A couple of weeks ago Nokia has launched their newest and latest flagship product, the Nokia N8. The emergence of this phone marks Nokia’s “re-entry” into a serious smartphone business after they lost to the likes of RIM, Google and Apple, though this might be a bit late for them to make any significant change. However let’s leave the personal sentiment here and go ahead to the main subject after the break.
The launching was held worldwide simultaneously, and last week I was able to test this much-anticipated phone for about half an hour (and another testing session earlier this week too, making it a total one hour of hardware testing). Having this phone makes me feel like a damn rich spoiled kid who can buy every newly released hi-tech toys he wanted using his parents’ wealth. If it’s not because the phone store has a test unit and allowed me to experience it myself, I might never get any chance even to have a touch on it.
The phone chassis is made of anodized aluminum (available in 5 different colors), which feels very solid and tough, and the most important thing is it does have the ‘Nokia’ feel. Long time Nokia users should understand about this ‘feel’ I’m talking about. Being encased in aluminum chassis does help in reducing the wight, thus despite the big size this phone bears, it only weights 135g, which is lighter than I expected. The 2.5′ AMOLED display is also crystal clear, though in terms of color reproduction it may not a s good as iPhone 4. However it is good enough in doing its job with ‘only’ 16M colors, and the most important part is, the capacitive display is very responsive, almost as good as what I’ve seen on iPhone 4, if not better. And since it is capacitive, multi-touch is possible and everything is a breeze.
There are two things I don’t like about this phone though, which I think is my greatest disappointment about it. The first one is not user-changeable, which means there’s no way to replace the battery without sending it back to Nokia center, which is the same case with iPhones. Although a good battery won’t likely need to be replaced that often but everybody knows batteries are always most likely to be the first part in any phone to have a failure. Besides a mobile phone is traveler’s companion and recharging should not be the only available option when the battery runs out of juice when alternatives such as spare battery is possible. From the spec. manual, the standby time may last up to 390 hours. According to the guy at the phone store, since the arrival, the test unit has only been charged once, and with at least 5 people testing it everyday, I must say the battery life is awesome, if that guy is not lying though.
Anther thing that I don’t like about this phone is it only comes in one version only, the 16GB version, which I think is so not like Nokia. Usually for a phone in this class (smartphone) Nokia usually ship them in varieties of capacity, just like the older X6, where it has 8GB, 16GB and 32GB version. Not really sure whether there will be a lighter (8GB) or a more advanced (32GB) variants in the future but for me, they better do. Well, perhaps a “lighter version of Nokia N8” is already exists in the form of the cheaper Nokia C7 (which bears the same CPU but is inferior in overall hardware specs) thus Nokia didn’t bother to come up with a lighter variant for N8. This phone however supports memory expansion of up to 32GB via microSD card should the built-in 16GB space is inadequate for you. For me, 8GB is good enough for a smartphone, because if I want anything more than that I’d prefer a dedicated media player like iPod, since I don’t mind carrying more than one device.
Apart from the above flaws, there are other minor flaws as well. For example the annoying lag when I switched the phone language. I switched the phone language from English to Malay, from Malay to Chinese, and from Chine back to English, and between the switching the phone seemed to be not responding and I thought it has crashed. However the menus are not laggy at all, which is a major improvement on Symbian OS which always carries the reputation of having laggy UI navigation. The startup time is also quite fast, and there’s no noticeable lag in switching the phone mode into camera or media player mode. Also with the ARM 11 680 MHz processor, this phone is quite underpowered in its class, given that some of its rivals already sporting 1GHz CPU.
680 MHz maybe enough to squeeze everything from Symbian^3 OS but for me if they could use a faster CPU then why not? The price of this phone is 1,690 MYR (±543 USD) which is quite cheap for a smartphone so I think to add another 310 MYR/±100 USD (to make it 2,000 MYR) for a faster CPU should not hurt too much, and it would still be cheaper than an iPhone 4. Well I guess Nokia wanted their smartphone to be as cheap as it could without compromising too much power, thus they adopted the ARM 11 processor.
The camera on this phone is really good, as expected from a Carl Zeiss Tesar 28mm autofocus lens (3x digital zoom for image and 2x digital zoom for video). The camera quick access button cum shutter button is located to the side. The 12MP camera is accompanied with a powerful xenon flash and capable of capturing HD video (720p only). The camera lens doesn’t have lens protector so you’ll have to be careful when handling it. Being capable of playing HD video (again, 720p only) the phone comes with HDMI out so you could hook it up to any HDTV. Too bad though the store where I test this phone has no HDTV for me to test the HDMI capablity, and there’s no HD content loaded inside the phone to begin with. For internet, this phone also comes with 3G and 3.5G, as well as wi-fi, which is perfect to save on your 3G bill. Data connectivity with PC is possible with Bluetooth 3.0 (supports Bluetooth audio) and microUSB cable. For navigation purposes, this phone is equipped with both GPS, A-GPS and magnetometer (a.k.a. electronic compass). Also present are proximity sensor (that will detect your face and activate the answering mode when you receive a call) and accelerometer that will change the screen orientation depending on how you hold/place it (and useful for games/apps that support it).
The phone also comes with awesome sound, thanks to the Dolby Digital Plus technology, but that is only if the connected audio system is capable of delivering Dolby processed sound (such as digital speaker or Dolby headphone). As with most recent Nokia phones, this phone also comes with the standard 3.5mm audio jack to connect it to headphone/speaker. The music playback . It also comes with FM radio, front facing camera for video call (most smartphones today come with it too) and the standard software packages you can expect as other existing Nokia phones. Available with the hardware package are USB cables (microUSB and USB On-The-Go adapter), standard Nokia stereo headset, Nokia original charger and HDMI adapter.
I believe I’ve explained everything that I know about the phone. It seems like the phone has everything most users would want but for me there are parts that I think is overkill. For example I don’t need front-facing camera because I don’t make video call. I also personally think a high MP camera is pointless without optical zoom (though optical zoom for a smartphone this thin maybe a funny thing to see). Not to mention that I don’t use a phone to play the so-called HD content. For your info, I don’t acknowledge anything lower than 1080p as HD, and to play HD content I’d prefer using a more powerful player (at least a netbook that’s capable of playing HD content for example). That being said, if Nokia could fix all the flaws and remove the unnecessary things from this phone, then there would be no excuse for me for not getting it.
*sorry for the poor quality pictures. They’re taken from my old dumbphone (>_<)