Nokia N8 smartphone
Review The N8 is Nokia’s first handset to use the revamped Symbian^3, and is a beautifully designed, high specification touchscreen phone. Compared to the Nokia X6 and the N97 – its touchscreen predecessors that I have reviewed – the N8 is considerably more responsive. On many occasions in the recent past, Nokia has not provided sufficient processing and memory to do the product justice, but this is not the case here.
Symbian smartie: Nokia's N8
It is worth noting, though, that since the first wave of reviews the N8 has become a better buy. Two weeks ago Nokia "future-proofed" the N8 somewhat: promising that the phone will receive updates that were scheduled for Symbian^4. Previously, there was no such guarantee, and the N8, as with other S^3 devices, looked a bit of an orphan.
The distinctive features on this phone are outstanding reception and call quality, high quality video playback to an HDMI TV (and pump out Dolby Digital Plus multichannel surround sound), the ability to hook up to USB flash drives and other USB devices, and most of all, its excellent camera. Great work has gone into the imaging system, but you'll need to put in some more to get the most of out of it.
I found two problems with the hardware. The phone has one main button, which is used to switch between the (legacy) applications menu and the home screens, and also switch between open apps (with a long press). However, this button is stiff and unresponsive, and its placement in the far bottom left hand corner means that it's awkward for both right and left handed users. It's beyond the radius of your right thumb when holding the phone normally in your right hand. This effectively means you need to use two hands, as I found I needed the left hand to balance it.
Disappointingly, too, the phone's crown jewel, the camera, faces the world with its lens unprotected, so N8 owners will be in the market for a case. Even so, build quality is outstanding, with a three-piece aluminium chassis. The battery is a BL-4D standard part that can be replaced in a few minutes. Here's a tear-down; to replace the battery you need to remove two screws with a Torx+ screwdriver.
For phone duties, its signal reception is way above par
Call quality and battery life are excellent. The N8 lacks noise cancellation on calls, but its radio stack performed better than any other smartphone, maintaining a stronger signal in two of my familiar "dead zones", and regaining signal strength quicker than rival devices.
Next page: Music and Video Playback
@Giles Jones: Not bad
Processor speeds are not important, it's what they do that is important. The CPU is underclocked, the OS is very resource functional (always has been) and has a separate GPU for the intensive graphics. Battery life for me is about 2-3 days on a charge - push email is on 7am till midnight on 2 accounts, browsing the web, telephone calls and music in the morning and evening. So I am very pleased. There some faults but hope they fix them soon.
I always wonder why some of the tech people reviewing this mobile phone constantly rubbish the processor for being clocked slower than the competition. Remember the days when the Apple OS was always said to be better and more resource efficient than Windows and hence the slower processors? Remember also that almost all video and photo editing used to be done on Macs for that very reason? Short memories....
Compareing CPU sizes is pointless...
Android apps are written in Java and run on a virtual machine on a stripped down Linux, an OS designed for servers. While Symbian apps are written in C++ running natively on an OS designed for low power devices. For graphics intensive apps the N8 also has a dedicated graphics co-processor to take on the load.
You need to compare how long the phones last between charges and if they run the apps you need as an accepable speed.
Give it a year
Looks nice on paper, but I'll wait a year to see if it's more reliable than my crappy N95 8GB before I'd even consider another Nokia.
If the incremental changes to S^3 include working out the UI...
... Then we might be on to a winner.
Unfortunately first impressions count, not incremental updates a year down the line.
"You can't place a shortcut to a person"
You can by adding the Favourite widget to the home screen. You can then add up to 10 people to this list and the widget multiple times - one for work, one for family etc. You can also open your contact list and long press on individuals and mark them favourite - this will bring them to the top of your list whenever you write a message or open contacts again. The only problem is that you can't organise your favourite in any order you might like - only in the order that you added them to your favourites.
"you can't drop applications wherever you like."
You can to a certain extent by adding the Shortcut widget, but then you HAVE to select 4 apps to use. But putting individual app shortcuts is not possible.
"You can't set a shortcut to activate a particular setting, either"
You can for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Sip, to different menu shortcuts. Which one do you want that is missing?
"it won't use the spacebar to accept suggestions unless you change another setting"
Really, how? I have been looking for this and can't find it anywhere. Using the right arrow to accept the work and then hitting spacebar is a poor design.
"E-mail now uses Nokia's server-side Intellisync software, but for obvious reasons of security (Nokia knows your passwords) I didn't test this extensively."
This can be bypassed. If you reject the terms and conditions right at the end of the email account set-up the emails won't go anywhere near Nokia's servers. This also helps because you can send attachments larger than 2MB in size the latter imposes.
There are other fiddly little problems to the ones you mention in this article. In many menus if scroll to the bottom item and select it when you go back the phone automatically takes you back to the top of the list. Notes and files of this type cannot be scroll without first selecting and marking all the text. I can customise my home screen by long pressing the screen, but I can't do the same when inside menus. Why? Instead I have to click on options and then organise. I then can list the items in alphabetical order - instead you have to move each individual icon to the location you prefer.
Mail for Exchange crashes on replying when using Gmail. IMAP email doesn't work as push email, so if your settings are set to retrieve soonest the app won't work until you open it. These things have been smoothed out over years by Nokia so why they should stop working properly is anyone's guess.