The Nokia Surge is a messaging-oriented Symbian smartphone that is currently available from AT&T.
This device is one of those that can catch you by surprise — mainly because it’s not just functional, but quirky, too.
DESIGN & BUILD
The Surge is a sliding-QWERTY model based on the Symbian S60 operating system.
Despite what you might think, the 2.4-inch, 320-by-240-pixel screen isn’t the dominant feature of the device — the bevel is. Surrounding the display is a lot of shiny, fingerprint-friendly plastic. I quickly found myself coming to the realization that I would be cleaning the front very often.
Thankfully, the rest of this model is a pretty simple affair. Below the screen (or to the right of it depending on your orientation) are three function buttons, and then another set of buttons for the soft keys, call, end/power buttons and 5-way directional pad.
I already have an issue with the directional pad — its just not comfy for my fingers.
That’s not the case for the sliding QWERTY keyboard. This is one of the most spacious keyboards that I’ve used recently, and has excellent feel and support for typing fast or slow. About the only real critique that I have is the the “P” button is located above the backspace key. I never seem to hit it when I’m looking for it.
Beyond the screen and keyboard area, the rest of the design is fairly minimalistic, with a single speaker, 2.5 mm headphone jack, 2 mm Nokia power port, and a single removable battery cover.
The volume and camera buttons are located on the top/right side of the device, and offer a good feel when using the Surge in either a voice call or camera mode. I’ve not yet taken solid enough pictures to give a good analysis on this aspect, but the 2 MPx images do snap quickly.
This phone reminds me a bit of an MP3 player — or to those with some age, the time when Sony Walkman devices began to get smaller and more pocket-friendly. The design just kind of slips away until you need to type something, and then it looks cool and functional.
As mentioned before, the Surge uses Nokia’s adaptation of the Symbian operating system with the S60 user interface (v3.2; Feature Pack 2). For a device with its price point — $80 with a new contract — this is a very powerful option, and is packed with a slew of solid software.
As with most of Nokia’s Symbian-based devices, you get the usual compliment of Contacts, Calendar, and Notes. There’s also the Nokia Music player, and several utilities — similar to the Nokia E71x that is also on AT&T.
You also get the WebKit-based Nokia Web browser with Flash Lite 3 support. So essentially, you can view YouTube and other Flash-based content where other devices in this price range typically have a major problem with.
Being a carrier-led device, the Surge comes with AT&T’s software offerings. There’s a 30-day trial of AT&T Navigator, an Instant Messaging application (AIM, MSN, Yahoo), and AT&T Mobile Email for Yahoo, AOL, and Windows Live Mail.
This phone is also capable of using other third-party software, but I’ve not yet had a chance to test its compatibility with Nokia’s Ovi Store and some applications there.
It’s a fairly full device, and honestly it has more software than its target audience will use. Nevertheless, having all of these features in this size and design means that I can easily see more smartphone fans coming from similar-priced feature phones.
The Nokia Surge is a device that, at first, I wasn’t too sure about. But after a few days, it’s grown on me a bit.
The software is familiar from many other Nokia Symbian devices, but it’s also quirky. This is the kind of phone where you could easily think that it doesn’t do a lot, but it keeps surprising me — for example, easily dialing a contact by sliding out the keyboard.
Stay tuned for my full review of the Nokia Surge.