Nokia's S60 Touch Browser Needs Too Many Touches

The Palm Pre, iPhone, and Android browsers were designed specifically for touchscreen phones. In contrast, the S60 browser that Nokia's touchscreen phones use goes back to an older S60 interface that did not focus on touchscreen use. This fact may explain some of the S60 browser's lingering limitations.

Nokia's Series 60 is open-source user-interface software that runs on the Symbian smart phone operating system from Symbian. The S60 browser lets you to set up a preferred home page, similar to the way desktop browsers do; but this arrangement requires you to take additional steps before you can start browsing. To enter an address, you must press the center Go button and then enter the URL; since the URL you typed will appear overlaid on the home page, you'll have to press Go To to navigate to your desired page. The page-loading progress bar appears at the top of the screen, along with a notation about the amount of data being used while the page is loading.

Left to right: 1. The S60 touch browser’s home page. 2. The browser initially displays only corners of Web pages, unless the site you are visiting has a mobile-optimized version. 3. The options button with full-screen switching and keyword search. 4. The overview mode with the red rectangle as the selected zooming area.
Two rows of persistent buttons occupy the bottom of the browser. The first row constitutes a contextual menu with options for bookmarks, a direct link to your homepage, keyword search (as with Android), and page reloading, among others. The plus sign button at the right lets you zoom in or out on the page. The second row has two buttons: an advanced options button for functions such as saving images or privacy settings, and a “Back” button. A full-screen mode can be enabled, which hides these two rows of buttons.

Unlike the iPhone, Palm Pre, and Android browsers, the Nokia S60 browser doesn't automatically resize a loaded page to fit the width of the screen (either in portrait mode or in landscape mode). Instead, it presents you with a full-resolution shot of the upper left corner of the page you just loaded. To view the whole page fitted to the screen's width, you have to go to the options menu and press Overview. From there, you use a red rectangle on the screen to select the area of the page that you want to zoom in on.

To switch between open browser windows/tabs, you press the option button and then select the 'Switch Window' function. Opening a new tab on an S60 browser isn't as easy as on an iPhone, Palm Pre, or Android device; usually, Web sites that automatically open in another window trigger this command.

Saving an image with a Nokia S60 browser can be tedious. First you have to select 'Options', 'Display Options', 'View Images'; then the page will display a list of the images (with thumbnails). After you select the image that you want to save, a larger preview appears and you must press 'Options' (in the bottom left of the screen), 'Save', 'Select phone or memory card', and 'OK'. Pressing 'Back' three times will take you back to the page. In comparison, on an iPhone you simply tap and hold an image, and then press 'Save Image'.

Despite its clumsiness, the Nokia S60 touch browser offers (limited) Adobe Flash support. And the browser can integrate with RSS feeds, a feature unavailable on iPhone, Palm Pre, and Android browsers except through third-party applications.­­­

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