Phone over function?
The UI is a far cry from the slick modern interfaces of HP's Palm, Apple and Windows Phone 7, and Android. Does this actually matter? There's more to usability than eye candy. In practice – yes and no. Symbian^3 shows the result of some emergency, roadside repairs, and some of these work so well, you don't see the joins. But elsewhere the legacy UI pokes through – you notice the extra, now unnecessary level of indirection. Imagine operating Windows by poking a mouse with a toy broom.
The dialler screen
For example, the phone has been criticised for lacking a keyboard in portrait mode, and presenting the user with a graphical implementation of a T9 dial pad. Cue guffaws. But once you get over the incongruity, you can see the wisdom of the decision. In practice, the T9 pad made finding and calling people as easy to use as any phone on the market, and easer than most - and isn't the point of a phone?
The dialler rapidly finds contact by using a trick pioneered by Qix, but part of Windows Mobile and Nokia's E-series for years. So entering "5-3-8-4" finds you all your Kevins. [
jkl - def - tuv- ghi]. Or all numbers with the string 5384.
For many core functions that the user might repeat frequently, it works well. I was surprised, because initial impressions – formed from trying to use the Home Screen(s) – are really horrible. But taking and reviewing images and videos is fast, and browsing them fast too. Symbian phones would typically lag when asked to start a new process. But starting (say) Profiles or Clock and switching to the app is instant.
Onto to the not-so-good. You'd think that after the criticism of the N97, Nokia would clean up the Home Screen and focus on a really great experience. If anything, this has gone backwards. And yet another year has gone by without rationalising the settings, which remain spread all over the place, some in non-obvious places.
The N8's default Home, Menu and Apps
The default Home Screen is now screens, these are populated by blocky widgets, just as before. It imposes a rigid structure on the phone and tailoring it isn't easy. You can't place a shortcut to a person, or to a person-orientated action ("eg create a new SMS with Dave as the recipient"), and you can't drop applications wherever you like. You can't set a shortcut to activate a particular setting, either – although the default behaviour of one of the built-in widgets goes a long way – you can open the clock (instantaneously), set Profiles, and view connections.
Next page: Wayward Widgets
@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.