Nokia may be all about Windows Phone these days, but there are still a good many million people round the globe currently using a pre-WinPho Nokia smartphone and waiting patiently for their promised update to the Symbian Belle promised land.
Well, Nokia may be insisting on calling it Nokia Belle going forward, but either way the latest rumour is that the latest (and probably final) Symbian^3 evolution is coming on February 8.
That's not a great deal of consolation given that the update was originally supposed to arrive before the end of 2011, but it seems when it comes to Symbian, old habits (i.e. delays) are hard to shake.
The first hint of progress actually came last week when a Nokia tweet confirmed that new Symbian handsets were now shipping with Belle pre-installed, but that's not much use to existing owners stuck patiently waiting on their update from Anna.
Over the weekend, though, the eagle-eyed MyNokiaBlog shared news that Nokia Vietnam has let the cat out of the bag and said the update will be rolling out on February 8, and given that in the past Nokia has rolled out updates to the Far East and Europe at similar times, it suggests the wait is nearly over. If you're in the US... well, let's just say good luck.
It's become fashionable to switch off at the mere mention of the word Symbian these days (maybe that's why Nokia is dropping the name), but in truth Nokia has done a pretty good job on evolving the base Symbian^3 release that debuted with the Nokia N8 back in 2010.
In Belle it has managed to balance creating an update that's a big evolution on Symbian^3 and Symbian Anna, with making it work on every existing S^3 or Anna handset on the market. That includes the likes of the N8, the business-focused E7, the NFC-equipped C7 and Anna-based phones like the E6 and the big-screened angular oddball that is the X7 (written after having spent three months using one).
Belle is already out in the wild courtesy of the Nokia 603, 700 and 701, which launched with it on board, but with Nokia having failed to push those handsets in any meaningful way given how close they launched to the grand Lumia Windows Phone unveiling, the likes of the N8 and the NFC-equipped C7 are likely to bring far greater numbers to the updated OS.
The headline features introduced by Belle are an increase to six homescreens, the introduction of resizeable homescreen widgets for improved personalisation and deep NFC support (though of the S^3 generation, only the C7 can take advantage from the hardware side).