In the beginning
First introduced in 2001, the Series 60 platform now includes just under 100 devices. The initial release of the platform included the now iconic Nokia N-Gage and a barely functional WAP browser with only basic WML scripting support. Unless your audience is in emerging economies (and you’re actually seeing evidence of traffic from the six devices in this group), supporting this browser should not be a concern. There is no formal name for many of these early browsers, so let’s call this one S60 Legacy browser 1.
|Legacy browser 1 (2003)||S60 1st Edition||6||
||176 x 208||Non-touch||N-Gage, N-Gage QD, 7650, 3650|
These are super old so no support required, but if you absolutely must, test on an N-Gage QD.
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S60 2nd Edition: The first big leap
In 2003 Nokia launched Series 60 2nd Edition, bringing to us the now classic Nokia 6600, 7610, 6630 and the N70. This group is most significant as it included the first decent, usable browser. In fact, seven years on, the Nokia 6600 and N70 still figure on the top 10 lists for web traffic in many regions. These devices haven’t officially shipped in years, but they certainly were workhorses with some lovely industrial design; so it’s no wonder they are still well in circulation.
By modern standards however, the browser on these devices was pretty basic. Support for XHTML MP was good but CSS specificity was poorly implemented making actual design for these browsers quite difficult. The native UI on these devices is surprisingly fast but they will struggle to load large web pages.
|Legacy browser 2.0 (2003)||S60 2nd Ed initial release||1||
||176 x 208||Non-touch||6600|
|Legacy browser 2.1 (2004-2005)||S60 2nd Ed FP 1, 2, 3||11||
||176 x 208||Non-touch||6620, 6670, 7610, 3230, 6260, 6680, 6682, 6630, N70, N72, N90|
These are very old devices but it’s amazing how high the circulation still is.
- In December 2009 the AdMob stats for top Asian Smartphone featured three of these devices, the N70 at number two and the 6600 at number eight and 7610 at number nine.
- According to AdMob metrics, the very same N70 was the seventh most popular phone and the fourth most popular smartphone worldwide for May 2010.
To support these devices, keep layout and design elements to a minimum.
- This is a very basic browser but if you write clean, well-structured mark-up content should remain legible even if styles fail. WAP CSS is fairly similar to early CSS for the desktop however, bear in mind that actual implementation levels will vary.
- Background colours will display when specified for headers but don’t rely on them when applied to other elements.
- Because of the small screen, you can’t do much in the way of layout, however simple floating of elements such as list items and graphics is supported.
- Expect little fine control over margins and padding within lists. On certain devices, bullets and ordered list numerals may not display as expected. Lists can be styled to display horizontally using the typical float based syntax.
- Tables render as expected however keep in mind that these screens are quite small so tables will max out at two columns.
- Expect about 9-12 lines of body copy per screen. These devices are portrait mode only and have low pixel density and colour depth. On old devices, italicized text was often created by shifting the top half of the font one pixel to the right, causing italicized text to render poorly.
- Cookies are supported all the way back to S60 2nd Edition.
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- This browser suffers from mild specificity bugs. Use well-structured, semantically relevant HTML, minimise the use of divs and be as specific as possible. The easiest fix is to use a ‘body’ specification for all styles. If this fails, over-specifying with an extra class will fix most bugs. Writing clever, modern mark-up is sadly pointless with this browser.
- There is some doctype sensitivity within this group. Tables in particular may lose their borders if the wrong doctype is used.
- With such finicky browsers, it’s not surprising that Opera Mini has gained huge market share. We have no hard data to prove this but, based on comparisons of Nokia and Opera Mini market share in countries where there is high use of lower-end devices, it’s clear that consumers know the browser is poor and are simply installing and using Opera Mini. Using Opera also reduces data costs and in effect ‘upgrades’ these devices to a modern browser so it’s a win all around. If it’s not realistic to adjust your mark-up to account for these bugs, support Opera Mini and you will support a large number of these users.
- Don't forget that these devices only support XHTML MP and WAP CSS.
Recommended test devices
- Nokia 6600, Nokia 6680, Nokia 7610, Nokia N70
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Stephanie is a designer and closet anthropologist with a passion for the many ways people interact with technology. With a diverse background, Stephanie's expertise lies in marrying design, technology and business goals to craft simple, elegant experiences. A compulsive researcher, Stephanie is always keen to discover and share insights on the mobile web and mobility trends in emerging economies.