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Nokia Mobile Phones and User Interface Design (19/02/2009 09:02:33 AM)

nokia63001_400The Nokia 6300 is a well featured cheap phone that boasts quite a number of features that turns this phone into a step below a smart phone. For instance, you can access the Internet using Opera Mini through a GPRS connection on a GSM network. The phone also plays MPEG4 videos at 25fps and acts as an MP3 player, so as far as usefullness goes - it is a step below a Smartphone.

While it doesn't boast GPS technology, infrared or a Microsoft / Apple operating system, it is a good lightweight and thin mobile phone that has suffered through heavy use, including multiple drops onto concrete at work and on the run. My phone is still functioning well, however the battery life is pretty ordinary (although I suppose this is in proportion to the somewhat ambitious features that Nokia has included if used continuously for a short period of time).

This is where my blog today stems from. With the battery life pretty ordinary on the Nokia 6300 as is, you would think they would pay particular attention to efficiency and power saving features of the mobile phone itself. Not true in the case of a low battery. My biggest gripe about the Nokia 6300 is the fact the phone when low appears to use more power than when it has sufficient charge in it. For instance, I would expect a device low on power to disable features and to run in low power mode (dim the screen, turn the volume down etc...), but not this Nokia. Each low battery alert begins with a white screen with grey text "Battery Low". The brightness stays on for approximately 5 seconds until it fades half way for another 10 seconds before shutting itself off. The pattern repeats itself approximately every 2 minutes until a point where it is critically low and repeats every 30 seconds to 1 minute. On top of this, a loud tone is made. Now, with Bluetooth turned on and a GPRS connection, logically I would have figured GPRS would be disabled and Bluetooth turned off. Instead, the Nokia just flattens it's battery quicker by displaying useless warning messages.

Now the interesting thing is, my Pocket PC has a low warning / critical battery feature and dims the screen. It's biggest power saving feature (and possibly one of the more annoying ones) is to disable SD / MMC Card access. This is OK, if you aren't working on a document that requires SD card access (so you can't SAVE!!!!!). If anyone has ever owned a Motorola (particularly, a RAZR V3 or KRZR K1) will know how annoying the tone is on a low battery. For those who keep their phone on all night, the loud tone that never seems to stop will appreciate why there are some nights I simply cannot get back to sleep (I'm one of those people who takes ages to sleep - and if I get up, I can spend another hour trying to get some sleep).

All in all, it seems to be a common thing. "Oh my! Battery Low! Lets alert the user by brightening the screen, playing audio every 1 minute so someone can charge me!" seems to suit the Nokia model at least. I await the day I get a Mobile Phone that lasts as long as my ancient brick Motorola CDMA phone (the one that lacked SMS sending capabilities) and has the functionality of my Nokia 6300. I'm guessing I'll never see one :).

- - Craig Mattson

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