Nokia is back with the N8, a funky N-Series smartphone with a new-age look and updated OS. But the Rs 26,000 question is, will it deliver on Nokia's promises?
The N8 is packed inside an elegant yet funky anodised aluminum alloy shell available in dark grey, silver white, green, blue and orange. The singular menu/ home button below the 3.5-inch (360x640 pixels) OLED capacitive touchscreen, behind a scratch proof Gorilla Glass, allows quick access. A light sensor and front-facing camera are located above the display.
A camera button is on the same side as the display lock slider switch and the volume/ zoom keys while hot swap slots for the SIM and microSD cards are located on opposite sides above the micro USB port. The Power button, Mini HDMI port and 3.5 mm handsfree socket are located at the top. There's 16 GB of internal memory.
The 12 MP camera at the back of the phone is raised a bit but doesn't make the phone difficult to slip into your pocket and out of it. There's no removable battery compartment, and at just 135 g, the phone seems well proportioned. Overall the N8 comes off as a well designed piece of hardware.
This is the first of Nokia's devices to come with the Symbian 3 OS, which is much the same with added tweaks such as multiple desktops, customisable widgets, tap and hold functionality, and an option to simply tap and access missed calls/ messages/ Wi-Fi and other icons.
With its ARM 11, 680 MHz processor and 3D Graphics HW accelerator, multitasking is simple. There are no issues with speed and the accelerometer works like a charm, but multi-touch could have been smoother.
The only issue with the new OS is that it's boring. It's almost the same as any of the previous high-end devices such as the N97 or the X6. The icons are the same and so is the layout.
The N8 is designed to cater to hardcore Nokia fans who have been clamouring for more media functionality. For the most part, it lives up to all its hype but falls a little short on some counts. The core player comes with Stereo Widening and a Loudness option as well as EQ presets. But there's no option to customise presets or create your own. Audio quality was exceptional but at a rather low decibel level.
On the plus side, the N8 comes with DivX and XviD video support; just drag and drop for playback. Thanks to the handset's HDMI out and Dolby Digital Plus audio video, playback on a big screen was a good experience. But it doesn't bookmark the videos where you left off.
The radio worked well providing decent reception. Nokia has also thrown in image and video editing software. There's also an audio recorder with a good range and an app called WebTV, which has channels such as Nat Geo and CNN. But the service is still not quite active in India.
The N8 comes with Wi-Fi, GPS (with Ovi Maps pre-installed) 3G, Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP and USB 2.0. There's also USB on the Go, which allows you to connect a pen drive (via the micro to USB Female cable) to the handset and view the content. The native browser is still the same. With Full flash support, you get a desktop-like browsing experience. Opera Mobile too is available via the Ovi store application. Setting up emails hasn't changed either, and it's easy even for Exchange accounts.
Social network integration with the phonebook, however, was a bit disappointing. Here you can't sync with your Google account to download contacts. You can sync it with your Ovi account, though. You can also, individually link contacts to their respective Facebook and Twitter accounts. The Social Network App is just for Facebook and Twitter and could have been better laid out. It takes a while to start up and doesn't let you connect to MySpace or Orkut. There's also no option to upload images to any of your online sites like Picasa or Flickr directly from the image itself. However you can upload pics from the SN application to your FB and Twitter accounts.
The N8's biggest asset is its exceptional 12 MP camera. Only, it could have had better settings. The only new one is Face Detection, but it could also have had Smile detection and omni-directional auto-stitch panorama. The image quality is superb with the level of detail retained to quite an extent. Macro images also look good with vibrant colours when taken with enough light. Low light conditions also produce good pictures but tend to be dull.
Night shots also come out reasonably well without having to remain perfectly still. The 720p videos also looked really good. On a full charge, the 1200mAh battery ran for two days with scores of pictures, videos, and Wi-Fi. Talk time averaged in at over five hours. With a price tag of Rs 26,259 (MOP), the N8 is a great choice if you're looking for a well-rounded multimedia device with a good camera. It does have its quirks with a few small but significant options left out, but on the whole it offers a wide range of services and features.
Rating - ****