Nokia N8

This is the second of my unusual reviews of Nokia kit. This one is even of a mobile phone! So what’s unusual about it? It is a review of a phone that’s already obsolete even though it was released barely more than 6 months ago – the Nokia N8. It is obsolete because it is a Symbian phone and Nokia have abandoned Symbian as a smartphone platform, in favour of Windows Phone. At first I wasn’t sure there was a point in reviewing the N8 at all, but in the end I was sorry to see it go.

I’ve used other Symbian phones before – specifically the N82 and the N97 – and I’ve never really got on with the software. After the iPhone was released, Symbian always lost out in comparison in many ways. Sadly the N8 is no different. It is using a newer version of Symbian, and it does feel a little better than previous versions, but still seems clunky in many ways. The management of network connections is frustrating, the web browser is primitive, email equally so. So much for the built-in apps. What about the app store? Well, there are some good things in there but the choice is very limited. Of course, that’s not going to get any better now that the platform has been abandoned. Still, many of the most obvious apps exist and I found a great Twitter app, Gravity, that was on a par with Twitter apps on other platforms. Much of the attraction for me, though, of the smartphone concept is the applications that haven’t been thought of yet and that come along and continue to add to the usefulness of the device through its life. Clearly that’s not going to happen for the N8.

That’s all a bit negative, and yet I said I was sorry to see it go. Why is that? Two things. First, the camera. Much has been written about the camera in the N8 – just ask Google – and it really is very good. A 12MP sensor, Carl Zeiss lens, xenon flash. It takes great pictures. Less punchy and vibrant than, say, the iPhone 4, but more natural. The second thing is the hardware in general. Nokia have always made nice hardware, and the N8 is no exception. It is a beautiful device to look at and to hold. I’ve always loved my iPhone as a physical device. It is just a nice thing to hold, and the N8 is just the same! The metal body and the overall build quality give the usual Nokia impression of a device that’s built to last. Hopefully that’s not going to change in the future and we’ll end up with some beautiful Nokia hardware paired with a “proper” smartphone operating system – Windows Phone*. I am really looking forward to seeing that combination, hopefully before the year is out. It is just a shame that the N8 itself will never see the MS operating system.

* No, really. The people I know that have used Windows Phone think the operating system is great but the current hardware isn’t so great.


only 1 comment

  1. I would agree that Symbian is out of date now, but I can remember when it used to kick ass.

    I had a Nokia 5230 (which I used to love, so many features etc).

    I do think the Ovi maps thing is cool, free 3D sat nav etc.

    But googlemaps navigation seems to do the job well on Android and other platforms.

Add your comment below