What Does Symbian Mean?

Symbian is an operating system for smartphones. It is the successor of Symbian OS (operating system) and uses a user interface component based on the 5th Edition of S60.


Symbian versions are denoted by the caret (^) symbol; e.g. "Symbian^3" references Symbian’s third version.

Techopedia Explains Symbian

Symbian’s predecessor, Symbian OS, was developed by Symbiant Ltd, a partnership among PDA and smartphone manufacturers Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola and Psion. Nokia expressed interest in acquiring the entire company and the acquisition was completed at the end of 2008.

Targeted for smartphones, Symbian is designed to thrive in low-power battery-based devices as well as ROM-based systems. Its kernel, known as EKA2 (EPOC Kernel Architecture 2), features preemptive multithreading and full memory protection. This kernel already contains a scheduler, a memory management system and device drivers.

Applications for Symbian are normally written in C++ (using Qt) or Symbian C++. However, applications written in Python, Java ME, Flash Lite, Ruby and .NET can also run. These applications may then be installed on the device using OTA (over-the-air), a mobile to PC data cable connection, Bluetooth or a memory card.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.