O'Reilly Hacks
oreilly.comO'Reilly NetworkSafari BookshelfConferences Sign In/My Account | View Cart   
Book List Learning Lab PDFs O'Reilly Gear Newsletters Press Room Jobs  

Buy the book!
Nokia Smartphone Hacks
By Michael Juntao Yuan
July 2005
More Info

Pick the Right Class of Nokia Phone
Nokia phones come in many shapes, sizes, and models. The Nokia Device Series provides a logical way to categorize those phones according to their features
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

In 2004, Nokia announced more than 40 new models of mobile phones to satisfy the diverse needs of the mass market. Add in the older devices that are still being supported, and you've got about 100 different models of Nokia phones currently in use by consumers. For most users, this forest of devices is confusing and difficult to navigate. Here is where a little knowledge about the Nokia device series could really help. If you are considering buying a Nokia smartphone in the near future, this hack also serves as a buyer's guide.

Figure 1. The Nokia device matrix showing different types of devices

Most Nokia devices share many common characteristics and can be grouped into several device series. The Nokia device series distinction is primarily a convenience for application developers (who need to distinguish between classes of device capabilities) rather than general consumers. Yet, as power users, knowledge about the device series helps us quickly identify the user interface (UI) style, available software, and hacking options on any Nokia device. In this book, I discuss hacks in the context of device series. For example, some hacks are applicable to only one series of devices, and others need to be applied differently on each series.

Currently, most Nokia devices are grouped into three series: Series 40, Series 60, and Series 80. You can see a complete list of devices in each series by filtering through the device series in the Forum Nokia device matrix . Now, let's look at the key characteristics of the devices in each series.


The device series information is especially useful when you need to purchase a new device. Based on your software and UI requirements, you can quickly narrow down your search to a specific series. Then you can dig into the detailed device specification via the Forum Nokia device matrix or the consumer home page for each device on the Nokia web site.

Series 40

Series 40 devices are mass-market consumer devices with hundreds of millions of users. shows several popular Series 40 devices in use today.

A typical Nokia Series 40 device features a 128 x 128 LCD display with a 12 bit color depth (4,096 colors). Some devices have 96 x 65 or 128 x 160 LCD screens and other color depths. The UI on Series 40 devices consists of a hierarchy of view-switch screens. It typically displays five lines of text, plus headers. The keypad has the traditional alphanumeric keys, a four-way scroll key, the Send/End keys, and two or three generic soft keys. The device displays images in common file formats, receives AM/FM radio station signals, records voice messages, and plays Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) polysynthetic ring tones. Device extensions such as cameras, full alphabetic keyboards, and MP3 players are available on selected Series 40 device models.


Nokia does not officially call Series 40 devices "smartphones." However, as I indicated, Series 40 devices have a lot of smartphone features. Series 40 devices are covered in this book.

The software on Series 40 devices is based on the proprietary Nokia OS. The device is shipped with native software for telephony functions (e.g., the call log), Personal Information Management (PIM—e.g., contact lists and calendar), messaging (e.g., SMS, MMS, and email), and web browsing (e.g., WAP), etc. Since the Nokia OS is not open to developers outside of Nokia, you cannot hack into the core of the phone's operating system. However, Series 40 devices do have limited programmability via their Java application environment. So, you can hack and enhance the phone with Java applications .

Figure 2. Popular Nokia Series 40 devices

Many highly successful Nokia Series 40 devices are available. The Nokia 7210 is one of the first compact color phones to support MMS and WAP browsing. The Nokia 6230 features a camera and advanced device software. The Nokia 5140 is a rugged device designed for an active lifestyle. The Nokia 6820 features a full keyboard and a camera. The Nokia 6170 is one of Nokia's first flip-open models.

Series 60

The Nokia Series 60 devices target the midrange to high end of the consumer market. shows several popular Series 60 devices.

Figure 3. Popular Nokia Series 60 devices

A Nokia Series 60 device typically has a 176 x 208 LCD screen capable of displaying 65,536 (16-bit) colors. Series 60 devices with other UI configurations (e.g., the 640 x 320 touch screen on the Nokia 7710) were starting to emerge as of early 2005. The UI of a Series 60 device is similar to that of a PDA, with icons in the grid layout and standard menus from the toolbar. Compared to a standard Series 40 keypad, a Series 60 keypad has several additional keys, including an Application key, a Clear key, and an Edit key. A Series 60 device plays Audio/Modem Riser (AMR) voice tones as well as other Series 40 audio formats.


The Series 60 platform is a licensable product from Nokia. It is licensed to seven other device makers.

Similar to Series 40 devices, Series 60 devices ship with native applications for making phone calls, PIM, messaging, web browsing, and more. However, a major difference between Series 40 and Series 60 devices is in the base software. Instead of the proprietary Nokia OS, Series 60 devices are based on the Symbian OS, which exposes core device functionality via the open Symbian C++ API. "Run Symbian Applications" covers how to install Symbian native applications onto your Series 60 device. In addition, Series 60 devices are programmable via the Java environment. As a result, the Series 60 devices are much more "hackable" than the Series 40 devices. Some of the hacks in this book apply only to Series 60 devices.


It is important to note that two different versions of the Symbian OS are in use today on Nokia Series 60 devices. Older devices, such as the Nokia 3650, use Symbian OS 6. Devices released after 2003, such as the Nokia 6600, use Symbian OS 7. The UIs of the two OS versions are slightly different. So, throughout the book, I sometimes differentiate between "newer" and "older" Series 60 devices.

Nokia Series 60 devices are among the best-selling smartphones in the world. The Nokia 3650 camera phone is very popular. The newer Nokia 6600/6620 camera phones feature hardware and software improvements over the Nokia 3650. The Nokia N-Gage is the first smartphone that is also a mobile game console.

O'Reilly Home | Privacy Policy

© 2007 O'Reilly Media, Inc.
Website: | Customer Service: | Book issues:

All trademarks and registered trademarks appearing on oreilly.com are the property of their respective owners.