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Nokia Smartphones for Beginners

SmartphonesBy Steve Litchfield, Copyright 2006/2007, All Rights Reserved

With the new '3G' networks now common, your phone network may have provided you with an older Nokia N70 or one of the current breed of S60 3rd Edition smartphones, such as the Nokia 3250, N73, N80 or N95. All are top phones of course, but they're also quite a bit more, as I hope to explain below.

This e-book is for anyone staring at the many icons on the smartphone screen and wondering what on earth to do first. Where do you start? I'm also going to cover some things you'll want to try a bit later, when you feel more confident.

1. Smart? Who's smart?

You'll notice the title of this short e-book - so what makes your phone 'smart'? After all, many phones can take photos and play music these days. The difference is that these Nokia smartphones have something special inside, a computer processor and grown up software with the power of a small laptop.

Which means that you can do more than one thing at a time (e.g. being interrupted by a Calendar alarm while playing music while writing a text message) and that you can add extra programs to make your phone do more or less anything you want (e.g. playing games, viewing office documents).

If you're interested, the 'grown up' software inside your phone is the Symbian operating system. Think of it as like Windows on a PC, but designed from the ground up for mobile phones.

Soft keys2. Those buttons

At the bottom of almost every display on your phone, there are two words, in the bottom left and bottom right corner. For example, 'Options' and 'Exit', or 'Messaging' and 'Vodafone'. The two words correspond to the two unmarked buttons either side of your navigator key. In other words, pressing the left button goes to the function shown in the bottom left, and right goes to that shown in the bottom right, of course.

NavigatorThese two buttons' functions vary all the time, depending on which program you're in and on what you happen to be doing at the time. Together with the navigator key (which you can jog left, right, up, down and in), these two function buttons let you do almost everything you need to do on your smartphone.

If you're familiar with a PC, you'll know what a menu (of options) is. In a similar way, when you see 'Options' on your smartphone you can press the corresponding function button to bring up a menu of things you can do.

3. What's on the Menu?

Your way into most of the programs on your smartphone is the Menu key, the one with the symbol. Press it and you'll see lots of icons. Most of the program names are obvious (e.g. 'Clock', 'Camera') and you can simply move to the one you want and press the navigator in. Have a play.

Some of the icons shown represent 'folders' and opening one of these will show other programs that have been grouped together in the folder because they share a theme (e.g. 'Games' or 'Tools').

You may remember we said that one of the things that made a smartphone smart was that it could do more than one thing at a time? Press and hold the Menu button and you'll see a little strip of icons pop up, one for each of the programs currently running on your smartphone. For example, you might see the game you're in the middle of, or 'Gallery' if you've been browsing through your images or videos. Use up and down on the navigator to move the highlight up and down the list, pressing the navigator in to switch immediately to a particular running program.

4. Read the manual!

It's true that the manuals for a lot of gadgets (perhaps including your previous mobile phone) can be safely ignored and left in the box. But don't make this mistake with your Nokia smartphone. Yes, the interface is very intuitive and you'll be whizzing around in no time, but as I said above there's the power of a laptop computer inside and you'll need a little instruction if you want to get to grips with functions like checking your email and managing your contacts and calendar.

Nokia's manual is excellently laid out, with everything mentioned in just the order you might need it, so keep it handy and (for example) pledge to work through a chapter a night. Each will take 15 minutes or so to get through, trying functions as you go, but you'll easily recoup this time later on, by virtue of being more productive with your smartphone.

If, for any reason, you haven't got a manual then don't worry because it's 100% certain to be a quick download (in PDF format) from Nokia's support site.

The keypad5. Learning to type

If you've used a mobile phone for anything other than phone calls before, you'll be familiar with the 'ABC', 'DEF' keys used on your smartphone for text entry. You may not have seen 'predictive' text entry (also called 'T9') before though. When typing in a lengthy text message, you'll find that switching on your smartphone's 'dictionary' speeds things up no end.

To turn on the dictionary, press the 'Edit' key and choose 'Dictionary', then press navigator right and choose 'On'. With predictive text turned on, you simply hit each key once, picking out the one that contains the next letter you want, and the software works out what you're trying to say.

Don't stop at just the basics of common words though. If you don't want to get frustrated, it's essential to note a few other text entry basics:

  • The 'Edit' key brings up a menu that lets you 'Insert a word' (that's not in the dictionary, such as a common name)

  • The '0' key is your space bar

  • The '1' key is your apostrophe – use it for words like I'll, Steve's and there's

  • If the predictive text system shows a word that's not what you meant, press the key to switch to the next most common matching word. Once the possibilities are exhausted, the left function button changes to 'Spell', for you to spell out your desired word using multi-tap input - it'll be automatically added to the dictionary, too.

  • Press and hold to bring up a list of punctuation characters, e.g. ?, &, =

Just as on your desktop computer, it's incredibly useful to be able to copy and paste text, to save yourself having to type in the same thing more than once. To highlight text, press and hold the 'Edit' key while pressing the navigator right (or down, etc.) - when all the text required is highlighted, and keeping held down, press the left function key, which you'll see has been changed to 'Copy'. To paste this text somewhere else, position the flashing cursor and press . One of the functions on the pop-up menu is 'Paste'!

6. Pictures and Memory matters

Even if you weren't entirely sure what a smartphone was when you were buying, you'll have gathered by now that your Nokia smartphone has a camera. Not just any camera, either, its snaps are high enough resolution that you'll never need to take along a normal 35mm or digital camera ever again. Your Nokia will always be with you and its photos are excellent as long as you shoot them in reasonably bright light. You won't be able to appreciate the quality on the small screen, of course, which brings me to mention ways of getting your photos out of your smartphone.

Card into smartphoneCardBy default, your smartphone will be saving its pictures to the memory chip deep inside. This can't store a lot and it's essential to switch to saving photos onto the MMC Mobile, miniSD or microSD expansion card that comes with your phone. Open the door for the memory slot and check there's a card inserted now. OK? Now start up your Nokia smartphone's camera and press 'Options'. Press 'up' three or four times, to get to 'Settings' on the menu and press the navigator key in. Now highlight 'Image' or 'Image quality' and press the navigator again.

Make sure 'Image quality' is set to its highest (often labelled 'Print') and that (if there's a choice) that 'Image resolution' is also set to its highest value (different generations of Nokia smartphone have slightly different options here). Scroll down to 'Memory in use' and make sure it's pointing to your expansion card. Leaving this last setting as 'Phone memory' is wrong and will result in you filling up your built-in memory chip very fast.

The other huge reason for storing your high quality photos on expansion card is that you can pop this out and take it to your nearest photo booth for professional printing. Do remember to take along the little card adaptor that came with your phone, as this makes the tiny expansion card big enough to fit into the standard slot in the booth.

If and when you get round to connecting up your Nokia smartphone to your family PC, you'll find that it's easy to 'Store' all your photos on the PC's hard disk, where they can be printed on your printer or emailed to friends or posted to your family photo blog on the Internet.

On the CD that came with your smartphone is Nokia's PC Suite; you need version 6.8 or later, do make sure you check and grab the latest from Nokia's web site if necessary.

7. Clever contacts

One of your first actions with your new Nokia will be to get all your favourite contacts into it: friends, family and so on. If you had their numbers on your old SIM card in another phone, just insert this into the smartphone and go into 'Contacts' and you'll be asked whether you want these numbers copied across into your smartphone.

But – if you're reasonably good with computers and perhaps have even more details (e.g. people's addresses) in Microsoft Outlook on your PC, why not use PC Suite, mentioned in the tip above, to copy all of these over to your smartphone in one fell swoop? Just open up PC Suite window, double click on 'Synchronize' and follow the prompts.

Music playback8. Who needs an iPod?

With your Nokia smartphone, there's really no need to walk around with a Walkman or iPod. Did you know that your smartphone is capable of holding well over ten CD's worth of quality stereo music or dozens of separate podcasts? You'll need to buy a larger expansion card though. You can get a 1GB card for less than £20 these days (use a reputable vendor though, avoid eBay). You might also want a £10 USB card reader for your PC to let you copy music files onto the expansion card quickly and directly. The stereo headset supplied with your Nokia will be fine for listening to music. If a call comes in while a song's playing, you'll be able to answer it with a push on the button halfway up the hands-free headset.

Your Nokia smartphone is compatible with any MP3 files already on your hard disk. It may also work with AAC and WMA files, but this depends on lots of factors, such as whether there's any copy protection to worry about (for example, if you'd bought the files from particular online music stores) and which smartphone you own - very recent ones are more compatible with WMA (Windows Media Audio) files, such as albums you may gave 'ripped' from CD with Media Player.

How you get your music on your smartphone is also dependent on the model you own. Many recent Nokia smartphones are compatible with Windows Media Player, so you can 'Sync to mobile device' directly. Otherwise your best option is to simply copy the files directly onto your expansion card, in your card reader. Once on your card, use 'Update music library' on the menu of your smartphone's Music player.

9. Bluetooth

You may not have heard of this before, but it's worth being aware of as you'll find Bluetooth very useful whenever you come across someone else with a compatible phone or smartphone. As a new Nokia smartphone owner, friends can send contact information to you 'through the air' at distances of up to a few metres. You can also send photos and video clips backwards and forwards between handsets.

Bluetooth will also come in useful if you plan to use a wireless hands-free earpiece (for example, when driving), just follow the instructions that come with the earpiece.

10. Getting online for the first time!

If you bought your Nokia smartphone with a monthly phone contract then you may be lucky here as the built-in Settings Wizard may set your smartphone up with the right Internet settings - just fire up Web and start surfing.

For the rest of us though, note that by far the easiest way to get all the Internet settings for your network, country and device is to go to Nokia's Support web site and answer the questions - the right settings will be sent as special text messages to your smartphone and all you've got to do is choose 'Save'.

Don't fiddle around with your Nokia smartphone's various Internet 'access point' settings. Under the hood, they're more complicated than you ever need to know! If Nokia's Support site service doesn't work for you then call your network provider's help line.

Nokia Maps11. Satellite navigation and the world

One of the things that really makes your smartphone 'smart' is that it can run add-on programs. One of the most sophisticated types of add-on is navigation software, such as Nokia's free Maps service, also known as Smart2go. Using a Bluetooth-compatible GPS on your car dashboard or in your pocket, run this program on your smartphone and you'll be able to see exactly where you are, almost anywhere in the world, for free, and Smart2go will plan you a route from your current position to anywhere else.

Once you have a large expansion card inserted and are feeling confident, you might also like to investigate other programs for your smartphone, many of which are also completely free. These range from document readers to instant chat applications to addictive games. The world really is your oyster now that you own an S60 smartphone.

For a full list of freeware for your Nokia smartphone, see 3lib.ukonline.co.uk/nonagss60.htm.
For a more general catalogue of software, see www.my-symbian.com or www.allaboutsymbian.com

Now, pay attention if you have a smartphone running S60 3rd Edition. In case you're not sure, that's the Nokia E61, E70, E60, E50, N80, 3250, N73 or N93 (plus a few others). The '3rd Edition' bit is important because, partly in a huge drive to increase security and avoid problems with so-called 'malware', S60 3rd Edition and Symbian OS 9, the software inside the devices I just mentioned, have been radically upgraded and applications written for S60 2nd Edition (e.g. for the Nokia 6630, 6680 and N70) simply won't work as-is. Instead, make sure to check that you only download and install applications specifically stated as being S60 3rd Edition compatible.

Viruses? Don't worry.12. A few reassurances over security on your smartphone

As a relative newcomer to Nokia smartphones, you may be worried about 'viruses' and 'firewalls', especially with some of the scare stories thrown up by the media. Don't be. You have absolutely nothing to fear and there's absolutely no need for any security software of any kind of Symbian OS-based smartphone. In fact, if you install any 'anti-virus' or 'firewall' software, the only effect will be to slow down your device and prevent software from working at full speed.

For starters, there's no such thing as a 'virus' for S60, as there's no way for malicious software to spread invisibly from one device to another. If a malevolent program does try and contact your phone (and trust me, this is more unlikely than you winning the lottery) by Bluetooth or through an MMS message, you'll get several warnings and questions about installation. Unless it's something you were expecting, just say 'No'.

Similarly with firewall software. You'll need this on your PC or Macintosh, of course, but Symbian OS, powering your smartphone, leaves no 'ports' open for malicious software to attack. Again, don't worry.

The most likely way for your smartphone to get 'infected' is by you being silly enough to go looking for 'warez' software and unwittingly install a 'trojan', a program that's not what it claims to be. But you wouldn't be that silly... would you?

I hope this little e-book has helped you. If you would like to say thank you, please drop me an email at [email protected] and consider transferring a small amount to me by PayPal at the same address, perhaps using the button below.

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