Nokia N8 is the latest offering from the Finnish handset manufacturer. The sturdy phone comes in an anodised aluminium body and is available in various colours including orange, blue-green, dark grey and silver white.
The anodised aluminium casing makes the body scratch proof, which we definitely like along with the scratch resistant gorilla display.
The handset we received for review was green in colour. N8 is a full touchscreen device; most of its front is occupied by a 3.5 inch AMOLED screen with support for 16.7 million colours.
The front panel on the phone has only one hardware button at the bottom for menu and home; although we would have welcomed an additional hardware key for back function.
The proximity sensor and secondary camera are placed on the top right of the screen. The upper left panel has slots for microSD card and SIM while the USB port is placed on the lower part of the left panel.
On the right spine of the phone is the volume rocker, sliding lock and the camera key. The 3.5 mm jack, the HDMI port, and the power key are placed at the top.
The much talked about 12.0-megapixel camera is placed on an elevated rectangular platform at the back along with a Xenon flash. The camera lens doesn’t have a protective cover.
The New Symbian S^3
Nokia N8 is the first device to sport the new Symbian S^3 operating system. The OS is being touted as Nokia’s answer to the Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.
While there has been some tweaking here and there to improve the usability, the interface still pretty much remains the same on the last version of Symbian.
The homescreen has been expanded to three screen panels which can be customised. However, if you are happy with just a single screen, the other two can be deleted.
To browse through the screens you can either swipe a finger across or tap the three dots at the bottom of the screen between the options and call buttons.
The task manager interface has also been changed and it now shows screen shots of apps while they work, instead of showing just their icons.
The main menu structure and text input option too continue to retain the same format. When typing in portrait mode though, an alphanumeric keypad pops up; while there is the virtual Qwerty keypad in landscape mode. Both are comfortable to use.
Although the OS has been improved in some ways, when pitted against the likes of iOS and Android, Symbian S^3 falls behind.
This 12 mega pixel device marks Nokia’s entry into the mega pixel race. Handset manufacturers other than Nokia that have a device with that many mega pixels are Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Spice.
Nokia’s N8 boasts Carl Zeiss optics, a 1/1.183 inch optical format image sensor, Xenon flash with automatic red-eye removal and auto focus. The phone also has a secondary camera for video calling.
The N8’s camera is one of its key features and didn’t disappoint us at all. Picture quality is very good and even images taken at full zoom turned out pretty good. The Xenon flash works well in low light conditions.
The video recorder can capture 720p quality video at 25 frames per second. The video quality is good. The only downside is that the flash doesn’t work while recording video.
There are three shortcuts on the right of the screen leading to camcorder; still camera; flash and settings.
The settings are customisable and include white balance, scene mode, exposure compensation, colour tone, viewfinder framing grid, sharpness, contrast, flash control, light sensitivity (ISO), self-timer, face detection, geo-tagging etc.
The N8 comes with a music player and FM radio for your music needs. In the music player songs can be sorted based on artist, album or genre and it‘s possible to create your own playlists. Nokia’s N8 supports a wide range of media file formats and has an equalizer and sound effects. The quality of audio on the N8 is excellent both through the earphones as well on the loudspeaker.
Some equaliser presets come pre loaded, however, they are not customisable. When the player is working in the background, you can control it using either the music player widget on the homescreen or the earphones.
Downloading songs from Ovi Music Store was also a pleasant experience. The best thing is you can download as many songs as you like for a year and keep them with you. The only downside is that these songs are DRM protected and are locked to your phone.
The stereo FM radio comes with RDS. The FM reception of the phone is very good while the interface is very simple to use.
The phone packs an FM transmitter too which allows you to stream music from your phone to an FM radio receiver nearby.
The video player of the phone supports DivX and XviD along with HDMI, which is a welcome addition.
The device is pre-loaded with loads of applications along with the option of downloading more from Ovi Store. Ovi Store however, is not pre installed. When you touch the Ovi icon on you phone for the first time, it takes to you to the Ovi web page and asks you to download the app.
Seeing how popular social networking is on mobiles, Nokia N8 comes with an interesting app called simply, Social Network. The application integrates your Facebook and Twitter accounts. You can see your friends’ status updates and comment on them, and share your own status. You can share your photos too. Live updates from Social Network are displayed on your home screen.
Adobe PDF reader, QuickOffice document viewer and YouTube are pre installed. The device’s mail app supports popular email clients. In addition, settings for mailboxes such as Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, etc. come pre-loaded. N8 has a photo editor, and a video editor is also present. The N8 has GPS with A-GPS support and lifetime free voice guided navigation.
Connectivity and Performance
On the connectivity front the device comes with Bluetooth 3.0, GPRS, EDGE, Wifi and is also capable of serving as a data modem.
The internet browser comes with Flash Lite 4 support and you can use pinch or double tap to zoom in and out of the screen. The internet browsing experience on the N8 was average especially when compared to what Android and iOS offer.
N8 comes with 16 GB of internal memory which can be expanded to 32 GB using a microSD card.
The device is powered by a BL-4D 1200 mAh Li-ion battery which cannot be removed by the user. You will have to go to the Nokia service centre to get it replaced and can use either your charger or microUSB data cable to charge the phone.
Battery back up of the phone is very good compared to what currently available touchscreen smartphones running on Android offer. Once fully charged the phone promises to see you through two days with constant internet surfing using Wifi, 3-4 hours of calls, along with some gaming and music.
The hardware and multimedia performance of the phone are impressive; camera and audio quality are among the best we’ve come across so far, but the new Symbian S^3 was a bit disappointing.
The phone is priced at Rs 24,999. A HDMI cable and a cable to connect the phone with the flash drive, charger, micro USB data cable and the headphones are included in the sales pack. The 16 GB internal memory can be further expanded using a microSD card.