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Nokia N8 Review

Marc
  • On November 30, 2010
  • http:/www.marcforrest.com

As I mentioned a while back, the guys from Nokia kindly sent me a Nokia N8 to review for 2 weeks through the #N8ReviewZA competition.

From the minute I opened the box, I have to admit that I was really impressed with the phone. It’s actually a bit of an understatement to say it is JUST a phone, because the N8 packs a whole lot more into the device. There are a couple of things that impressed me with the phone, which I will list a bit further down the page, but there is still that room for improvement.

As you know, I am an iPhone fan through & through, but to be honest ol Nokia & I go way back. Right back to that 3310. Ahh, those were the days hey. You could play snake all day, as well as this cool thing called SMS. The fact that you could change the face and colour of the phone made it so much cooler as well. I don’t think I will ever forget the Nokia 6210. Now that was a phone (in it’s time). To be honest, still one of my best phones ever. Had exactly what you needed. Still today, I have a Nokia E52 for work, which is a brilliant device. Does exactly what is needed and a little more.

The fact is, Nokia have, and to a degree make some of the best mobile devices around. It shows. They are THE biggest mobile handset provider in the world. But, I think I lost my “lust” with the Nokia when they started deriving away from simplicity. When they moved to N-Gage and the likes, I think they closed a gap.

But that said, the Nokia N8 is definitely one the newer Nokia devices to really impress me. The device is built with multimedia in mind. If you think about it, we are consuming media more and more. Be it taking photos, or listening to music, or even watching videos, the N8 is a solid & complete device in the multimedia sphere. If I have to compare it to the iPhone in this regard, the N8 wins. The fact that you have a built-in HDMI port to display HD content on your TV or monitor is a big plus. With the iPhone, you need to buy a separate cable, which only works with some apps.

But when it comes to overall user experience, I have to say, iPhone takes the cake. The usability of an iPhone, for me, is by far one of the best user experiences I have ever encountered. Everything just works. A couple of times I had the N8 crash on me.

I thought I would put down a list of Pro’s & Con’s about the N8, and compare it to the iPhone where I can:

Pros

  • The HDMI port. This is a biggie. You can watch movies, view photos, and even display the device interface on a HDMI capable device. The HDMI converter cable is included in the box, so no need to buy any accessories.
  • USB ON THE GO. Also included in the box is a mini USB to USB converter, which allows you to plug-in a flash drive with media on and view it. This means if you have an AVI video or picture on the device, you simply plug the flash drive in and it allows you to play the content. This means you don’t have to fill up your phone with unnecessary rubbish.
  • Dual charging. This is also a nice one to have. You can charge the phone via the mini USB port, or via the supplied standard Nokia charger.
  • Built in FM transmitter. This means if you have music on the phone, you can play it on your car radio, by setting a frequency on the device, which it transmit to the car radio. Very very cool. For the iPhone, you need to buy a separate transmitter to get this to work
  • Ovi Music & Maps. Included in the N8 box is a 6 month subscription to the Ovi music store for UNLIMITED music downloads. This means you can download full albums and play them on the device, or through the FM transmitter or HDMI port. The drawback of this though is that the unlimited downloads are DRM’d which means you only play them on the device or a selected windows PC. Also included is Ovi maps which offers free navigation software with turn by turn instructions. On the iPhone or most other devices you need to buy a separate app to allow you to use this functionality.
  • Lastly. The camera. A full 12MP built-in camera with Carl Zeiss lens. The clarity on the photos is amazing. You can also record HD video at 720p. A small niggle here is that the Ovi store doesn’t have any really cool photo editing apps that the iTunes store offers. Check out this fantastic blog post about the Nokia N8 Camera

Cons

  • The Ovi store. I don’t suppose I can really call this a con, because it does have some cool features like paying with your cell bill, so no credit card required. But for me, it’s the lack of apps. Maybe I’m just spoilt with the choice that the Apple app store offers, but I really couldn’t find any “exciting” apps on the Ovi store. I did find Angry Birds & Gravity (The best Nokia twitter client), but other than that, nothing really that grabbed my fancy. As I said above it would be nice to see some cool photography apps to compensate for the cool 12MP camera.
  • The interface. This is probably one of the biggest bugbear for me with the N8. To get anywhere you need to “tap” in and out of menus. It just doesn’t feel right, after using the iPhone for so long. But…that can all be changed with 1 software update from Nokia ;) I don’t think Symbian is built for a touch screen device. It just doesn’t seem to work.
  • Battery life. Ok, ok. There isn’t much to write home about, about the iPhone battery, but I was pretty dismayed by the N8’s battery. The fact that it has 2 charging points does make up for a bit though.

Overall, I have to admit I was pretty convinced by the Nokia N8. I think, if the iPhone was out of my reach (for whatever reason), I would put this on my list of phones to get. I would actually go as far to say, that because everyone in my family now has an iPhone, I could easily opt for the N8 on my next upgrade and I would keep it as a spare phone, and use it as a primary Multimedia device in both my car and home.

A big big thanks go to the guys & girls at Nokia for giving me the opportunity to review the N8. It’s really awesome to see companies like this interacting with the bloggers & tweeters of South Africa, and giving them these cool opportunities.

Comments

  1. MMMMM I love my iPhone to bitz however i’m thinking that maybe it’s not a bad idea to get one of these afterall like you said Nokia has been the leader in cell phone’s for a couple of years .
    I also like the fact that you can download free music from Ovi!

  2. Bungane

    Thanks for this review. I found it honest, yet balanced, and I enjoy receiving your daily e-mails. I consider myself as a super user (like sudo) when is comes to most IT equipment, and pertaining to the phone you reviewed, I received mine on Sat. My impressions thus far, are that Symbian 3 is a definite improvement, however some of the problems (like phone freezing, restarting) are still there, albeit less frequently. The touch screen also has improved, yet still very far from the smoothness of the iPhone.

    However there seems to be a problem with these Nokia N8, and other new Symbian 3 Nokia phones. My Nokia N8 today turned out to be on of the Nokia Symbian 3 phones which suffer from a “dead phone” issue. What this means is that the phone switched off (full batt.) and would not switch on again (4 days old), until I took it to Woodmead Nokia Care, in Jhb. There they did a reboot (took about an hour), and hardly 10min after I received the phone, it “died” again. Needless to say, this seems to be a problem in some of these handset, and they will swap the one I was using for a new one. I don’t think it is a obf (Out of Box Failure), as it seems there are a few of these phone out there with the same problem. But seemingly not all of them. Lets us hope that this is a once off-production issue, usually common with new handsets.

    Once again, great informative site!

  3. Snark

    Not even a single photo of your test device? Just some Grade 8 essay that says absolutely nothing while filing up space with an obligatory bullet-point list, and a publicity photo stolen from another website?

    What a sham.

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