The Great N8. Nokia’s latest and greatest ” Symbian Multimedia Monster ” after the N95, N82. This phone is a true Symbian Rockstar which we expected a lot before. Its simple. Its a camera phone. And it does the job better than any other camera phone in market. We’ve seen and we’ve heard a lot about N8. Its a device as any other device that has its plus and minus.

Specs

Good enough for a “Symbian” Phone. But lemme point out the important ones.

  • 3.5″ Capacitive AMOLED Display with Gorilla Glass(Its awesome)
  • ARM 11 680mhz CPU with Broadcom BCM2727 GPU for graphics acceleration
  • 135MB + 16GB Internal memory (+expandable upto 32GB)
  • 256 MB RAM
  • Quad-band GSM, Penta-Band WCDMA, HSUPA.
  • Bluetooth 3.0, Micro USB, WiFi, TV-Out, HDMI, FM Transmitter
  • USB OTG, Dolby Digital Plus
  • Nokia Messaging Email Clied that Supports Full HTML
  • 3 Spacious Widgetized HomeScreens
  • 12MP Carl Zeiss Autofocus camera with Xenon Flash does 720p HD Video Recording
  • Run’s Symbian^3, supports Web TV, has QuickOffice viewer
  • Plays DivX , Xvid, Mp4, .mkv, 3GP video formats out of box

I’d say this is one of the best Cameraphone with such high-end specs. The range of features that Nokia has offered with these Symbian^3(E7, C7, C6-01) devices is something what other manufacturers dare to offer. (Keep price factor in mind).

So, what can you expect outta this fellow.
  • Class-Leading Camera
  • Better Graphics
  • Solid Build
  • A rich Multimedia Experience
  • Better screen with improved usability option
So, what can you Not expect outta this fellow.
  • Behave like an Android phone or iPhone. PERIOD
  • A totally unfamiliar Symbian OS
  • A lightning fast and smooth UX (User Experience)
The Nokia N8 – Hardware

This phone my buddies i tell you is one of the best built phone ever by Nokia, The Anodized Aluminium body with stunning colors on it is what makes this device that extra special. This candybar phone is built smartly, the choice of material the design, the feel that this phone gives is mostly what makes it a true N-Series device. Perfect looking high end phone. The camera being its main attraction, makes no mistake in that department and its always an added advantage to have a Xenon flash. Wow! Also this is my personal opinion, i would have loved to have the menu key at the center rather than at left corner. But that’s just me who wants it that way. Excellent color. I am so mad about this one. Haha

Hardware

The device has a proximity sensor, Ambient light sensors, ear piece at the top front of the device and a menu button in left bottom. To the left of the device it has a USB OTG port, and SD Card and Sim Card slots protected with covers, also has 3.5mm Jack, HDMI port and power buttom at the top, where the bottom has a small pin charger port. Finally an absolutely brilliant 12MP Carl Ziess Camera with auto shutter, wide angle lens(largest in any phone) supported by a powerful Xenon Flash and a loud speaker next to camera. The screen in scratch proof (Corning Gorilla Glass) also the whole body itself is scratch proof(brings great smile to my face) as u no more need to worry about your phone getting those bothering scratch when kept in pant pocket with keys or other metal things. Take the iPhone 4 for instance, its the most fragile phone i have ever tried. After having the N8 with you,  often tell it to yourself that u have made a good choice. Love it to every bit.

The phone runs on a 680Mhz processor. So everyone fancy a 1GHz processor these days. A SMART phone is a good mix of both OS and Hardware. And u might be knowing that Symbian runs on hardware as low as 100mhz processor or lesser with less RAM, that’s one great feature of this OS which many haven’t still figured and keep complaining about. Also the in-built GPU (Graphical Processing Unit) surely helps in rendering 3D graphics, and HD videos etc. The GPR benchmark results are great. If u haven’t check it, check it out below.

So you have a clear winner there. Coming to inbuilt RAM. I would have preferred a 512MB RAM there instead of 256MB. When some heavy apps are open the phone doesn’t react the way you would expect, multi-tasking with more than 15 or more heavy apps open and running becomes laggy, mostly makes phone unusable. Also i’ve observed some small and less used apps running in background gets closed when there is a need for RAM. Also i get around 140MB of RAM on phone bootup. Those again depend on widgets and auto start up apps. But mostly normal users won’t require heavy RAM. Few power users might want more of it.

The hardware keys and unibody design are top notch. The volume rocker may be, or the two stage camera key may be, there is nothing that you can complain about the build quality of the phone, its vibrant color, except that u’d pay more attention to the phone than your girlfriend (only if your a stupid geek like me) haha.. Its beautiful. Also 3.5″ screen is more than sufficient i believe, fits in my hands perfectly, and AMOLED screen is a pleasure to watch HD content on. Also phone’s visibility is pretty good under direct sunlight, but unfortunately the N8 doesn’t have a CBD (Clear Black Display), the phone would have had its own viewing advantage if only it had CBD. Arrg Nokia!

Lot good connectivity options like Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi 802.11n, GPS, USB OTG (Where u can hook your phone to a USB Stick or a External HDD using USB OTG adapter) coolest of all, also the FM Transmitter. Not the RADIO, but your phone can act like a radio station. U can stream music from your phone to any radio reciever using this uber cool feature. And FM Transmitter on this one performs pretty well. Network backup(In-built WEBDAV client) is one awesome feature too. These are some of those features which you drool about. This is Nokia. Their Hardware SIMPLY ROCK!

Camera



Nokia has been market leader in this game, they know this better than anyone else would guess. Everyone including me were asking for N82’s successor and i’d proudly say that i have got one. The N8 truly is one remarkable product. This Camera king has got a mechanical shutter mostly seen in SLRs, has and N8’s image sensor size is 1/1.83” with maximum ISO speed (1200) and minimal focus distance (10cm). Can’t ask for more. This phone’s sample as you can see carries out some great detailing. And once you buy the N8 investing on compact cameras and other digi cameras becomes less meaningful. This almost replaces them. According to Damian Dinning (person in charge of N8?s camera at Nokia), typical focusing time is around 350ms. That is superb for a mobile phone and is as fast most current ”decent” digital cameras. Also i would have loved to have had a continuous AF HD video recording  at 30fps. But no luck. It does only 720p HD video recording at 25fps. Not bad however.

Video Sample

The N8’s camera is smart. Let it be the processing or taking shots it mostly does the job by itself instead of we taking pain in setting up things. The lighting is actually measured and set accordingly. Most people would have this question in mind ” As whether N8’s camera is fast”. An absolute yes! Apart from the Xenon Flash the N8 also has a LED(red) flash assistance for quick focus and sometime used while video recording and i must say its fast in focusing almost any object, the closer one’s or the farther ones. But this is also a negative as you cannot turn this AF assist LED off. This means that you will definitely be noticed when taking photos at night or at dark places. No way to turn that off as of now. Xenon flash is superb. Also i prefer AF to EDoF. No macro mode in EDoF cameras like in C7, C6-01 or the E7. The N8 stands tall in this area. Jump to this link if you wanna learn more about N8’s camera and to know more about photography with the N8 jump here.

(N8 image Samples)

Software

In this part i’ll be covering Symbian^3 (OS that runs N8), Multimedia, UX most of software stuffs in house. I guess most of them are familiar with Symbian^3 compared to Symbian^1 as this version of Symbian was hugely talked about. This version of Symbian is what you would have expected by early 2010 and being updated to work perfect on N8 by now. But hey S^3 is like WAY ahead of S^1, let it be interaction, support for hardware, memory management, power management. You just don’t wanna turn back to S^1 whatsoever. But are you just satisfied with that? I am actually partly satisfied with this version not totally. Reasons up next.

An improved Home screen is what i see there. 3 homescreens where widgets and shortcuts can be added. U can change the background, add upto 20 fav contacts which can be scrolled though. Addition in notification bar ie the Battery Indicator bar which on click help’s to put on the AWESOME mode called the “Power Saving Mode” which i mostly use to get that extra juice outta phones battery. IMPRESSIVE there. Also animated BG runs with default themes only. And trust me for all those who were complaining for not having like 8HS or 10HS. I hardly use 2HS. And 3HS is more than just sufficient. And running some 10+ online widgets will sure drain battery soon. Just saying. But at anytime to save that extra juice outta that battery KINDLY ACTIVATE the Power Saving Mode. It really works. (HS-Home Screen)

In the 2nd screen shot u can see the change in the icon size and also the notification bar in more usable in this way, right now u can see the phone being connected to a WiFi place and headphones plugged in. Similarly on receiving a new message you are being notified there too, and other connectivity and clock shortcuts are visible too. If you are a S^1 user these might just be familiar to you. And there are couple of themes and other Shell’s available in market like SPB Mobile shell, Spark etc. So in any case your bored with the HS look you can always try them.

Coming to more of the UX and Symbian^3. If you an EX-symbian user you’ll know that your phone can breath now. nuff said!! The hardware that ie being accompanied with the OS is good. But if your an iPhone user or an Android user you’ll be like err what Symbian is still not smooth eh? Actually yes. But there are huge improvements being made in the interaction part the phone yet you can’t find most of them being super smooth. I strongly believe that the Symbian OS is capable of getting the best of UI/UX treatment, but the developers are not really on to it, lack or interest? Can’t say. For instance take an example of Gravity app, or even Angry Birds. Those apps are fantastic piece of coding done by fantastic developers. What wrong with you guys at Nokia and Symbian foundation?

Also i don’t wanna talk about Web Browser, On screen Keypad, some UI glitches. We all know about how badly it sucks. Only addition to web browser is pinch to zoom , flash lite 4 and not flash 10.1 and a search bar below address bad, nothing’s changed. Also there’s no Portrait qwerty, and the N8’s T9 still sucks. And an Update (PR 1.1 and PR 1.2) to fix these issue are on the way, not sure when, but sometime soon. All that we can do is HOPE. But Nokia Listen, the more you delay, the more you lose the trust that people have got on you, including me.

Also no free office document editor (the one included requires payment for activation), native apps like the Social app is not good enough, not fun to use. Don’t you think your losing out competition?

We all freaking need a polished OS and polished native apps, is that like asking for too much? I don’t think so.

Anyway, Nokia if you again screw up with Qt porting and other UI updates that is supposed to come in near future am out of this Nokia league. In contradiction to that, I just say that i’d leave Nokia, i’d ditch Symbian, whateva. But i just can’t ignore it. I just love the way Nokia get things right with the Hardware. Feature for Money, build quality. TOP DOG, Now show some respect to the UI/UX part.

(refer screenshots)


Multimedia experience on the N8 is outstanding. Out of box the phone does wonders! And the headphones which is provided is awesome enough. The gallery section, the music player, the video player are HUGELY IMPROVED. The gallery viewer is simple blazing fast, the thumbnails loads up in seconds, and coming to the Music player – THE Album Art view is the most talked feature which is really good, smooth and fast, i use that mostly. The FM Radio with RDS works perfect. All the goodness of a Nokia Music player is still found in N8’s music player. Those are like Smart Playlist – Recently added, Most played, Recently played. Also podcast there’s brilliant preloaded and customizable EQ, FM Transmitter, loudness, Stereo widening. WOW! Genius stuff.

Also coming to video playback capabilities, its is impressive again. Play’s most widely used formats like divX, Xvid, Mp4, MKV 3GP.. OUT OF BOX ie without need for an extra app to get the things done. And with HDMI out, Dolby Digital, the multimedia experience is sure unbeatable. Also just reminding that the video and other data can be played from a USB Drive that is connected to the phone using a USB OTG Adapter (only downside is  USB formatted using fat32 only *works* and max data transfer using the same limits to 4gb).

If i’d not speak about the gaming, am probably missing out a lot, because with assisted GPU the 3D games may be or the normal 2d games do look rich and performs really well. Some games that i really enjoyed playing are Angry Birds Definitely, NFS Shift, Galaxy on Fire, BounceBoing, New York Rollercoaster, and few other, though am not a gaming freak, those games were bloody addictive.

Coming to maps, no injustice here, Maps just works perfect for me, and a true navigational device is one that even works in Offline mode, and N8 does that. The GPS Lock time is less, which is good and Lifetime Free turn by turn navigation both walk and drive is a bumper. Many other location based services like Burrp, Bookmyshow, Check in etc.. are bundled with the maps. However Check in never worked for me. Still Ovi Maps is great.

Aha OVI Store, the latest version ie OVI Store 2.0 much much better than the previous one. It has to be. Whatelse. Though app loading takes time the revamped interface is pretty usable. More things like downloading application updates are supposed to be coming with future updates. Also imo the apps made using the Ovi App Wizard are flooding the Ovi store. I’d want to see those app in a separate category or in a table which must visible only if i wish to see those.

Also before i forget to mention, the in house Photo and Video editor and Nokia Messaging apps are best when you see from a mobile app point of view. Appreciate for the time they’ve spent on this.

Conclusion

The N8 for the money i payed does the job more than what i’d expect. Lets get this practical. Its not just me, its customers who would want a mind blowing experience way beyond what they are getting with any iPhone or Android phone or something close to it. The N8 fares to an extent, its simple to use not smooth. We know about Nokia’s firmware update culture, with each update they fix most of the issue. And its confirmed that N8’ll be getting the UI updates from Symbian^4, and other 50+ features. Things are sure to change. But don’t think this winner here is a loser. The hardware, the build Quality, rich multimedia experience, the openness of the platform some attractive and super cool features like USB OTG, FM Transmitter, 12MP CAM, Image Stabilization, Face Detection, Penta Band UMTS, Ovi Maps with Lifetime Free Navigation, Ovi Music Unlimited, Competitive Pricing, the N8 is a clear winner to me. Also if you are a camera person you must pitch in your money onto this fella. He’s worth every penny you pay.

Special mention to Bloggers mind and Nokia India for the sample that they provided. Hope all you guys enjoyed reading this. Thanks.

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