Ralf HallerRalf Haller February 9, 2010

My first steps with the NOKIA OVI, Maps environment

Got a new gadget. My Samsung D600 which I purely used for making voice calls got a bit aged now and I was in the market for a new phone. Having an iPodTouch for emails and surfing via WLAN I again was looking for a non-smartphone phone and had in mind something similar to my old Samsung which was one of the best phones I ever had. (light-weight, for a slider super slim fitting into a shirt pocket, long battery life, very easy to use, gorgeous color display, some basic software on board that I – admittedly – hardly used though, apart from the soccer penalty Java game).

During these smartphone times it was very very difficult to find anything even close to my beloved Samsung and I nearly decided to continue with it. But then NOKIA announced free turn-by-turn navigation and I decided to go for a NOKIA 6700 hoping to use it as a GPS and phone. Here now my first few hours of partly OK and partly frustrating experience that show how far away NOKIA is from becoming a software company and from Apple:

  • it becomes very quickly obvious that NOKIA is trying to tie in their app and music store with over the air downloads. While this is certainly in the interest of mobile operators for the end user it means long download times and higher costs. For me as I already have the iPod Touch with many great apps I won’t use the OVI store at all also due to this annoying setup. nice try guys but this is amateurish.
  • since navigation is now for free I was eager of course to try it out. After installing a bunch of software applications such as the one for synchronizing the phone with a PC (Mac is not supported – aeh!?), a SW update program and then a Map uploader program. In between things were hanging when Microsoft’s framework had to be installed. Overall I did not understand why it is not possible to simply have it all in one package. The average user will be struggling with all these software installs. So now eager to finally get it going I realized that I needed to activate the navigation service first for then it said I could try it out for 30 days. I am a bit confused now and not sure if that is indeed a trial only or a wrong info and I can use it for free as long as I wish. If I cannot I will give the phone back for sure as it would be a complete rip off…
  • Now OVI has not only apps (that I won’t use as mentioned) but also ¬†offers online file storage, Contact, Calendar, Mail and a Music store. File storage I won’t need as I will do that with my iPod Touch and a nice app, Contact I am using and sync worked well (unfortunately over the air so I will watch my bill because paying for Contact syncing is again BS and so far I have not found a way to sync with my MacBook), Calendar I won’t use but would have loved to, unfortunately it does not seem to support any other calendars right now, so entirely worthless since I for sure won’t start keeping a second calendar just for the phone, Mail I don’t need either since it only supports ovi.com mail extensions and I hate to have to joggle between different emails. The music store offers one year free music downloads, whow I thought, but then I realized only three mobile phones are supported and of course mine is not. :-)


While NOKIA is obviously trying to catch up with Apple at the current state they are hopelessly far behind them that makes it often not only frustrating but gets funny or if you are sentimental makes you feel sorry for them. The software remains a patchwork with way too many different applications that at the end don’t even do what people want to do. If you are a Mac user then you simply cannot work with a NOKIA phone properly. And even if you have a PC (which I do and used here) frustration is big. Now remember though that I only wanted a phone for making calls and a free GPS built in. Assuming the navigation is indeed for free then the phone is a high quality audio machine that works very well with a BT headset, stores a bunch of contacts even in the OVI application so does the job I wanted it to do. So while I am fine with this phone, NOKIA is in trouble and if they want to remain a significant player then they have to fully focus on end-to-end total user experience and usability.

Update: as it turns out the NOKIA 6700 has no free navigation included. Only free map downloads. NOKIA is not clearly stating this on their website and therefore one better checks exactly if your model has free spoken navigation as well or if you need to buy a 90 USD license to do that.