I found the "live" widgets as troublesome as ever. It's even more rigid because previously you could opt for the widgets, or a clean screen. One nice idea Nokia implemented by default on the X6 I reviewed in February was a space for contacts. This showed recent activity related to a contact, and you scrolled horizontally between favourites. This was a nice, practical idea, but it's gone. I soon gave up on these widgets and pretty much the home screen altogether.
Nobody home: some useful screen features found on other models have been removed
UX is more than just the look and feel of the UI – it's performance, consistency, and ease of finding settings. Here it's a mixed bag. One infuriating and confusing legacy issue is connectivity. Like its predecessors, the N8 couldn't remember a Wireless Access Point at odd times, even if the access point was available and active.
The performance of the landscape Qwerty keyboard has improved, but remains quirky. It takes up the full screen, so it isn't possible to see (for example) the SMS you're replying to, or the Captcha code you're trying to enter. You need to go to two separate settings – one only available through applications – to recreate the familiar behaviour of iPhone or Android keyboards, for quite bizarrely, word prediction is off by default, and it won't use the spacebar to accept suggestions unless you change another setting. And with the landscape Qwerty taking up the full screen, you'll find that you need to make two confirmations: one to get rid of the keyboard, and another to accept the text.
Apps is another area where the stitching shows. On the positive side, the N8 retains compatibility with older S60 5th Edition software. Some of these are very good quality, such as ProfiMail, DreamConnect and Gravity, Skype, and a native Opera Mobile. A native iPlayer, as I mentioned, is built-in. That covers a lot of ground, and if it encompasses all you want to do, you're probably going to be fine. But if novelty and choice is as important as quality, you'll find the Ovi Store lags far behind Android Marketplace and Apple's App Store.
Ovi has a dearth of native applications. Where's Plane Finder - where you can point to a passing plane and read off its ADS-B information? Where's the point and tap astronomy apps? There are a lot of fun and interesting apps, but the developer base has moved on, and the Ovi store has few of them.
The Ovi store has improved, but is still laborious
Nokia's makeshift solution is to use clunky native run-time widgets, but these lag far behind the performance and functionality of (say) the eBay and Facebook Apps on the rival platforms. Stitching and joins are evident elsewhere. For example, SMS finally gets a threaded "Conversations" view, but it doesn't integrate well – it's really a separate application. The web browser remains far below par, but apparently is due a major update this month.
Next page: Password protection
@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.