Tuesday, July 21, 2009


My first ever phone generated and rendered on 3dsMax

Comparing two mobile phones which are 9 years apart is a tad too unfair, especially in the electronics industry where Moore’s Law is still the ultimate truth today. It is like comparing a VHS with Blu-Ray. However, we must not forget that the process is important as where we arrived today is a result of what we have gone through.

Nokia 3310 itself was the revolution of that time as it was one of the most successful phones ever invented with 126 million of units sold. It is considered among the most mobile and slimmest mobile devices in those days. It was 2001 when I had it as my first mobile phone to enter university. It was so popular that every 10 people you met, you were bound to find at least one owning it. I remember leaving the phone behind in public places twice and managed to get it back as nobody really wanted to steal it. They managed to call back my friends to get me to retrieve it back. It is still functioning today eventhough it is left in the drawer for many years now. One of the most solid and durable mobile phones ever designed. You just can’t get rid of it! :P

Before we even compare the Nokia 3310 with the HTC Magic, we must first compare with the most revolutionary phone of this age, the Apple iPhone. The comparison chart below showed that even after 7 years later, the Nokia 3310 is not really that bad after all!!! Of course, we are just comparing a few basic features just to make us Nokia 3310 users feel good.


The HTC Magic however can do video recording, memory card and colour display so HTC Magic > Apple iPhone > Nokia 3310. :)


Back to the main topic, it is definitely unfair to compare the Nokia 3310 with the HTC Magic. They are from different eras where many technological creations are not available yet or are not implemented onto the mobile devices during the Nokia 3310 days. For example MP3 and digital camera were already widely available but not implemented on mobile phones yet. There were no 3G, MMS, Email, video, GPRS, GPS, EDGE, WLAN, Bluetooth, USB, radio and WAP then. Accelerometers and digital compasses are not integrated into mobile devices design until only recently and there were only limited internal memory available. Therefore, we must compare apple to apple and that means looking at features which both of them possess.

First off is audio. I still recall that we only have monophonic ringtones then which we can download for free online or for a price or create ourselves. I found myself making music just to come up with the national anthem and hit songs then like Ayumi Hamasaki’s Evolution. It was really a show off then to be able to get the most updated ringtones. We were joking that we wanted to see people’s reaction when the national anthem ringtone got off ringing in public! We were expecting people to quickly react standing in attention as a show of respect and honour. As someone with music background, composing ringtones is a piece of cake and I find myself getting requests from friends and relatives to generate songs after songs. Looking back now, I should have sold my service instead! Sigh! Nowadays, we can play so many audio formats that is available that I believe there is nothing trivial anymore to get the latest songs into ringtones.

Next up is the user interface, which is the crucial element for a mobile device’s success these days, its heart and soul. The HTC Magic’s magic comes mostly from the Google Android operating system, which is one of the biggest and most important features that drives it. It is the first ever open source operating system, which makes it very attractive for everyone, especially developers and us researchers. I am looking forward to test the 3D graphics to the maximum to benefit my current research interest in mobile 3D graphics. Open source means anyone can be part of the development and that means more freedom. It is an interesting concept to test in the mobile world, which at this point of time is making everyone excited. The world is your oyster, the possibilities are endless and the sky is your limit!

It could break or make the industry but this alternative route is shaping up to perhaps another revolution. This is especially because it transcends all manufacturers and is therefore hardware independent. Like the OpenGL graphics, we can also run this operating system on almost any mobile device, across all platforms. In comparison with Nokia 3310, we were just constrained with anything they gave us which we could not change. We are pretty much stuck with what Nokia gives us, restricting us to follow their interface rigidly. The only thing you can customize is the cover.

This open source concept paths the way for the success of the Android Market, which is basically a user driven content distribution system. This is not possible with the Nokia 3310 which disallows any input or output of software. It is the best channel to connect developers to the users. You can easily bring your applications to the world, be it free or paid. It follows the trend of the successful App Store service to download from iTunes Store. One such good application is the Documents To Go, a solution to view, edit and create Microsoft Word and Excel files on Android. Microsoft Office is heavily used today in the world that having a mobile version which is interoperable is definitely very crucial.


The other important feature with the Android operating system is the user input method, especially the ability to do touch (to some extent multitouch) on screen and using the trackball. It has been made popular by the Apple iPhone but now what is important is how we go from here. Touch is more intuitive and natural, thus making it a hit interface for everyone. You are no longer being constrained by the buttons. This freedom is what makes the HTC Magic so magical!


Of course, I still appreciate some technology being integrated into the HTC Magic which has been only a dream 9 years back on the Nokia 3310. The most crucial thing is the mobility it brings to integrate some important devices and documents we carry around. It replaces the following five items / functionality which makes our lives more mobile.

(i) GPS and maps - I am pretty much constrained by the use of the GPS device in my car. Although this device can be taken out, but the battery lifespan is generally around 3 hours at best, making mobile navigation almost impossible. I don't even need to go to maps to tell you about the hassle of opening large A0 prints.


(ii) Digital camera - I do not need to bring an extra compact digital camera with me. This is crucial as sometimes you need to take photographs or even videos during an emergency or accident, as well as the ability to capture important moments in life when it appears.

(iii) Book - With a larger screen, it means that we can read on it. I no longer need to bring a physical book along with me with applications like RepliGo Reader and AcroBible Lite. I can just read on the go. This is a kindle or UMPC equivalent that reads e-books. E-book could be the next big thing after MP3 as Barnes & Noble is creating the world's largest online electronic book shop with virtual shelves holding more than 700,000 titles!



(iv) Internet - I do not need to bring my laptop around as I can connect wirelessly outdoors, even with one hand. This makes Internet surfing very easy as you can even do it with one hand in a crowded bus.


(v) Gaming - I am a Nintendo gamer since the invention of Gameboy and NES. Vintage games are still great even until today! Applications like the Kidd GBC allows me to play these games without bringing another game device out.


The Nokia 3310, no matter how mobile phones progress, will be part of the mobile phone revolution in its colourful history, just like the Apple iPhone. I should keep my Nokia 3310 as safely as my Michael Jackson Thriller vinyl record as they can become retro or vintage valuable collectors' items say 20 years from now. You may have movies coming out portraying the early 2000s with Keanu Reeves carrying not the Nokia 8110 but the Nokia 3310! It could be the coolest thing to use right then!

Trinity, can you copy?

The three corner fight! (I know there is still Windows Mobile but who give a F#*K! They suck big time and BlackBerry is for businessmen!)

The Taiwanese company, HTC, with its commitment on the Android means it sees great potential in the operating system to reach new heights to overtake iPhone’s popularity. They may not be able to entirely bring down the Finnish company, Nokia’s dominance in the mobile phone market so easily but the Android is their best bet to dethrone anybody, including the powerful Symbian. Can they finish the Finnish off? We as customers are definitely eager to see more competition as we are going to get the best deals with great features at the end of the day. My money now is on HTC to invest in Android as the best chance to become the world leader as it has a great head start and is currently the avant-garde Android dedicated phone developer. The fast availability of the upcoming model, HTC Hero, is a testament of that!

“Discover Magic with HTC Magic. www.htc.com/sea

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