So much buzz has been circling around in the tech circle regarding this offering from Nokia, the N8. From it’s Symbian^3 operating system, to its rear camera that can shoot beautiful HD video and the like. How will Nokia handle among the likes of Apple with its iPhone and RIM with its BlackBerry smartphones? Looks like so much pressure is resting on this handset, does it step up to the challenge? Check out the review after the cut.
You probably know by now what you’re getting inside the box in the unboxing feature. Now, let’s get to the fine details of this pretty stylish handset. Starting with the display/touchscreen, it measures 3.5 inches and utilizes a resolution of 640 x 360 nHD — although they set it as such to be compatible with the Ovi Store, it’s a definite disadvantage over the iPhone’s Retina Display of 960 x 640 or the Android WVGA resolution of 800 x 480.
On the physical design itself, the phone only has a single button on its front face, beneath the main screen, which will either take you to the main menu or returns you to the home screen.
On top (as seen in the image above), there’s a 3.5mm headphone plug at the right side alongside a mini-HDMI port in the center and your standard power switch at the left portion. Connection to the mini-HDMI port to regular sized ones is achieved through an adapter. On the under side, there’s the Nokia standard AC charger connector and a micro USB port which you can use as either an alternate charging port or to sync your N8 to your PC. There’s also the mandatory memory expansion slot for Micro SD cards up to 32GB and oddly enough, the SIM card as well.
For the rear camera. It’s a Carl-Zeiss 12-megapixel unit with autofocus plus Xenon flash. For your video calling needs, there’s a VGA one up front.
Now, let’s get to the real deal with this handset. For the connectivity, Nokia utilized a 5-band WCDMA, enabling support for quadband GSM/EDGE as well as 3G networks – making it highly compatible to AT&T/T-Mobile in the US as well as the 3G networks in Europe. Wireless connectivity is achieved with 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 3.0 plus an additional FM Radio to boot.
Let’s talk about Symbian^3 from the point. Getting a head on competition with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android isn’t helping at all as the platform has it fair share of hits and misses, but overall, this looks to be one of their better releases. The N8 comes with a chuck-load of applications and widgets that you can customize with the addition of more through the Ovi store.
The main menu has been a stable for most Nokia phones, consisting of icons laid at a grid having 3 columns with 4 rows OR a list view, with the ability to rearrange the order of these items to one’s liking. An improvement over previous Symbian releases is that you don’t have to perform the “double tap” to open your applications. Selection and activation of the application is now achieved with a single tap, not much but it gives the feel of a more responsive OS altogether.
The hardware components on the other hand, for example, its 680MHz ARM11 processor is also being compared to those having 1GHz speeds. Together with the OS, determines the overall experience of the phone as to whether it is responsive or not. In terms of navigation and browsing, there were no major lags encountered.
There are also some nitpicks on the on-screen keyboard provided. With the N8 having operating in either portrait or landscape modes, only the latter one has a QWERTY keyboard while the standard numeric one. As for messaging, this version is better for having threaded conversation support. Email accounts can be easily setup with a wizard for Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Windows Live Hotmail among others.
Fans of Facebook and Twitter will have their dosage of social-networking goodness through bundled applications that can be linked to a widget at your homescreen which in turn requires you to login with your Ovi account. Speaking of Ovi, it isn’t pre-loaded in the N8. Yep, you’re probably wondering as much as we are as to why this is so..
Mobile entertainment is achieved through the variety of audio and video formats that the N8 can support. This includes H.264, MPEG-4, VC-1, Sorenson Spark and Real Video 10 for video while MP3, WMA, AAC, eAAC, eAAC+, AMR-NB and AMR-WB for audio. The HDMI output that the N8 has really gets the job done by duplicating its full screen except for video playback, which only has the video playing in the HDMI screen. HDMI output is more utilized when put together with the 12-megapixel rear camera powered with Carl Zeiss optics.
Here’s a sample of a video shot in 720p:
We’ve been teased every now and then with the N8 beautiful imagery and it doesn’t disappoint, both in still and in video. As with the iPhone, the N8 also as an installed photo/video editing applications so that you could manipulate them on the fly (which apparently Apple changes @ $4.99 with their iMovie for iPhone).
You might think that the onboard processor would have problems in this department, in essence, it went through and got the job done.
For battery longevity, they said that the N8 can last up to 720 mins of GSM talktime while 390 hours on GSM standby while for WCDMA is 350 mins talk and 400 hours standby. That’s worth 6 hours of playback with HDMI video or 50 hours worth of music.
All in all, the huge question here still relies on the Symbian^3 OS that runs under this beautiful smartphone. With the world of smartphones being filled up by Android and iOS, can the Symbian compete. In all honesty, it can, being the device having the best of what Symbian can offer. But it has its limitations that the ones running Android or the iPhone can easily get past with. In terms of hardware, Nokia has made a great job with it, although with a market shared with the likes of Apple, a great combination together with its OS is a must.