Nokia N8 Review

Sat 12 Feb 2011

Filed Under: Mobile Phone Reviews, Nokia, Smartphone 

hyp4mhz

Welcome to the Nokia N8 review. The N8 is Nokia’s first real competitor to the all too common iPhone.  The N8 release in late 2010 is everything the iPhone is not and that’s why we love Nokia’s. Out of the box the N8 has all the software you need to have a full functional mobile office and consequently all too smart phone. Built as a competitor for the all conquering iPhone the N8 surpasses it in most instances – except for one key issue.

Since most people skip the middle middle bit we now have actually bought a N8 outright for ourselves and so far very happy. The Nokia N8 has the best camera on a mobile phone – no question. The picture quality is amazing for camera phone just as good if not better than most point and shoot digital camera and the screen colors are amazingly accurate to real life. The most impressive thing about the N8 camera is its ability to take impressive night time images. All you have to remember is to select night portrait scene and snap away – no need to hold the camera still forever to get a decent image.

The N8 review is going to be difficult because it is a brilliant phone but with conditions attached.  In isolation the N8 has everything you need in a modern mobile phone in 2011. The redesigned operating system works fast and efficiently – so much so that it is the equal to other phones featuring faster CPUs. Android, Windows Mobile.  Although not many people note this in reviews but you can customize everything important on the phone which makes it desirable amongst the anti-establishment these days. Subjectively it is as easy to use as any Android based phone. Sure there are niggles and annoyances but every phone and OS has them.

The loud speaker is very loud but hampered by the speaker opening on the bottom of the camera if placed on a flat surface. The sound from the loud speaker is not hi-fi being just loud. Thankfully the in-call sound quality on both ends is excellent very clear. It is easily better than the iPhone models or any other mobile we’ve tested to date.

The N8 screen is also something to boast. The N8’s screen reproduces color that almost true to life.  Compare the actual scene with the same picture and it is a very close match. Sure there is some color saturation but its nowhere near as bad a normal digital camera. Most people are fooled by over saturated images with warmth due to saturated greens, red and blue. (eg greener gas or blue sky etc..) The N8 does not its closer to true life than anything bar a DSLR camera. We kid you not.

One of the key decisions when buying the N8 is that it is one of the few mobile phones with penta-band 3G – which means it will work on any 3G frequency in the world include Telstra  NextG and the usual quad-band GSM – so will work on any network world wide. The ability of the N8 to hold a signal is also very good. We have no problems in marginal areas like we did on other phones – including the old E71.

The Nokia N8 also has in-built fully functional Global Mapping GPS navigation system with free world wide map updates and widgetised home screens. Of course there is also the physical design which is a refreshing change from the other high end slabs on the market. The N8 is most aluminum except for the two ends. The Gorilla glass also means that you really don’t need an extra screen protector. We didn’t and there are no scratches on the screen despite a couple accidental drops.

The other less publicized feature is the fact the N8 can play all the common video files including FLASH and AVI, FLV formats outside the web browser.  The more telling point is that the N8 does not need a 1GHz CPU to play them in complete smoothness! The clearly more efficient OS also means that the standby times and talk times exceed the iPhone and Windows Mobile based phones! The OLED screen looks great too in day light or at night.

The OVI Maps navigation starts up quicker than another other GPS software on the market. The A-GPS works almost immediately likewise all the various features of the software. Just as good as other stand alone systems although missing some functionality when not actually navigating.

In regards to the N8 camera, all we can say is amazing for 2010 mobile phone.  The N8 image quality is just as good as a point and shoot camera in day light and excellent (ie even better) at night.  Time between images and flash recharge times are quick too with no noticeable delay. There are no complaints about the camera interface either.  Just press the camera button on the side to activate and snap away. Additional settings are a screen icon away and simple to activate. We think every other website who claims it is a problem completely out of touch. Since buying the N8 one of us no longer carries a regular camera when going out that’s how good it is.

However the N8 is not perfect. The OS still has some rough edges so it is not as smooth as other models.  The battery life is not impressive.  In real life it will only last one day under heavy use. Even on standby 3 or days. However the most annoying thing – although has nothing to do with the N8 its self is the disappointing Ovi Suite. Ovi Suite simply does not work well.  It fails to sync with Outlook 99% of the time.  The prior Nokia Suite worked – so why did they replace it? Furthermore the Ovi Store App on the phone it self does not work most of the time. The Web browser while advanced does need an interface overhaul. That said if you have an Apple Mac the N8 will sync with it without any problems.

To conclude the Nokia N8 may represent the last? of the Symbian based high end phones due to their new partnership with Microsoft. Sure there are a few things that make the phone harder to use than others but it feels great to have something that isn’t an iPhone. The OS can only get better. Personally I think there is too much focus on the OS and shop app stores (which we love browsing BTW).  So if you can live without too many Apps, want the best mobile phone camera to date then the N8 is the best smart phone you can buy. The N8 is a keeper. It’s a pity no one else can recognize that.

Note that we are waiting for the Symbian Anna update which promises to fix the smoothness issues with the interface. We’ll update the review then. If you want a camera phone equal to any point and shoot camera (eg. Canon ixus series) give the N8 a go its even more convenient that a separate pocket camera and pictures probably a little better too!

Specifications

  • Nokia N8
  • Network
    Quad-band GSM 850/900/1800/1900
    Penta-band 3G 850/900/1900/2100 (Dependent on country)
    HSDPA 7.2 Mbps data speed (download)
    HSUPA 5.7 Mbps (upload)
  • Design
    Touch screen
  • L113.5 x W59 x D12.9 mm
  • Weight 135 grams
  • Display/s
    3.5inch External AMOLED 360 x 640
  • Camera
    12MP
    XENON Flash
    Forward facing camera for video calls.
  • Video Camera
    720 HD pixel main video camera
  • Connectivity
    Wi-Fi
    Bluetooth V3
    HDMI
    MicroUSB
  • CPU
    680 Mhz
    Separate Graphic CPU
  • Memory
    Up to 16 Gig on board
    Up to 32GB microSD
  • Ring tones
    MIDI, MP3, Video, vibration and others
  • Features
    MS-Word, Excel and Powerpoint, PDF, ZIP compatible
    A-GPS
    Compass
    Accelerometer
    Dolby Digital
    OVI Store for Apps
    Proximity Ambient Light
    Music and Media player
    Organiser/Calender
    SMS, MMS, IM, Email
    FM radio with RDS
    Speaker Phone/Hands free
    Li-Po BL-4D 12000mAh battery
    Up to 17 days Standby
    Up to 12 hours Talk Time
  • Price history
    Approx $850 AUS 2011 (Outright)

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