Saturday, 19 June 2010

Nokia phones? I'd rather stick blunt pins into my eyelids - a purely personal perspective

This is a purely personal view, fuelled by three months of frustration and bile. I'd actually be really interested in other peoples' feedback - is it me or is it Nokia and a complete lack of customer care?

For many years I was a devoted Nokia mobile phone user. From the real bricks to the - was it a 5200? A phone which I accidentally dropped on my hardstanding as I got out of the car, watching in horror as my screen, battery & the rest all flew in different directions. And which I was able to put together after a few moments fiddling and with a huge sigh of relief. A phone that had a great battery life, that always worked - a Prince among mobile phones. I still have and use a Nokia regularly - though not quite as old a model as that. I use it with local SIMS when I'm abroad - it texts, it makes and receives calls, it's got a flashlight for all those strange twists and turns in an unknown village - what's not to love about that?

However, in the real 9 -5 world of the UK, I got seduced by Sony Ericsson. Mainly because a very trendy colleague was moving onto the very latest model and offered me her old (twelve months old) one. After about a week of struggling with a different(non-Nokia) way of doing things and a lot of manual reading I was in business! Me and my SE faced the world - together! The two of us had a number of happy years together (it's still tucked somewhere in a drawer in my study) and then I decided to modernise - to the latest (at that time) SE. Again, many happy years followed until iPhones and Smartphones hit the scene. Being by nature cheap, I went for a Chinese Smartphone - I still haven't sorted out how it works although it continues to ring regularly on my TWO sim cards. Seeing that 3 were giving away free sim cards and talking about free phone calls on Skype (I told you I was cheap) I got a free 3 PAYG simcard - which worked in my old SE but that was (the SE I mean), unfortunately, incompatible with Skype.)

Going into a 3 shop one day, with the original intention of buying a £10 PAYG top-up voucher, I made the fatal mistake of asking 'So, what sort of deals have you got on offer at the moment?' Faster than a jackdaw at a diamond ring, the salesman was IN. In fairness, I cannot blame him, it was me - he answered the questions I asked and asked me questions about text and call usage and I ended up coming out of the shop with an 18 month contract and a Nokia 5230. The contract is a good deal, I'm very happy with it and will probably take out another contract with 3 when it finishes. The 5230 is very good for texting - with a virtual QUERTY keyboard (if you want it) and makes and takes calls sucessfully. You can also use it for Skype calls - as my grown up kids live away this is GOOD. HOWEVER...... I live a busy life but am very disorganised and find it hard to keep track of appointments, meetings etc. SO, I key all my appointments into my laptop on Outlook and my old SE had an application called SE PC Suite that copied all my contacts, deadlines and appointments onto the phone so that when asked, in the middle of a meeting, if I was available on such-and-such a date, I checked my phone and could answer immediately (and accurately) that I was - or wasn't. So this was a question I asked the salesman - could I copy appointments from my PC onto the phone? Oh yes, a disk comes with the phone..... Off I trotted, happy as a pig in the proverbial.

Until that is, I started checking and discovered that the 5230 now pairs up with an application called Ovi rather than with an application called PC Suite and Ovi is all singing and dancing and trendy - for the under-tens I imagine - and is not at all interested in your Outlook appointments. By chasing around Forums and Googling like a demented gibbon I discovered that Nokia PC Suite, although meant for older Nokia models can be loaded onto the 5230 and will work successfully on it. However, as someone else out on one of the Forums complained - to get the most out of your 5230 you need both PC Suite AND Ovi, although the 5230 documentation only talks about Ovi and presents it as the replacement of PC Suite.

However, life was about to get worse - much worse. One of the selling points bigged up by Nokia for the 5230 is/was free sat-nav maps and directions for life from Ovi. I managed - not without problems - to load up a version of Ovi Maps (think that's what it's called) - one that placed me round the corner living on another street.... However, a lot of it was accurate and as I wasn't actually using it as a sat-nav I could live with that. Today I got a text from Nokia inviting me to download the latest version to increase the speed - 'faster performance and more accurate positioning'. Always a glutton for punishment I started - to eventually be told that my memory was full and I needed to clear something out and that it couldn't be installed. Funnily enough, on subsequent re-tries, I was told that the new version was already installed - and, incidentally searching for where I am, I discovered that I'd moved about a mile away (more accurate?). My originally supplied document omitted any mention of what I could do to clear memory so - off to the Forums. Here I discovered that I needed to 'clear the cache'. Another half an hour or so and I discovered a) what that meant and b) how to do it - with thanks to the members on the various forums who had contributed to this. I then got a message that the installation was 'unable to delete file'. Yes, thank you, give me a clue here - perhaps the initial of the file you're unable to delete if you don't want to be too helpful and give the complete name? No? OK - should I delete each and every file on my phone in the hope of eventually selecting the correct one? Life as a 5230 owner went steadily downhill from there with weirder and weirder messages appearing that made no sense whatsoever and the application being totally unable to contact the existing files on my 5230. It's beginning to feel like the Chinese iPhone again - and its instruction manual. I've just left it, I'm going to go into 3 next week, complain bitterly that it's 'not fit for purpose' and ask for an exchange for another make.

My overall complaint is that there is no one piece of documentation nor one Nokia-funded site (and I think this is quite important because after all they're the people who are selling this piece of rubbish and are making a nice profit out of it too) that can guide you through all the pitfalls and all the 'best practice' of getting a 5230 that actually does do what it's meant to do. Maybe it's because they sell to so many different countries? Don't know but I never had these problems with SE who, presumably are also international sellers. Could it be that like Microsoft at one stage, Nokia are beginning to believe their own publicity? Until people started moving to Apple and Linux that is. Each to their own preferences and this blog entry has been a very personal rant of frustration but I, personally, will never, ever buy another Nokia phone.


Despite my best intentions, I didn't get into a 3 shop after my recent rant. Instead, I received a message that there was a new firmware release available for the 5230 - ever the gullible, I downloaded & installed it. The phone still worked so in a moment of unwarrented optimism I wondered whether the new firmware might allow me to download & install the long promised 'sat nav for life' - NO!

Eventually, I was down in my local town last week so I went into the 3 shop & had a bit of a moan. The helpful assistant offered to try & download the application for me - he got the same result as me. He suggested that I leave it with him for an hour or two and he would look at it again, offering a worst case scenario of returning the phone for repair. Naturally, it turned out to be worst case. However, he didn't have a phone he could loan me so he suggested returning it to another 3 store where they would be able to lend me a phone. After almost an hour trailing through the backed up traffic I was seriously fed up. The phone has gone for repair - with dire warnings that if I'd dropped it or got it wet I would have voided the guarantee & would be responsible for any repair bill. They also could loan me a phone - I've used it once & am beginning to consider whether or not I actually need a mobile except when I'm abroad.

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