Laymans take on Nokia E5-The final review

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Its been a while since Nokia E5-00 been in my hands as my main device and I should say that its been the second device after Nokia E72 that came close to replace my all other devices in terms of real life usages. It was hard to keep my recently bought Nokia N8 away for a while to get an unbiased review of a non-touch Nokia and I hope, now I should write my own piece about impressions of Nokia E5.

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I already wrote on the exteriors of the device and what’s inside the package in my last post and there been a heavy discussion over hardware specs as well in my other Nokia E72 vs Nokia E5 post in last few months, so better I should move over software experience part with quick summery of hardware first.


Quick summery of Nokia E5-00 hardware

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When we talk about the specs then in terms of price, Nokia E5-00 is seriously very very well packed device in such a way that if someone wants to buy a phone and he doesn’t want to cross the budget of 10-15k then suggesting any other device available in market will be like backstabbing him.

  • 115 x 58.9 x 12.8 mm in dimensions (75 cc volume), 126 g in weight
  • QWERTY candy bar form factor which is somewhat a mix from Nokia E71 and Nokia E72
  • Thicker than super slim Nokia E72/ C5-00, but at par with most of the other Nokia devices like E52 etc
  • Avoiding calendar/ contacts button shows that its targeting mass rather than techie and classy people
  • The keypad is very much close to the almighty Nokia E71 (hardly any difference)
  • 2.4 inch screen, 320 x 240 pixels resolution but 18 bit colors means support for 256k colors rather than 16m colors of all other Nokia’s like E52, E63, E71, E72 or even recent C5-00. Strange!!!
  • 5 megapixel ‘full focus’ (EDoF) camera with LED flash. Could be used as torch like E72
  • Integrated A-GPS, which is without compass but seriously at par with even Nokia N8 likes
  • 3.5mm AV connector (After 2.5” of E71, they have made 3.5” a standard in all next devices
  • BL-4D (1200mAh) Li-Ion battery, support for both microUSB and 2 mm power port charging.
  • Quad band GSM and tri-band WCDMA (900/1900/2100 or 850/1900/2100) with HSDPA (10.2 Mbps) and  HSUPA (2 Mbps).
  • Same 600 MHz ARM 11 CPU as was here in Nokia E52, E72 and C5-00
  • Up to 250MB of internal memory, 256MB of RAM (up from 128MB on the E72, for example), microSD card slot. I admit that I never ran in memory full problem with this one at least.
  • Initially available in five colours: Carbon Black, Chalk White, Sky Blue. Copper Brown and Silver Gray.

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  • Sales package: Nokia E5-00 phone, Nokia Battery BL-4D, Nokia Connectivity Cable (CA-101), Nokia High Efficiency Charger (AC-8), Nokia Stereo Headset (WH-102), Nokia 2GB microSD card (MU-37).

Though software part in Nokia E-Series is kind of standard

Quick Summery of E5 software’s

  • Nokia E5-00 runs S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2 (S60 3.2.2) which is Symbian 9.3, sounds similar on paper as that was in Nokia E52 or Nokia E72, but there are a lot of differences inside. Really too many options to customize it.
  • Customizable home screen, featuring ‘Contact bar’, ‘App Shortcut bar’ and various plug-ins (email, WiFi, Music). Options are really much more, if you compare with any of the old E-Series device, I noticed that with darker theme, I was able to achieve the dark background in Nokia Messaging too, which always remained white in all cases.
  • Ovi Maps 3.04 (including free life time navigation), without magnetic compass though. With 3G, I found the locks almost instant from a cold start.
  • Nokia Messaging with easy set-up (wizard based), for both email (Ovi Mail, Yahoo Mail, Gmail, Windows Live Hotmail, Microsoft Exchange, and IBM Lotus Notes Traveller) and Instant Messaging. Contrary to recent issues with Nokia N8 messaging, this one works perfect and you should expect to receive mail on your device before the desktop client itself. 
  • It has a facebook client pre-installed that helps in syncing phone contacts with facebook contacts like socially, but brings facebook status features in the phone’s address book itself (see your friends current status messages).

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  • Ovi Store pre-installed, to download additional applications, games and content, but will ask for an update first as usual.

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  • You will be happy to note that this device comes with the full version of Quick Office (compatible to Office 2007 files) and also we are provided Adobe Reader LE 2.5 that is latest. That is huge, considering the fact that even Nokia N8 and Nokia C7 likes have the read only versions  of office.
  • Not only usual Zip, Dictionary etc, but here you find a bundle of many other software as well like Active note, Microsoft communicator inbuilt into contacts, Bloomberg, AP mobile, Traveler, Vingo voice and a font magnifier (as you seen in last unboxing video).

 

Well! after taking a look over hardware and software aspects of Nokia E5, you can definitely feel that one is not wasting a single rupee in vain if he/ she goes for purchasing Nokia E5. The best of class keypad and light looks are enough to make it in hands of people, who been using feature phones only and most advanced features like Nokia messaging with push mails, Ovi Maps and Quick Office full version etc go as high as one most sophisticated user might wish for. People who might be untouched of the super hyped touch screen world and care more for usability point of view will sure have reasons to get attracted toward such market innovations.

Steve Jobs was right when he said that only Nokia can make Smartphone’s at such a low price. Its really not just business, but in deed Nokia Connecting People, who don’t easily buy Smartphones in $700 and why should they?

There might be enough buzz against Nokia in recent days, but presence of models like Nokia C5-00 and Nokia E5-00 proves that Nokia never been only a business company, but they been and are leaders to empower the mass with the latest of tech. With a price tag below than 11.5k INR that is close around a mere $200, you can easily push people to move up from feature phones and bring them in the amazing world of Smartphones.

Hats off Nokia.

Indian Nokia E52 got a firmware update v052.003

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Nokia Ovi people on a roll now days, while other companies and bloggers seem to not letting any stone unturned over them, they seems to be working silently and steadily over a number of projects at the same time. While we just received an update for Ovi Suit Beta few hours back, now here is another update from Nokia that is a firmware update for Nokia E52. (This one is the same one that was released on November 28, 2010)

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The mentioned changes are as given below

  1. Improved features and performance
  2. Updated applications
  3. Better stability

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Some other changes include

  1. OMA Device Management is working
  2. Some usability improvements
  3. Changing the default system start up date (11/10/2010)
  4. Keypad Autolock changed to work only from home screen

Happy time for my younger brother with Nokia E52.

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The older update been here since a while

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 Thanks to @mobileyog for the heads and screenshots

photo of Nitish KumarNitish Kumar
 
 
 

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Nokia Ovi Suit beta updated to 3.0.0.271

Admit it, we all love updates even if the software might be working perfectly for us. Who doesn’t like new features and better performance? So, today is the day for updating your Ovi Suit like right now. Ovi Suit

The last version was 3.0.0.254, which is going to be updated for 3.0.0.271.

Update details

As you can see, there are three normal differences from the last one

  1. Improved features and performance
  2. Updated application
  3. Better stability

You can get the update notification over ‘software update’ icon over ‘Ovi Suite Home’ page or you can manually check for the updates, by just clicking on ‘Software Updates’ button at ‘Tools’ Tab. The size of update for Windows XP/ Vista is 73 mb and for Windows 7 its 93 mb (All 32 bit), while if you download from their official website link, then its around 91 mb.

Note: Nokia says that for those users, who have Nokia Ovi Suite 3.0.0.254 installed, we recommend using Nokia Ovi Suite’s own update wizard, but Somehow I found the update via Ovi Suit option slower than downloading via web link. May be temporary connectivity issues.

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After installation, the first thing you will notice is, no restart required like you were needed in case of last installation of version 3.0.0.254. UI is similar and no visible changes seems to be here yet. Though some have reported that this updates brings Real Golf game of around 140 mb size for Nokia N8 as a free application update, I have yet to connect my Nokia N8 to check the same.

The Official Change Log

Key improvements in this Beta update:

  • Various crash corrections, for example "crash when editing playlists", crash when transferring music to device and many more issues
  • If you birthday information to a contact and don’t specify year of birthday, current year will be used.
  • Fixes to situations, where after update of Nokia Ovi Suite, device was not correctly found via USB cable.
  • Fixed issue in home view, where sometimes music album art and music track name didn’t match
  • Fixed situation, where in restore operation got stuck, if the phone connected to charger, when starting restore operation
  • Windows 7 pinning into Windows 7 task bar fixed
  • Latest translation updates taken into use.
  • Fixed situations, where error message didn’t fit into dialog.

Watch the video about the Nokia Ovi Suit Beta (its the old one)

 

What is NFC and do we have enough reasons to excited about it?

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A discussion has started that if Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s announcement on Monday about NFC with Nexus S was a shot that Nokia should have taken many days before and if this is again a marketing failure from Nokia part. Is this a sign of weak confidence to attract vendors or the major market of Nokia (not Europe and west but Asian continent) is not ready yet to come strong on NFC?

Let’s take a look over the technology first …

What is Near Field Communication (NFC)?

As per Wiki article

Near Field Communication or NFC, is a short-range high frequency wireless communication technology which enables the exchange of data between devices over about a 10 centimeter (around 4 inches) distance.The technology is a simple extension of the ISO/IEC 14443 proximity-card standard (proximity card, RFID) that combines the interface of a smartcard and a reader into a single device. An NFC device can communicate with both existing ISO/IEC 14443 smartcards and readers, as well as with other NFC devices, and is thereby compatible with existing contactless infrastructure already in use for public transportation and payment.

NFC is primarily aimed at usage in mobile phones.

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A patent licensing program for NFC is currently under development by Via Licensing Corporation, an independent subsidiary of Dolby Laboratories, while a Public, platform independent Near Field Communication (NFC) library is released under the free GNU Lesser General Public License by the name libnfc.


Existing usages in India

The same technology been under trial across the world in many areas since last seven years (even in India Delta Technologies and Citi Tap and Pay – Citibank India trialing it). Many mobile payment technologies making use of it across world including Nokia and Samsung as of now. Even VISA and MasterCard also working on it at some places.

Applications of NFC

The applications of the such a technology are plenty like Electronic ticketing, Electronic money, Travel cards, Identity documents, Mobile commerce and Electronic keys etc. Exciting for many, as it will make the life even more easier as your smart phone will be one device for all your needs, movies, internet browsing, navigation, music and now even used as a credit card or debit card.

How is it different from already popular Bluetooth technology? Limitations ..

Disadvantages over Bluetooth

  1. Lesser data transfer speeds (max 848 kbps)
  2. Shorter range (max 20 cm) than Bluetooth technology.
  3. Upcoming Bluetooth 4.0 low energy protocol will be consuming even lower power than NFC as of now
  4. NFC alone does not ensure secure communications is vulnerable to data modifications. Applications have to use higher-layer cryptographic protocols (e.g., SSL) to establish a secure channel.

Advantages over Bluetooth

  1. Almost instant connection (around 1/10 seconds) in comparison to pairing procedure of Bluetooth
  2. Low power consumption and could work (alternatively) even when one of the device is powerless
  3. NFC is compatible with existing passive RFID (13.56 MHz ISO/IEC 18000-3) infrastructures
  4. Shorter range makes it suitable for crowded area with high interferences

Not sure, if I am concluding right, but then rather than the tech itself, what’s being stressed as advantage of  NFC is the already existing infrastructure for that. I wish to remind people that NFC is not being used in secure payment methods yet, secure means encrypted ones and is very much hack-able.

In other practical limitations, it’s the requirement for compatibility with legacy deployments, including payment systems such as MiFare (used by London’s Oyster cards) which operate at 13.56MHz. MiFare and it’s ilk work over very short ranges, typically a few centimetres, and can be powered by current induced by the reader. NFC, by necessity, shares those capabilities so will operate even if the phone’s battery is dead, but that also means the transmitting at very low power, far too low to break out of a phone casing. This therefore forces NFC to rely on an external antenna to operate.

Why NFC is still half baked technology when it comes to financial usages?

The most dangerous aspects of NFC, which is being skipped while talking about easy financial applications are related to security and unfortunately most of them still open, which puts a big question mark on implementation of such a technology in financial domain at least. This been a kind of dead technology for this domain since years due to some serious limitations. Most of them were mentioned in a paper long back, PDF link here, worth reading once, mentioning a few of them here in my words…

  • Lost property
    The biggest threat to this technology is the simplest phenomenon, loosing your cell. Against the common PIN security mechanisms, NFC one is a PIN-less method, means once someone else gets his hands on your lost phone, there will be no stopping misuse of the same till you get your account cancelled from carrier. Obviously, software running on top will come up with some solution to this.
  • Eavesdropping
    There are already many methods to intercept the communication between two devices over NFC. An Open source device which is able to eavesdrop passive and active NFC communications is the Proxmark instrument.
  • Data modification/ destruction
    Data destruction is relatively easy to realize, while by complex measures one can even modify the bits of data. Though there are methods that an NFC device could employ to avoid such threats and possibilities.
  • Relay attack
    Because NFC devices are usually also implementing ISO/IEC 14443 functionality, the relay attack described are also feasible on NFC. For this attack the adversary has to forward the request of the reader to the victim and relay back its answer to the reader in real time, in order to carry out a task pretending to be the owner of the victim’s smart card. One of libnfc code examples demonstrates a relay attack using only two stock commercial NFC devices.
  • Walk off
    Once lawfully opened access to secure function or data is usually protected with time out closing on pausing the usage. Modern attack concepts may interfere despite the intention to shut down access when the user turns inactive. The distance of a successful attacker to the locus of lawfully granted access is not addressed with any of the described concepts of NFC.

 

Nokia and NFC

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I was like big time surprised, when I came to know that my oldest handset Nokia 3220 had NFC back in 2004. It was actually the first commercial product including NFC that shows that Nokia is always unbeatable when it comes to adopting the latest tech and bringing to the world.

Nokia was an early backer of NFC and co-founded the NFC Forum in 2004 with the technology’s creators, Philips Semiconductors and Sony Corp. Nokia had earlier introduced four NFC models, the 3220 and companion 5140, the 6131 and the 3G 6216. These phones have accounted for more than half of NFC trials and other NFC projects held since 2005, NFC Times estimates, (see Project Database) and were some of the few available for sale.

Recently in February 2010, they were about to come up with Nokia 6216 model, which was going to be the first NFC SIM phone ever came to market and it was even notified to leading operators, but later on the idea got cancelled.

There is still a pressure from operators to bring this tech early on handset. Not from Nokia, but some of experts even say that built-in NFC inside the SIM cards would be more reasonable than a specialized phone, if the carrier really care about it.

Is NFC gonna pull the market?

While there was much talk about NFC in tech world since long, its sure been Google CEO, who should be credited for bringing it in lime light again, which was fading since Nokia delayed the commercial implementation. But what more turns the technology gonna take?

Definitely, the technology is not about the hardware only due to its current unsecure nature and sure it remains a question that should the big tech leaders put money behind this project, when it will still rely on software implementations or should look over other alternatives like China is trying with their own RF SIMs. 

Pushing NFC Technology on big scales is a risk that was once taken by Nokia in 2003, when they co-founded the NFC forum, but still after 7 years of trials across the world, we don’t see much momentum behind the technology in comparison the development in other wireless technologies like Bluetooth etc. While Nokia still taking risk around their once founded Symbian Forum, sure it stands a hard question that they should take the same risk of pushing NFC on big scales.

I don’t think that Nokia is wrong on it

I think Nokia gonna be silently putting NFC chips in all of its upcoming models and will be observing other big movements like Google’s move. Whenever they find the infra in place, they will be ready to go without doing anything as hardware will be already in place and just a software update and some negotiations will make it. Simple reasoning is Nokia can’t stand behind the name of a failures, while Google is used to face many like their Wave, Buzz etc.

What you think on it? Please tell

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19 December-Countdown begins-Firmware update PR 1.1 for N8 – Not coming before January

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Update: We just received a tweet from @NokiaIndia that Nokia N8 or Symbian^3 wont receive an update before January 2011, while this is a sure a big disappointment for the users waiting for the update to remove some of the annoyances and some better performance, we could only hope that they will make it a big update in January 2011.

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But at the end… its sure a disappointment for the users who given a big sales figure to Nokia and also more worse as they still not confirm that its coming even in first two weeks. Usually “sometimes in month” been the last week of month, when it comes to Nokia.

The day coming close.. the day, when our favourite Nokia N8-00 is expected to get the first firmware update. Nothing confirmed from Nokia officials, but high hopes due to some almost confirmed rumors that new firmware will be announced with/ before next coming Nokia release of Nokia E7-00.

I am starting a countdown here for the big date and will be adding the wish-lists and rumors around it.

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This will be the first firmware update after the current version that is 011.012 and there are many things that could be expected from it other than the bug fixes. Let me list of top 10  …

  1. Very significant improvements in browser, which will bring tabs and new way of loading pages
  2. Draggable four Home Screens bringing smoothness to entire navigation experience
  3. While Split keypad might be a few more weeks far, portrait QWERTY is sure near. Possible Multi-touch
  4. Nokia Situations replacing profiles and becoming a standard from here for Symbian^3
  5. Contacts integrated IM/ conversation like N900 or a entire new thing (less likely)
  6. Ovi Maps 3.06 expected to come out of Betalabs
  7. Camera UI reworked, touch to focus and Auto-Focus video option. Pinch to zoom focus
  8. Larger zoom in Camera/ Gallary (more than mere 2x) and also HDR mode like Nokia N900
  9. New Nokia Social with dark theme with special attention to twitter
  10. Much smoother Nokia Messaging along with option of non-HTML mails

Update (Thanks to waloody88):

Adding a few features more in this wish list that are sure worth expecting or wishing from Nokia N8 firmware update PR 1.1

  • Nokia Music player as on Nokia N8 look too good with that very smooth cover flow, but still people seems to be missing a lot of basics here like
    • There should be sorting option for getting your songs by date or recently added.
    • There should be a search option that might be useful in finding your song, when you dont know the album/ movie name.
    • There are a few presets available, but people seems to be missing the customizable Equalizer a lot
    • What about SRS Sound premium on Nokia N8
  • Though there are apps available for the same, but we want Internet Radio and Podcatcher back on Nokia N8

Please write your suggestions to add on this list. May be someone from Nokia might be listening your comments as we seen in past that they do.

Thanks to @mlymehta for the same suggestion.

Ovi Maps for mobile v3.06 got an update

Look like things at Symbian side happening at pace finally. In recent days, we seen them pretty busy updating devices etc. Last night, there was a minor update for Nokia Social and now here in noon, we got an update for Ovi Maps 3.06.

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Yes! its still from beta labs and we have not got the version 3.06 pushed into final version, means you wont get this update via OTA or software update and you have to download it via Betlabs only. Though for your help, here is the direct download link.

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For the full details of what the update brings for you other than the usual bug fixes, you should head on their official blog post on it. Highlights are ..

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  1. An update icon in the menu to enable the user to download the street maps directly into the device without need of some PC. Though the same feature is available over Wi-Fi only.
    Note: You need to put your Wi-Fi connection in Internet folder.
  2. My Position and Search are now integrated (now called Map). When accessed, it will show your last map view.
  3. Back button in Favourites
  4. Long tap functionality to delete & rename collections & routes
  5. Pop up for first time use – to inform user to download new map data (when upgrading 3.04 > 3.06 for the first time)
  6. Improved behaviours of transit lines settings in map toolbox (no more grey out)
  7. Compass calibration hint
  8. Refreshed place details information view

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I also noticed the compass notification, which says that flip your phone to use the compass.. cool.. at least over WiFi tethered from JoikuSpot on Nokia E5-00 (MTNL 3G) connection). Following was the compass hint. Cool and simple.

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Also note that Ovi Maps v3.06 uses new and richer map data which includes public transit lines. During installation, your previous map data will be deleted, but please note that if you have previously used Ovi Maps 3.06, your Map data will not be deleted after installing the updated release.

Compatibility: Ovi Maps for mobile v3.06 is available on the following devices:

Symbian^3: N8, E7, C7, C6-01
S60 5th Edition: N97, N97 mini, X6, C6-00, 5800XM, 5235, 5230 & 5230 Nuron

Please note that S60 3rd Edition, FP1 or FP2 devices (non-touch) are not supported in this release. Unsure about the platform of your Nokia device? Click here and find out.

The previous versions of Map Loader or Nokia Maps Updater will NOT work with Ovi Maps v3.06. Please use Ovi Suite instead.

So, have you updated yours yet?

Nokia Social updated to 1.2.163 for Symbian^3-Change Details

Finally some updates arrive to Nokia Social- The social application on Symbian^3 got updated to version 1.2.163. Which seems to be the second update to the same application of size around 2.38 mb. Seems to pushed by last night 2AM Indian time, Its already been reported to appear on Nokia N8-00, Nokia C7-00 and Nokia C6-01, so we could assume that the update is for all Symbian^3 devices.

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While its hard to notice any of the differences, but it seems to be tweaked from inside to bring many of the changes in the core. Following are some of the changes that I noticed.

  1. Quicker loading of app and better connection handling: Probably due to the fact that its loading the older updates from last session without using internet connection first. Making it possible to finally load, even in absence of reliable network connection, which was taking ages earlier (never loaded on WAP to me). Though I am still unable to update via WAP connections, but with 3G, APN or WiFi, its going smooth, which is a good news for people, who were finding themselves unable to get it loaded even on Wi-Fi.
  2. No arrows back on Home Screen Widget: Some already said that such tiny arrows were of no actual use, but I guess there are so many more people, whom this annoyed a lot, when arrows got missing in last update. Now still, all what you got to wait for the second update to appear on the screen. Not a good thing.

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  3. Likes and comment counts on Home Screen Widget: Though I wasn’t able to get a screen shot of the same, but the widget now shows "likes" and comment-count on status updates.
  4. There is no change is color and its still white: For a better battery life, it was being expected that they will make the background darker in next update, but that didn’t happened till now at least.
  5. Facebook part is a lot smoother now: Can’t say about twitter part, but facebook part sure seems to improve on scrolling part. Inline previews of pics and videos are loading quicker (A things that Gravity misses badly). Its loading text first and images at last, a hint for people, who might be complaining on not loading pics.

Well out of many things that people might be wishing from the social app, what most i am wishing is, manual settings for the connections, in the way, those are in Gravity, A darker theme, common options like Reply to All, Re-tweet, geo-tagging available right there in app and list goes long. Let’s see, when will Nokia reach there. Till then we all are calling it a very very minor update.

Manual Download:

For people, who missed to get it in to their OTA updates via Menu–> Application –> SW Update, could download the sisx file from here http://nmota.messaging.nokia.com/clients/Social_1_2_update.sisx