The global release of Nokia Belle (previously referred to as Symbian Belle) began yesterday. Unlike Symbian Anna, it looks like the Belle update will only be available via Nokia Suite. Make sure you have the latest version before starting updating. The update is available for the Nokia N8, E7, C7, C6-01, E6 and X7. Nokia provides a tool on their website here for checking whether the update is available in your region. Currently, all the relevant phones and product codes in South Africa are listed as either “Waiting for Approval” or “Software Under Creation” (see below).

I did see various updates available via Nokia Suite yesterday, but didn’t get time to attempt updating. Nokia South Africa is still saying they are “still working with local operators to get exact timings for the update”. However, I have seen some people in South Africa bragging on Twitter that they have the update, so I’ll have to check it out later.

Have you got Belle yet? If so, which network are you on? What are your impressions? Was the hype worth it?

Edit: I successfully updated my MTN prepaid N8 today.

The Nokia Lumia 800 has been launched in South Africa. From 26th January, the phone is available at Vodacom World, with the first 200 customers getting the phone on a Business Call contract (R279 per month) getting a 4GB XBox 360 thrown in to sweeten the deal. I’m not sure how widespread availability is just yet in other parts of the country, but you should be able to get your hands on one pretty soon no matter where in South Africa you are.

Nokia have since stated that the Lumia 800 will be available from 7th February from Vodacom.

For more, check out Nokia South Africa’s blog or www.nokia.co.za

Nokia Belle will finally be making it’s long-awaited fashionably late entrance for owners of formerly Symbian^3 devices (N8, E7, C7, C6-01, etc.) next week. Nokia posted the news on its official Twitter account yesterday (see the tweet for yourself). Nokia have previously hinted that the roll-out will be less stretched out than was the case with Anna, so let’s hope that turns out to be true. Nokia recently suggested that Belle would only be available in February (after originally targeting December last year). Apparently the original release was delayed due to bugs that couldn’t be corrected in time.

Update: Oops…turns out this was a mistake (see below):


Belle update

Nokia Suite showing a Belle update available

Interestingly, my Nokia Suite suggests the Belle update is already available (see above), although I suspect this message is somewhat premature. About two weeks ago I got a message on my N8 saying that a firmware update was available, but could not be done via the phone but only via Nokia Suite. I’m still not sure exactly what that update is, but I suspect it’s just another patch for Symbian Anna. I’ve been putting off doing that update, because with Belle coming, I’d rather go through the drama of a firmware update just once if I can.

Nokia confirmed this week that the Nokia Lumia 800 running Windows Phone 7.5 will be available in South Africa from February. The Lumia 710 will also be arriving “early in the second quarter”. Nokia also announced the Lumia 900 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. The Lumia 900 features a larger 4.3 inch screen and, unlike the 800 and 710, features a front-facing camera for video calls. At present, however, this phone is only available in the US market, but is expected to be more widely available later in the year.

For more details on the arrival of the Lumia phones in South Africa see here. Nokia South Africa have promised more details on pricing and availability closer to the release date. Vodacom, MTN and 8ta have already indicated that they will be selling the Lumia 800 and 710. See this article for more details.

Update: Nokia SA have since updated their official Facebook page with a count-down timer indicating Monday, 7th February 2012 as the official launch date of the Lumia 800 in South Africa.

Nokia SA's Facebook page indicating a 7th Feb launch date of the Lumia 800 in SA

Nokia announced this week that owners of Nokia N8, E7, C7, X7 and C6-01 will be able to update their phones to Symbian Belle in February 2012. New N8’s, C7’s and C6-01’s will ship with Belle as standard, starting with China and later other markets. Nokia have now decided to refer to the update as Nokia Belle, rather than Symbian Belle (they do love to rename things in Nokialand). The update was originally promised in Q4 2011, but better late than never. Indications are that the roll-out of Belle will be more rapid than the protracted Anna roll-out which stretched over a few months. The major changes that can be expected are an increase in the number of homescreens (now 6) and improved widgets that come in varying sizes.

Nokia Belle

For more, see the original article here.

N9 now also on MTN

The Nokia N9 is now also available on contract with MTN for R299 a month. I can’t find any mention of prepaid prices anywhere, so let me know if you see any MTN prepaid offers for this phone.

See here for more details.

Since the announcement of the first Nokia Windows Phones, the Lumia 710 and 800 at the Nokia World Event, there’s been no word on when we can expect it in South Africa. Based on the countries listed for the initial release (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK), it looked like we’d only be included in “other markets” slated to receive the phone in early 2012. Unfortunately, Nokia SA have confirmed that the 800 and 710 will only be available in South Africa “early 2012”.

In the mean time, it looks like the N9 is going to be marketed as Nokia’s main smartphone over the Christmas period in South Africa. Given that both the Lumia 800 and the N9 are physically almost identical, you may be struggling to make up your mind between the two. I came across an interesting website that allows you to do comparisons between various phones through a very simple interface. So if you’re too lazy to read in depth reviews comparing different phones, it does a decent job of highlighting spec differences (even if it is somewhat simplistic). Check it out here.

As pointed out there, there are still a few features missing from the Lumia 800 (and indeed the 710) that some might find most annoying. The 800 does not have a front-facing video call camera (not that 99.9% of us make video calls anyway). More annoyingly, the Lumia 800 does not feature support for USB tethering. Personally, I frequently use my N8 as a modem, so this is a bit of a deal breaker for me. The N9 also has twice as much RAM (1GB vs 512MB). Nevertheless, I haven’t seen anyone complaining that the Lumia 800 is sluggish, so it probably doesn’t matter a great deal. The Lumia phones are also currently missing NFC support (although I’m not sure what you’d use it for in South Africa just yet). Many of these limitations are because the Windows Phone OS simply doesn’t support them yet, and will no doubt get these features added in due course. Windows Phone 8, code-named Apollo, is apparently slated for release in the second half of 2012. The 800 is also not aimed quite at the top-end of the market as Nokia have left some room for a Nokia 900 to compete at the top end next year.

The Lumia 800 - coming to a store near you in 2012

The Lumia 710 has physical Windows keys and exchangeable covers