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Symbian is an open operating system, designed for mobile devices, with associated libraries, user interface frameworks and reference implementations of common tools, produced by Symbian Ltd. Symbian evolved from Psion's EPOC in 1998.

Symbian OS is currently owned by:


There are several variations of the Symbian OS that are tailored for different devices. The capabilities of the Symbian OS depend on the device for which it was tailored. Each variation is called a Device Family Reference Design (DFRD).


Device Family Reference Designs (DFRDs) are variations of Symbian OS tailored for different types of mobile information devices including one for smart phones, one for pen-based communicators, and another for keyboard-based communicators. There are three DFRDs: Crystal, Pearl, and Quartz.


Crystal is a DFRD tailored for feature-rich, communicator-type devices. Hardware platforms are phones with a full keyboard and a relatively large, landscape-oriented display. Crystal devices are designed for business users who need a lot of information.


Pearl is a DFRD for a Symbian smart phone. Hardware platforms typically look like standard cell phones with small displays and limited keyboards.


Quartz is a DFRD for a pen-based phone similar to the Palm PDAs. Hardware platforms do not include keyboards, and the relatively large displays are portrait-oriented (vertical). Quartz devices are designed for consumer users and are geared toward information gathering.


Symbian is a joint venture between Nokia, Motorola, Ericsson, Matsushita, and Psion that became independent in June 1998. Symbian was established by leaders in the computing and mobile industries to enable the mass market of communicators and smart phones. Here is a brief overview of the milestones in the history of Symbian.

  • In 1980, Psion Software was founded by David Potter.
  • 1990-1998 Psion releases devices using the EPOC16 OS, also known as SIBO. These devices are catagorized as Series 3.
  • 1997 EPOC OS Releases 1–3. The Series 5 device becomes available, its was the first movement towards 32-bit Symbian.
  • In 1998, Symbian Ltd. Created.
  • 1999 - EPOC Release 5. Series 5 devices are in production using ER5. Symbian OS v6.0 and v6.1 becomes the first 'open' Symbian OS phone.
  • 2003 Symbian OS v7.0 and v7.0s released.
  • In 2004, Psion sells Symbian. The first for mobile phones using Symbian OS. Symbian OS v8.0 and v8.1 released. Symbian OS v9.0 fails and is taken out of production before hitting the market.
  • 2005 - Symbian OS v9.1 announced.

Benefits of Symbian OS

  • Faster time-to-market for platform vendors
  • Open, standards-based platform for third-party application developers
  • Excellent connectivity
  • Advanced design
  • Extensibility
  • High-performance, 32-bit OS with pre-emptive multitasking
  • Long battery life
  • Wide industry support and commitment
  • Applications that can be designed once and run on multiple devices
  • Diversity of devices for consumers