Nokia N8 – Initial thoughts

Nokia_N8_01 The Nokia N8 is the first in a new generation of mobile phones from the former Finnish Wellington boot makers, which arrives with a new operating system, form factor and a whole new set of features.

Is this 3.5-inch AMOLED capacitive touch screen handset, with a 12 megapixel camera, 16GB of internal storage with support for 32GB microSD cards, along with a microHDMI port enough to turn around Nokia’s fortunes? Read on to find out our initial thoughts, as One Mobile Ring publishes its first impressions of the device.

Most people have owned a Nokia phone, at some point during the 90s. It’s no coincidence that Nokia’s latest strapline is ‘Connecting People’, as they are wholeheartedly responsible for exactly that – where many owe their interconnectedness to Nokia. Their sheer market dominance during this period was largely due to setting an outstanding benchmark for usability and ergonomic design. Nokia also managed to repeat this success to a certain extent with the N95, by satisfying a similar set of criteria to that of its predecessors.

The Nokia N8 was announced way back in April, where they also introduced the latest version of their operating system – Symbian^3. Nokia has created a stable platform here, where previous Symbian devices have lagged or crashed – although the OS does let the phone down at times. Symbian^3 fails when trying to rearrange widgets on the home screen, with Android allowing up to nine home screens and the content seems infinitely adjustable in comparison. You can ‘skin’ Symbian in truth, although hunting down custom overlays probably won’t be the priority for prospective users – therefore reducing its overall customisation possibilities.

The phone itself measures 114x59x15mm, which does feel huge when being held. You can’t help but notice the camera is ‘bolted on’ and protrudes awkwardly, where after a futile attempt to push it back in you will begrudgingly accept it. However, the Nokia N8 does feel immensely rigid which reflects its strong build quality. The phone’s full metal chassis with anodised scratch-proof paint actually makes it feel more like the quality product that its price suggests.

Navigating through the phone is remarkably comfortable, as the 3.5-inch capacitive AMOLED touchscreen is satisfyingly responsive. On the other hand, you are hampered by many notifications messages, along with the distinct lack of a ‘back’ button that diminishes the level of control that you would expect from such a device. This has also been made abundantly clear by the text entry process, where the editing area fills the screen and often you are left with a blank canvas – with no reminder of the text entry field in which you are applying the text.

The phone also features a miniHDMI port, which when coupled with the adaptor works brilliantly with the connected HD ready TV displaying a mirror-image of what is seen on the phone. This is especially useful if you tend to keep photos and videos on your mobile, as it gives you a chance to view them occasionally on a much larger screen.

Traditionally, Nokia’s messaging has set the standard, but this doesn’t mean they need to continue the 12-key multi tap system with predictive text that we first saw in 1999 – although they have. Obviously, when in landscape mode you have full access to a Qwerty keyboard, but even then, the progress made to arrive at this point has been slow and unyielding.

The camera contains a multitude of options including contrast, sharpness, white balance and exposure, which works well as an everyday camera – even if the button to access this function is a little slow to react at times.

The Nokia N8 demonstrates quality without excellence, functionality without innovation, but above all it performs the important tasks exceptionally well. The only real problem is a stubbornness that prevents Nokia from competing directly with such giants as the iPhone 4, making the N8 something of a let-down. One Mobile Ring would say that you can’t have it both ways, but having seen phones like the Samsung Wave and HTC Desire, it’s clear that you can.

– B

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