, right when I needed it most. At a hundred and fifty bucks the Nokia E73 was a no-brainer for me.

It was all very comforting, at first. I still had the installer files for my favourite Symbian apps, plus licenses for the paid ones. I spent an evening getting everything on the phone organized into folders and shortcuts, as I had done with Nokias of days gone by. I even gained a modicum of respect for the infamous Nokia Messaging. It seemed to work a bit better on my E73 than on my N86 — the secret was to respect the low memory on the handset by loading only the last few emails from each of my two accounts of the day. Not optimal by any means, but functional at least.

I took my E73 with me to a WOM World event held on a ranch in Western Canada that summer. The journey there and back reminded me of just how dated Nokia’s PDA phone OS was. With Symbian the handset was offline by default; specific steps were required by the user to take it online. Android devices were very different; they assumed a persistent connection to not just the network, but to the Internet as well. With unlimited data available in major Canadian cities, guess which one was more useful?

It had become all too clear that there would be no future for Nokia and I. Their new CEO — Stephen Elop, a Canadian of all things (!) — had announced earlier in the year that future high-end devices would run Windows. I had stopped using Windows long ago; for me it was Linux or nothing. Nokia did have Maemo, a Linux-based tablet OS that eventually made its way onto phones. I had trialled the Maemo-powered N900 the previous spring and quite liked it. But its successor, the MeeGo-powered N9, was never widely available and pretty much doomed from the get-go.

I brought both my E73 and N86 along with me on a Kenyan safari that autumn, where granular control over network charges and a local SIM card served me well. When I got home I retired both and moved on to Android full time.