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Understanding the Different Symbian OS Versions

written by: Karishma Sundaram•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 7/5/2011

When buying a mobile is it important to know what version of the operating system is installed on the device. This article takes you through the various versions that Symbian has progressed through, and why it a buyer needs to be savvy in this regard.

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    It is vitally important to know which operating system your mobile phone uses, and in the same vein, it is also equally important to know which version. There are manifold reasons why, like knowing which software runs on the device, or what bugs and fixes have been released. All these factors contribute significantly to good user experiences with the device and using it to its full potential.

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    The Symbian operating system has evolved over a substantial period of time, starting out initially as the Psion and then a series of EPOC releases. These precursors to the modern day operating system were usually not open phones, which meant that software could not be installed on the devices running them.

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    The Age of Symbian

    The first official Symbian OS phone was the 9210 communicator made by Nokia. These versions of the operating systems were known as the Symbian v6.x. The user interfaces that were developed at this time later evolved into the Series 60, Series 80, and others that are being used now. Version 6.0 was the first release to have Bluetooth support.

    The next installment was the v7.x, which supported the various user interfaces mentioned earlier. This release added the support for EDGE. The next release, v8.0, was relatively undistinguished, although the phone manufacturers were able to incorporate the CDMA technology into their products. Its successor, the v8.1, ushered in the era of N-series phones. N-series phones from Nokia were all equipped with Carl Zeiss optics, creating a niche all their own in the mobile market.

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    Symbian 9.x Versions

    The Symbian v9.x versions were very similar to each other, barring small improvements from release to release. The first major step in v9.0 was the introduction of application signing to Symbian phones. This step towards security was highly debated amongst the mobile phone community. These phones proved to be extremely popular, as they coincided with the emergence of mobile phones as a necessary accessory in everyday lives. Series 60 by Nokia and UIQ by Sony Ericsson became two hugely popular user interfaces.

    V9.2 was installed on most of the most popular Nokia phones, including the N95. It addressed the issues that were experienced with the v9.1. One of these issues was the tendency for the phone to hang for no apparent reason. Versions 9.3 and 9.4 upgraded some the basic elements, like better Wi-fi support and the capability to handle SQL. The speed of the phone was also improved upon, as the operating systems incorporated more effective memory management techniques.

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    Enthusiasts can expect better quality with the advent of v9.5. This version was announced in 2007, and is slated to support high definition video and mobile television easily. There are perhaps no significant improvements, as the version is retaining the numbering of its predecessors, but will nevertheless pack a punch.