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PORTLAND, OR, United States – My admiration for Nokia devices started in 2007. I’ve had mobile phones since 1999, however, my first real smartphone was a Symbian device, so Nokia has a very special place in my heart, even as other devices have come to market that I regularly review, it’s always my Nokia device that I go back to. Aside from letting me live a more connected life, I prefer these devices because they’re unlocked and allow me the flexibility to customize and use my phone however I want.

In the U.S., we live in a mobile world that is ruled by the carriers. This means we are subject to whatever software options and updates the carrier gives us. For me, Nokia devices have long been independent from this, offering an island of independence from the carrier overloads.

Which devices have been my favorite over the years?  I dug through my shoe box of ageing Nokias to reminisce.

The Nokia N82: Yes, the Nokia N95 gets a lot of press and fan attention as a hot phone from this era. However, the N82 has long been my favorite camera phone from Nokia from a few years ago. The N82 had very similar optics than the N95, but carried a Xenon flash, which is a must if you want to take decent night time photos with flash. Also, I prefer candy bar phones without slideout keyboards, so the N82 appealed to me. Finally, I was taken in by the N82’s physical camera shutter, meaning I can whip this phone out of my pocket, open the shutter, snap the shot, and close the shutter — all without having to navigate an onscreen menu.

Next comes the grandaddy of the Eseries, the Nokia E71. My first trial of an Eseries was the E61i which I found to be to big and clunky for my taste. However, the E71 changed all that for me. The E71 is a remarkably thin phone that is sexy as it is functional. Somehow the geniuses in Finland figured out how to fit a highly usable QWERTY keyboard into a form factor that is thin and narrow – perfectly fitting into a pocket. Also, because of the openness and flexibility of Symbian 3.2 FP1, I can utilize the E71 no matter where I go. For example, using services such as Truphone VoIP when I travel abroad to cut down on roaming costs. Also, because of the monstrous 1500 mAh battery, the E71 could easily go three days under heavy usage which, for me, has yet to be replicated by any phone today.

My latest greatest is the Nokia N8. Yes, I may be a bit skewed because this is my current device, but the N8 has too many features that make me a huge fan of this phone. First and foremost, the imaging quality of the camera which enables me to take vibrant HD video and amazing photos of my two little girls who are constantly on the go. Also, I absolutely love the capacitive screen combined with the active and customizable homescreen that Symbian brings to the table. The build quality of the N8 is simply unmatched in any phone, past or present. The aluminum construction combined with the un-scratchable glass makes this phone a tank, a very pretty and functional tank.

Looking through my box of phones, it was exceptionally hard to pick just three. Each phone represents a phase in my life that the phone fit into perfectly. These devices have evolved and therefore my expectations have too. For me, the current Nokia N8 is a perfect solution, having a snappy user interface and an amazing image quality that enables me to say the Nokia N8 is a perfect device.